THE HON TANYA PLIBERSEK MP
DEPUTY LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION
SHADOW MINISTER FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS
AND INTERNATIONAL DEVELOPMENT
MEMBER FOR SYDNEY
SKY NEWS AM AGENDA
MONDAY, 1 JUNE 2015
SUBJECTS: Marriage equality; South China Sea
KIERAN GILBERT, PRESENTER: With me now, the Deputy Labor Leader, Tanya Plibersek. Why did Labor not wait for the Greens, for the Government to get on board as well?
TANYA PLIBERSEK, DEPUTY LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION: We’ve been waiting too long. I mean, about 14 months ago, I wrote to all Liberal and Nationals MPs asking them to cosponsor a very similar bill to the one Bill will introduce today. And we were told by the supporters of marriage equality in the Liberal and National parties that they couldn’t cosponsor a bill until their partyroom decided on a free vote. But there could be no discussion in the partyroom about a free vote until there was a bill before the Parliament. So, for 14 months, we’ve had this standoff, this catch-22. I think after the momentum of the Irish vote last weekend, it was time for Australia to take this next step and to break this impasse. And as Bill said, I’m prepared to stand aside so that this can be seconded by a Liberal or National MP. I think that would make it bipartisan-
GILBERT: But that’s not going to happen, is it?
PLIBERSEK: But why not? I mean, this is the question, why not? Unless there is something specifically wrong with this piece of legislation that the Liberal and Nationals MPs can identify, something that they don’t support in this bill, why not support this bill that is before the Parliament now? You can only conclude that any delays are designed for political reasons of their own.
GILBERT: Well, in terms of the political reasons, though, is there anything in the Greens’ bill that Labor’s opposed to? Why didn’t you support that?
PLIBERSEK: Because this needs to be brought to the Parliament by the two major parties. The Greens have had bills in the past, they’ve got, you know, barely any votes. The last time this was brought to the Parliament, it was by Labor MP Stephen Jones, and about a third of the House of Representatives voted in favour and about two-thirds against. Since that time, a number of Labor MPs have said very publicly that they’ve changed their view on marriage equality because their communities’ views have evolved as well. This can succeed but it must have the backing of members of each of the major political parties to do so.
GILBERT: I know you’ve got to go, you have another commitment coming up, but just quickly on the comments made by Kevin Andrews to the Chinese Ambassador and at the Shangri La Dialogue warning China of a miscalculation given its actions in the South China Sea, does Labor support those comments?
PLIBERSEK: Well, I think it’s important for us to be very careful and judicious in our language. Of course, we support continued freedom of navigation in this area, it’s a very, very important trade route, but Australia has always stood aside from any conflicts or language that would escalate tensions in this area. We think it’s very important to continue to say that, Labor supporting freedom of navigation in this area, we also work towards deescalating tensions.
GILBERT: Do you think that Mr Andrews’ comments risk escalating the issue?
PLIBERSEK: No I think it’s just very important to be clear that we don’t take sides in these territorial disputes and we think they should be decided by international law.
GILBERT: Tanya Plibersek, thanks for your time.
PLIBERSEK: Thank you.