THE HON TANYA PLIBERSEK MP
DEPUTY LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION
SHADOW MINISTER FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS
AND INTERNATIONAL DEVELOPMENT
MEMBER FOR SYDNEY
GOLD 104.3 MELBOURNE WITH LEHMO AND JO
TUESDAY, 17 MAY 2016
SUBJECTS: On the campaign trail: Baby kissing
ANTHONY ‘LEHMO’ LEHMANN: We know that the Labor Party has a hundred positive policies - that's the campaign they're running -
CHARLIE: That's exactly right, but I think they're going to bring them out in a little desk calendar for everyone before the election. And some of them are just really like - do you know what, for a more relaxing bath, a couple of drops of lavender. That's a very positive policy. Thanks Labor that's great! That's a very relaxing bath.
LEHMO: You've sold me. But Charlie you're starting to introduce some policies of your own and I believe you would like to pitch one directly to our next guest, Deputy Leader of the Opposition, Tanya Plibersek. Good morning.
TANYA PLIBERSEK DEPUTY LEADER OF THE LABOR PARTY: Good morning, it's a pleasure to be with you. And I love that tip about the lavender oil in the bath, I'm going to use that.
CHARLIE: Ahhh, just stealing my policies again. Alright that's fine. Well I'll tell you what, I have one policy that I would be very happy for you to adopt Tanya, and I would be happy for all politicians in this election, all parties to come on board with this. I would like to have a policy - surely, now in 2016 we can put an end to politicians kissing babies! Alright, I'm sick of seeing it, I’m sick of these people desperately grabbing infants around the country and planting kisses on them, often without permission. You know we spend so long telling our children to resist strangers [laughing] telling them about stranger danger, but apparently once every three years it's ok for some weird old man to come and smooch them on the face. Surely in the interests of our children we can put an end to kissing babies.
LEHMO: Tanya, where do you stand on this?
PLIBERSEK: I am opposed to that policy. Absolutely opposed to that policy. I don't like it at all. In fact, I did a bit of research and baby kissing has been part of campaigns since the 1820s. The first record is that the US presidential candidate Andrew Jackson was handed a baby to kiss - he didn't kiss the baby, he handed it off to a guy that was travelling with him and told him to kiss the baby [laughing] [inaudible].
LEHMO: In the same way, Tanya, that the Queen hands on flowers once she receives them.
PLIBERSEK: Yes, I guess. So you could have a designated baby kisser in a campaign and I would be that designated baby kisser. In the first week of the campaign I think my social media would say that I kissed about 7 or 8 babies, but in fact just between you and I because I nobody else is listening, I actually kissed a lot more babies than that. There's only so many photos of it you can put on social media.
JO STANLEY: Do you find that parents shove their children towards you hoping for some kind of, you know, kiss?
PLIBERSEK: No, no. It's the exact opposite. I am desperate to kiss [inaudible] babies [laughing]. But you know why? Like, I actually think one of the reasons is that we're all away from our families and you see these cute little kids and you get a little cuddle. I don't know, it actually just makes you feel human again.
CHARLIE: I tell you what Tanya, that's a beautiful sentiment but you could also be saying that exact same thing to a magistrate. No, I'm just saying it’s like [laughing] I think there has to be some boundaries. That’s all I'm saying!
JO: What about we do it with puppies instead?
PLIBERSEK: Well, I would happily, you know - pet puppies as well. I've got no objection to that either.
LEHMO: Tanya, so 1820 you say, the baby kissing goes back to as far as you can tell from your research?
PLIBERSEK: As far as I can tell from my research, there's a great article in the Atlantic in 2011 that actually deals - in great detail - with the issue of baby kissing in campaigns.
LEHMO: The history of baby kissing. Can you trace the history of politicians wearing hi-vis vests on work sites?
PLIBERSEK: Yes, I'm not sure when that started but it's been very effective I've got to say. It shows that you're building, you're building in jobs right?
LEHMO: Yes, well that is true. And what about, Tanya will you be -
PLIBERSEK: I've worn a hi-vis myself you know. When I was the Housing Minister during the Global Financial Crisis I had my own hard hat that I used to take to sites with me and I always knew to wear enclosed shoes because, of course, you’ve got to wear your proper protective gear.
CHARLIE: Jeez, it's hard being a politician isn't it? So many things to remember.
LEHMO: There's a lot to think of. Tanya, during this campaign can we expect to see you just in a pub with regular Aussies downing a beer?
PLIBERSEK: Well, you can certainly expect to see me in a pub. I'm not sure that I'll be putting that out far and wide because I like to drink alone by preference [laughing]. That's not a great look.
JO: And we do not judge you for that Tanya. If that's the way you like to roll that's fine. [Continual laughing].
LEHMO: Alone in a crowded bar or alone at home?
PLIBERSEK: [Laughing] you heard it here first.
CHARLIE: Can I ask, what is of greatest campaign benefit in an election like this? Kissing a baby or having a beer in front of the cameras? What do you think carries the most weight with the public?
PLIBERSEK: Well I know what not to do which is to give the beer to the baby.
CHARLIE: Yeah, good. Good call. Good call.
LEHMO: Definitely don't want to try that one -
PLIBERSEK: No, not planning to.
JO: I think though, Tanya, because we know that you're already a mother, right, we don’t have this desire to see you with a child in your arms. Whereas when Gillard was around, people had this hunger to make sure we knew she had a connection with children because she didn't have her own?
CHARLIE: Like everyone was waiting for her to go - she's holding it up the wrong way, she doesn't know what she's doing with it. She's trying to put batteries in it, that's not how they work. She doesn't know what she's doing!
PLIBERSEK: Well. I've got to say my kids aren't overwhelmingly thrilled when they see me holding other babies particularly when they were small. The kids were like who is that strange baby? You're cuddling that baby, not me.
JO: Well, fair enough. And to be honest - I've no desire to hold other people's babies. [Inaudible].
LEHMO: Tanya, are your kids of voting age?
PLIBERSEK: No, not yet, not yet. 15, 11 & 5 are mine.
LEHMO: You don't have to keep them happy then?
CHARLIE: I've got one thing to suggest, one thing to suggest. I will allow you to continue kissing babies if you also promise to do a bit of like 2 hours of care. Like take the baby for 2 hours so mum can go down the shops or go to the gym. So if you want to kiss a baby you have to do a bit of day care, change its nappy and mum can go to Pilates and everyone's happy.
PLIBERSEK: Do you know what, I actually have done that - not minded the baby for 2 hours but - I was at a conference one time and the speaker had her tiny new baby with her and she was actually up speaking when the baby pooed itself and I had to change the nappy at the conference.
JO: Ahh that is awesome Tanya...
PLIBERSEK: Yes. But I tell you I've changed so many nappies in my life that it was just - I didn't even have to think about it. Like woosh woosh woosh woosh done.
JO: It was probably like you were doing it before you knew it.
LEHMO: It was like riding a bike. Tanya Plibersek, thank you very, very much. Enjoy the rest of the campaign and happy baby kissing.
PLIBERSEK: Thank you Jo, thank you Lehmo and thanks Charlie.
CHARLIE: No worries, cheers.