THE HON TANYA PLIBERSEK MP
DEPUTY LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION
SHADOW MINISTER FOR EDUCATION AND TRAINING
SHADOW MINISTER FOR WOMEN
MEMBER FOR SYDNEY
ABC NEWS BREAKFAST
WEDNESDAY 1 AUGUST 2018
SUBJECTS: My Health Record; Malcolm Turnbull’s $17 billion of school cuts; 12 months since Human Rights Commission report into Sexual Assault on university campuses; Emma Husar.
MICHAEL ROWLAND, PRESENTER: Firstly to discuss this and other stories in politics we are joined from Sydney by the Deputy Opposition Leader Tanya Plibersek. Tanya Plibersek, good morning to you.
TANYA PLIBERSEK MP, DEPUTY LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION: Yeah good morning Michael.
ROWLAND: We'll kick off with these changes, quite radical changes to the My Health Record legislation. Are these changes the Labor Party supports?
PLIBERSEK: Look we haven't seen the detail of the changes yet but in principal anything that gives health consumers more confidence that their information is being kept privately is very important. This electronic health record is a very, very important innovation in health care. It will allow GPs and specialists, pharmacists and allied health professionals to work much better together for the health and safety of individual patients. We would like to see all Australians eventually, well certainly the majority, have an electronic health record, so anything that gives consumers confidence that their information is being properly treated is very important. This Government, don't forget, managed to stuff up the Census, they had the robo-calling, robo-debt problem with Centrelink, they are not very good at managing these large projects so it is time to look at some of the details, but all in all I've certainly got my electronic health record and I hope that when these wrinkles are sorted out others will have the confidence to join the system too.
ROWLAND: OK, let's turn to your shadow portfolio of education and it looks as though the Prime Minister, Tanya Plibersek, is about to smoke the peace pipe with the Catholic schools sector which could result in an extra $1.7 billion to Catholic schools over a decade. Is the Catholic school sector though being a bit unreasonable in its funding demands?
PLIBERSEK: Well this Government is actually probably the first in Australian history that's managed to unite all three education sectors against their funding cuts. I certainly hope that there is a resolution with Catholic schools that have lost funding but don't forget it is public schools that have been the biggest, the biggest losers under the Government's funding changes. About 86 percent of the funding that's been cut has been cut from public schools. So I hope there's a resolution with the Catholic sector and the independents but this Government has to restore the funding that's been cut across the board rather than just to one sector. Public schools educate the majority of children with a disability, the majority of children from poorer backgrounds, the majority of children in regional areas - they are the schools that have suffered most under these $17 billion of cuts and it would be a real problem if the Government only restored the funding cuts to one school sector. They need to restore the funding that has been cut across the board.
ROWLAND: OK, we are reporting this morning it's been a year this week since that devastating Human Rights Commission report detailing the full extent of sexual assault on university campuses was revealed. In the 12 months since, do you believe universities, Universities Australia the peak body, has done enough to address those concerns?
PLIBERSEK: Look, I think Universities Australia are sincere in their desire for change but I think you would have to say that the progress of individual universities in implementing the recommendations of this report - progress is not consistent. It is patchy. Imagine this - imagine you send your 18 year old daughter to school and she's sexually assaulted in the school playground, you would rain down hell upon that school. That same girl goes to university six months later and we know that if she is sexually assaulted she is unlikely to report it, and if she does report it, it's unlikely that she'll get adequate support or indeed that the perpetrator will be held to account. One report showed that of around 600 cases of sexual assault that were reported, six perpetrators were expelled from universities, and particularly when you are looking at residential colleges, not only are students studying, they are living at the university in a residential college, we must be able to provide a safe learning and living environment for these people.
ROWLAND: Universities Australia, as part of its response today, as you would have seen Tanya Plibersek, is proposing a number of things including what’s being called a 'bonk ban' involving PhD supervisors and their students. You have to ask the question though, why this has to be raised in the first place?
PLIBERSEK: Well I think it's extraordinary that if there wasn't a formal policy on this beforehand, I think it is actually extraordinary that we've got this far without such a policy. Of course there's a conflict of interest in a circumstance like this and an imbalance of power. So of course it's a sensible thing to clarify, although it amazes me it hasn't been clear to people before. Common sense should tell you that it's not a good idea. But I think that there are other areas that also need renewed focus. There were a lot of recommendations in that Human Rights Commission report last year. I believe we need an independent body to ensure that the recommendations are being properly progressed in every university and in all of the colleges and we need a standard way of reporting sexual assault and sexual harassment on campuses so that we can genuinely track our progress, make sure that we are making progress. I was a Women's Officer at the University of Technology, across the road from here 30 years ago, and I heard so many of the same complaints and I saw so many of the same excuses. I don't think we can afford this for decades to come. We need to act now.
ROWLAND: Just before we go, more revelations this morning about your Labor Party colleague Emma Husar, this time that she flew on the taxpayers’ dime to Brisbane in March this year to see a Bruno Mars concert. Does that sort of thing fly in your view?
PLIBERSEK: The first thing to say is there's an independent investigation at the moment so I'm not going to make too many specific comments. Generally, I would say that every single dollar of taxpayers’ money needs to be spent for taxpayers’ benefit, and we've got rules that should ensure that. People must follow those rules. Taxpayers need to have confidence that their investment in our democracy is well and wisely spent.
ROWLAND: We'll leave it there. Tanya Plibersek in Sydney, thank you so much for joining us on News Breakfast.
PLIBERSEK: Thank you.