TRANSCRIPT - TELEVISION INTERVIEW - THE TODAY SHOW WITH DEBORAH KNIGHT - MONDAY, 18 FEBRUARY 2019

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THE HON TANYA PLIBERSEK MP
DEPUTY LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION
SHADOW MINISTER FOR EDUCATION AND TRAINING
SHADOW MINISTER FOR WOMEN
MEMBER FOR SYDNEY
 
  

E&OE TRANSCRIPT
TELEVISION INTERVIEW
THE TODAY SHOW WITH DEBORAH KNIGHT
MONDAY, 18 FEBRUARY 2019
 
SUBJECTS: IPSOS poll; Labor’s announcement to attract the best and brightest into teaching; School funding; Border security.

DEBORAH KNIGHT, HOST: Deputy Labor Leader, Tanya Plibersek, joins us now in the studio. Tanya, good morning to you. 

TANYA PLIBERSEK, DEPUTY LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION: Good morning. 

KNIGHT: We know that tough talk from the Coalition on stopping the boats has cost Labor votes and elections in the past. A poll shift like this so close to the election, it must be quite worrying for you.

PLIBERSEK: Well, we always expected there'd be a scare campaign because the Government's got no other tool in the toolbox. They can't run on unity and discipline - they're still a rabble. And they can't run on their record because you've got: wages flat-lining while the cost of everything goes up; cuts to schools and hospitals; they've just dumped their eleventh energy policy - so they've got no answers when it comes to power prices or pollution. 

KNIGHT: But this is best poll result that Scott Morrison has seen as Prime Minister and it was taken during the peak of the border security debate last week. Have you misread voter sentiment here? 

PLIBERSEK: Oh no, I think when you have a Prime Minister running a full ball scare campaign, it's going to have an impact but we need to be very clear and explain to people that this - the changes we've made last week applied to a few hundred people on Manus Island and Nauru - this is not a significant change when it comes to our borders...

KNIGHT: And it won't shift a significant change now in Labor policy - and you won't, sort of, rethink in light of this?

PLIBERSEK: No, absolutely not. This is about people who've been on Manus Island and Nauru for almost six years who need medical treatment in Australia. This doesn't change anything for anybody who's currently in Indonesia thinking about making the trip to Australia. I think it is, actually, quite dishonest of the Government to pretend that it's something broader than that.

KNIGHT: Well education is definitely safer ground for Labor and you're wanting to shift tact on that this week, we know. Now the policy that you're announcing - it's offering financial support for high achieving students to get into teaching in the first place, but is this the best approach? 

PLIBERSEK: Yeah, I think it's part of what we need to do to raise the status of teaching to make sure that people are competing to get into teaching degrees the same way they compete to get into medicine or law. We want our best and brightest to become teachers. We want to raise the status of the profession and this is one important way of doing it. We want people who've been the dux of their high school or a university medallist or professionally successful in another career to think about going into teaching to pass on their knowledge, their skills to the next generation. 

KNIGHT: There'll be a lag, obviously, in this taking effect - wouldn't the money be better invested on education directly in the first place rather than on students and how are you going to guarantee that these students will actually stay in teaching in the long term?

PLIBERSEK: So, they have to stay in teaching for as long as they've received the bursary. So if they get a bursary for one year, they have to commit to being a teacher for one year; if they get it for four years, they have to stay in teaching for four years. But on the question of greater resources, I absolutely agree, that's why Labor has committed $14 billion extra to our public schools, we've said that we'd match the government in restoring funding to Catholic and independent schools. But for public schools, this government has said; "if you send your kids to a public school, you don't get a dollar extra." 

So, people can check our Fair Go For Schools website and see exactly how much better off their school would be under the first three years of a Labor government. 

KNIGHT: Well, Labor no doubt will want to keep talking about education but the PM is going to want to keep talking about border security. We know that is his strength. He's saying that any boat arrivals - new boat arrivals - will be on Labor's head and Bill Shorten's head personally. Will you actually see any change to offshore or border protection policy if Labor wins government?

PLIBERSEK: Well, the laws last week were really, specifically just about people on Manus Island and Nauru and Scott Morrison has been trying to dishonestly say ...

KNIGHT: But should we expect ...

PLIBERSEK: ... that it was broader than that. 

KNIGHT: ... any changes to Labor policy if you win government?

PLIBERSEK: No, we've been very clear that we keep offshore processing, we keep turn-backs where it's safe to do so. We do want to make sure that we continue to bring people who are in need of Australia's assistance to Australia but on a plane - safely. Nobody wants to see the people smugglers back in business because too many lost their lives and it is revolting to think of people smugglers putting vulnerable people onto leaky boats and taking them to Australia. 

KNIGHT: Well, our reporter in Indonesia spoke directly to people smugglers over late last week and over the weekend; and they told her that they were reconsidering getting people on boats and they're looking very seriously at Australia ...

PLIBERSEK: Yeah.

KNIGHT: ... as a real option now. 

PLIBERSEK: So, they're watching and when Scott Morrison says; "things have got easier for people smugglers now." He is doing their work for them. He is the people smugglers' billboard right now when he's saying that our borders have become weaker somehow. It's not true. The changes last week, they only apply to people on Manus Island and Nauru and they are only necessary because this government has utterly failed to find third country resettlement for people on Manus and Nauru. Why didn't they take New Zealand's offer to resettle those people on New Zealand? Who knows?

KNIGHT: All right, well we'll see the fireworks that unfold in Parliament, this week, as you head back to Canberra, Tanya Plibersek, thanks for joining us this morning. 

PLIBERSEK: Thank you.

ENDS