SUBJECT: Marriage equality.

PRESENTER: It is Michael and Dean - Mad Wednesday.  Our very special guest is Acting Leader of the Opposition, Tanya Plibersek. You alright?


PRESENTER: Yes all good. And we've got some bits and pieces about you.  You enjoy bushwalking, is that right?

PLIBERSEK: I do. I don't get to do enough of it, but I do.

PRESENTER: And Jane Austen, do you ever do the two together?

PLIBERSEK: Yeah I haven't managed to read and bushwalk at the same time but actually a weekend of bushwalking and reading Jane Austen by the fire in the evening would probably be my ideal weekend.

PRESENTER: That would be lovely 

PRESENTER: When do you ever, when will you get to do that in a year?

PLIBERSEK: Maybe when I retire.

PRESENTER: I mean you get holidays though, so what do you do on your holidays?

PLIBERSEK: Well the next holiday we're going to go to Lord Howe Island, which has a lot of bushwalking and a lot of time to read because there is no mobile reception and hardly any internet.

PRESENTER: Sounds awful.

PLIBERSEK: It is so great.

PRESENTER: You wouldn't be able to handle that.

PRESENTER: How will you take a selfie?

PLIBERSEK: I love it.  And then last holidays we went to the Galapagos Islands and that was probably the best ever holiday, that was just awesome.

PRESENTER: Are you angry at wombats now or have you forgiven the wombat community for being weed on?

PLIBERSEK: Look I came to terms with being peed on very quickly.

PRESENTER: You had no choice did you?

PLIBERSEK: No, and he only got it on my hands, like he managed to avoid my clothes and my shoes so I was actually completely grateful that it wasn't messier than it was. And as I said at the time, you can't have three children and not have been peed on at some stage.

PRESENTER: No but they don't do that now though, they're old enough to stop that now?

PLIBERSEK: No they haven't done it in some time, but thank you so much for asking.

PRESENTER: Now we're gotten some messages in.  We've got a message from Andrew in St Kilda.  He says thank you Tanya for being such a great advocate for the LGBTIQ community.  Your prowess as a speaker in Parliament is powerful.  We also got a message from David from Maribyrnong saying he's glad to hear you're on Joy.  He's just flown in from four weeks holiday overseas. He's only had two people in his family say they'll be voting Yes when the others have said they are still trying to make a decision, and one outright said no, because of the children.  Anyway, he's just picked up some leaflets from Trades Hall and he's hitting the streets now campaigning for his rights –

PLIBERSEK: Good for you.

PRESENTER: - and he's letting listeners know if they want to make a difference they can get out there and get active, and he's also doing a shout out to everyone who he'll see at the Equal Love rally this Sunday in Melbourne.  And there's another message from Connor who said thanks for this important discussion today.  He's finding this campaign incredibly difficult.  My immediate family are in support but it certainly brings back the fear, anxiety, the averted eyes of being judged and he thanks you, Tanya, for the incredible work you do.  You're an inspiring woman and we will make this fight for equality.

PRESENTER: Isn't that brilliant?

PLIBERSEK: That's lovely.

PRESENTER: I think if there's enough out there we'll get a signed posters for those ones that have messaged in, I think. Now I wanted to ask, for me, it baffles me, why our current Government didn't put this as a vote, why have they made it a survey.  I mean I know all of the rigmarole in between, but in your words.

PLIBERSEK: Yeah. So the reason why Ireland had a referendum is because marriage is described in the Constitution in Ireland.  It's not in the Australian Constitution, so all you need to change the law in Australia is a vote of the Federal Parliament. And that's what John Howard did in 2004 when just in an afternoon he redefined marriage to specify that it was between a man and a woman.  That's what we could do now.  We could redefine it back in an afternoon if we had a free vote of the Parliament.  The Government would have been happy for a more formal process because the No campaign are counting on this to delay or stop marriage equality.  So we know that the majority of Parliamentarians support marriage equality.  We know that the majority of the Australian people support marriage equality. But once you start bringing all these extra things in like think of the children and what does it do to freedom of speech, and blah blah blah, which, I've got to say, Tony Abbott and the No campaigners are very good at bringing in all these unrelated issues and frightening people. Like don't forget we had a vote in Australia about whether we wanted to be a Republic.  Massive public support for Australia to be a Republic and it was lost because people like Tony Abbott clouded the argument and they brought in all these other fears.  And so we ended up- they wanted a binding plebiscite, that went out to everyone they would have had to put that through the Parliament, couldn't get it through the Parliament, so they've just gone with this half-arsed thing that will still cost $122 million. But it could come back yes, it could come back no, it doesn't actually affect what the Parliament does, you still have to have the debate and the vote in the Federal Parliament.

PRESENTER: That's got to sting a bit when one of your daughter's comes out for the Yes campaign, doesn't it?

PLIBERSEK: Look I think it's actually fantastic that this has not been a party political campaign.  We've had Labor, conservatives, greens, independents all working together on Yes, and we've had a smaller group of people working on the No campaign-

PRESENTER: But my god they're mouthy and good at it, aren't they? At that negative No campaign.

PLIBERSEK: Well I think they're getting more publicity than their view represents as a share of the Australian community, that's for sure.  But having people like Frances Abbott come out in support of Yes, I think that's terrific, good on her, it's a wonderful thing to do. She's been specific in her video that she's doing it to support her aunt, but –

PRESENTER: Who is a lovely, lovely woman.

PLBERSEK: Again it brings you into this - why are we creating this environment where families are being divided –

PRESENTER: That's right.

PLIBERSEK: - instead of the Parliament doing its job?


PRESENTER: And it's already been done, the damage now has been done.  All we can do is try to be positive about it, with interviews like this. Obviously this has been, you know, completely in the Yes campaign because I couldn't possibly speak in the No, in anything about it.  We're grateful that you could come and join us today.  I did invite you back next week, you said you'll do it by phone. No, anytime you want to come back in, you know.

PRESENTER: We love you coming in here and talking to us today but also all the support you've shown our community in Parliament and through, just standing up for us, we're really grateful.

PLIBERSEK: Thank you.  And I want to say, I know this is an awful time and it's hard to imagine eight weeks of this campaign, but we are on the right side of history. This will happen. We are on the right side of history.

PRESENTER: Yes. That's right.

PRESENTER: I mean, 100 percent.  And all we've got to do now is vote yes, get those surveys back in wherever they are and try to remain, you know, onwards and upwards about it all, isn't it.

PRESENTER: Absolutely.

PLIBERSEK: And if you haven't got your survey form make sure you ring the Australian Bureau of Statistics and get a replacement survey form.  Don't leave it too late.

PRESENTER: Exactly. Thank you Tanya.

PRESENTER: Thank you very much.