THE HON TANYA PLIBERSEK MP
DEPUTY LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION
SHADOW MINISTER FOR EDUCATION AND TRAINING
SHADOW MINISTER FOR WOMEN
MEMBER FOR SYDNEY
SKY AM AGENDA WITH KIERAN GILBERT
WEDNESDAY 12 SEPTEMBER 2018
SUBJECTS: Aged care; Peter Dutton; Scott Morrison’s exchange with Tasmanian Treasurer; Women in Parliament.
KIERAN GILBERT, PRESENTER: For more on this, reaction to this announcement and the other politics of the day, I spoke to the Deputy Labor Leader, Tanya Plibersek.
TANYA PLIBERSEK, DEPUTY LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION: Well it comes on top of $2 billion of cuts to aged care from this Government. In the last budget they made a big hoo-ha about how they were going to have more care packages but we found after the Budget that in fact they'd just moved money from one part of the aged care budget to another part of the aged care budget. There was no real increase. I think coming on top of $2 billion of cuts to aged care this is a very small re-investment in the sector. Of course any extra dollars are welcome, but this is a pathetically small restoration of a fraction of what's been cut.
GILBERT: $16 million going to the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission to police standards and so on. How important is it that those authorities are well-equipped?
PLIBERSEK: Oh it's very important that we make sure that every residential aged care facility is at a standard that would be acceptable to you for your parents or me for my parents. Of course-
GILBERT: Do you feel that they've got enough resources now, this Commission?
PLIBERSEK: I can't answer whether this means they are now properly equipped to do the work that they need to do, but I can certainly tell you that there are way too many people waiting for residential care and there are way too many people waiting on the home care waiting lists as well, and this re-investment is a drop in the bucket of what's needed.
GILBERT: When we look at a few of the other issues today, Scott Morrison defending Peter Dutton, saying that he is well within his rights to defend his reputation against false reports and he rejected the assertion that by referencing grooming of a young woman yesterday that he was suggesting that Roman Quaedvlieg was guilty of something much more sinister than what anyone has suggested.
PLIBERSEK: I think it's extraordinary that the Minister completely lost his cool in Question Time yesterday. I mean, one of the basic foundations of our Westminster system of government is in Question Time Ministers answer about whether they have made appropriate decisions, they defend those decisions. He's got every right, of course, to defend his decision-making. What he doesn't have the right to do is attack public servants under Parliamentary privilege in quite distasteful ways. I think it says a lot about the pressure that Peter Dutton feels he's under. Don't forget, it's not just Mr Quaedvlieg who's making these allegations. He's of course made submissions to the Senate inquiries, but so have other people made submissions to these Senate inquiries and it's perfectly reasonable for Labor, based on that publicly available information, to ask questions of the Minister. We would be irresponsible if we didn't ask questions.
GILBERT: Well Mr Dutton obviously believes that Roman Quaedvlieg is behind a lot of the information and he made a direct link to Mr Shorten's office, his international and security adviser is a former chief of staff to Roman Quaedvlieg, and Peter Dutton is saying that this is the Labor Party's Godwin Grech.
PLIBERSEK: Well I think it's interesting that he's using Godwin Grech. He's still kicking Malcolm Turnbull every chance he gets even though Malcolm Turnbull's left. But every question we've asked has been based on publicly available information. Now if there is an allegation that a Minister has taken a phone call from a mate and intervened within a matter of hours in a quite extraordinary way how could we not ask the follow up questions - was this a proper decision?
GILBERT: He says that they're not mates, he was simply acting on common sense and individual concerns, they hadn't spoken for twenty years-
PLIBERSEK: Sure, well you've read the email. Sure. 'Peter, long time between calls'. Like that doesn't sound like someone-
GILBERT: Twenty years is a long time.
PLIBERSEK: -people who don't know each other. And what is important here is that Peter Dutton originally said there was no personal relationship. That these people were not known to him. I think having worked with someone, someone who can call you “Peter” and get service within a matter of hours when most people wait weeks, months or years for the Minister to use his discretion-
GILBERT: He's got a defence though, hasn't he, in the sense that he didn't speak to this individual for twenty years. If I hadn't spoken to someone for twenty years I wouldn't consider them that close.
PLIBERSEK: I think you've got to very careful. If you're saying you don't know people and you used to work with them that is quite a different matter. But this is not Peter Dutton's only problem. Peter Dutton still hasn't answered the question about whether he is constitutionally eligible to be sitting in the Australian Parliament because he has received payments, he's got an arrangement with the Commonwealth in respect of his child care centres. He is in an absolute world of pain at the moment. He is lashing out and I think the sort language you saw yesterday under Parliamentary privilege is a sign of a man who's feeling the pressure and lashing out. I don't know if you noticed but he's carrying these stupid folders around, one says Bowen, one says Burke and he puts them on the dispatch box kind of threatening that he's going to ask questions of Chris Bowen and Tony Burke as former Immigration Ministers. Yesterday we asked him 'why don't you table the folders because we've got nothing to hide'. He wouldn't do that. I mean, this is a man under extreme pressure, lashing out, playing the bully, trying to get his own way.
GILBERT: The Treasurer, well, former Treasurer now Prime Minister, apparently has a robust conversation with the Tasmanian Treasurer, there were a few swear words used as well and accused the Tasmanian Treasurer of begging, allegedly. This has been rejected though by the Morrison office I should say, they say that it's not accurate, but it's front page of The Mercury today in Tasmania, also in the Herald Sun. In relation to this though, it wouldn't be the first time a Federal Treasurer has had harsh words with a State Treasurer, Mr Keating might have had the odd robust conversation?
PLIBERSEK: So we've moved from The Muppets to Meet the Feebles it seems. I think harsh words are often spoken. I think in these negotiations things can get quite heated. I'm not beyond using the occasional swear word myself, I confess. So I'm not judgey about that but I think if Scott Morrison wants to present a certain image to the Australian people of being warm and cuddly now, he ought to deal with his temper. He’s got quite a temper on him.
GILBERT: Okay, let's move on. He's denied this particular exchange but I do want to ask you about one last issue before you go and that is on female representation in the Parliament. Labor Party, well since 1994, your Labor Party was at 14.5 per cent female representation.
GILBERT: Quotas have worked for the Labor Party but clearly this goes against the Liberal Party approach to politics and to the Parliament. They say merit must drive everything here.
PLIBERSEK: I cannot believe that the implication that the Labor women who have got there since 1994 have not been people of merit. Julia Gillard, Penny Wong, Nicola Roxon, Kirsten Livermore, Michelle O'Byrne. Those women who came in at the same time as me: outstanding. In 1994 we were at 14.5 per cent and the Liberals were just under 14 per cent, 13.9 per cent. In the intervening time we are now at almost 50 percent, about 47 percent. The Liberals are still-
GILBERT: Does it stop bullying and that sort of robust conversation within the Labor Party?
PLIBERSEK: Yes well the Liberals are still at less than a quarter. It changes the culture. A work place that looks more like the Australian community, that has a better balance between men and women, different ages, different backgrounds, different ethnicities, different religions, we make better decisions for the whole Australian community when we look more like the whole Australian community and yeah I do think it changes the culture. I've been here for twenty years now and it used to be when I first arrived that if few women were standing around in the corridors together the blokes couldn't help it, they'd say 'Oh the ladies are plotting to take over the world'. Nobody even notices anymore because we are half women, nobody even notices anymore the influx of women that's come into the Labor Party. It's just business as usual, and I think that's great for the new people coming in.
GILBERT: Tanya Plibersek the Deputy Labor Leader.