THE HON TANYA PLIBERSEK MP
DEPUTY LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION
SHADOW MINISTER FOR EDUCATION AND TRAINING
SHADOW MINISTER FOR WOMEN
MEMBER FOR SYDNEY
MONDAY 29 OCTOBER 2018
SUBJECTS: Liberals have no plan for women’s economic security; Refugees; Tony Abbott; Malcolm Turnbull in Indonesia; New Zealand offer to resettle refugees; Newspoll
TANYA PLIBERSEK, DEPUTY LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION: Well it's interesting isn't it that we hear from the Minister for Women today about the Government's plan for economic security for Australian women, except there's no actual plan. In the Budget in May, a Women's Economic Security Statement was foreshadowed for later in the year and of course expectations were high today that the Minister would deliver on that promise. Well there's been no new announcements today and in fact this comes on top of the Government's complete neglect for women's economic security. I mean, this is the Government that tried five times to cut paid parental leave, calling Australian mothers double-dippers and rorters. This is the Government that supported penalty rate cuts for 700,000 working Australians, we know that disproportionately hits women. This is a Government that has opposed increases to the minimum wage, again disproportionately affecting women. This is a Government that has cut funding to homelessness services, really hurting women and their children escaping domestic violence and trying to cut funding to legal services as well, again very much hurting Australian women who rely on those legal services when escaping domestic violence.
In contrast, of course, Labor has a plan to improve the economic security of Australian women. We've already committed to reversing the penalty rate cuts for 700,000 working [Australians]. We've said that we support increases to the minimum wage; again supporting Australian women. We're committed to ten days paid domestic violence leave. We've got a plan to boost women's' superannuation savings. We'll tackle the gender pay gap - we've already announced that we had companies with more than a thousand staff actually publish their gender pay gap. This builds on the work that we did when we were last in Government, when we introduced paid parental leave here in Australia for the first time, when we increased protections from sexual harassment, when we changed the reporting requirements for the Workplace Gender Equality Agency, making reporting requirements stronger, made them in fact world leading. When we were last in Government we committed to equal pay for people in the social and community sector, a $3 billion commitment that again disproportionately affected women because there's more women who work in those low paid but very important roles.
On the one hand you've got a Government that has been in office for five years, that for most of this year has been promising Australian women a plan and now in October, almost the end of October, still hasn't got a single new thing to say that would benefit Australian women.
JOURNALIST: Can I ask you about some comments Tony Abbott made this morning, where he referred to Nauru as ‘a very pleasant island’ and talked up the health care that was available there, saying it was it was better than many regional parts of Australia. What do you make of those comments?
PLIBERSEK: Well, I think what you've seen from Tony Abbott in the last few days is him printing out the CV on nice shiny new paper. He's going after Scott Morrison's job. I mean this is once again a job application and I think if Tony Abbott really had any regard for stability in Australian politics, stability in the Liberal Party, he would know that his time is done. This is another job application for Scott Morrison's job and Tony Abbott absolutely isn't helping to settle things down. He is re-heating leadership tensions in the Liberal Party once again. Part of the reason he is able to do that of course, is because Scott Morrison still hasn't answered the question, why is Malcolm Turnbull not the Prime Minister anymore? So Mr Turnbull is in Indonesia meeting with the Indonesian President because our Indonesian neighbours need to be reassured that Australia is still a stable neighbour. Well, if you need Malcolm Turnbull to talk to Jokowi why isn't Malcolm Turnbull still the Prime Minister?
JOURNALIST: Do you think Malcolm Turnbull should be there, or do you think someone else should be there?
PLIBERSEK: Well I think Scott Morrison should try and explain to the Australian people why Malcolm Turnbull is not the Prime Minister. I mean, this whole reanimated leadership debate that you are seeing with Tony Abbott back out there, touting for Scott Morrison's job, comes about because the Australian people still don't understand why Scott Morrison is actually the Prime Minister.
JOURNALIST: Do you think Scott Morrison didn't go possibly because the policy announcement of moving the Australian embassy from Tel Aviv to Israel was an issue?
PLIBERSEK: I think it’s very obvious that Scott Morrison's policy on the run, overturning 70 years of bipartisan Australian foreign policy when it comes to the location of the Australian embassy has caused a great deal of consternation in our region, including in Indonesia. I think that Scott Morrison following Donald Trump on foreign policy to try and grab a few extra votes in the Wentworth by-election was short-sighted and irresponsible. It was reckless and divisive, and it does show that he is not fit to be Prime Minister. Having to call on Malcolm Turnbull to go and fix the mess that Scott Morrison has made with our neighbours shows that Scott Morrison shouldn’t be there in the first place.
JOURNALIST: Just on Nauru again, do you agree that Nauru is a very pleasant island where refugees would get better health care than in many regional parts of Australia?
PLIBERSEK: I've been to Nauru and I wouldn't disrespect the people of Nauru by criticising their homeland, what I would say is that anybody who is without choice, without seeing a future for themselves on Nauru, those refugees and asylum seekers who've been there now for five years, would not be, they would not be happy to be there. They're looking for some permanency, some stability, a future, and Nauru and Manus Island, neither of them were designed to be places where refugees and asylum seekers would be kept indefinitely. It is beyond time that this Government accept New Zealand's very generous offer to rehome, to provide a permanent home to the asylum seekers who are on Nauru and Manus Island, to give them a permanent place to call home and a real future. It is inexplicable that this Government has not accepted New Zealand's generous offer. We can only assume that they want to keep people on Nauru and Manus island to make some bizarre point of their own.
JOURNALIST: Would a future Labor Government turn away from Nauru and close it down?
PLIBERSEK: We'd certainly be delighted if there was no need for Nauru and Manus Island because we had found permanent homes for all of the people who are on Manus Island and Nauru. That would be ideal.
JOURNALIST: On the New Zealand offer, there are some rumblings now suggesting Winston Peters might be a bit uncomfortable with this second-class citizen type option where people get a New Zealand passport but they can't come to Australia. Would Labor pick up the phone to your counterparts across the ditch and try and smooth things over and in the national interest try and get this done?
PLIBERSEK: Well this just shows how ridiculous the Government's legislation preventing people who have attempted to come to Australia by boat from ever being able to come to Australia under any circumstances. It shows how ridiculous the legislation as it's presented currently is. It's complete overreach. What the Government is saying is that you might go and live for 20 or 30 years in another country and want to come to Australia as part of a visiting Olympic team or as a top-level heart surgeon for a conference or as the Prime Minister of another country, having worked your way up within your adopted country's political system and you won't be able to come to Australia based on the Government's legislation. I mean, what an absurd level of overreach and Winston Peters has called that out for what it is. Now, we agree that we need to ensure that people who come from Manus Island or Nauru who go to New Zealand can't freely move into Australia - that defeats the purpose of being settled in New Zealand but surely, with the compromise that Labor has offered, we can come to a position where people can quickly be moved off Nauru to New Zealand and have a future, a future where their children can go to school, grow up, get jobs and live in New Zealand all their lives without this absurd overkill that the Government's proposing.
JOURNALIST: Would you look at a separate time period, like a five year, or a ten year or they - you believe that they should be able to come back to Australia, you know, straight away?
PLIBERSEK: No. We've said that the special visa that allows free movement between New Zealand and Australia should not be available to people who have been resettled there from Manus Island and Nauru, but the idea that for every country on earth, those people who are resettled there would never even be able to visit Australia - that is ridiculous and it doesn't apply to people who have been resettled in the United States. So, surely if we can manage it for the United States, we can manage a compromise for New Zealand. It does prevent people from coming into Australia through the backdoor and yet, doesn't take it to the absurd, irrational lengths that the Government is proposing.
JOURNALIST: Just quickly on Newspoll, do you have any thoughts on why Scott Morrison's taken a hit and Bill Shorten's had some good news in the latest poll?
PLIBERSEK: Well, you know, we don't pay too much attention to polls. What we're paying attention to is making sure Australians know what we stand for. We are a stable and united team that is focused on making sure that Australians have good jobs with decent pay and conditions that allow them to lead a good quality of life. That they have a strong health system, great schools for their kids, pre-school for their little ones, TAFE and university. That we are contributing to an economy that works for all Australians, that we have power policies that bring down prices and bring down pollution. That's what we're focused on. We're not reading the polls day to day. We're focused on being stable and united and laying out our policies should we win the next election - our policies that would make life better for Australians. As for Scott Morrison, why is he going backwards? Because people still don't know why he's the Prime Minister - he still will not tell them why he knocked off Malcolm Turnbull, what roll he had in that and why it had to happen. If we are relying on Malcolm Turnbull to represent us overseas, why isn't he representing us here in Australia too?