THE HON TANYA PLIBERSEK MP
DEPUTY LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION
SHADOW MINISTER FOR EDUCATION AND TRAINING
SHADOW MINISTER FOR WOMEN
ABC RADIO BRISBANE MORNINGS WITH CRAIG ZONCA AND REBECCA LEVINGSTON
TUESDAY 28 AUGUST 2018
SUBJECTS: Liberal Leadership Challenge; Media influence on Australian politics; United Labor team; Julie Bishop; Energy policy.
REBECCA LEVINGSTON, PRESENTER: So how will the knifing of another Australian Prime Minister affect your vote at the next Federal election? Labor's been remarkably quiet as the death throes of Malcolm Turnbull's leadership played out. Tanya Plibersek is the Deputy Leader of the ALP. Tanya Plibersek, good morning welcome back to Brisbane.
TANYA PLIBERSEK, DEPUTY LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION: Good morning.
LEVINGSTON: When did you know that another Prime Minister was going to be toppled?
PLIBERSEK: Look I think it came as a surprise to us last week as it did to most members of the Liberal Party and certainly as it was a surprise to the Australian people. It's plain that Tony Abbott and his cohort have been after Malcolm Turnbull for some time but the fact that it all happened so quickly last week took us all by surprise.
LEVINGSTON: You talk about his cohort, does that include the media, people like Rupert Murdoch and Alan Jones?
PLIBERSEK: I think clearly News Limited and some other media organisations have been on the campaign to get rid of Malcolm Turnbull, or frankly anyone who wants to do anything about climate change at all, but what surprises me is Malcolm Turnbull seemed prepared to give up everything that they criticised him for. I thought they might let him stay in place given he was prepared to capitulate on so much.
LEVINGSTON: Does the media influence what Labor does?
PLIBERSEK: Certainly the media has, you know, I don't think News Limited's campaigning for a Labor win, let's put it that way but does it influence our policies? No. We know that you can't placate a bully by giving in to them. You just have to say what you believe and do what you stand for.
LEVINGSTON: That's not what happened when it came to immigration and Labor's view on that over the years?
PLIBERSEK: Well I think we've got an immigration policy that says 'no, we don't want to see the boats start again but we also don't think that people should be in indefinite detention on Manus Island and Nauru and that the Government has failed to find third country resettlement.' We went to the last election with a policy to increase our humanitarian intake but to make sure that people came to Australia safely on a plane rather than having to pay thousands of dollars to people smugglers to get them here. I think that's a balanced policy.
LEVINGSTON: Your former leader, the former Prime Minister of Australia, Kevin Rudd wrote in Fairfax yesterday that an incoming Labor Government should consider a full Royal Commission into the future of Australian media ownership with particular reference to News corp. Are you and Bill Shorten arguing for a Royal Commission into media ownership?
PLIBERSEK: No, we haven't had any discussion like that. But I do think it is important. I think it's important for Australian media consumers to make sure that they support balanced and diverse media. We certainly believe that the ABC funding cuts are wrong and that we should restore the ABC funding cuts, hundreds of millions of dollars cut by the Liberals from the ABC, but more broadly than that there are new media organisations or new outlets, I suppose, online in particular that Australians can support if they want to support a diverse media and I'd urge them to do that.
ZONCA: Tanya Plibersek is with you, she is the Deputy Leader of the ALP, here on ABC Radio Brisbane at seven to nine. The knifing of a Prime Minister - unfortunately, it's nothing new in Australian politics over the past decade. Labor have seen it happen not once but twice as well. You've been through those leadership battles. What's your advice across the aisle, Tanya Plibersek?
PLIBERSEK: Well the difference between us and the Liberals is we've well and truly learned our lesson and we've had five years of unity and discipline under Bill Shorten's leadership.
ZONCA: Have you really?
ZONCA: Because last time you were here, we were talking about a potential leadership challenge to Bill Shorten coming from the likes of Anthony Albanese.
PLIBERSEK: Well, I think I said to you at the time that's another example of a media organisation hoping that Labor will lose, trying to stir up trouble. There was never a serious issue and people shouldn't believe everything they read in the papers but we have well and truly learned our lesson. We've been focused on our policies, we've got - I'm not going to list them all because you always roll your eyes at me when I start talking about how our policies are better. We've got the best policies for energy, environment, education, infrastructure, health and so on. We've got the best people, we've got fantastic candidates, you saw that in the by-elections that we had and we've had unity and discipline. You asked me for my advice, my advice is to stop doing it to each other.
LEVINGSTON: Well voters will decide who has the best policies at the next general election, which-
PLIBERSEK: Well, let's hope it's soon because I think one of the things that came through very strongly last week is it's now time for the people to decide. So the Liberals have gone from a relatively popular Prime Minister to someone in Scott Morrison who was around the Cabinet table, who made all of the unpopular decisions hand in hand with Malcolm Turnbull. He is the architect of the one-point economic plan - which is trickle-down economics, give tax cuts at the top end and everybody benefits. He's the architect of that. He's less well-known than Malcolm Turnbull, he's less popular, he's got less charm. Let's let the people decide. It's time for the people to decide.
LEVINGSTON: What should Julie Bishop do next?
PLIBERSEK: That's up to her. I think she's earned the right because of her very many years of dedicated service to the Liberal Party to make her own choices.
LEVINGSTON: If she doesn't stay in Parliament, would she make a good Governor-General?
PLIBERSEK: Well, I think the Governor-General has to be a non-partisan figure, so we'd have to think very carefully about that. Certainly, the Governor-General's term is not far from expiring. I don't think it would be fair for a Liberal Government right now to make a long-term commitment to a new Governor-General.
ZONCA: Tanya Plibersek, when you look at the leadership battles over the past ten years, and as you said Labor has been a part of that too, but it has diminished the standing of politicians in the general public and the trust that people can place in politics. How do you address that, not just on a partisan level but on broader societal level?
PLIBERSEK: I agree. I think the thing that troubles me most about these frequent leadership changes are, you know you just get a sense from talking to people in the street that they're sick of it, they’re tired of it, and it reduces their faith in democracy and I think that's a tragedy because democracy is the best system of government that we've got on offer. I think the most important thing we can do as a Labor Party is make sure that our own behaviour is focused on what matters to people - their jobs, the schools their kids go to, the hospitals they can rely on. We need to focus on the policy issues that matter. We need to give them great candidates. I think it was a very wise thing that Kevin Rudd did, change our rules in the Labor Party to make it harder to change leaders between elections. I think that stability is important. But it's about our own behaviour as Parliamentarians. We need to show Australians that we know what matters to them are their jobs, the pay and conditions that they're working under, and the services that they can rely on.
LEVINGSTON: Well one of the key things that matters and was significant in last week’s leadership change was power bills. How will Labor bring down power bills?
PLIBERSEK: Well we've said a number of things that we can do in the immediate future. Keep more of our gas in Australia instead of exporting it for bargain basement prices overseas. We've also said we need to have a sort-of standard and clear pricing mechanism instead of all the complicated, you know, discounting that isn't really discounting that happens with power companies at the moment. But over the long term we have to get our energy market right and we believed we had the solution to that when we were last in Government. The incoming Government knocked-off the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme and we saw energy prices and pollution both go up. The Liberals have proposed an Emissions Intensity Scheme to deal with that problem. We said we'd work with them. They couldn't agree in their party room. Then they proposed a Clean Energy Target. They couldn't agree. We said we'd work with them. They've got a National Energy Guarantee. We said we could work with them, they can't agree on that. We need an energy market that drives more new investment in renewables, bringing down prices and bringing down pollution, and giving certainty and creating jobs.
LEVINGSTON: We've got to leave it there. Tanya Plibersek, thanks for your time this morning.
PLIBERSEK: Always a pleasure.