TRANSCRIPT - Doorstop Interview, Hobart, Thursday 20 November 2014

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Subject/s: Childcare; FOFA; Palmer United; UN Security Council; Ukraine; Privatisation

TANYA PLIBERSEK, DEPUTY OPPOSITION LEADER: Good morning. It’s great to be here at Lady Gowrie in Hobart. This centre has offered quality early childhood care and education for well over three quarters of a century. We have had a wonderful morning talking to the educators here and to the kids and of course it raises all sorts lots of issues about what the Government’s got planned for early childhood education and care. We know that the Abbott Government is undermining the national quality framework. The national quality framework ensures that all of these children get the quality care they deserve. We also know that the Abbott Government said that they want to expand access to nannies and in-home care but not spend any more on childcare. That means that long day care centres like this are under threat. Someone's got to make up the difference. It is also important to say that despite saying before the election that the Government would not make any cuts to education, over $1 billion has been cut from the childcare and early childhood education. You can’t take that sort of money out of this sector and not see the effects on parents, on childcare workers and on the quality of care that is able to be offered to children.

JOURNALIST: Are we running the risk of jobs and centres closing?

PLIBERSEK: Well of course if the Government keeps taking money out of the long day care the way they have then of course that puts pressure on childcare centres and puts pressure on childcare workers. People choose a career in childcare because they love kids but they deserve to be paid appropriately for the level of responsibility and dedication that they show in their work.

JOURNALIST: And in terms of the, I suppose, the gap that would be left in children's learning does that then put extra pressure on the primary school system to be making up the difference where the skills are being missed?

PLIBERSEK: Well we know that the years before a child goes to school are really critical in their brain development. They’re the years where the brain is just soaking up like a little sponge everything that is happening around them and if you give children a quality early childhood education through play, through experience, through adventure, like Lady Gowrie childcare centre, then they start school school-ready. They start school excited about learning and confident and those confident learners go on to have a great education throughout their school career, so investing in early childhood education, preschools, long day care centres, makes all the difference to a child’s school readiness and their future school achievements.

JOURNALIST: We saw Jacqui Lambie vote with Labor last night on financial advice laws in the Senate. Are you hopeful or is Labor hopeful that this rift in the Palmer United Party could potentially work in your favour in the Senate?

PLIBERSEK: Well look, I’m not going to talk about the rift in the Palmer United Party, what I would talk about is the future of financial advice laws. These were laws that were brought in by Labor when we were in government to protect mum and dad, mums and dads who are thinking about their future, their retirement, making sure that they have got some savings and they are designed to make sure that financial advice benefits the people who are saving their money and putting it aside. Now it seems like a very simple and obvious thing to do, that financial advice should benefit the person who is investing their money, it is not a big ask and I am very pleased that the Government’s efforts to remove these protections were overturned by the Senate last night.

JOURNALIST: The Palmer storm seems to be building momentum though, is it - are you hopeful that with the positions Jacqui Lambie has put forward so far this could be what you need in the Senate to be getting more opposition to legislation and seeing things for the Opposition's way?

PLIBERSEK: Look, I am delighted when any senator thinks about and considers the issues before the Senate and votes according to their conscience and to their best judgement and last night making sure that the financial advice that people are given is actually in their best interests so that is a great win for the Senate.

JOURNALIST: Is it tenable for Jacqui Lambie to still be calling herself a Palmer United Party given the latest development?

PLIBERSEK: Look at all those questions about the Palmer United Party are really questions for Jacqui Lambie and Clive Palmer. What I am pleased to see is that Labor’s initial legislation protecting Australians who are investing their hard earned money now has some protection, the original protections that Labor proposed, has been restored.

JOURNALIST: Julie Bishop has called for an international taskforce to target modern terrorism, what is your take on that?

PLIBERSEK: Well I think that terrorism is certainly something that we need to consider, all countries need to make sure that the primary responsibility, keeping their citizens safe, is discharged. We haven’t seen particular details of this call in the UN Security Council, so I’ll have to see more details to consider whether having a special envoy, I think she’s recommended, would make the difference she’s suggesting.

JOURNALIST: With the discussion focusing on social media and other modern techniques do you think it will carry a risk of censorship?

PLIBERSEK: Well I think it is something we need to wrestle with as a community, what we’ve seen in recent times is young people radicalised very quickly because of what they’re reading and looking at online. Young people who have no previous signs that they are potentially violent have in some cases been radicalised over a matter of months by material they have been accessing over the internet. Of course that’s true.

JOURNALIST: Australia has begun its final presidency of the UN Security Council, do you think the Government has made the most of its position on the world stage?

PLIBERSEK: Well Labor pursued the presidency of the Security Council because we believe that we’re a country that has always punched above its weight in international affairs. I’m not sure you could say that our presidency under the Liberal Government has really delivered an enormous amount of change. Certainly the fact that there was a motion about MH17 was very important, it was a very important opportunity for Australia because 38 Australians of course lost their lives in that terrible tragedy. It was of course very important that we had an opportunity to say to Russia and to say to the world that we expected adequate investigation, access to the crash site and for those responsible to be held to account. Being able to do that on the Security Council was a very important opportunity for Australia. As for other achievements, I’m not sure you could say that it has been a year of extraordinary achievement.

JOURNALIST: The Prime Minister had a phone conversation with the Ukrainian President overnight, do you think we should be focusing on efforts to stabilize the situation in Ukraine rather than securing the MH17 crash site?

PLIBERSEK: Well certainly I think it is very important that Ukraine is able to ensure peace within its borders. There’s a lot of trouble in the eastern parts of Ukraine and of course Crimea has already been lost. We support the right of Ukraine to determine its own future, to have whatever arrangements it chooses with Russia and with Europe, not to be held to ransom by either one side or the other. The situation in the Ukraine continues to be troubling we do have a particular interest in it because we do want answers for the victims of MH17, not just the Australians, but the almost 300 people who lost their lives in that terrible tragedy. So it is important that access to that crash site continues to be possible for international investigators, but beyond that there is a wider question of security within Ukraine and the necessity for Russian backed rebels to obey the law and to behave appropriately.

JOURNALIST: The latest policy announcement that we’re open for business from the Liberals is about potentially selling off Government assets, is it a different name for privatising?

COLLINS: Of course I would be concerned about the Government trying to privatise any assets that belong to the Tasmanian people without a proper process, without Tasmanians being able to have a say. We’ve of course seen Liberal Governments in the past try to privatise assets without having that conversation with the Tasmanian people and it cost them dearly at that point when it came to the hydro. So I do think it’s really important that they have the conversation with the public first and that it’s not privatisation by stealth.

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