THE HON TANYA PLIBERSEK MP
DEPUTY LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION
SHADOW MINISTER FOR EDUCATION AND TRAINING
SHADOW MINISTER FOR WOMEN
MEMBER FOR SYDNEY
LABOR CANDIDATE FOR PERTH
6PR PERTH MORNINGS WITH JANE MARWICK
WEDNESDAY 4 JULY 2018
SUBJECTS: By elections; Sexism in the workplace; Tax policy; Liberals’ childcare changes; WA GST; Australian Investment Guarantee; Election timing.
JANE MARWICK, PRESENTER: Speaking of politicians, I happen to have two in the studio with me right now. Tanya Plibersek is the Deputy Federal Opposition Leader. Good morning and welcome to 6PR.
TANYA PLIBERSEK MP, DEPUTY LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION: Good morning Jane, it's great to be with you.
MARWICK: And, Patrick Gorman is the Labor candidate for Perth. G'day Patrick.
PATRICK GORMAN, LABOR CANDIDATE FOR PERTH: Good morning Jane, and good morning to your listeners.
MARWICK: First cab of the rank - seeing that you're here in the studio with us Patrick, with Tanya Plibersek. I cannot understand why in the upcoming by-election for the seat of Perth, the Liberals aren't running a candidate. Because when you go back and have a look at the 2016 election results, Jeremy Quinn for the Libs got 35,000 votes, Tim Hammond got 31,000 votes - he got over the line with preferences. The Greens polled really well - with 17 per cent - Tim Clifford got 14,000 votes there. Why Patrick, firstly to you, why aren't the Liberals running a candidate? I would think they have a very good chance of beating you - no disrespect to you.
GORMAN: Well firstly, I'm very pleased that the Australian Labor Party is running a candidate - and I'm pleased to be that candidate. As for the Liberal Party, it is a baffling decision and one of the things that's very odd about it is, as a result, we've got all of these ex-Liberal Party members who are now putting their hands up to run against me. So now rather than campaigning against one Liberal, I'm going to be campaigning against four or five Liberals who have kind of done it off their own bat. So I don't understand the decision, I don't know what's going on in the WA Liberal Party. I would have rather they actually stand up for what they believe in - that's what political parties are all about.
MARWICK: Tanya Plibersek, my thought was are they trying to save some funds and go to an early election? What's your take on it?
PLIBERSEK: Look I think that's a very feasible explanation - they want to save money for the general election. I think the other thing is Malcolm Turnbull doesn't want a of test of his own popularity in Western Australia.
MARWICK: But he's got it now - with Braddon, and Longman, and Mayo and...
PLIBERSEK: Well he's certainly got it in Mayo. I think that's the really interesting story in this election. The Liberals assumed that they would take back the jewel in the crown in South Australia. And, in fact, Georgina Downer is really struggling against Rebekha Sharkie in Mayo. I think that's very worth watching.
MARWICK: It is worth watching, and look - two good candidates there. You would have to say that Rebekha Sharkie has been on the ground in there as a former member of the Nick Xenophon Team and anecdotally we're hearing that she is very much admired. And Georgina Downer too - no slouch, but just hasn't lived in the electorate for a while. Patrick -
PLIBERSEK: 20 years - or even in the State.
MARWICK: Patrick, where do you live? Do you live in the electorate of Perth?
GORMAN: I live in Mt Lawley, my wife and I live there. We live there with our 8 month old son, so yeah, it's a lovely part of the world.
MARWICK: Have you been door-knocking?
GORMAN: I have.
MARWICK: How's it going?
GORMAN: I've done about 1,700 doors. Sometimes it feels like a lot more, and some days you have to obviously hold in - like when the weather's a bit like today - you have to sort of go and find something else to do.
PLIBERSEK: Phone calls, Patrick, phone calls.
GORMAN: Phone calls.
MARWICK: Do people slam the door in your face?
GORMAN: No people are very - people appreciate the visit.
MARWICK: Do they?
GORMAN: It's actually been a really enjoyable experience. Some people have said to me, "Look, I would normally vote Liberal, but I know that no matter how much time I spend at home, no Liberal is going to knock on my door. So I'll be voting for you."
MARWICK: Well, there you go Liberal Party. Tanya Plibersek, I don't want to spend too much time on the Sarah Hanson-Young/David Leyonhjelm thing but we have to, because you're a woman in politics, and this has turned into that sort of an argument. What is your take on what has gone on? We know that Senator Sarah Hanson-Young said something David Leyonhjelm, the Liberal-Democrats Senator, cannot seem to remember exactly what that was. So that's up for discussion. He then retorted. There was backwards and forwards, to-and-fro, it then got played out in the media on Sky News, and one of the affiliates to this radio station. What's your take on it?
PLIBERSEK: Well he apparently took offence at something she didn't say, so-
MARWICK: Well she might have said.
PLIBERSEK: Well he can't point to what is was exactly what he took offence at. But that doesn't matter the sort of language that he used is not appropriate in any workplace in Australia - certainly not appropriate in the Parliament. I wouldn't expect a colleague to say that sort of thing about another colleague in any workplace in Australia. And I think it is very important that we call it out. Because I think, I'm a bit sorry that I didn't do a bit more of that when Julia Gillard was facing very similar sorts of comments, every single day. We decided that it was best that we focused on the positive things that we wanted to do for the country, and not really call out that sort of language and that sort of abuse. But I think it became very toxic in our culture at the time, and so I would be the first to say David Leyonhjelm should apologise and he should understand-
MARWICK: Should he resign?
PLIBERSEK: Look, I don't know, I can't answer questions like that-
MARWICK: No one's going to make him, he doesn't have a party around him, does he?
PLIBERSEK: I don't know how you could do that. But honestly, if he doesn't understand that he's not just offending Sarah Hanson-Young, he actually is offending all women. Because that kind of commentary shouldn't be in our workplaces in Australia.
MARWICK: Now to both of you, and Patrick I will go to you first and then we’ll get into some more meaty issues because this is just all the other stuff that takes up space which is why I try not to spend too much time on it. 'Cos my point is, this kind of thing really puts people off politics, because you say to your children, please you can disagree with one another but do it courteously. We then see our politicians throwing barbs at one another and behaving badly. What’s your take on that? Does our political discourse need to get a bit better?
GORMAN: I think we all have an obligation to make sure that we raise and maintain high standards of policy debate, and that's what Tanya was saying before. At the end of the day, what can you do to improve the lives of the people that you represent? And I'll just say, I think the good thing is that even though these are very unfortunate comments, it doesn't discourage people from standing up and have their voice heard. It's important that people aren't discouraged. I am proud that the Labor Party has five fantastic women running for five marginal seats here in Western Australia. I think Tanya spend some time with them yesterday...
PLIBERSEK: I did, yeah, yeah.
GORMAN: We have got some great women standing up for WA Labor and ...
PLIBERSEK: We are almost at 50 per cent in the Federal Parliamentary Labor Party, we are at 48 per cent now and I am confident that we will be at around 50 per cent at the next election. That's six years earlier than our target, and I do think that does makes a difference because, as you say, David Leyonhjelm has no one to call him out. I think if one of our blokes said anything remotely like that we would be on him like a tonne of bricks. We see again today in South Australia, Steven Marshall yesterday made derogatory comments about Susan Close the Labor Deputy Leader.
MARWICK: This is the Liberal Premier.
PLIBERSEK: The Liberal Premier, made derogatory comments about Susan Close, the Labor Deputy Leader. Malcolm Turnbull is in South Australia today. Let’s see some leadership from him, let's hope that he calls it out.
MARWICK: Speaking of leadership let’s talk about your leader Bill Shorten. Now I don't really care about - when I look at Newspoll, and I know every politicians says that they don't look at the polls, but OK - I don't really care who is the preferred leader, because this is not America. What I found really interesting - and by that I mean you are not electing the person as a President, you know. What I found really interesting after Bill Shorten said he wouldn't support, Tuesday a week ago, he wouldn't support the legislated tax cuts for small to medium enterprises, $10 million to $50 million which is down to 27.5 per cent, if the Coalition stays in it goes down to a further 25. He had said he didn't support that, he changed his mind, people said it was a back flip. Look, interestingly when you look at the polling, quite a few Labor supporters, I think 52 percent of Labor supporters had actually supported him on that and 35 percent of Coalition supporters had supported him on that.
PLIBERSEK: Well people know that if we don't collect enough tax revenue to pay for our schools and our hospitals, our road infrastructure, a fair share for WA, then their lives aren't as good as they could be. So we of course need to reduce company taxes where it is affordable and where it is fair, but what the Government is proposing is $80 billion of tax cuts, $17 billion of that goes to the big banks, right now, while we have got a Banking Royal Commission-
MARWICK: Someone is bringing you a glass of water, and I am just going to give you a...
PLIBERSEK: I thought I was very...
PLIBERSEK: No, I thought I was very cool Seventies rocker, that voice. No, we have got $17 billion of tax cuts going to big banks at the same time at we have got a Banking Royal Commission showing the bad behaviour of the banks. $17 billion is coincidentally what the Liberals are cutting from our schools over the next ten years. People know that there are choices for governments to make. We choose yes, to give tax cuts to businesses at the low and middle end. We choose bigger tax cuts for people on low and middle incomes, almost twice the tax cut for people earning up to $125,000 a year, personal income tax. But we are saying that we can’t afford it at the upper end for business or for wealthy individuals, because we want to invest properly in our schools, in our hospitals, in our roads, in our trains, in our people.
MARWICK: So one of the criticisms is this looks like class warfare, and we saw Anthony Albanese, what a couple of weeks ago now, with his Whitlam Oration talking about being close, having less I suppose animosity between the Labor Party and business. Did Bill Shorten stuff that up?
PLIBERSEK: I think this is always really interesting. If we say the poor don't have enough. If we say working people depending on penalty rates that are losing their penalty rates on a Sunday should be paid better, that's class war. Is it really? Or is it just arguing for fairness? A fair go, in a country that has built its self on arguing for the fair go.
MARWICK: Patrick, as you're doorknocking, what are the issues people are raising with you here in Perth?
GORMAN: Of course, education has been a really big issue on the doors, that's what we're-
MARWICK: Do you mean the state education cuts to regional WA like Moora College. It's taken me three days but I've finally mentioned it.
GORMAN: Most recently Tanya and I were at Leederville Early Childhood Learning Centre yesterday, and obviously as I've been doorknocking, as we hit school holidays, as some people have been home and those changes that have happened in the childcare space have been a concern because it's confused a lot of parents. I know myself when we went and updated our details, it was not a smooth process and not smooth is probably putting it politely for some of the people who've had to deal with that big change and here in Perth I think we've got about one in three families who are worse off under those changes. When you look at other issues people have raised, they do want to see infrastructure investments. They want to see a fair share of the GST.
MARWICK: GST. OK. What are you going to do about that? That's the hot button here. Tanya, over to you.
PLIBERSEK: We're the only Party that's got two billion dollars on the table, right now, for a fair share for WA. That puts an effective floor of 70 cents in the dollar returned to WA, and we've already been working with the State Government here on the sort of projects that can be in, we want to work with them to make sure that we've got great infrastructure projects, a mental health facility at Joondalup Hospital, new railway lines. We want to see that money invested to create jobs here and give a better quality of life here.
MARWICK: So, but we all understand now, we've become quite fiscally and economically literate here in WA and we understand that those cash splashes don't fix the underlying problem. So if Labor is our next Federal Government, would Labor tackle that, the distribution with the Commonwealth Grants Commission, that horizontal fiscal equalisation?
PLIBERSEK: Well, this is a four year commitment and it would be a legislated four year commitment. But if we have to look at legislating a floor then yeah, we'll look at that.
MARWICK: You will look at that? Is that a big issue Patrick, for you?
GORMAN: The thing that people have appreciated when it comes to Labor's plan for a fair share fund for WA is that they believe we will do it. What Western Australians are really frustrated about is Prime Minister Turnbull continues to promise things for Western Australia. I think it was about two years ago he promised an 80 cent floor. He's done nothing. This Productivity Commission report is hidden, possibly never to be released. They keep saying 'Oh, it will be released next week'. Next week comes, it doesn't come out. Labor's plan is clear and we'll be able to do it in our first Budget and I think that's the thing that people really appreciate, is we'll actually do what we say.
PLIBERSEK: One of the problems with reordering the GST share of the states is because it is a states' tax. You have to get states' agreements, so-
MARWICK: Do you have to though or can the Treasurer overrule that? Is that murky?
PLIBERSEK: There are actually arguments on both sides and it gets pretty complicated, but the accepted wisdom is that the states would have to agree to a redistribution and in any case, you can't do it as quickly as we can do what we're committing to because we're spending Commonwealth money on fixing the fair share for WA problem. We can do that in our first Budget. We can include that in our Budget, the money can start to flow, we don't need the agreement of the other states, we're not taking money away from other states, we're using Commonwealth owned funds.
MARWICK: I'll be interested to hear from people if that is enough. Look, a report out today in the paper, saying that Bill Shorten and Chris Bowen are out of step, and this is on the company tax plan, the proposed Australian Investment Guarantee, offering targeted tax relief for companies that make certain investments of more than $20,000, enabling them to claim those tax deductions of up to 20 per cent in the first year. Mr Bowen was campaigning in Queensland and was adamant all businesses would be eligible. Your Leader, not so sure, said he's not going to reward multinationals and big banks. How's that argument going for you?
PLIBERSEK: I think people do understand that a tax cut that benefits the large multinationals doesn't benefit Australia. The Liberal's proposal, 60 per cent of the benefit goes to overseas shareholders. That money's not being reinvested in Australian jobs, and don't forget, when the Business Council of Australia surveyed its members, wanting to get them to sign on to a letter saying that they would stop offshoring, they would invest in Australian jobs, that they'd pay their taxes, that they'd invest in Australia, they couldn't get their members to sign onto that. So our Australian Investment Guarantee is designed to see that money spent in Australia, to drive investment in Australia, create jobs in Australia. We're proud of the policy.
MARWICK: When do you think the next election will be called? What's your hunch?
PLIBERSEK: I don't know, I don't think Malcolm Turnbull knows. He-
MARWICK: Do you reckon that he's going to watch these by-elections, super Saturday when we've got five, we know that the Liberals aren't running a candidate in Perth or Fremantle so that sort of scratches those two off I know-
GORMAN: Two very important contests, I'm out doorknocking every day between now and the 28th July.
PLIBERSEK: He is taking nothing for granted.
MARWICK: So Braddon, Longman, all the talk is around if the Coalition can win one or both of those seats there's an enormous amount of pressure on Bill Shorten and that it might then encourage the Prime Minister to go to an early election. Do you agree with that?
PLIBERSEK: I think there's a possibility that the Prime Minister will call an early election, I absolutely do, and we have to be prepared for an election in, I think September is the date that most people point to, or the month most people point to if there's an early election. The Prime Minister keeps saying that there won't be an election until early next year when the election is due. He has said it 100 times if he's said it once, so I don't know, depends whether he does what he says he does.
MARWICK: If Bill Shorten were not to lead Labor to the next election-
PLIBERSEK: Well, he will.
MARWICK: -who do you think-
PLIBERSEK: Not even going to speculate. He will, Absolutely.
MARWICK: Will it be Anthony Albanese? Would it be you, ever, Tanya Plibersek, or was the experience of Julia Gillard, did that just set women back a decade?
PLIBERSEK: There is no chance, there is a 100 per cent certainty that Bill will lead us to the next election.
MARWICK: Thank you for your time today. Thank you for joining us. I, for one, think that the people of Perth deserved a real contest, Patrick Gorman.
GORMAN: They're going to have a Melbourne Cup field of candidates. There's already 14 declared candidates, I think there'll probably be another ten or so, so they're going to have a big choice to make. They will have a wide variety of views and there will definitely be people saying that if they're elected they will side with Malcolm Turnbull, so there is a choice.
MARWICK: Tanya Plibersek, Patrick Gorman, thanks for joining us in the studio today.
PLIBERSEK: Thanks so much Jane.
GORMAN: Thank you.