TRANSCRIPT - Today Show, In the House, Friday 5 September 2014

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SUBJECT/S: Australia Post, Iraq.

KARL STEFANOVIC, PRESENTER: Just more on Australia Post now, we’ve got Malcolm Turnbull joining us along with Tanya Plibersek. Good morning, guys. Nice to see you. What is the likely outcome there? What’s going to happen? You can’t sustain those losses over a long period of time.

MALCOLM TURNBULL, MINISTER FOR COMMUNICATIONS: Well, the only solution really for Australia Post is to cut the cost of its mail business. I mean, people are not- we are not sending letters in the way we did, personally or at business level. What the company is arguing for is that there should be different classes of mail, so that most letters would not arrive the next day but arrive in three days. And then if you wanted to send a letter that would arrive next day that would be at a premium. But it is very tough because it is a high fixed cost business and the revenue is just declining year after year.

STEFANOVIC: So what is going to happen then? There are still a number of people, I’m sure pensioners rely on getting their mail like that, so there is going to be a transitional period. When will the cut backs start? They’ll have to start soon.

TURNBULL: Well the Government- we are considering what the company has put to us, we’re considering the independent report that BCG did for us. So we are literally- this is under consideration.

STEFANOVIC: What do you think is likely to happen?

TANYA PLIBERSEK, DEPUTY LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION: Well, I think it is interesting that the parcel business is still so strong. It is a real sign of the way the economy is changing and the way that we live is changing. Of course we have to look at it long-term.


TURNBULL: Can I make a point about that just to - you basically need over three dollars of parcel revenue to make up for every dollar of lost letter revenue and it is not growing at anything like that ratio. So, yes the parcel business is growing but its profits are swamped by the losses in the letter business and that will get bigger unless we make some tough decisions.

PLIBERSEK: We’ve just got to keep in our minds that it is a big country and a lot of people live in regional and remote areas and we do not want to do anything that cuts them off from their communications.

TURNBULL: No, no, that is absolutely right.

STEFANOVIC: Alright, let’s move on. We know that the leaders are getting it together overseas to discuss the growing problem with the Islamic State. There were a number of drops overnight from Australian aircraft into the troubled areas. There is seen to be growing momentum now for some sort of ground involvement. Are you preparing us for that? Should the Australian public be prepared for that eventuality, and sooner rather than later?

TURNBULL: What the Prime Minister has said is that the decisions relating to military involvement in Iraq will be taken by the Cabinet and indeed with consultation with the Opposition. The decision that we have taken to date is for the Air Force to deliver arms and other supplies to the Iraqi defence forces and of course the Kurdish Peshmerga to ensure they have the means to stand up against this death cult, ISIL, that is rampaging across Iraq and Syria. But any further steps, you know, could be considered but at this stage we are not sending Australian troops on the ground.

STEFANOVIC: Tanya, you told the ABC we needed to ensure any action left the place better not worse. How would that be measured?

PLIBERSEK: I think the first and most important task right now is to prevent genocide. The reason that Australia is arming the Peshmerga and other forces in the north is because IS are bent on killing everyone who is different from them. The Peshmerga, the Kurdish fighters are really the most effective fighting force holding that back. They are not just defending Kurdish land and Kurdish people but other religious and ethnic minorities. So the first measure of success is preventing genocide and ethnic cleansing. Longer term I think it is just important to keep in our minds that after the invasion of Iraq in 2003 there was involvement there from the US, from Australia, Britain and other countries for a long time. But it did not stabilise Iraq. So there needs to be a clear objective now, which is to prevent genocide. Of course we support that. We have been very supportive of that. Longer term we need to make sure that we are supporting the Iraqi people to fight off IS and the Iraqi people to provide stable government in their own land.

STEFANOVIC: The Greens are urging Australians not to call Islamic State terrorists. Are you comfortable with calling them terrorists?

PLIBERSEK: Of course they are terrorists. They’re using death and fear to try to control a whole population.

TURNBULL: They are the absolute definition. What planet are the Greens on, that’s a good question.

STEFANOVIC: We all have agreement - we don’t know what planet they’re living on.

TURNBULL: Certainly not in our solar system that’s for sure. They are literally –  they never fail to disappoint on the downside the Greens. At this moment what could be - it is difficult to imagine a more quintessentially terrorist act than what ISIL has been undertaking with these mass killings. Killing, beheading people on video.

PLIBERSEK: Fear, propaganda, violence.

TURNBULL: It’s classic terrorism. I find it staggering what the Greens are saying.

PLIBERSEK: It is designed to instil fear and it’s designed to gain an objective through the use of murder as a propaganda weapon. It’s terrorism.

TURNBULL: Of course. You’re right.

STEFANOVIC: It’s some very, very heavy news around at the moment, we appreciate you coming in today.

PLIBERSEK: Thank you.

TURNBULL: Very good to be here.


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