TRANSCRIPT: DOORSTOP INTERVIEW KIAMA, THURSDAY, 24 JANUARY 2019

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THE HON TANYA PLIBERSEK MP
DEPUTY LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION
SHADOW MINISTER FOR EDUCATION AND TRAINING
SHADOW MINISTER FOR WOMEN
MEMBER FOR SYDNEY
 
FIONA PHILLIPS
LABOR CANDIDATE FOR GILMORE
 
 
 

E&OE TRANSCRIPT
DOORSTOP INTERVIEW
KIAMA
THURSDAY, 24 JANUARY 2019
 
SUBJECTS: Labor’s Swim Smart program; Funding announcement for local surf lifesaving clubs; Warren Mundine; Gilmore preselection; Liberal chaos; Australia Day; Labor’s announcement to increase representation in Australia Day honours; Labor’s candidate for Gilmore.

FIONA PHILLIPS, LABOR CANDIDATE FOR GILMORE: Well welcome everyone today to beautiful Kiama. Welcome to Tanya Plibersek, the Deputy Opposition Leader and to our wonderful surf lifesavers from across the south coast that do a wonderful job. I've invited Tanya here today, look there has been a lot of focus on the Gilmore electorate in recent days but I've been the endorsed candidate for Gilmore for the last 22 months and proudly Labor's endorsed candidate. 
 
We've made some great announcements in the Gilmore electorate and we can do that because Labor is absolutely united. I wanted to bring Tanya here today because we've made some surf lifesaving club announcements, over $700,000, to help upgrade equipment and rescue equipment for the club here at Kiama, Kiama Downs and also at Mollymook as well. So look I'm from a swimming background. I really love health and wellbeing so I'm really proud that Labor has been able to make that commitment but I also wanted to ask Tanya because we've made another great announcement around Labor's Swim Smart Program so I'll hand over to Tanya to talk more about that. 
 
TANYA PLIBERSEK, DEPUTY LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION: Thanks very much Fiona. It is terrific to be here in Kiama today it's so beautiful here on the south coast and I'm so grateful to have friends from south coast lifesaving who not only have given up their time to come and be with us today but contribute so many volunteer hours to keeping our beaches safe. Keeping visitors to this beautiful south coast safe when they go into the water. Fiona's very proud of the fact that she's been able to make some small contribution to helping these volunteer organisations purchase new equipment to help keep swimmers safe on our beaches in summers to come. But there is another commitment that Labor has made recently which is to our Swim Smart Program.
 
Tragically 65 Australians have drowned in this last summer and the last year that we have full numbers for, the 2017/18 year we saw about 250 drownings across Australia and about a fifth of those were under the age of 25. Now Australians love being in the water, they love being at the beach, they love swimming in our rivers and dams and backyard swimming pools and we want every Australian child to get the basics, to be able to swim 50 metres, to be able to dog paddle, to be able to swim safely to the edge of the pool if they fall in accidentally. So Labor's committing $46 million over the forward estimates to work with surf lifesaving, with state and territory governments, with local government and with other organisations that are helping young Australians learn how to swim because it is such a tragedy to lose any life to drowning.
 
Fiona of course has always been a supporter of making sure that Australians have the opportunity to swim. What brought her into politics was a six year fight to save the local swimming pool in Nowra so she knows what it is all about, she knows how much Australians love to be in the water and it's a delight to be here today to support her in the announcements about the local contributions to surf lifesaving and the Swim Smart announcement. 
 
Any questions about the Swim Smart announcement or the surf lifesaving?
 
JOURNALIST: Fiona, it's just one for you. Briefly I guess your electorate's a hot spot for domestic tourists who come here. We often see, tragically, a lot of drownings. How much of a priority is surf lifesaving and also announcements like this other one (inaudible)?
 
PHILLIPS: Look this announcement about the Swim Smart program and also the surf lifesaving club announcements are huge announcements and I've done a lot of research over the last, probably three years travelling around and talking to different people and I really wanted to make a contribution that meant  so much to local people. So the great thing about surf lifesaving is that, you know, it covers all ages of people, genders, people from different backgrounds, and I see the immense benefits that surf lifesavers, as volunteers, give to our community. Surf lifesaving is everything in our community, and I wanted to give back and to help prevent drownings.
 
JOURNALIST: In practical terms, what does this mean for some of the surf lifesavers who are here in the area and people who swim here as locals and as tourists?
 
PHILLIPS: Yeah look, there's a couple of things. So obviously we've committed funding for, for example, Kiama Surf Lifesaving Club, Mollymook and Kiama Downs, so that's actually rescue equipment that the clubs desperately needs and look, without that funding it's really hard for our local clubs. They have to rattle the tin can and fundraise so I really wanted to help make a difference in a small way but a really important way.
 
JOURNALIST: Tanya one for you. I guess obviously Gilmore is, there's been a lot going on in the last couple of days-
 
PLIBERSEK: Well if we're just going to get into general politics I might just thank the lifesavers for their contribution and let them...
 
JOURNALIST: Yeah sure.
 
PLIBERSEK: Thank you very much.
 
JOURNALIST: What's the reaction to the PM’s decision essentially to endorse Warren Mundine?
 
PLIBERSEK: I guess there's a few things I'd say. The first is Warren Mundine has been very clear about what he wants for Warren Mundine. He wants a seat in Parliament. That's all he's wanted for twenty years, thirty years, I don't know how long. What he hasn't been clear about is what he can do for the people of Gilmore. Here's a man who's been prepared to walk away from the Labor Party, talk to the Liberal Democrats about whether they can get him into Parliament. When he worked out that the Liberal Democrats weren't going to get him into Parliament he joined the Liberal Party. So here's someone who's prepared to sign up to all the cuts and chaos of the Liberal Party just to get a seat in Parliament. He is someone, I mean I drove here today and had a little stop along the way, I think it took me a couple of hours. It's going to take him a lot longer because he's going to have to navigate the Harbour Bridge traffic before he can get down here. Fiona, in contrast, she’s' fifth generation in this area. A dairy farming background, former TAFE teacher, small businessperson, raised her four children in the area. She came into politics by fighting to protect the local swimming pool in Nowra so she's got runs on the board locally. She knows the local schools. She knows the local hospitals. She knows the local roads. She knows that people in Gilmore are struggling to make ends meet because the cost of everything is going up but their wages have flatlined under the Liberal Government. Why would you pick a blow-in compared with someone who has been here, working, on the ground to deliver a better quality of life to the people of Gilmore?
 
JOURNALIST: What do you think of the way Grant Schultz was treated by the Liberal Party?
 
PLIBERSEK: Well I think it's actually extraordinary that when Ann Sudmalis first said "I'm being bullied out of my position here as the local Member of Parliament", Scott Morrison said "That's not true. There's no problem" and was not prepared to intervene. And now he's using that bullying claim as a way of justifying parachuting someone from the north shore of Sydney in as the local candidate. If there was a bullying problem, why didn't Scott Morrison intervene to protect Ann Sudmalis? He denied there was a problem at the time. Is Scott Morrison prepared to intervene to protect Craig Kelly, his neighbour in the Shire, but not prepared to protect Ann Sudmalis, not prepared to intervene to protect Jane Prentice. I don't know what Australians are supposed to make of this? How are they supposed to understand someone who says "There's no problem, this is just democracy at work. Oh hang on a minute. It now suits my political fortunes to say yes there was a bullying problem and I'm going to use that as an excuse for parachuting my candidate in over the top". I think the other thing to say is if local Liberal members are leaving the Liberal Party, are not prepared to work for Warren Mundine. If the local Liberals don't want him, why should the electors of Gilmore want him?
 
JOURNALIST: Earlier today you mentioned that there was a reason why the Labor Party had never had Warren Mundine in a seat. Why was that? 
 
PLIBERSEK: Well because Warren Mundine's only about Warren Mundine. I mean, here is a guy that's prepared to sign up to any political party that'll promise him a seat in Parliament. We want people who actually share our values. We want people who are prepared to nail their colours to the mast and say "We stand for better wages and working conditions for working Australians, we stand for bigger tax cuts for working and middle class Australians. We stand for restoring the cuts to penalty rates, the cuts to schools and hospitals". We want people who share our values. Warren Mundine's very clear about what he wants for Warren Mundine. He's not very clear about what he wants for the people of Gilmore.
 
JOURNALIST: Do you have any concerns around his eligibility due to his business?
 
PLIBERSEK: I don't know any details about that. I'm sure people will be, you know, looking very carefully at all those things. I don't know anything about that.
 
JOURNALIST: And there was speculation last week, the PM wanted a woman to stand in Gilmore but then we saw Mundine was announced. I guess, what was your reaction, you were expecting him to come and announce a woman to run against, you know, Fiona. We've already got another woman running in the seat.
 
PLIBERSEK: Well, I think if Scott Morrison genuinely wanted a woman for Gilmore, he would've backed Ann Sudmalis. It fits the absurdity of all of this. Ann Sudmalis said "I'm being bullied out of my job." Scott Morrison said "No you're not, there's no problem here". Now he's imposed a bloke and he's saying; "I have to impose this bloke because there's a bullying culture down here". Go figure.
 
JOURNALIST: Scott Morrison said yesterday that he made it very clear that he supported Ann 100 per cent last year when he was down there at the bridge making an announcement. What is he a liar? You don't believe him?
 
PLIBERSEK: Yeah, well that worked really well, didn't it?
 
JOURNALIST: What do you think it says about their approach to women in politics? It's been a big issue at the moment.
 
PLIBERSEK: I think Scott Morrison showed that if he wanted to intervene, he could have. When he intervened to protect Craig Kelly, he proved that if he wanted to, he could've protected Ann Sudmalis and Jane Prentice. It's a matter of willpower.
 
JOURNALIST: What do you make of his comments yesterday, the Prime Minister, that this relation to Grant Schultz when he said "You can't bully your way into a seat." What do you make of that?
 
PLIBERSEK: Well, I think Mr Schultz has been very clear that he denies all of the allegations that have been made but I don't understand how Scott Morrison can logically, just a few months ago, have said "There's no bullying problem here. This is just democracy at work." You know "Tough luck, Ann." And now, be saying there was a bullying problem. But his solution is not to, you know, go back and ask Ann maybe "Have you changed your mind, Ann? Do you want to stand for us again?". That's not his solution, his solution is to get someone from the north shore of Sydney and parachute them into the seat?
 
JOURNALIST:  Didn't Labor do something similar to this in 2010 when they brought David Boyle into the Gilmore area?
 
PLIBERSEK: I don't remember the details of that preselection. All I can say is that Fiona has been our candidate. She's been doing a fantastic job and you know from the announcements today about keeping people safe in the water, the sort of priorities she has. What does for Warren Mundine stand for? I don't know.
 
JOURNALIST: It's quite a crowded contest for Gilmore. How's Labor feeling now that Grant Schultz is standing as an independent as well?
 
PLIBERSEK: Well, I'll tell you what, we've got the best candidate, we've got the best policies and we are united and disciplined and determined to win.
 
JOURNALIST: What if the Nats throw their hat in the ring? Does that concern you?
 
PLIBERSEK: It's a free country.
 
JOURNALIST: So it's business as usual at the moment?
 
PLIBERSEK: Well, we're very confident that we've got the best candidate and the best policies, that we are united and disciplined, and I think that's what Australians want.
 
JOURNALIST: It's a very marginal seat, why should voters in Gilmore vote for Labor?
 
PLIBERSEK: Well, they should vote for Fiona because she's a local, she knows the issues in the area. She knows the schools, she knows the hospitals, she knows the roads. She knows what's needed in terms of jobs and economic development in the area. She knows that people are doing it tough. She knows how to help. So they should vote for someone who's been here for five generations and has their roots in the community. They should vote for Labor because we're the only party that is offering decent schools and hospitals, making sure that Australians can make ends meet by restoring wages growth including reversing the penalty rate cuts, by offering bigger tax cuts - almost twice the tax cut to lower and middle incomes, by making sure that the services that Australians rely on are restored. We've got plans for clean energy that brings down energy prices and brings down pollution. Our policies are better.
 
JOURNALIST: In terms of the more local announcements, are you confident that the money committed to the Nowra Bridge will be enough to actually bring that to fruition?
 
PLIBERSEK: Well, I'm going to let Fiona deal with the details of local announcements.
 
PHILLIPS: Yeah, look so we've committed to the $155 million in Federal Labor's commitment to the Nowra Bridge. So, we'll certainly have a look and see what the RMS says.
 
JOURNALIST: Tanya, what do you make of the push to legislate January 26th as Australia Day?
 
PLIBERSEK: You know what, there are barely any sitting days between now and the next election. This is a government that's already on ghost mode. They've gone part time and to try and whip up a, sort of, culture wars fight in those last remaining days of Parliament, I just don't see the point. Labor is very clear that we have no intention of moving Australia Day. But we also know that Australia Day, for some Australians - for Aboriginal Australians in particular - brings a lot of sadness with it. As a mature nation, we can celebrate what's great about our history, as well as acknowledging the painful elements of our history. That's not complicated and it's only the extreme right of the Liberal Party who want to whip up this false conflict. Instead of legislating a Private Member's bill in the last few remaining days of Parliament, how about they focus on what would make a difference to the lives of ordinary Australians? How about legislating to reverse the cuts to penalty rates? How about legislating to reverse the cuts to schools and hospitals? How about legislating Labor's proposition to have ten days' paid domestic violence leave? How about legislating to do something about pollution and the energy crisis and gas going offshore? How about legislating to do something that would actually see Australians better able to cope with cost of living increases at the same time as wages are flatlining.
 
JOURNALIST: Just in relation to this proposal for Australia Day honours to be a gender target - can you tell me about that and why it's necessary, Tanya?
 
PLIBERSEK: Oh yes, sure. Look, since 1975, since Australian honours were introduced, on average about thirty per cent of those honours have been going to women. Now, we - in our communities, you look around you, you see the people who are volunteering their time. You take a look at the surf lifesavers that we were talking to today. Right across our community, we know that women are putting in half the effort, they're doing half the work, they have half the skills and half the talent; but they're not receiving half the recognition. So, we need to make sure, over time, that we better acknowledge the unsung heroes in our community. This takes nothing away from the people who have achieved Australian Honours, who will receive their Honours this Australia Day, they are for people whose achievements we should absolutely celebrate but we also need to look further into our community to make sure we are picking up some of those unsung heroes as well. The women who aren't being nominated, Indigenous Australians, people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds, Australians with a disability, making sure that these honours really reflect in a more realistic way the people who are making a contribution to our community. If you look at Australian Honours, if you look at the categories for example, the categories that were established really do focus on the areas where men are more likely to be active, there are separate categories for engineering and mining and primary industries, and building and construction, whereas nursing for example is subsumed under a broader category of medicine. So, I think when we look at the categories and better acknowledge the contributions that are being made across the community and when we work with states and territories, local government, and community organisations to encourage more nominations to come forward, more nominations of those unsung heroes, we'll have a better reflection of our whole community in those honours.
 
JOURNALIST: Fiona just one for you, Grant Schultz yesterday hit out saying you hadn't made any announcements for farmers yet, you've come from a farming background. What would your response be?
 
PHILLIPS: Well I've certainly been consulting with dairy farmers, I was part of the mandatory code of conduct discussions with dairy farmers, I've been talking with Joel Fitzgibbon, our Shadow Minister for Agriculture, you won't get a fiercer advocate for dairy farmers than me. 
 
PLIBERSEK: Thank you.
 
ENDS