TRANSCRIPT - ABC AM, Monday 27 April 2015

 

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THE HON TANYA PLIBERSEK MP
ACTING LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION
SHADOW MINISTER FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS
AND INTERNATIONAL DEVELOPMENT
MEMBER FOR SYDNEY

 

E&OE TRANSCRIPT
RADIO INTERVIEW
ABC AM
MONDAY, 27 APRIL 2015

SUBJECTS: Earthquake in Nepal; Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran; Marriage equality

MICHAEL BRISSENDEN (PRESENTER):  Shadow Foreign Minister and she joins me now. Tanya Plibersek, welcome to the program.

TANYA PLIBERSEK (ACTING LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION): Michael, it’s good to talk to you.

BRISSENDEN: We'll get to the gay marriage issue shortly but first to Nepal, obviously this is a terrible tragedy unfolding there?

TANYA PLIBERSEK: Well, it's the shocking and as the hours pass the death toll rises. Yesterday in the first reports we were talking about 1300 lives lost. We already look to be close to double that number. Of course, if there are further aftershocks the concern is that the death toll might increase even more. It's very hard obviously to get reliable information. The area affected is quite isolated anyway and with roads and power out as well it's difficult to get certain information.

BRISSENDEN: And just quickly on the Bali Nine, you've spoken to the families of both Chan and Sukumaran in the past. Have you spoken to them since they were given the 72 hours notice?

PLIBERSEK: I have spoken to their families in the past and I have spoken to their lawyers as well. We have regular contact. They are obviously very concerned about being given the 72 hours notice and particularly as the legal processes are not yet complete.

As the Foreign Minister said on your program a moment ago, there is of course a constitutional court matter that is still pending and of enormous concern is this issue within the Judicial Commission where very serious allegations have been made about impropriety during the sentencing or before the sentencing. It is absolutely completely unacceptable for this sentence to be carried out while those legal matters are still pending.

We have said all along that we hoped that the Indonesian President would show clemency in this case but whether or not he is prepared to show clemency, at the very least we would expect all of the legal processes to be allowed to be completed before this sentence is carried out. What would it be like, Michael, if these legal processes find that there have been irregularities in the sentencing and these young men have already lost their lives?

BRISSENDEN: There have been obviously a lot of top-level diplomatic appeals to the President directly. He doesn't seem to be listening, does he?

PLIBERSEK: He doesn't seem to be listening to top-level appeals from Australia or from other nations. Sadly, he's also not listening to public opinion in his own country. There are very many Indonesians saying now that it is a very serious issue to proceed with these sentences before the legal processes are complete. There was an article in the Jakarta Globe, again critical of the point that the President seems to be trying to make, that he can't be swayed by international pressure.  And I think it's important to note that this domestic pressure against the death penalty in Indonesia is at least in part, because as we have always said, it is impossible for Indonesia to argue for its own citizens on death row in countries around the world while it is carrying out these sentences against not just Australians but the nationals of many other nations within Indonesia.

BRISSENDEN: What are the consequences to our relationship if this goes ahead?

PLIBERSEK: I think it's important not to start talking about potential consequences yet. Our focus today and in the coming days needs to be 100 per cent on asking the President of Indonesia, pleading with him indeed, to show clemency or at the very least to allow these legal processes to be seen to their conclusion.

BRISSENDEN: Let's move to the issue of gay marriage. In 2011 the ALP national conference voted 208 to 184 to allow MPs and Senators the right to opt out if it came to a vote in parliament. Do you have the numbers to overturn this?

PLIBERSEK: That's something we'll determine over coming months and when we get to conference.

BRISSENDEN: Why should they be compelled then?

PLIBERSEK: Because in our national platform, issues like abortion and euthanasia, that people consider to be issues of life or death, allow a conscience vote for ALP members. This is not that type of issue. This is an issue about legal equality, and marriage of course for some people is a religious sacrament but for many, many people it is, as well as that or indeed instead of that, it is a legal agreement, it's an acknowledgment by our community of the rights and responsibilities that a permanent relationship presents and I think when you're talk about an issue like this, which is an issue of legal discrimination it is important for the Labor Party to say, "We don't agree with legal discrimination."

BRISSENDEN: You would have seen your colleague Catherine King on the weekend suggesting that compelling MPs to do this risks becoming a distraction from the whole issue. Is this a fight you don't need to have?

PLIBERSEK: Obviously Michael, it's not on the same scale as the issue of the loss of life of Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran, it's not like the earthquake in Nepal, I'm not saying it's the most important issue in the world but when presented with the question: do we support legal discrimination or do we not? I think the answer has to be we don't.

BRISSENDEN: Tanya Plibersek, thanks very much for joining us.

ENDS

 

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TRANSCRIPT - ABC Radio National Breakfast, Thursday 2 April 2015

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THE HON TANYA PLIBERSEK MP
DEPUTY LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION
SHADOW MINISTER FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS AND INTERNATIONAL DEVELOPMENT
MEMBER FOR SYDNEY

 

E&OE TRANSCRIPT
RADIO INTERVIEW
ABC RADIO NATIONAL BREAKFAST
THURSDAY, 2 APRIL 2015

SUBJECT/S: Foreign policy; Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank; pensions; NSW election.

FRAN KELLY, PRESENTER: You’ve set out in a speech this week Labor’s broad approach to foreign affairs, you delivered the speech to something called the Melbourne Forum, and in it you criticised the Abbott Government’s approach as being transactional and short term. What do you mean by that?

TANYA PLIBERSEK, DEPUTY LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION: I mean that they’re a bit focused on the inbox rather than thinking about how our world is going to change over the next ten years or the next fifty years and thinking about how we can position Australia best in that changing world. I also think it’s important that we continue to be values-based in our approach to foreign affairs and that means being a supporter of multilateral institutions, a rules-based international system. I hadn’t seen much evidence of that from the Abbott Government either. Last week Julie Bishop said that she was going to seek another term on the Security Council for Australia –

KELLY: Well that’s supportive of multilateral institutions.

PLIBERSEK: It’s fantastic and that’s why we supported it. But if you recall when they were in Opposition, the Liberals said that it was vain and a waste of money for Australia to pursue a seat on the Security Council and yet you look at the benefits of our involvement in the Security Council –

KELLY: So they’ve been persuaded?

PLIBERSEK: I hope they’ve been persuaded and I hope that it signals that they’re going to have greater involvement with these international institutions but if you look at the position on the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank and if you look at our position on climate change, you’ve got the United States, China, Europe already signalling what their targets are going to be post 2020 going into the climate change conference in Paris later this year and Australia once again holding back and isolating itself from this global trend.

KELLY: When you’re accusing the Government of being a bit transactional, or as you say a bit focused on the inbox, to be fair the inbox has been pretty full since this Government came to power. We had the downing of MH370, Russia’s aggression in Ukraine, the rise of ISIS. These crises have blown up, the Government’s had to deal with them, that’s kept the Foreign Minister - no one can accuse the Foreign Minister Julie Bishop of not being very busy.

PLIBERSEK: No, I think it is absolutely vital that we deal with each of those important issues in the most sensible and appropriate way. That’s not my criticism. My criticism is if you don’t look long term and if you don’t look for the solutions that underpin those individual instances then you can’t build a more peaceful and prosperous world long term. If you’re dealing with each instance as it comes up, that’s important to do. But what you have to do is look ahead, plan ahead and work for the long term future peace and prosperity of our country and our region. And that means, in the case of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, for example, accepting that China, as it grows in economic power, will expect to have a greater say in the multilateral institutions that sprung up mostly after the Second World War, like the IMF. When the US Senate blocks China having a greater say in the IMF or these other international institutions, it is not surprising that China seeks to establish its own infrastructure investment bank. How are we –

KELLY: But that is the point the Government’s come to, isn’t it?

PLIBERSEK: Yeah about six months too late –

KELLY: Too late for what?

PLIBERSEK: About six months too late to influence the direction of the bank from the ground level. Our best interests as a nation are served by having a great relationship with the United States and a great relationship with China. And for some inexplicable reason we have been told, or in fact not even told, it’s been hinted that the United States didn’t want Australia to sign up to this. Well, we need to make decisions that are in our best interests and in our long term interests and that means engagement, deep engagement in our region and a strong relationship with the United States but a relationship, as Kevin Rudd said, of alliance not compliance.

KELLY: But nobody would like Australia to be at the beck and call of anybody, America or China. Sure, the Government has taken some time to sign up to the China Bank, if we can shorthand it to that, but they have done it. We asked the Trade Minister Andrew Robb whether you know not getting in at the first blush was going to reduce influence. He’s adamant it’s not going to, why are you so sure it will?

PLIBERSEK: What would you expect him to say, Fran? ‘Yes, we stuffed it up’?

KELLY: But tell my why it will do that.

PLIBERSEK: Because we are one of the last countries to join on the very last day that membership in the initial round was open. I think the very strong signal that has sent, not just to China but to allies in our region and friends in our region, is that we are biddable. And we shouldn’t be. We should be sending a very strong message that we will do what is in Australia’s long term interests and that includes massive infrastructure investment in our region. We had a meeting of the G20 in Brisbane, which incidentally also the Opposition were sceptical and critical of before they became the Government - we had a meeting of the G20 in Brisbane where our own Government was saying what our region lacks is substantial infrastructure investments. We have an opportunity to partner with China to say we want that initial $50 billion and then $100 billion investment in infrastructure in our region and we want to be part of setting the parameters of how that money is spent. So we want to be in on the ground floor talking about the institutional arrangements of the bank, transparency, accountability, how decisions are made about how that very important new funding is spent, and instead we’re running along after the pack.

KELLY: Can I ask you on a couple of other issues? Pensions in the news still - have been pretty much since the last budget in May. Scott Morrison seems to be a bit keen on a proposal by ACOSS to limit eligibility to the age pension, talking about changing the assets test, for instance. He says he’ll speak to the cross benchers about this. Is it something Labor would consider supporting? Is it a good idea?

PLIBERSEK: Well the first thing to say is it’s a very clear broken promise. Tony Abbott said in that famous interview on the night before the election ‘no cuts to health, no cuts to education, no cuts to the ABC or SBS, no change to pensions and no new taxes’ and –

KELLY: It might be a broken promise but is it fair that people, couples with wealth in excess of $1.1 million in addition to the family home can access some of the pension?

PLIBERSEK: It just troubles me that the first thing Scott Morrison goes to is pensions. We’ve said as a Labor Opposition that if they’re interested in looking at people with very high superannuation balances that we’re prepared to look at whether we can support something in that area. Remember when we were in government, we tried to move on people with balances of more than $2 million in their super and the Liberals backed that. It troubles me that the first thing they start looking at is pensions, particularly when they’ve said no change to pensions and particularly when their first proposal was in fact to cut the indexation rate of pensions which would’ve taken the average pension down by $80 a week within ten years. So, we don’t have a specific proposal from Scott Morrison, you know he’s –

KELLY: No, this is not a new idea though. The Grattan Institute has been talking about this for a long time. Labor must have looked at this.

PLIBERSEK: He’s free to put to us a proposal and of course we’ll have a look at it. But it troubles me that they reversed our measures on multinational tax that was a couple of billions of dollars, they reversed our measures on high income superannuation, they’ve given up the revenue from carbon pricing, they’ve given up the revenue from mining tax and now they’re running once again to pensioners.

KELLY: We’ve heard from Richard Di Natale earlier on a push for Parliamentary inquiry, a Senate inquiry on the handling of the ASADA anti-doping case against Essendon. Some have suggested that as part of that inquiry it needs to be focused on that press conference two years ago, the blackest day of sports press conference - and some have accused Labor of trying to make political mileage out of that, of beating up the Crime Commission report to make political diversion. You were a Cabinet Minister at the time, was this a political move?

PLIBERSEK: Not at all, it was an interest in making sure there’s no doping in our sport.

KELLY: On NSW election, there’s been considerable soul searching for Labor here in your home state. You lost the election, that’s not a surprise but you also didn’t win back Balmain and the new seat of Newtown which was new, the Greens won those seats. Are the Greens poised to become the natural party of the progressive left, have Labor lost that ground now?

PLIBERSEK: It’s a very interesting result for the Greens because of course state-wide their vote hasn’t budged, it hasn’t gone up, it hasn’t gone down. But the concentration of the vote in Newtown, in Balmain, in Ballina, in Lismore –

KELLY: In progressive seats.

PLIBERSEK: Well, in progressive seats and relatively wealthy seats, I think you have to say, has been very intense. The Green vote in my federal seat has always been high, I’ve always treated it as a marginal seat because the Liberal and Green vote combined together is something that we have to watch. Look, I think one of the things that surprised me when I was on the booths was people were voting Green and you would talk to them about Green policies and they would actually say ‘but that’s alright, they’ll never be able to implement them’. And I think that’s something that we’re going to have to really wrestle with as parties of government, that when your opponents have the freedom to promise anything and never be held to account, that is something that we’re going to have to deal with.

KELLY: Aren’t you also going to have to face the fact that whatever you’re promising, they’re not buying and Labor’s response to that is perhaps not the best way to get these voters back. I notice that for instance there’s been some belittling of Greens voters, the Greens are stealing Labor’s votes, is that a –

PLIBERSEK: Well it’s a democracy. We compete for votes, we don’t own anybody’s votes and I don’t like that sort of language at all. Our responsibility as Members of Parliament is to set out our vision for the nation; how we would address the problems that beset us, how we would make the most of the advantages that we have. The issue for parties of government, like Labor, is that those explanations have to credible, they have to be implementable. When we’ve had independents, minor parties in the past, they have always been able to promise the world because they’ve never been held to account on delivering and I think if minor parties are going to become major parties, then they have to be held to the same standards.

KELLY: Tanya Plibersek, thank you very much for joining us.

ENDS

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TRANSCRIPT - Doorstop Interview, Sunday 29 March 2015

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THE HON TANYA PLIBERSEK MP
ACTING LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION
SHADOW MINISTER FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS AND INTERNATIONAL DEVELOPMENT
MEMBER FOR SYDNEY

E&OE TRANSCRIPT
DOORSTOP INTERVIEW
SYDNEY
SUNDAY, 29 MARCH 2015

SUBJECTS: NSW state election; Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank; Joe Hockey’s unfair Budget, Bank Tax.

TANYA PLIBERSEK, ACTING LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION: Thanks very much for coming out this morning. First of all, of course my congratulations to Mike Baird on securing a second term. But my congratulations also to Luke Foley on a fantastic campaign. We’ve seen almost a 9 per cent swing to Labor across NSW with a gain of between 10 and 14 seats, it’s a terrific achievement after just one term in opposition and it shows what a united and determined opposition can do to hold a government to account.

JOURNALIST: Were you surprised by the swing at all?

PLIBERSEK: No, I think the swing was pretty much in line with what I expected. Of course I hoped to be pleasantly surprised and I was hoping of course for a surprise win in NSW as we had surprise wins in Queensland and to some extent Victoria. But the size of the swing was pretty much in line with what we expected.

JOURNALIST: The big story in this election by the looks of it is the Greens picking up the two seats outside of Sydney, I think you were talking this morning about how it wasn’t actually that high across the state, but it is trouble for you in your seat, isn’t it?

PLIBERSEK: Well, I think the interesting thing about the Green vote is that it hasn’t changed overall across the state of NSW, they haven’t really picked up as a percentage of the vote, they haven’t really dropped, they’ve pretty much stayed steady. Of course, it does mean between 2 and 4 seats because those votes are concentrated in the inner city and the north coast. It doesn’t really change anything in my seat, I’ve always treated my seat as a marginal seat, I’ve worked hard to win and keep the trust of the people that I represent and I’ll continue to do that.

JOURNALIST: But do you accept that some of those voting demographics are changing and that there might be, particularly over the next four years, even more movement towards the Greens, particularly in those areas and Grayndler as well?

PLIBERSEK: There’s been a reasonably high Green vote in the inner city for some time now and both Anthony Albanese, the Member for Grayndler, and I have treated our federal seats as though they are marginal seats.

JOURNALIST: Mike Baird and Scott Morrison this morning were saying that the result is a repudiation of the scare campaign run by Labor in NSW and that Bill Shorten and the Federal Opposition should take some lessons from that. What do you make of those comments?

PLIBERSEK: Well I think they’re strange comments given we’ve picked up between 10 and 14 seats and a swing of 9% would’ve seen many governments dislodged so while I congratulate Mike Baird, I wouldn’t say that it’s a great source of comfort for him to have lost between 10 and 14 seats. I’d also say it’s pretty extraordinary that on a NSW polling day, a Prime Minister who’s a native of NSW is interstate and it shows just how unpopular Tony Abbott has been in the NSW election.

JOURNALIST: Bill Shorten was in China, though.

PLIBERSEK: Well, Bill Shorten’s a Victorian, he’s not someone who comes from NSW and Bill Shorten has spent more time in NSW over the last few weeks than you would reasonably expect, he’s been here many, many times. Tony Abbott’s been nowhere to be seen. We saw Tony Abbott choosing to be interstate yesterday when he should’ve been here in NSW campaigning with his best friend Mike Baird. If he thought he was any asset to the NSW campaign he certainly would’ve been here and I noticed Julie Bishop was able to make it to NSW last night but not Tony Abbott.

JOURNALIST: There’s been quite a bit of commentary about how nice both the leaders were in NSW. Mike Baird said so about Luke Foley, Luke Foley said it in return. Any chance we’ll see the same level of niceness in the federal campaign?

PLIBERSEK: Well I think we’re all very nice at the Federal level. I think actually, to be serious about this for a moment, I think people have responded to a campaign that has mostly been a campaign about ideas and not personalities. We have seen some notable exceptions and the disgusting campaign against Cameron Murphy is one example of that. I think by and large, people respond to positive ideas and a focus on issues rather than personalities.

JOURNALIST: There are a couple of key Labor people who didn’t quite make it into the lower house who are seen as the progressive face of the Party, I’m talking Penny Sharpe and Verity Firth here. What do you make of the results for people like that in the Labor Party in NSW? Do we need to do something about that?

PLIBERSEK: I think Penny Sharpe and Verity Firth were two of our very best candidates and probably the most disappointing element of last night’s loss is seeing Penny Sharpe and Verity Firth not in the State Parliament. They would’ve made a great contribution to the people of NSW, they both have, they’ve got a proven track record. And of course now the challenge is, if indeed those two seats are Greens seats, to make sure that all of the promises that were made by those candidates, those Green candidates, they’re held to account to those promises in the same way that Labor is held to account for our promises and Liberals are held to account for their promises and we’ll see in four years time what those people have managed to deliver.

JOURNALIST: Barnaby Joyce was saying this morning that the Labor Party is irrelevant two hours any side of Sydney, what do you make of those comments?

PLIBERSEK: I think if you have a look at the Central Coast seats, the Hunter seats, and indeed right up the coast as far as Port Stephens, Barnaby Joyce obviously wasn’t watching the results last night. We’ve done very well outside of Sydney, we look to have picked up a few seats that were kind of surprising, that Labor wasn’t expected to pick up and I think- I don’t know whether Barnaby Joyce wasn’t watching the results last night, but he seems to have missed one of the key elements of last night.

JOURNALIST: Can I just ask you, just moving onto a federal issue, the China bank, why should Australia join?

PLIBERSEK: Labor has been saying since September and October last year that the Australian Government should sign up to the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank. Of course we need to make sure that the governance of the bank and the transparency and accountability mechanisms are strong but the Government itself says that there is a shortage of funding for infrastructure in the Asia-Pacific region. This is starting at $50 billion moving to $100 billion worth of investment in infrastructure in our region critically needed. It’s also a very important opportunity for Australia and China to continue to strengthen our relationship. It’s a very good relationship built over four decades, but this is an added opportunity for Australia and China to work together for the benefit of our region.

JOURNALIST: How much should Australia invest do you think in this bank?

PLIBERSEK: First things first. We’ve had a government that’s been squabbling and leaking over whether they should join. We’ve had a split in the Cabinet that has meant that for six months there has been no answer and no progress on whether Australia will sign up. We’ve seen first steps of an indication that Australia will sign up released in the middle of the state election campaign. I mean, Parliament’s been sitting for five out of the last seven weeks. It is extraordinary that the Government haven’t chosen that time to talk about investment in the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, instead they’ve tried to slip out a press release that they thought no one would notice because they were distracted by the state election. This is a very good opportunity for Australia, Australia should’ve been involved months ago and instead of squabbling and leaking, the Government should answer the basic questions about whether we’ll sign up, when we’ll sign up and how much we’ll contribute.

JOURNALIST: Do you think the caution’s valid though given the concerns about transparency, the US is a bit concerned about who will be in control of the bank? Do you think that the waiting is valid?

PLIBERSEK: Look, I think it’s important to be confident about the institutional arrangements of the bank, but the best way to do that is through engagement with China. Instead of that, we’ve been holding back, a split in the Cabinet about whether we should sign up at all. And you notice that our most important trading partners and frequent allies have actually joined up, other than the United States, a number of our most important international friends have said that they will join up. I think if Australia’s interested in the institutional arrangements, the best way to ensure that they are strong and transparent is to get involved from the ground level.

JOURNALIST: I just have another couple of questions about taxing. Should there be a cut to income tax, do you think the Government should look at that?

PLIBERSEK: Another interesting thought bubble from Joe Hockey yesterday about a bank tax. This is now the fifth new tax proposal from the Government. Today we’ve heard another story about bracket creep. This is all from a Government that said before the last election there’d be no new taxes. We’re now at the fifth and possibly the sixth suggestion for new taxes or tax increases. It’s up to Joe Hockey, instead of floating thought bubbles, to come out with a credible budget. He still hasn’t landed his budget from last year, he should be about to land his budget for this year and instead we’re hearing these extraordinary kind of thought bubbles from the Government about what might happen, what might not happen thrown out here and there. What this Government needs is a credible plan for the Australia economy, a plan that will see increased jobs, and better standards of living for Australians in the future. Instead they’ve got a messy budget with a Treasurer who obviously doesn’t know what he’s doing.

JOURNALIST: And just quickly on the NSW state election again, quite a few Labor women were elected last night as well, that’s really quite unexpected, it’s a good result, isn’t it?

PLIBERSEK: Yeah, we’ve got some fantastic candidates. There’s new women coming to the Parliament like Jo Haylen, like Trish Doyle, like Julia Finn, it looks like we’ll get Kate Washington up. There’s a terrific new batch of- new candidates coming in, Jihad Dib and other fantastic candidates who’ll make a great contribution to the State Parliament but Luke’s quite right, we’ve got a great new generation of women entering the Parliament too.

ENDS

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TRANSCRIPT - ABC AM Radio, Sunday 29 March 2015

coats arms

THE HON TANYA PLIBERSEK MP
ACTING LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION
SHADOW MINISTER FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS AND INTERNATIONAL DEVELOPMENT
MEMBER FOR SYDNEY

 

E&OE TRANSCRIPT
RADIO INTERVIEW
ABC AM
SUNDAY, 29 MARCH 2015

SUBJECT: NSW state election.

MICHAEL BRISSENDEN, PRESENTER: Tanya Plibersek, Sam Dastyari, the New South Wales Labor Senator and former General Secretary of the NSW Party said last night that Martin Ferguson should be expelled from the party for what he said about the way Luke Foley conducted the campaign. Do you agree?

TANYA PLIBERSEK, ACTING LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION: Look, I certainly think it wasn’t helpful for Martin Ferguson to make the intervention that he did but that’s something that we’ll discuss in due course inside the Labor Party.

BRISSENDEN: What’s your view of the campaign? Do you support the privatisation for instance?

PLIBERSEK: I’d like to talk about my view of the election campaign and that is that Luke Foley had a very good result last night, half a million more people voted for Luke Foley last night than voted Labor at the previous election, with about a 9 per cent swing to Labor. That’s a very good result and unfortunately we were working off a very low base and it wasn’t enough to win us government.

BRISSENDEN: Should Labor now accept and support the privatisation of the electricity network? Because certainly that was the issue that was front and centre in the campaign, wasn’t it?

PLIBERSEK: Well, it was the issue that was most talked about during this campaign because people are very nervous about electricity privatisation. I think Luke Foley’s made very clear that he will continue to oppose electricity privatisation come what may. I don’t really think how he could credibly run a campaign during a election against it and then vote for it five minutes later.

BRISSENDEN: Even though clearly, the electorate doesn’t think it’s such a big issue or in fact they support the idea.

PLIBERSEK: Well I don’t think you could draw that interpretation. If the electorate are so very supportive Mike Baird will get enough votes in the upper house as well to pass his agenda.

BRISSENDEN: And if it does?

PLIBERSEK: Well then it’ll get through whether Labor supports it or not.

BRISSENDEN: Okay, but then shouldn’t that influence how the Labor Party views the issue I guess, in the next election or in the coming years?

PLIBERSEK: I think it’s important to do what you said you were going to do. And Tony Abbott broke faith with the Australian people, he said before the election no cuts to health, no cuts to education, no cuts to the ABC and SBS, no new taxes, no change to pensions, and by breaking faith on each of those commitments, he has suffered a great deal. And of course the Australian community suffered a great deal as well. If you say one thing before an election, you should do it after an election.

BRISSENDEN: Luke Foley says he’s brought the heartland, the Labor heartland back, but the swing wasn’t as comprehensive as you might have expected, and certainly wasn’t perhaps as comprehensive as many in the Party would have expected in some of the heartland, particularly in Western Sydney, wasn’t it?

PLIBERSEK: Look I think it was around about the swing that most people expected and that’s certainly brought back at least 10 seats, probably up to 14 seats. That’s a very good result after a very bad loss at the last election. It looks like we’ll hold up to 34 seats off a base of 21 seats, that’s a very good achievement by Luke after a very hard fought campaign.

BRISSENDEN: What about the result for the Greens? Because clearly there is still a challenge, a continuing challenge for the Labor Party in some parts of the state, the inner city areas of Sydney and in the north coast of NSW.

PLIBERSEK: It’s a very interesting result for the Greens because of course statewide their vote hasn’t improved at all, their percentage of the vote across NSW was what it was at the last election. But there are of course seats that look like they might go to the Greens, up to 4 seats, so the concentration of the Greens vote are in the inner city and the north coast.

BRISSENDEN: It’s a challenge though, and particularly for you personally given that much of that Green action is happening in your own seat of Sydney.

PLIBERSEK: I’ve never taken my seat for granted. I’ve always treated it like a marginal seat.

BRISSENDEN: How do you address this? Because you are losing if this is the case and the Greens do win 4 seats, that’s a pretty significant loss to you

PLIBERSEK: It’s a trend that we’ll have to look at but it won’t change anything I do, I have always treated my seat like a marginal seat. I’ve always worked extremely hard in my seat so it won’t change my behaviour at all.

ENDS

 

 

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TRANSCRIPT - Doorstop Interview, Thursday 26 March 2015

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THE HON TANYA PLIBERSEK MP
DEPUTY LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION
SHADOW MINISTER FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS AND INTERNATIONAL DEVELOPMENT
MEMBER FOR SYDNEY

E&OE TRANSCRIPT
DOORSTOP INTERVIEW
PARLIAMENT HOUSE, CANBERRA
THURSDAY, 26 MARCH 2015

SUBJECT/S: United Nations Security Council; Daesh; Iraq; Syria.

TANYA PLIBERSEK, DEPUTY OPPOSITION LEADER: I was very pleased to hear reports that the Foreign Minister has said that Australia will pursue a further term on the United Nations Security Council in the future. Our recent term on the United Nations Security Council gave us the opportunity of playing an active role in some important issues, like MH17, like the fight against Ebola, and like the continuing fight against terrorist organisations such as Daesh. Of course, Labor always believed that our term on the Security Council would allow us to play a useful role internationally but also to raise the status of Australia, to show the world that we are able to play an important role using our relationships and our resources to create a more peaceful world. Labor always said that membership of the Security Council would be a good thing for Australia and for Australians. Sadly, of course, when we were making a bid for Security Council membership, Julie Bishop and Tony Abbott and the Liberals were fiercely opposed and criticised the Labor Government of the day. I take a different position, I think this is clearly in the national interest for Australia to be represented on this sort of international forum, that we have played a good and useful role, and that if we had a further term on the UN Security Council, we could do that again. Any questions?

JOURNALIST: On the final push to- well, hopefully the final push to reclaim Tikrit, the US air strikes are underway, what do you think about that? Do you think there’s a chance of success there? And there are expectations that Australia will be involved in those air strikes and also do you think Australia should be involved in the strikes in Syria?

PLIBERSEK: I must say that there have been some comments in the last couple of days from the Prime Minister that have concerned me about Australia’s involvement in Iraq and Syria. Our original involvement in Iraq was on the basis of a humanitarian mission and then an advise and assist mission for the Iraqi forces. What we heard from the Prime Minister yesterday is that our involvement in Iraq has no time frame on it. Well that is actually quite different to what the Government have said in the past, when the Prime Minister has nominated a time frame of around two years and the Defence Minister has certainly clearly said that our commitment is not open ended. So in the first instance, I’m concerned about any suggestion that Australia’s commitment is an open ended commitment. The second thing that concerns me is the Prime Minister’s statements that our involvement may also be supporting operations in Syria. Labor has said all along that while we support operations in Iraq, that without an international agreement, that operations should be confined to Iraq. The third thing of course that has concerned me in recent times are reports of Iraqi army or militia behaving inappropriately in their own- in the battles that they’re engaged in. And because of these three concerns we have asked for further and urgent briefings about Australia’s involvement in Iraq.

JOURNALIST: When was the last time the Opposition got a briefing? Has it been a while?

PLIBERSEK: We have been briefed periodically recently, I would have to check the date for the last briefing.

JOURNALIST: Isn’t it an easy jump to go from air strikes in support of the operation in Iraq to Syria?

PLIBERSEK: Well I think there’s a very clear difference with Iraq. In Iraq, we have been asked by a democratically elected government to help it protect its own people and its own territory from an invading force that is a particularly brutal invading force. Because we’ve been asked for help by a democratically elected government that gives us a very clear legal basis for involvement.

JOURNALIST: You sound like you’re basically concerned about mission creep, is that correct? I mean, are you seeking some assurances in these briefings about how far it will go?

PLIBERSEK: We’ve had four principles that we’ve talked about from the very beginning and one of those principles of course was that our support was confined to operations in Iraq. I think that if this is changing now then it is the responsibility of the Prime Minister to inform the people of Australia in what way this mission is changing and it should be through the Australian Parliament. We have consistently said that the Prime Minister should be speaking to the people of Australia about Australia’s engagement and the best and most appropriate way of doing that is in report to our Australian Parliament.

JOURNALIST: On the possible new bid for a UN Security Council, Kevin Rudd was intrinsically involved, do you think the Government needs to engage him again to get up a second time?

PLIBERSEK: I’m sure Kevin would be delighted to help in any way possible.

ENDS

 

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TRANSCRIPT - Sky News AM Agenda, Wednesday 25 March 2015

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THE HON TANYA PLIBERSEK MP
DEPUTY LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION
SHADOW MINISTER FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS AND INTERNATIONAL DEVELOPMENT
MEMBER FOR SYDNEY

 

E&OE TRANSCRIPT
TELEVISION INTERVIEW
SKY NEWS AM AGENDA
WEDNESDAY, 25 MARCH 2015

SUBJECT/S: Germanwings plane crash.

KIERAN GILBERT, PRESENTER: Tanya Plibersek, your reaction to this latest aviation tragedy?

TANYA PLIBERSEK, DEPUTY OPPOSITION LEADER: Well of course it is a tragedy, 150 lives lost including two Australians and sadly a group of schoolchildren returning from a school trip. It is enormously sad for all of the people involved and of course it makes people nervous about flying because there’s been a series now of similar tragedies, planes going missing and crashing and so on. It’s important to remember of course that statistically these are very unusual events, but for the people who are involved, all of their friends and families, that’s no comfort.

GILBERT: Well three, as you say a number, three aviation tragedies that Australians have been involved in in a bit over twelve months.

PLIBERSEK: That’s right.

GILBERT: That’s quite a cluster.

PLIBERSEK: It certainly feels unusually frequent.

GILBERT: And I guess as we look at this latest tragedy in Europe, it’s a reminder of how basically everywhere, Australians are travelling at any given time. Australians, given where we are in the world I suppose, we’re all traveling a lot.

PLIBERSEK: Well Australians are great travellers and they often travel for longer periods because we’ve got so far to go in the first place. We’ve been frequent travellers for some time now and these flights, these Europeans flights are frequent, they’re relatively cheap, they’re commonly growing in number, the smaller airlines as well. And so you see Australians are often involved in these tragedies.

GILBERT: Tanya Plibersek, thank you for your time and your reaction to this latest aviation tragedy, also another sad day. Thank you very much.

ENDS

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TRANSCRIPT - ABC News Breakfast, Wednesday 25 March 2015

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THE HON TANYA PLIBERSEK MP
DEPUTY LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION
SHADOW MINISTER FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS AND INTERNATIONAL DEVELOPMENT
MEMBER FOR SYDNEY

 

E&OE TRANSCRIPT
TELEVISION INTERVIEW
ABC NEWS BREAKFAST
WEDNESDAY, 25 MARCH 2015

SUBJECT:  Germanwings plane crash.

MICHAEL ROWLAND: What was your reaction when you first heard this news?

TANYA PLIBERSEK, DEPUTY OPPOSITION LEADER: Of course it's always shocking to hear about so many fatalities after a plane crash.  And the disturbing parts, in particular: the two Australians on board and the group of schoolchildren. I think a lot of parents will be imagining themselves in that position sending their kids off for a school trip and hearing news like this would be absolutely devastating.

ROWLAND: And what should the priority be of Australian consular officials at this moment as the search and recovery operation continues?

PLIBERSEK: Well, of course, we've been advised that there will be an Australian consular official on the ground there. If there's any assistance Australia can give in helping with the investigation of the causes of the crash, that's obviously a role that Australia should play.

ROWLAND: It's hard to sum up just the impact these continued air crashes have. It's been a very bad run, as we all know, for air crashes generally but of course Australians in those air crashes in the last 12 months, it's yet more bad news for the nation to grapple with?

PLIBERSEK: It's very, I think - affects people's confidence certainly when there's a series of planes going missing and crashes like this over the last year or so. But, yes I mean on the other hand so many people fly every day quite safely that we can get a slightly skewed view of the risks of plane travel.

ROWLAND: That's right and that's been the point exactly made by the aviation experts we've spoken to. Thousands of flights in the air at any given time. In fact last year, despite the Malaysian Airlines crashes were said to be the safest year for aviation ever.

PLIBERSEK: It's extraordinary because we do focus on the one-off. The reason that these things are so news worthy is because they're so rare but it doesn't change the way that people feel about plane travel and today in particular with these two Australians on board, a very sad day.

ROWLAND: There is a family, as you said, somewhere in Victoria deep in mourning this morning. What words have you got for them this morning?

PLIBERSEK: Well, I think all Australians would be mourning with them. Two people, you send two people off at a happy time on a holiday and expect them to come home safe with stories of their adventures and to lose them in this way is so senseless and so tragic.

ROWLAND: It is deeply shocking. Tanya Plibersek in Canberra, thank you very much for your time.

PLIBERSEK: Thank you, Michael.

ENDS

 

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TRANSCRIPT - Doorstop Interview, Monday 23 March 2015

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 THE HON TANYA PLIBERSEK MP
DEPUTY LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION
SHADOW MINISTER FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS AND INTERNATIONAL DEVELOPMENT
MEMBER FOR SYDNEY

 

E&OE TRANSCRIPT
DOORSTOP INTERVIEW
PARLIAMENT HOUSE
MONDAY, 23 MARCH 2015

SUBJECTS: Malcolm Fraser, Lee Kuan Yew; aid cuts; Abbott Government Budget chaos

TANYA PLIBERSEK, DEPUTY OPPOSITION LEADER: Parliament convened to farewell an Australian Prime Minister and we saw a great deal of bipartisan support for the legacy of Malcolm Fraser. He was a Prime Minister and later a commentator who spoke a lot about the importance of an independent Australian foreign policy. He was, of course, very personally committed also to Australia playing an active role in the world as a generous aid donor.

Just as Australians have farewelled a former prime minister, so, too, have our friends and neighbours. The people of Singapore farewelled a towering figure in Singapore's history, Lee Kuan Yew, as called by many people the father of modern Singapore. And just as Australians today are mourning Malcolm Fraser, many Singaporeans will be mourning Lee Kuan Yew.

Turning now to matters a little closer to home, we read in today's newspapers another leak from the Abbott Government about proposals for further cuts to the Australian aid budget. It seems that the Foreign Minister is once again in the dark about cuts in her portfolio. We read in the papers today that this will be the fourth lot of cuts to Australia's foreign aid budget. We've had two lots of mid-year economic and fiscal outlook cuts, one lot of budget cuts already and it looks like a second lot of budget cuts coming. You could see from the expression on the Foreign Minister's face when Joe Hockey started talking about the expenditure review committee, how disturbed she was about the proposals or the leaked proposals for further cuts in her portfolio area. This comes after more than $11 billion has already been cut from Australia's aid budget, taking it to the lowest, weakest aid budget that Australia has ever seen. Taking our region alone, the Asia-Pacific region, one year's lot of cuts is worth $110 million. That gives you some idea of the scale in our region. It means that even the poorest countries in our region, countries like Timor-Leste are experiencing substantial cuts of many millions of dollars. This comes at a time, of course, when the Foreign Minister is being kept in the dark about other issues in her portfolio area, too. She was kept in the dark about the replacement of her Parliamentary Secretary. She woke up one morning with a new Parliamentary Secretary that no-one had bothered to discuss with her. She was prevented in the first instance from going to Lima to represent Australia at climate change talks and later was only allowed to go when she was chaperoned by Andrew Robb. It is extraordinary that after all of the cuts made in the Foreign Minister's portfolio area, she is still prepared to go out and defend these vicious cuts and the effect that they have in reducing Australia's ability to be a substantial player internationally and in our region in the area of development assistance.

JOURNALIST: Ms Plibersek, speaking to Sky News this afternoon, Finance Minister Mathias Cormann said that he was also surprised to hear about these supposed cuts in the paper today and he effectively ruled out that any cuts would take place. He said the Government has already done as much as they can in this area, in the Budget 2014 and in MYEFO. If the Finance Minister didn't know about it and the Foreign Minister didn't know about it, do you think these cuts might not be happening?

PLIBERSEK: Well, you can only ask yourself who knows what's going on in the Liberals' budget. We are only weeks out from the next federal budget. Many of the measures from the last federal budget have been repudiated by the Government. Some of them have been re-committed to, even though there is no chance of getting them through the Senate. We have further leaks today that there will be more cuts to the aid budget. It would be consistent with the fact that every time there has been a Budget or mid-year economic update, there have been cuts, taking Australian aid spending to its lowest level since records have been kept. You're saying that Mathias Cormann is telling a different story? Well, I mean, it's representative of the chaos that you see with this Liberal Budget and frankly the cruelty that you see with these cuts to aid that nobody knows what's going on.

JOURNALIST: What did Julie Bishop's reaction in the House say?

PLIBERSEK: Well, Julie Bishop's spectacular failure to keep a poker face shows that cuts have been inflicted in her portfolio area without consultation or without her agreement, but I would also say that Julie Bishop has been pretty keen to go out after the fact and try to make a virtue of these cuts by somehow claiming that they are good for the nation. The cuts to foreign aid aren't just bad for the countries that experience them as donors, they’re bad for Australia's standing in the world.

JOURNALIST: What does it actually mean in a practical sense about what the Australian aid program will be able to deliver in the region?

PLIBERSEK: Well, it means that programs don't go ahead. So if you look at the work of Oxfam, doing family violence work in Solomon Islands, for example, they talk about the impact that a 20% or 40% cut would have on reducing the number of people that they're able to reach, reducing the number of communities that they are able to affect. If you talk to Oxfam again about their work in Timor-Leste about improving the agricultural output of small farmers, the work they do in helping individuals in savings and loan organisations, saving small amounts of money and having lending circles that allow people to set up micro businesses, they say that their work in that area will be affected as well. And every country, that we have a relationship with, will feel the effect of these aid cuts if they haven't already, and as the cuts deepen over years to come, the impact will just get larger.

JOURNALIST: Exactly what proportion of GNI would you like Australia to be spending on aid and when by?

PLIBERSEK: Well, it used to be bipartisan policy that Australia would get to 0.5% of GNI which is of course 50 cents in every hundred dollars. We are now at a rate of 22 cents in every hundred dollars and we are tracking to go even lower than that, we’re looking at 18 or 19 cents in every hundred dollars. Countries around the world are doing much better than that. Countries who did much worse during the Global Financial Crisis are doing much better than Australia in continuing to be generous donors. The impact of that is important for the long-term. You look at a country like South Korea that was once an aid recipient country and is now one of our most important trading partners and you see the difference that aid can make to raising countries into prosperity, meaning that they can be good trading partners for Australia.

JOURNALIST: But when would Labor like to achieve that 0.5% of GNI by?

PLIBERSEK: Well, that will certainly depend on how much of the Government's aid cuts are implemented by the time we return to government, but we will be inheriting the most depleted, weakened aid budget in Australia's history.

JOURNALIST: [Inaudible question]

PLIBERSEK: Sorry, I heard two different questions. Go on.

JOURNALIST: What is Lee Kuan Yew's legacy in the region?

PLIBERSEK: Well, Lee Kuan Yew was a very strong and patriotic voice. As the Prime Minister of Singapore, he implemented health and social policies in Singapore that many nations have looked to as models and of course provided a strong economic foundation for a country that- Singaporeans say their greatest national asset is the intelligence of their people. They are a tiny nation. They don’t have great mines or great farms like Australia, but they've managed to raise their people into prosperity through the efforts of Lee Kuan Yew and his generation.

JOURNALIST: Minister Bishop says that we wouldn't be here talking about the foreign aid budget had it not been for the fact that Labor isn't passing key budgetary measures that it itself proposed. What role does Labor have to play in this whole discussion?

PLIBERSEK: Well, it’s a ridiculous proposition that the Government is cutting the aid budget because of anything the opposition is doing. You can see the gleefulness with which members of the Government are boasting about these aid cuts, including a number of Dorothy Dix questions taken by the Foreign Minister boasting about the cuts to the aid budget. You must remember that Labor has passed more than $20 billion worth of measures to improve the bottom line, but we won't pass measures that are unfair, we won’t pass measures like a GP tax, like $100,000 university degrees because they are unfair and would hurt the Australian people.

JOURNALIST: Do you think the foreign aid budget is an easy target?

PLIBERSEK: Well, I think that the foreign aid budget doesn't have the support of many members of the Government and that the Foreign Minister is powerless to stop the cuts that have already happened and further cuts that have been leaked about today.

JOURNALIST: Would you reverse these cuts if you were to win the election next year?

PLIBERSEK: We will certainly be doing better in the aid area than the Liberals have done.

JOURNALIST: So you’d be putting more money back in, would you?

PLIBERSEK: Well we’ll certainly be doing better with the aid budget than the Liberals have done. You need to see that we have gone from being on track to get to 0.5% of gross national income when we were last in government, a target that both parties had signed up to as a bipartisan target, to now being at about 22 cents in every hundred dollars and on track down to 18 or 19 cents. I can tell you we will be doing better than that, and how much better and how soon we’re able to do it depends on when we return to government and how badly damaged the aid budget is at that time.

JOURNALIST: Ms Plibersek, you mentioned earlier the facial expressions of Ms Bishop during the Treasurer's comments in regards to ERC. Do you think that referencing her facial expressions might be trying to read too much into the tea leaves on this issue?

PLIBERSEK: Well I’ll let people make a judgment for themselves about how they interpret the facial expressions of the Foreign Minister when the Treasurer’s talking about the great job that the expenditure review committee is doing.

ENDS

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TRANSCRIPT - Doorstop Interview, Tuesday 24 March 2015

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THE HON TANYA PLIBERSEK MP
DEPUTY LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION
SHADOW MINISTER FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS AND INTERNATIONAL DEVELOPMENT
MEMBER FOR SYDNEY

 

E&OE TRANSCRIPT
DOORSTOP INTERVIEW
PARLIAMENT HOUSE
TUESDAY, 24 MARCH 2015

SUBJECTS:  Aid cuts and Julie Bishop; cuts to DFAT; New South Wales election; polls; privatisation; workplace agreements.

TANYA PLIBERSEK, DEPUTY OPPOSITION LEADER: Good morning. Yesterday we saw further division and dysfunction in the Liberal Party when it comes to preparing for this year's Budget. The Budget is just weeks away and we see a lack of clarity, a lack of direction. We saw Julie Bishop openly mocking Joe Hockey yesterday when he talked about the expenditure review committee. But Julie Bishop can’t just roll her eyes when it comes to further cuts to the aid budget. $11 billion has been cut from Australia’s aid budget.  And the Australian Council for International Development has said that if there are further cuts Australia’s aid program will not be credible, it won’t be effective. We’ve known that for some time. Of course there continue to be risks of further cuts, and it’s not just cuts to the aid budget that we are worried about in the foreign affairs portfolio. Despite coming to Government with a plan to increase Australia’s diplomatic footprint, Julie Bishop has presided over cuts of more than $400 million to the Department of Foreign Affairs with more than 500 jobs lost. Saying that she would expand the diplomatic footprint, in fact Australia’s diplomatic footprint has contracted. We’ve got the weakest, most depleted aid program ever, as well as substantial cuts to our foreign affairs portfolio more generally.

JOURNALIST: How would you describe the role of [inaudible] former colleague Martin Ferguson [inaudible]?

PLIBERSEK: Well let’s just see if we’ve got any questions about aid and then I’m happy to answer –

JOURNALIST: The Finance Minister has effectively ruled out any further cuts to this year’s budget, he said that they’ve done enough in that space, are you just stirring things up a bit?

PLIBERSEK: Let’s see. Last year in October, Julie Bishop said that there’d be no more cuts to foreign aid and in December $3.7 billion was cut from the aid budget in the mid-year economic update-

JOURNALIST: The Finance Minister actually sits on the ERC.

PLIBERSEK: Yes, that’s right and the Foreign Minister last year said that there’d be no more cuts to the aid budget and then there was a $3.7 billion cut. So, the first thing we need to look at is if there are any further cuts to the foreign aid budget that will be a deep failure on behalf of the Foreign Minister to protect her portfolio, but we’ll also be looking for sneaky accounting tricks. We know that $400 million has already been cut from other parts of the portfolio, the diplomatic presence. And if we see instead of aid cuts, hundreds of millions of dollars cut again from DFAT itself then that’ll just be a sneaky accounting trick, so we’ve got to look for both.

JOURNALIST: Will Labor commit to restoring the aid budget to what it was in 2013?

PLIBERSEK: Well I can tell you that when we come back into government after $11 billion of cuts, we’ll certainly have a huge repair job to do. Unfortunately at this stage we don’t know how deep, how big that repair job will be, we don’t know whether there’ll be further cuts. But I can tell you this, we’ll be doing better on foreign aid than the Liberals have done.

JOURNALIST: If I could turn to Martin Ferguson, how would you characterise or describe his contribution to the state election?

PLIBERSEK: Well Martin Ferguson is a private citizen, he’s able to make any contribution he likes-

JOURNALIST: Sure, but he’s a former senior Labor minister. Is it damaging when he says what he says?

PLIBERSEK: There’s been plenty of times when Martin has disagreed with his caucus colleagues when he was here in Canberra and I’m sure there’ll be a number of his former colleagues who disagree with the position he’s put in the New South Wales state campaign. New South Wales Labor has gone to every election campaign with the position that they’ve got now, that the monopoly parts of the electricity business, in particular the poles and wires, should not be sold because it would push up electricity prices.

JOURNALIST: Is he a rat?

PLIBERSEK: I’m not going to go into that sort of commentary.

JOURNALIST: Today’s polls seem to suggest –

PLIBERSEK: I can tell you however that Tony Abbott is electoral poison and that when he appeared in the Liberals’ campaign launch the other day, it was like a mime artist, we didn’t hear much from him about what he’s done to the state of New South Wales. The billions of dollars of cuts to the health system and to the education system, the cuts that Mike Baird doesn’t have the guts to complain about.

JOURNALIST: Today’s poll would seem to suggest that the Coalition is getting a bit of a bounce, does it also seem to suggest that some of the windback in policy that they’ve been doing over the last couple of months is starting to work?

PLIBERSEK: We’ve said consistently that the polls are interesting but none of it matters until we get a lot closer to election day. I think it’s a pretty extraordinary situation where the Liberals are out there celebrating that they’re only trailing by a bit.

JOURNALIST: Tanya, can I ask, the unions have launched a new campaign in which people are accused of being xenophobic on the poles and wires. Do you think there is a bit of an anti-China sentiment being whipped up?

PLIBERSEK: No, I think there’s quite a lot of anti-privatisation sentiment that’s not being whipped up, it’s being expressed. There are many people in the New South Wales community who are opposed to the privatisation of the electricity industry.

JOURNALIST: I just wanted to ask on the penalty rates. There’s a story in today’s Oz suggesting that the South Australia Shop Assistants Union is prepared to weaken penalty rates in exchange for a slightly higher base salary, or base wage. Do you think that could spread to New South Wales and some of the other states?

PLIBERSEK: Look, I’ve seen those stories but I’m not going to start commentating on individual agreements that employees and employers strike in particular workplaces or in particular industries. I think that this shows that there’s flexibility in the system but I’m not going to comment on it beyond that.

ENDS 

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TRANSCRIPT - Doorstop Interview, Friday 20 March 2015

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THE HON TANYA PLIBERSEK MP
DEPUTY LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION
SHADOW MINISTER FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS AND INTERNATIONAL DEVELOPMENT
MEMBER FOR SYDNEY

E&OE TRANSCRIPT
DOORSTOP INTERVIEW
SYDNEY
FRIDAY, 20 MARCH 2015

SUBJECT/S: Malcolm Fraser; Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank; Lindt café

TANYA PLIBERSEK, DEPUTY OPPOSITION LEADER: Thanks for coming out this afternoon. I wanted to start by saying how saddened all Australians are about the death of Malcolm Fraser. Mr Fraser never retired from public life. In recent decades he’s been a particularly strong advocate for human rights in Australia and around the world. As Prime Minister, he was a strong supporter of a multicultural Australia, of Asian migration; he was a strong opponent of apartheid in South Africa. In his later years, he’s had a very influential role in arguing for an independent Australian foreign policy. I know that he’ll be sadly missed by his family and many friends. Of course his prime ministership was not uncontroversial and many Labor people remember the difficult circumstances in which he came to the prime ministership. But over recent decent decades, he had repaired relationships with many of his former opponents and I know even his former opponents will miss him.

Turning now to the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank. We’ve had overnight another leak from the national security committee of the Cabinet. This leak relates to the potential backflip on Australia’s support for an Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank. Labor has been saying for many months now, indeed since last year, that Australia should be part of this massive Chinese investment in infrastructure around our region. Potential infrastructure investment runs to about $100 billion. Many of our most important friends and trading partners have already said that they will be involved. Yet despite this, last year, Julie Bishop, Prime Minister Abbott said that Australia shouldn’t be involved. It’s absolutely mystifying the argument for Australia not to be involved. The Government says on the one hand at the G20 meeting that Australia should be involved in supporting more infrastructure investment in our region, on the other hand, when there’s a proposed $100 billion to invest, Australia’s not going to be involved. This is a backflip, one way or another.  The chaos and confusion that we’re hearing from the national security committee of Cabinet is very concerning in itself.  What’s even more concerning is that the national security committee of Cabinet keeps leaking, and they may as well start broadcasting meetings. They seem to happen one day and leaked the next. Any questions?

JOURNALIST: If there is a backflip, is it in the direction that you think is the right one to make?

PLIBERSEK: Look I think it’s terrific if the Government now does decide to sign up with the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, but it would’ve been much better for Australia to be involved from the very beginning. The Government has said that they’re worried about the governance mechanisms for the bank, well the best way to influence that was to get involved early on in setting up the bank including setting up the governance frameworks.

JOURNALIST: The leak, is it further evidence that there’s still a sort of campaign there to destabilise Tony Abbott?

PLIBERSEK: It’s just impossible to understand how the national security committee of Cabinet can keep leaking in this way. I don’t know whether this is about destabilising Tony Abbott. Certainly the reports early on were that Julie Bishop and Tony Abbott opposed Australia signing up whereas Joe Hockey and Andrew Robb were in favour. If there is going to be this chaotic backflip now, perhaps it is a sign that Joe Hockey and Andrew Robb have won the day. But it is perplexing that the way that this sort of policy would become public is through this sort of leak. Australia should’ve had an orderly process for signing up, we should’ve been in consultation with the Chinese government, making clear the sort of governance transparency and accountability arrangements that Australia would like to see. Instead of that, we’ve had one leak from Cabinet early on saying that Julie Bishop and Tony Abbott had prevailed and blocked Australia’s involvement in the bank and then a second leak now saying they’ve been rolled.

JOURNALIST: What are the Chinese to think?

PLIBERSEK: Well I can’t imagine what this makes us look like internationally.

JOURNALIST: If there is a leak from this committee, is that damaging to the work the committee is tasked with?

PLIBERSEK: There have been so many leaks from the national security committee of Cabinet that they may as well put the meetings on YouTube. They seem to no sooner meet than the contents of that meeting is leaked. It is certainly not the way for Cabinet to behave or any sub-committee of Cabinet, but when it’s the national security sub-committee of Cabinet, it’s particularly concerning.

JOURNALIST: And back to your thoughts on Malcolm Fraser, what can the rest of us take from the fact that he apparently became friends with Gough Whitlam in later life?

PLIBERSEK: Malcolm Fraser and Gough Whitlam did repair much of their relationship and I think as Mr Fraser said himself that there was a great deal of conflict between them at one time but they found over decades that what united them was much greater than what divided them. They had a lot of agreement on human rights, both in Australia and around the world, and they had a lot of agreement about an independent foreign policy for Australia.

JOURNALIST: And do you as a politician take anything personally from that?

PLIBERSEK: Well I actually met Mr Fraser on a number of occasions. I went specifically to see him to talk to him about his views on Australia’s foreign policy and he was very welcoming to me, very encouraging, very generous with his time and with his views. I think certainly the way that Malcolm Fraser behaved towards his previous combatants and the way that Gough Whitlam accepted Malcolm Fraser’s overtures to friendship are a wonderful model.

JOURNALIST: And just a comment on the Lindt café opening today.

PLIBERSEK: I’m sorry, I didn’t hear you.

JOURNALIST: The Lindt café.

PLIBERSEK: The Lindt café siege is one of the most difficult and confronting periods in Australia’s history. It brought a conflict that has seemed a long way away right into the heart of our nation’s largest city. It was a tragic event for the families of those involved, particularly the two people who lost their lives and we should always remember what happened on that site. I think it’s very important that we have a permanent memorial to the events there, to the loss of the two lives of innocent people just going about their business. And it’s important that in building that memorial that the families of those involved are consulted.

ENDS

 

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