SUBJECTS:  Tasmanian election; Reproductive health services in Tasmania; Child and Family Centre announcement for Latrobe; Barnaby Joyce, Ministerial Code of Conduct; Leadership.

PRESENTER: The Federal Deputy Opposition Leader is Tanya Plibersek and she joins me in the studio now. Good Afternoon Tanya, thanks for coming in. 

TANYA PLIBERSEK MP, DEPUTY LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION:  Oh it's such a pleasure to be here with you. 

PRESENTER: Welcome to Tasmania. The main reason you were here today was to announce basically  that if the Labor Opposition here was elected then they would be putting money towards a new child and family centre for Latrobe and this has all come about because of the Government’s announcement last week, I guess it was, that they were going to close abortion clinics. 

PLIBERSEK: Yes, so this morning I met with Bec White and with Michelle O'Byrne, with Julie Collins and a few other state candidates talking about the fact that Federal Labor would contribute $1 million to the building of a new reproductive health centre and would share the ongoing cost of that with the State Labor, if they become the Government. We are very worried that women in Tasmania are being told to get on a plane and go to Melbourne if they need a termination. You wouldn't send someone who needed a hip replacement to Melbourne for a hip replacement. Terminations are legal here in Tasmania, and the fact that you either have to go interstate to get an abortion or pay $2 500 at one of the private places just means that Tasmanian women don't have choices available to them that they should have available to them. And then now, this afternoon I've had a drive up here to Latrobe and I've made another announcement with Justine Keay, Gerry Gaffy, Wayne Roberts and Anita Dow about a child and family centre for Latrobe. Now, these are great places, I've visited a couple of these child and family centres over the years and they are beautiful. You go there and see playgroups, music groups, families are really welcomed in and supported. But it’s a great place to have all the health and education for 0-5 years olds in the one place, it’s such a terrific support for families. We met a young mum called Sam, who said it would have made a huge difference to her girls if she had had it locally. 

PRESENTER: Well, that’s a shame. Being a state election coming up, it’s a bit over a week and a half away now, you could have, and we expect federal politicians to come down during an election that a given...

PLIBERSEK: I like to actually come down at other times as well.

PRESENTER: I know you do, I know you do. You could have come down for any reason at all for any reason at all to do with the election, but you've chosen this one as the catalyst to get you down here. You are the Shadow Minister for Women, so this is obviously something that is pretty important to you. 

PLIBERSEK: Yeah I, look, I think ending a pregnancy is one of the most difficult decisions a woman can make. People don't make this decision lightly and to be told when you are stressed and unhappy that you have got to find $2 500 or get on a plane to Melbourne is just completely unacceptable. And the fact that the Hodgman Government says that it's situation normal and everything is OK shows just how out of touch they are. It’s an incredibly stressful thing to go through for most women and we want to make it as low stress as it can possibly be. I really hate the idea that someone would proceed with a pregnancy just because they couldn't find $2 500 to end it, I think that would, that is just the saddest thing in the world to bring a child into the world in those circumstances. 

PRESENTER: And if you're looking purely at the cost it would cost them a lot more after that than $2 500.

PLIBERSEK: Sure, but it's about having the money on hand at the time.

PRESENTER: Yes, indeed. While I've got you here, with the state election and there's a number of issues and Rebecca White has identified that health was going to be the major issue for her but I think possibly it might be running a close second to the pokies debate at the moment because as you'd be aware the Opposition has proposed to remove pokies from clubs and hotels and get them back into the casinos. What's your view on that?

PLIBERSEK: Look, I think health is obviously for most people the number one issue and we were really pleased to make the elective surgery announcement with Bec recently, but this pokies issue really, it hits almost everybody, they can tell you a personal story about their own lives. I had a friend that I went to high school with and lost touch with her for years, I met up with her years later and she told me that her husband had killed himself in their garage on their daughter's first birthday because he had gambled away the family home and business. 


PLIBERSEK: I don't think, the saddest thing in the world is that that's not unique, you hear terrible stories like that all the time. Most people can gamble a little bit but those people for whom it is an addiction do so much damage to their families and to their communities. So I think it’s the gutsy move from Bec. Tasmania is unique because you've got this opportunity now that these deeds are up for renewal to say this path or that path, we're going to keep going down the same road we're going or are we going to restrict pokies to casinos and places where they can be a bit more closely regulated and I think it’s a gutsy move. She's a gutsy woman.

JOURNALIST: Yes, it will make or break her that's for sure, I reckon. 

PLIBERSEK: Absolutely.

JOURNALIST: And look the other big news in federal politics over the past week or so has been Barnaby Joyce, the situation with his affair with his staffer and the Prime Minister has issued an edict 'Thou shall not have sex with members of staff' and we've just been, I just said yesterday on air we've just been through a long and drawn-out process so people can marry whoever they want to and now the Prime Minister is saying you can marry whoever you want to but you can't have sex with staff?

PLIBERSEK: I think your marriage vows should tell you that.


PLIBERSEK: I mean if common sense and common decency don’t tell you it’s a dumb thing to do, to have sex with your staff, I'm not sure that a Prime Ministerial Code of Conduct that Malcolm Turnbull has shown he is powerless to enforce, will do the trick. 

JOURNALIST: Well, he is saying even if a Minister is single and the staff member is single, that they still can’t you know be romantically linked. You can't help who you fall in love with can ya?

PLIBERSEK: I think there are a few things to say. Common sense tells you it's a bad idea for the boss to be having sex with other people on staff. It causes all sorts of awkwardness, favouritism, in some cases the opposite, in some cases; the relationships go bad, it's not the boss that gets punished it’s the other person. There are all sorts of complications there, so common sense should tell you it's a bad idea even if you are single. But if you do fall in love, and people who work together meet, a lot of people meet their partner at work, then you have to take steps to make sure there are no conflicts of interest. You do have to shift around who is working, who is actually the boss to make sure it' s not a boss and a subordinate having a relationship, take some steps to make sure there are no conflicts of interest. But can I tell you, actually our problem has not been the relationship so much as the conflicts of interest with taxpayers money that Barnaby Joyce has engaged with. We don't want to talk about his private life, we don't want to add to his family's troubles. But here he is, taking free accommodation in Armidale. He was telling people, oh Sydney house prices are so bad everyone should move to Armidale it's much cheaper there. Yeah, it’s really cheap if you are getting free rent from your mate, and now we find out that the mate that gave him free rent actually benefitted to the tune of thousands of dollars from functions that were organised in a hotel that this guy owned. That's not OK. It's not OK. Questions about travel allowance, questions about the creation of high paid jobs for his girlfriend - none of that is OK with taxpayers money. What you do in your own life, sure, I don't approve of it, but it's not my business. What is my business is how we are spending taxpayers money. 

PRESENTER: It's like common sense should prevail and there's no need to have an edict issued by the Prime Minister.

PLIBERSEK: You'd think.

PRESENTER: Yeah. Well you've been in federal politics for a long time now and one of the things I really like about Australian politics at the moment that's making it really interesting is the fact that we've got two very strong leaders. The Prime Minister is a strong leader, Bill Shorten is a strong leader, so the next Federal election is going to be quite interesting. And what I want to throw up as a hypothetical for you, say for example at the next election you lose, Bill Shorten steps down, you become the Leader and then maybe win the next election. Have you possibly got it in the back of your mind somewhere that 'One day I might be Prime Minister?'

PLIBERSEK: Oh look, nobody in our business says never to a dream like that, but we are so solid, united and disciplined now, and I think the reason we're doing well-

PRESENTER: Look I can see that as an outsider.

PLIBERSEK: Yeah. The reason we're doing well is because what we're focussed on is not who's jostling for the top job but actually doing something real for the people who depend on us, making sure that, we've seen wages flatline or go backwards, families are finding it hard to make ends meet, cuts to penalty rates are a real problem, cuts to health and education. If we were elected and I was the Education Minister, that would be my dream, so I could really put that extra $17 billion that's been cut out of our schools back into our schools, to make sure all our kids get a decent education. Apprenticeships as well - we've seen 2 000 fewer apprenticeships in Tasmania since the Liberals were elected. That’s just terrible for our kids. These are things that we've focussed on, not ourselves, not fighting each other to promote ourselves.

PRESENTER: I thought I'd ask anyway, I know later on I'll be asked ‘Oh yes, you had Tanya Plibersek in the studio today. Why didn't you ask her about being the Leader', so I just thought I'd throw that one in. Look great to have you in here today, really appreciated you coming in and spending your time here this afternoon. I know you got here a bit early and you had to wait for a while but thank you very much for coming in.

PLIBERSEK: Oh it's always lovely to be in Tassie and especially around Latrobe, I love it. I just wish I had more time to stop at the cherry place and all the great things that there are around here.

PRESENTER: You've missed the cherry season by about 3 weeks unfortunately but anyway.

PLIBERSEK: Yes I'll have to come down next year.

PRESENTER:Yeah and you can't take them home because of the fruit fly exclusion zone at the moment.

PLIBERSEK: I'm so disappointed.

PRESENTER: Have a safe trip home. Really appreciate you calling in this afternoon.

PLIBERSEK: Thank you.