Insiders, Sunday, 27 JULY 2014

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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
INSIDERS, ABC

SUNDAY, 27 JULY 2014

 

Subject/s: MH17; Middle East, Asylum Seekers, Paid Parental Leave, Greg Combet, Joe Hockey.

FRAN KELLY, PRESENTER: Tanya Plibersek, welcome to Insiders.

TANYA PLIBERSEK, DEPUTY OPPOSITION LEADER: Thank you, Fran.

KELLY: Tanya Plibersek, we've heard this morning from Angus Houston that this will be a police and civilian operation on the site in Ukraine, not a military one. It's unlikely, he suggests, that armed Australian soldiers certainly will accompany the police force to keep them safe. There seems to be some confusion around this. Have you had a briefing from the Government - can you clarify it for us. What do you know?

PLIBERSEK: We did have some briefings earlier in the week. Unfortunately we asked for a briefing on this latest development recently and we weren't able to get that. I guess what I would say is that Angus Houston is a highly experienced, very trusted commander, and in a situation like this, I would accept Angus Houston's advice about whether a police and civilian team is the best way to go. He is on the ground there. He is absolutely the right person to make that decision.

KELLY: Have you been able to speak to the ADF about any concerns, because initially when this was announced by the PM, the first question was, "Is it safe to send unarmed police into a war zone?"

PLIBERSEK: Earlier in the week I had the opportunity of speaking with the ADF and at that stage 50 officers had been pre-deployed to London. The ADF at that stage said that they believed that they had the resources, the training, the expertise to be involved in a recovery mission, and were comfortable at that time, that they would - if they were allowed onto the site, that they would be able to do the job.

KELLY: Are you happy with the level of information you are getting from the Government on this? You mentioned you had been denied a briefing?

PLIBERSEK: Look, I think - we have had a number of briefings along the way. We haven't had all of our requests for briefings granted, but really at this stage I'm much more interested in supporting the Government's efforts. I don't think anybody really wants to be listening to me complaining about whether I get briefed or not. I think the most important thing is to take the advice of Angus Houston who is there on the site and make sure that we support his efforts there, whether it's with police, a civilian team, whether they need some ADF support for logistics and protection, he is the best person to make that decision.

KELLY: Tony Abbott has received accolades in foreign media and respect from foreign leaders for the leadership he has shown on this issue, particularly in terms of a tough response to Russia and pushing for a UN resolution. Do you join in that praise of the PM and how he has managed this?

PLIBERSEK: I think it was very important that Australia put the resolution at the United Nations Security Council and I certainly think that Australian leadership, given the number of Australian lives lost, was critical to convincing Russia to use its influence with the Russian-backed separatists in the area. I think it shows how important it is that international organisations like the Security Council have our support and work. It's times like this when those organisations really come into their own. We have gone out of our way, as a Labor Opposition, to be supportive of the Government's efforts. We think that this is a time for national unity. The families of the victims of MH17 want to know that both the Government, the Opposition and all Australians are 100% committed to bringing their loved ones home.

KELLY: Tanya Plibersek, can I ask you now as Shadow Foreign Minister you're also focused on events going on in Gaza of course. On Friday, an Israeli bomb struck a UN school site. There were deaths reinforcing comments from UN chief Valerie Amos when she said it was almost impossible now for Palestinians to shelter from Israeli air strikes in the densely populated Gaza Strip. In your view, is Israel's response to this, to missiles going over their border been proportionate?

PLIBERSEK: Well, I think with over a thousand deaths and pictures every day of bodies being carried from rubble, including many, many children, I think the international community is very concerned with the level of civilian deaths and particularly the level of children who have been caught up in this conflict. It is critical that the 12-hour pause in fighting be extended immediately to a ceasefire and that parties return to the negotiating table to negotiate a durable peace. We cannot have a situation where every few months or every few years the rockets start firing from Hamas and Israel retaliates in this way, causing many, many civilian deaths. It is an unacceptable situation.

KELLY: The Australian Government supports the need for a two-state solution. It also supports Israel's right to defend itself and that's Labor's position too, long-held. This weekend at the NSW ALP Conference, a motion put up by Bob Carr was passed, which seems to go a little further, suggesting Labor recognises a Palestinian state if there is no official progress on a two-state solution. That's a distinct tilt, isn't it, towards Australia recognising a Palestinian state. What would that mean in practice, and is this a change in Labor's position?

PLIBERSEK: Well, not really. Labor for many decades has supported a two-state solution. That means an Israeli state behind internationally recognised secure borders, and a Palestinian state which is economically viable, which has responsibility for its own security. You can't have a two-state solution without a Palestinian state. The only change that's occurred in recent months has been a change in the Government's position. Until recently there was bipartisan agreement that the building of settlements was not in line with international law and that East Jerusalem - bipartisan agreement that East Jerusalem is occupied territory. It has seemed, from Julie Bishop's comments and George Brandis' comments that they have retreated from that position.

KELLY: On another issue, can I ask you about the asylum seekers, the 157 people who have been aboard an Australia Customs vessels now for a month. Reportedly they will arrive in the Curtin Detention Centre on Australian soil as early as today. Indian officials, in an agreement struck with the Government, will then travel to the detention centre to interview these people. Is that appropriate, in your view, in Labor's view, officials from another country, a country from where some of these people are fleeing, be invited onto Australian soil to interview them in this way?

PLIBERSEK: I think the whole handling of this has not been appropriate, these people floating around on the ocean for three weeks, they could have been processed on Christmas Island weeks ago and the only thing that stopped that was Scott Morrison's ego. I can't tell you how these people will be processed, the Government has not made that clear. We don't have the details and it is exactly the sort of thing you should ask Scott Morrison if you can get him to turn up to a press conference and get him to answer some questions.

KELLY: In your view, is it the job for the Australian Government to talk these people or the Indian Government?

PLIBERSEK: Well, I think if people are on Australian soil, they should be dealt with by Australian authorities and it should have happened weeks ago.

KELLY: A couple of other domestic matters arising this week, the Productivity Commission released a draft report into the childcare system. It noted that funds for Tony Abbott's paid parental leave scheme would be better spent, perhaps some of them, not all of them, on improved childcare options. You've been a consistent critic of Tony Abbott's paid parental scheme, you've dubbed it a Rolls-Royce scheme. But if his is a Rolls-Royce scheme, is the current Labor scheme more like a Datsun 180B. It’s 18 weeks minimum wage, no superannuation. It’s out motored, lacks a bit of grunt. Why shouldn’t women who take time out of the workforce to have a baby get superannuation, doesn't it need to be upgraded?

PLIBERSEK: That's something that could be considered in the future.

KELLY: Would you support that?

PLIBERSEK: Well it's something you can consider in the future. Tony Abbott's scheme pays the greatest benefit to people who already earn the most money. It makes no sense to use taxpayers' dollars to give the biggest benefit to people who already have the most - that's been my criticism. Something else to be said about it, at a time when pensioners have been told the pension is too high, they should wait longer and get less, and when unemployed people have been told they should live on nothing for six months of the year, when funding has been cut from education, from health, despite promises before the election that that wouldn't happen, to introduce a scheme worth $5 billion a year or more makes absolutely no sense. If we are in austerity times and pensioners and students and unemployed young people and families on low incomes all lose money, how can it be that someone on a million dollars a year would get $50,000 from the taxpayer?

KELLY: On another issue, there has been a fair bit of attention on the biography of Joe Hockey, but there is a Labor autobiography coming out this week, Greg Combet, he is revealing in his memoirs that Julia Gillard suggested, in the dying days of her Prime Ministership, that she could step down and Greg Combet could put his hand up in a caucus ballot. You are a strong supporter of Julia Gillard. Did you know about that?

PLIBERSEK: That was obviously a conversation between the two of them, but what I would say is that Greg is a fine Australian and many people thought for many years that he could be a future Labor Prime Minister, and I guess the other thing I would say is what a contrast - here is Greg Combet's book which is about his battle for asbestos victims, his time as a minister fighting for policies that would put a cap on pollution and a price on carbon, and here is Joe Hockey, the longest job application in history, and by the sounds of the book, a very petulant one.

KELLY: But here’s Greg Combet, you could say, back then at the time really at the height of Labor's leadership tensions and the Prime Minister at the time suggesting perhaps another leadership change to somebody that the voters haven't even thought about. It is completely untenable, wouldn't it have been?

PLIBERSEK: Well I think from listening to Greg's interview earlier in the week, that was his conclusion too.

KELLY: What would you have concluded if that had have been put up?

PLIBERSEK: I'm not going to look back at history. What I would say is that Greg Combet is a great loss to the Parliament. He is a great Australian.

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

PLIBERSEK: Thank you.

ENDS

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Press Conference, Saturday, 26 July 2014

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TANYA PLIBERSEK MP

ACTING LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION

SHADOW MINISTER FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS AND INTERNATIONAL DEVELOPMENT

MEMBER FOR SYDNEY

 

E&OE TRANSCRIPT

PRESS CONFERENCE

SATURDAY, 26 JULY 2014     

SYDNEY

 

Subject/s: MH17; Middle East, Asylum Seekers.

 

TANYA PLIBERSEK, ACTING OPPOSITION LEADER: I wanted to take the opportunity of commenting on the Prime Minister’s announcement that further Australian Federal Police Officers will be pre-deployed to London, in order to be able to search the wreckage site of MH17. Of course, Labor supports the deployment of further Australian Federal Police. We believe that our personnel are the best people for this job. Experienced, dedicated, very competent and we support their deployment. The next challenge is ensuring that teams are allowed onto the site, more than three or four at a time. It is critical now that the site is secured, it's a very large site for the wreckage, spread over I'm told 50 square kilometres. There needs to be a proper methodical search of the site from one end to the other. That can only happen with a large deployment of our own police force and any other members of the international team working together methodically across the site. It is critical that the Ukraine government now use all of their efforts to argue for access to the site. And that Russia uses its influence with pro-separatist rebels to allow teams larger than three or four people to have access to the site. We know that Angus Houston is on the ground now. He's a highly skilled, highly respected individual, and we support any efforts that Angus Houston calls for in terms of additional supports for the site.

JOURNALIST: Earlier this afternoon, the Prime Minister wasn't able to confirm the exact number of personnel that will be going over. Is that reasonable, that he wouldn't be able to do that?

PLIBERSEK: I won't criticise the Prime Minister for not being able to confirm an exact number. We were told several days ago there were already 50 people pre-deployed to London. Unfortunately we haven't had a briefing about this additional pre-deployment, but he has said publicly around 90 people. I think that that's acceptable. This is a critical thing, to get Australian boots on the ground. Australian lives lost, we know that we can make a contribution to the international investigation because of the professionalism of our Australian Federal Police and so we want to see a contingent able to thoroughly investigate the site as quickly as possible.

JOURNALIST: Will armed officers on the site increase tensions for separatists?

PLIBERSEK: Well, this is something that Angus Houston will have to examine very carefully. We don't want to send - we don't want to send unarmed Australian Federal Police into a situation where they might be injured, they might be taken hostage. Of course our first responsibility is to ensure that our Australian Federal Police are protected, can protect themselves. Whether or not having an armed guard would increase tension is something that Angus Houston is best placed to examine and to answer. Someone with his experience is the ideal person to make that assessment on the ground.

JOURNALIST: Thank you.

PLIBERSEK: I also wanted to say a few words about what's happening in Gaza at the moment. Anybody who's been reading the papers or watching television would be completely distressed to see image after image of people injured, bodies being carried out of the rubble. So many of these injured civilians are children. Children who've been sheltering in hospitals or in schools. It is completely unacceptable to continue to see this death toll rise to around 900 now. So Labor welcomes the 12-hour pause in fighting, but we say that this should be extended to a permanent ceasefire immediately. Too many people have lost their lives, too many of those people have been civilians, too many of those civilians have been children. It is critical, too, that parties come back to the negotiating table for a durable peace. We cannot afford a situation where every few months or every few years, the rockets start firing again. Civilians lose their lives. Hostilities increase. The only possibility for a durable peace is a two-state solution. An Israel behind secure internationally recognised borders, and a Palestinian State that is economically viable, that is able to provide its own security on its own territory. It is critical that the parties return to the negotiating table because too many people have lost their lives already in this tragic conflict.

I wanted to say a few words also about the asylum boat that's been on the high seas recently. It is extraordinary that Australians are still not being informed by their government, the government that they elected and put into place about what their government intends to do in this situation with asylum seekers who've been intercepted on the high seas. It appears likely that those asylum seekers will be brought now to Australia for processing. Well they could've been brought to Christmas Island weeks ago, as Labor suggested and processed there. The only thing that stopped the processing of these asylum seekers weeks ago is Scott Morrison's ego. It is important now that the government fully answer questions about where the asylum seekers are, where they're going, and what's going to happen to them. It is extraordinary that we have a minister who has, from the day he was elected, refused to answer the most basic questions about his portfolio - has put his own ego ahead of managing his portfolio responsibilities and who's now turned asylum seeker policy over to the High Court.

 

ENDS

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Doorstop Interview, Friday, 25 July 2014

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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

FRIDAY, 25 JULY 2014

ULTIMO

 

SUBJECT/S: MH 17; Australian Federal Police deployment; Scott Morrison back-flip.

 

TANYA PLIBERSEK, ACTING LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION: Well thanks for coming out this evening. There’s no one better to search for Australians on this crash site than Australian Federal Police and if necessary, Australian defence personnel. Labor has supported from the beginning every effort to ensure that our police have access to this 50 square kilometre crash site. We are determined to see every Australian brought home and the sooner we have access to the site and the broader that access, is the better. Labor has supported from the beginning the sending of Australian Federal Police to Europe. We received a briefing yesterday from the Prime Minister’s office and the Federal Police and this extra deployment wasn’t mentioned but of course we support Australian Federal Police as the best people to search in this site for remains and for any evidence of what exactly has happened to MH17.

JOURNALIST: Does the Prime Minister have to spell out what the troops will be doing and how many will be going?

PLIBERSEK: My understanding is so far the Australian defence personnel that have been sent have for example been providing personal security to Angus Houston. This is a very dangerous area of Ukraine, there are heavily armed rebels on the site. They have been haphazard about allowing access to the site, its plain that not all of the rebel groups are cohesive, that there are different units operating that don’t follow a clear command structure. So, making sure that Angus Houston, that our police, Federal Police who are on the site, making sure that any consular officials who are on the site are safe. If that takes Australian defence personnel then of course we support that.

JOURNALIST: I guess the question was, does the Prime Minister have to spell out what they’ll be doing?

PLIBERSEK: Well look, so far the Prime Minister has said that there’s a small number of defence personnel and they’re there for reasons of providing security. I think that that’s a perfectly reasonable explanation. I think it’s important that Australians are aware that Australian Federal Police and Australian defence personnel in some instances, are there to support our efforts, our share of the efforts, of recovering the remains of people who have lost their lives in this terrible crash. I think it’s important that when they cleared that as part of the Dutch lead investigation, Australia is very, very keen to have its own people on the ground. We rate our people highly, we know that they are highly experienced. We know that some of these police for example have had experience in working through the rubble after the tsunami in Japan. They are highly experienced people and they can contribute to this operation and so we support the fact that they’ve been sent there. There are defence personnel providing security on the ground, that’s a good thing.

JOURNALIST: You’ve talked about the lawlessness in the region. Are you concerned about the safety of Australians troops or police in the region? Do you trust President Putin’s assurances that they will be safe?

PLIBERSEK: Well I am concerned about any Australians in the area, as I am concerned about the Dutch personnel, who are leading this investigation, as I am concerned about anyone who is working on this investigative and recovery effort. It is clear that these rebels have the backing of Russia. We hope that the Russian President is able to use his influence firstly to ensure access to the site, secondly to ensure that access is safe, and thirdly to ensure that we can have a big enough force on the ground to actually make an effort of collecting evidence across a very large site, to undertake that very large and difficult task appropriately. President Putin, I hope, is able to use his influence to ensure the safety of Australians. But I wouldn’t want to take any risks with Australian Federal Police. I wouldn’t want to take any risks with foreign affairs staff or consular staff who are on the ground. So it is important to have backup there in case it’s needed.

JOURNALIST: Just on another topic, on the issue of asylum seekers. Has the High Court challenge forced the Government [inaudible] deal with India, and bring 157 to Australia?

PLIBERSEK: Well I think the announcement today shows that the last few weeks have been all about Scott Morrison’s ego, and nothing about making sensible decisions in the interests of Australia and certainly not in the interests of the people on board this vessel, including the children who have been detained for several weeks on this vessel. Labor said many weeks ago that as the vessel was close to Christmas Island it made sense to process people on Christmas Island, it’s only been Scott Morrison’s ego that’s prevented that.

JOURNALIST: What do you know about their legal rights once they do enter Australia? There is some conjecture that they are going to be sent to Curtin in the end. Obviously if they are sent to Curtin then that’s in the migration zone, so will they have legal rights to fight for asylum?

PLIBERSEK: Look I’m afraid I can’t answer that question; we’ve only read what you’ve read in the papers. We haven’t received any special information from Scott Morrison or from the Government, so it’s up to him to answer those questions, if you can get him to a press conference. Thanks.

ENDS

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Today Show Friday, 25 July 2014

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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

TELEVISION INTERVIEW

TODAY SHOW

FRIDAY, 25 JULY 2014

 

SUBJECT/S: MH 17, JOE HOCKEY, JACQUIE LAMBIE

LISA WILKINSON, PRESENTER: Joining us now is Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Shadow Foreign Minister Tanya Plibersek. I will start with you Tanya, Tony Abbott and Julie Bishop's response to this tragedy has been very widely praised. Do you think we are doing enough?

TANYA PLIBERSEK, ACTING OPPOSITION LEADER: Certainly. The Opposition has offered from the very beginning full support to the Government in its efforts. There is I think, every Australian, no question that we would all of us be determined to see all of these bodies returned home as quickly as possible. The concern, of course, has been even though Russia has agreed to the UN Security Council resolution, that they wouldn't use their influence with pro-Russian separatists in the area to allow access to the site. Access is slowly being allowed, but as you said in very small teams we have actually got around 50 police pre-positioned in London, we would like to see them having access to the site as well. And frankly in larger groups. It's very hard for a team of three or four people to cover sufficient area. You are talking about a crash investigation site of around 50 square kilometres. So it is important to get more Australian investigators in there as quickly as possible.

WILKINSON: Malcolm there is growing consensus that MH17 was shot down by a separatist using a Russian missile. If that is proven should Vladimir Putin be allowed into the G20 summit in Brisbane in November?

MALCOLM TURNBULL, MINISTER FOR COMMUNICATIONS: Well, I don't want to speculate about that, the G20 is an important economic gathering, it's not Australia - Australia is the host but it's not based on our invitation if you like. So there would have to be a degree of consensus between the G20 countries or the majority of them on that score -

WILKINSON: Do you think that's possible?

TURNBULL: Anything is possible but I think it is too early to, and not very helpful, to speculate about that. I mean what we are focused on and what Tony Abbott and our team, Julie Bishop, who is in the Ukraine at the moment, what they are focused on is getting access to the site, recovering the bodies of all of those who perished in that crash, and then of course being able to do the work to establish the cause of it. But I think the critical thing is to focus on that and not jump too far ahead.

WILKINSON: It would be unprecedented if it happened though, wouldn't it?

TURNBULL: As far as I'm aware, yes it would be unprecedented.

WILKINSON: Let's move on to domestic politics now. There has been intense interest in the launch of Joe Hockey's book yesterday. We need to clarify something here Malcolm, because he says in the book that two days after you told Laurie Oakes you were going to run for the leadership you promised Joe Hockey privately that you wouldn't. Both of you then of course went on to lose to Tony Abbott. Did you go back on your word?

TURNBULL: Well, I was I actually sitting in this chair when I said that to Laurie Oakes on national television. I think most people who know me know that it's - I'm not the sort of person that says one thing on national television and then does something different.

WILKINSON: You are saying you didn't tell Joe Hockey privately you wouldn't -

TURNBULL: I did not. Look, this is really ancient history.

WILKINSON:  No, it is not actually because Melissa Babbage, Joe Hockey's wife says that Joe Hockey will never trust you again. And that's difficult. You are meant to be a Coalition. You are both senior ministers.

TURNBULL: I trust Joe and he trusts me. That's the important thing. As far as the history is concerned it was a very fraught period and it doesn't surprise me that people have different recollections of what was said. But the one thing that everybody knows is that both on Laurie's show, right here literally sitting in this chair, in this spot, I made it very clear that I would be a candidate in that ballot and I made it clear on a number of other occasions in the media too. So what is the likelihood that I would be saying one thing publicly and then giving private assurances to the contrary. The fact is I didn't. But, look it was a fraught and difficult period and I can understand people having different recollections.

WILKINSON:  Do you agree with Tony Abbott's chief of staff, Peta Credlin's view that Joe Hockey is the next natural Liberal leader?

TURNBULL: I wouldn't ever - I have seen too many thrills and spills in Canberra to speculate on anything like that.

 

WILKINSON:  Were you happy when you heard that? Does that fill you with joy that Joe Hockey might be the next chosen leader?

TURNBULL: Joe is a terrific guy. He's doing a fantastic job as Treasurer and he's very much admired within the party and across the nation. But there is no point in speculating about politics. I will leave that to you guys. You do it so well.

WILKINSON:  Alright. Just finally, it's been a very fun week in politics this week. We saw Jacquie Lambie, basically opening up about her views on men and what's attractive. Is it nice to see pollies who are normally so stitched up, Tanya, just letting loose and doing a bit of pub talk?

PLIBERSEK: Not really. I didn't think she did herself any favours. I think if we have a standard in public life where if a man said, you know, a similar thing about what he likes in a woman, he would be pretty roundly condemned. I don't think you can expect that standard from men and then say it's OK if you're a woman.

WILKINSON:  Malcolm, what do you think of Jacquie Lambie so far in her performance in the Senate?

TURNBULL: I just want to comment on another woman, and that's our colleague Julie Bishop. What an outstanding role model she is for young women, all women, what an amazing job she's done in New York. I mean, she's made all of us so proud by the way she has performed, getting that resolution through the Security Council. Tanya, I know she's your opposite number -

PLIBERSEK: Absolutely -

TURNBULL: But wouldn't you agree she's been an outstanding Foreign Minister -

PLIBERSEK: And I was so - we were so shocked all of us to hear this news, but from the moment I rang her she's been very good at making sure that we are briefed on what the Government's proposing and so on. I think at a time like this she's shown strong leadership, it's been very important for our nation to be able to come together.

WILKINSON:  I don't think anybody would disagree with either of you. Malcolm, Tanya, great to see you.

PLIBERSEK: Thank you.

TURNBULL: Thanks very much.

ENDS

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Sky News Afternoon Agenda

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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&EO TRANSCRIPT
TELEVISION INTERVIEW
SKY NEWS AFTERNOON AGENDA
WEDNESDAY, 23 JULY 2014

SUBJECT/S: MH17; Indonesian Presidential election; Middle East.

DAVID LIPSON: Meanwhile as recriminations fly back and forth over who is responsible for the downing of the aircraft, the Opposition has raised the prospect of Australian action against Russia with Bill Shorten in the United States, the shadow Foreign Minister Tanya Plibersek is acting as Labor leader. I spoke to her a short time ago and started by asking about the 100 bodies still unaccounted for.

TANYA PLIBERSEK, ACTING LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION: Shows how important it is to get an international team on to the crash site very promptly. It is a very difficult task finding and securing and then transporting all of the bodies and it's not a job that should be left to amateurs. It's critical – we’ve got a Dutch team on the ground now, there are other international people there who could assist. The rebels need to allow access to that international team to recover any other remains over the crash site.

LIPSON: Tony Abbott has outlined several priorities. Firstly the proper treatment and ultimately repatriation of the bodies. Also an investigation. Now they are comparatively easy to achieve compared to his third goal, which is to bring those responsible to justice. There are all sorts of complexities in actually carrying out a punishment. First and foremost the mechanism for doing so.

PLIBERSEK: Look, I think they are the right priorities in the right order. We of course need to return Australian citizens and permanent residents to their loved ones. We need to get an independent transparent international investigation started straight away and that third priority of bringing people to account I think that will be demanded by the international community. Yes it's tough, but almost 300 people have lost their lives. It is not beyond us. Particularly if there is unimpeded access to the site and to any evidence that's available to find out first of all what happened to confirm what type of missile it was, and then after that to confirm who fired it and how they got it in the first place.

LIPSON: Bill Shorten says the Opposition would be open to supporting the Government if it wanted to impose sanctions against Russia. Should Russia choose not to cooperate to an adequate level. At what point is it appropriate to start seriously pushing for sanctions on Russia?

PLIBERSEK: Look I think it is, first of all to be recognised that Russia felt enough international pressure to agree to the security council resolution to - that has led to this investigation. I think the next step is for Russia to clearly show that it's not all talk, that it is actually prepared to use its influence with Russian backed separatists in the area in question to allow this investigation to take place. If there is any suggestion that Russia is not cooperating appropriately, that it's interfering with the investigation, that it's not using its influence with the rebels then that's a time to start talking about sanctions. If it's found - as has been speculated - that this weapon has been provided by Russia, if there has been any training of the people who have fired it, if indeed there has been a Russian team associated with it, because there has been movement of troops back and forth across the border, then that brings us to another degree of - well another degree of culpability and again,

LIPSON: Even US intelligence says that Russia may have created the conditions that enabled the that Russia may have created the conditions that enabled the rebels to shoot down the plane, but nothing suggested beyond that at this point..

PLIBERSEK: No. What we have heard overnight from US intelligence sources is the suggestion that this is most likely Russian separatists who have fired on this plane. They have mistaken it for Ukrainian troop transport or some other military aircraft. But I think there are two questions here. The first question that we need to establish is who fired the missile and where did they get it. There is a degree of culpability there.  There is a second question about the - what you have described as the conditions for this missile being fired and there is also a degree of responsibility and potentially culpability around that too.

LIPSON: What sanctions would be appropriate should they be required against Russia? Because there are already sanctions against Russia that are really having little or no effect.

PLIBERSEK: Well, I wouldn't agree that the sanctions are having little or no effect. In fact I think because the sanctions disproportionately affect Vladimir Putin's friends and allies, the oligarchs of Russia, I think you can assume that they are being felt. We know that Russia –

LIPSON: Isn't the fact the conflict continues proof that the sanctions are not having the desired effect?

PLIBERSEK: Look I think ideally the sanctions would have already encouraged Russia to withdraw its support from the rebels that it's armed and trained and funded. But, so I guess to a degree you could question the effectiveness. What we hear though are that there is a level of discomfort being felt by the Russian oligarchs whose depend on financial services, and minerals exports and of course most importantly gas exports, for their income. The difficulty for Europe of course in engaging in sanctions is that European countries rely on that gas. So there is a complex set of circumstances to be worked through. Australia of course has to be thinking about if we are calling for sanctions what we can do to assist Europe to cope with the effects on European countries, of those sanctions, because the effects obviously are felt on both sides. If you're not selling gas you're not making a profit. But if you are not receiving gas and winter approaches you get a little bit nervous about how your domestic economy and most particularly the people that live in your country are going to cope with that –

LIPSON: If Australia imposes any sanctions here as well would local industry be a consideration for that? Because for example we export something like $160 million worth of beef to Russia, there is also butter and live animals as well.

PLIBERSEK: No, frankly I wouldn't - I mean I would obviously prioritise the international response to show unequivocally how important it is to hold the perpetrators of this horrendous crime to account. That would be our first and most important responsibility. But I do think it's, as I said earlier, important to go through these steps methodically. We need to have a very clear idea of where this missile came from. Who is responsible for shooting it, where they got it from. The next discussion, the discussion that you have engaged in, what kind of sanctions might be appropriate, that is a discussion for some time in the future.

LIPSON: Moving on to the Indonesia election. Joko Widodo has emerged the victor as the President elect in Indonesia. You have welcomed his election. He is more moderate than the vanquished former general Prabowo Subianto, will Jokowi do you think be easier for Australia to deal with.

PLIBERSEK: I think it is important to say up front that Australia would never express a view about the Indonesian presidential election in favour of one candidate versus the other. We have certainly welcomed the election I think the clear win of Jokowi. We admire incredibly Indonesia's democracy. More than 133 million people voted out of around 190 million eligible to vote. That's an impressive achievement all of its own. Making sure that the results of the election are adhered to will be an important next step of course in Indonesia. But yes we are very happy to see the election of Jokowi.  We would have been happy with either candidate. But my congratulations to Jokowi, and my congratulations more importantly I suppose to the people of Indonesia for the amazing journey they have made to democracy with 133 million people voting in around half a million polling booths.

LIPSON: Just to Gaza quickly. And there are been a number of airlines in the United States and Europe that have stopped flying into Tel Aviv because of the latest violence that's been raging for about three weeks now. What's your view on this round of violence?

PLIBERSEK: Well, the first and most important thing to say is there should be an immediate ceasefire. We have seen the loss of more than 600 lives already, around 100 of those have been children. There must be an immediate ceasefire. Of course Hamas must agree to stop firing rockets into Israel but equally the response now with more than 600 dead, the toll is unspeakable. And I'm pleased to see that both Ban Ki-Moon and John Kerry in Egypt obviously, and Ban Ki-moon has been in Israel, with putting their full efforts into securing a ceasefire. It is critical that the violence stops now. The cost has been much too great already.

LIPSON: Bob Carr wants Labor to adopt a more pro-Palestinian stance. Is that under active consideration in the Labor Party?

PLIBERSEK: Well I don’t really know what that means. I mean Australia has consistently under both sides of politics, Liberal and Labor, advocated a two state solution that allows Israel to live behind secure internationally recognised borders but also meets the absolutely justified aspirations of the Palestinian people for a state of their own. I don't think that it makes a lot of sense to talk in terms of being closer to one side or the other. Our aspiration is for peace. A two state solution, where two nations live side-by-side in peace and security and I think that the most important thing we can be saying –

LIPSON: You reject Bob Carr on that?

PLIBERSEK: I think the most important thing we can be saying when 600 people have already lost their lives is that there needs to be an immediate ceasefire and that we need to proceed to a two state solution. This conflict has cost too much, too many lives, too much hurt already. And the only solution is a two state solution - the only solution that can last.

LIPSON: Tanya Plibersek thanks so much for your time today.

PLIBERSEK: Thank you David.

ENDS

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ABC Radio National Drive

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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 RADIO NATIONAL DRIVE

TUESDAY, 22 JULY 2014

 

SUBJECT/S: MH17.

 

WALEED ALY: I’m joined now by Tanya Plibersek who is the acting Labor leader and foreign affairs spokesperson. Thank you very much for joining us.

TANYA PLIBERSEK, ACTING OPPOSITION LEADER: Thanks Waleed.

ALY: How long do you think it will take before an investigation can begin properly and then ultimately find something?

PLIBERSEK: Well I think the first and most important thing as we’ve said all along is sadly securing the bodies and making sure that they are repatriated to their countries of origin. Secondly having access to the crash site for a proper investigation done by an international team of experts, something that’s transparent and professional that we hope can begin to occur now. As you know, as your listeners know the site has been in the hands of Russian backed rebels up to now and they have impeded access to the site. It does seem that some things have been removed from the site. But I believe that if you have the proper experts there will still be a great deal of information available from the site about the type of missile that has been involved and other forensic information that experts will be able to find.

ALY: You, I mean your side of politics, the other side of politics, probably really all the leaders of the Western world seem to have articulated in fairly confident terms what they think has happened here and who’s to blame. So what do you think this investigation ultimately adds?

PLIBERSEK: Well I think there has been I suppose a range of people expressing certainty about who is responsible here. I would say that it is critical to firstly be certain that, well I think it’s pretty well established that the missile is responsible for this but what type of missile, who supplied it and how people got their hands on it, all of that will be very important. Getting forensic information about the type of missile is an important first step but I don’t think that that will be sufficient on its own. I expect that there will be security and intelligence analysts looking over all sorts of additional information to try and piece together how this missile came to be in the hands of who ever fired it.

ALY: Well you say who ever fired it, of course Bill Shorten has made it plain who he thinks fired it so what is the official position of, well I suppose I can only ask you about the Labor Party but if you know the Government’s position officially you could put it to me as well, what is the official position of who did it?

PLIBERSEK: Well Waleed, I don’t think this is a matter of official positions. This is an effort to determine the truth of what exactly has happened here and who is responsible so that they might be punished. This is an unspeakable tragedy and it is important that the international community are united in establishing the facts in a way that is transparent so that when this investigation is concluded there may be international confidence in the results of the investigation so that if there are consequences, if there is punishment involved, that the whole international community has had the opportunity of saying yes this is a credible international, transparent, independent investigation. It’s not about having positions.

ALY: What follows from that? If ultimately Russia is held to have had some level of responsibility for this, whatever that level is, is there anything that the world can actually do? Is there any leverage that the world has with respect to Russia on this?

PLIBERSEK: Well I think it’s important not to, you know, not to speculate too much about these things but if you’re asking me is it possible for the international community to put pressure on Russia if they are found to have provided these weapons to the rebels that are assumed to have fired it, yes it is possible to put pressure on. I think most international observers would say that existing sanctions are having some limited effect as they are but certainly increasing sanctions is something that if there is evidence down the track that should be considered by the international community, the effect of the sanctions are already, as I say, starting to be felt to a degree in Russia but there’s certainly room for that pressure to be increased. If there is any sign for example that the Russians aren’t cooperating with the investigation or that they’ve, you know, signed on for the resolution but in practice are not cooperating, all of that needs to be considered down the track.

ALY: And what will the signs of that be? At what point can we make an assessment about whether Russia is walking the talk?

PLIBERSEK: Well I think there’s a very strong indication that the separatists who are in control of that part of Ukraine have had at least weapons, possibly training, perhaps Russian individuals or units fighting with them. If you see a lack of access to the site, if you see any other impediments to the investigation that is something that I believe the international community will look very dimly on.

ALY: Well we’ll keep a close eye on it because of course there has been a lack of access to the site already, whether or not that changes.

PLIBERSEK: Yes, it’s been unforgiveable frankly, I mean the interference, well bodies not being properly cared for is I think completely unforgivable but in addition to that apparent interference with the site I think is something of great concern.

ALY: Tanya Plibersek, thank you very much for your time.

PLIBERSEK: Thanks Waleed.

ENDS

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Capital Hill with Lyndal Curtis

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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

TELEVISION INTERVIEW

CAPITAL HILL WITH LYNDAL CURTIS

TUESDAY, 22 JULY 2014

 

SUBJECT/S: MH17.

LYNDAL CURTIS, PRESENTER: Joining me now from Sydney is Labor’s Foreign Affairs Spokeswoman and Acting Opposition Leader as Bill Shorten is in the US, Tanya Plibersek welcome to Capital Hill.

TANYA PLIBERSEK, ACTING LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION: Hi Lyndal.

CURTIS: What should be done now, immediately following the unanimous support that the UN resolution got?

PLIBERSEK: Well, this first step of unanimous support for this resolution is very important. It shows that Russia is keen to be seen to cooperate with the Security Council. I think the next step is clearly getting those teams that are, I believe, already in place in Kiev on to the crash site as quickly as possible. There will be a large amount of forensic investigation required now to establish exactly what type of missile has been fired and from that there's a possibility of making an assessment about where it's likely to have come from. Of course the other thing that authorities will be doing at the moment is re-examining - examining and re-examining other security and intelligence data to see whether there is other evidence to point to who fired the missile and, most importantly as well, of course, how they obtained that in the first place.

CURTIS: It is important, isn't it, that there be a ceasefire in this area of eastern Ukraine to allow not only unimpeded but safe access for those crash investigators?

PLIBERSEK: Look, there has to be an immediate ceasefire. I mean, the first task, as I've said over the last few days, of course, is to properly remove the bodies from the crash scene. It does seem that those bodies have been removed into refrigerated railway cars now and are being transported. The information around this is quite unclear but the suggestion is to a town that is held by Ukrainian authorities that obviously will make it easier to properly care for and of course eventually transport home those bodies. Very important first step. Very difficult to continue that work when the site's not safe. And then the second task, that task of gathering the forensic information that I was talking about earlier, the quite tiny in some cases fragments of the missile, if indeed it was a missile, that task also has to be done where investigators are safe to go about their work. This will be a long and involved evidence-gathering process and they must be safe to go about their work unimpeded.

CURTIS: Now Russia has supported the UN resolution which we assume means it will play its part in getting access to the site, both the Prime Minister and yourself have given quite strong words to Russia if that cooperation does not happen. Is there anything that the UN can do to enforce its resolution?

PLIBERSEK: Well, I think it's important to say that it is a good thing that Russia has backed this Security Council resolution. There was some doubt at the beginning of the process that they would do it. That's a good first step but it's not enough on its own. Certainly not enough on its own. What has to happen now is for Russia to use its influence with the rebels that they are backing to ensure continued access to the site and, more particularly, to make very clear that any lack of cooperation from those rebels will be - that they'll be on their own. There is a lot of evidence that these rebels have received a great deal of support, including weapons and training from Russia in the past. It's not credible to believe that the Russians don't have significant influence. They have to use that influence to ensure access to the site, to ensure that the site is held safely and, frankly, to reduce the hostilities that have, it seems, led to this terrible tragedy.

CURTIS: Does the Prime Minister and the Foreign Affairs Minister do they deserve an enormous amount of credit for this, not only getting a UN resolution through in only a matter of days but also taking a very strong stand very early on this matter?

PLIBERSEK: Look, I think it shows that organisations like the Security Council can, when they're operating well, be very effective. I think it's very important that this resolution has been supported unanimously. It is important that Australia has taken a leadership role in doing that because of course we have had a significant number of citizens and permanent residents affected.

CURTIS: Tanya Plibersek we will have to leave it there. Thank you very much for your time.

PLIBERSEK: Thank you, Lyndal.

ENDS

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Melbourne Press Conference

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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

PRESS CONFERENCE

MONDAY, 21 JULY 2014     

MELBOURNE

 

Subject/s: MH17; Middle East.

TANYA PLIBERSEK, ACTING LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION: Australia is still in mourning today as we discover more details about the passengers who are on MH17. Australian citizens, Australian permanent residents, people of many nations who’ve lost their lives. I’m here in Melbourne today to attend the World AIDS Conference and I’ve already met with a number of senior researchers and activists this morning talking about some of the people who have been lost in this terrible tragedy. People who have spent their lives working for the benefit of others, tragically losing their lives in this terrible plane crash.

I think it’s very important to say that Australians are shocked and appalled, not only at the shocking loss of life, but the added difficulties that pro-Russian separatists are providing when it comes to retrieving bodies. The friends and family of those who have been killed, of course, immediately want to see those remains brought back to the home countries of the people who have lost their lives. It is completely unacceptable that access to the site for retrieval of bodies is being impeded. There are reports today that bodies have been removed from the site but it’s not clear where those bodies will be kept or that they will be properly secured and looked after. It is absolutely critical that we get that information straight away and that the remains of Australians can be returned home as quickly as possible. In addition to removal of bodies from the site it appears that the wreckage is being tampered with, whether this is for the reason of covering up the cause of the crash, whether it is to hide for example the type of missile that has been used to bring down this plane, or whether indeed there is looting going on, is also not clear.

This shows again how absolutely critical it is that there is a full, international, independent investigation allowed to commence immediately. There are people in Ukraine right now, in Kiev, who could begin this investigation. They must be allowed to begin their work straight away. In addition to that pro-Russian separatists must allow proper access to the site for the removal of bodies. It is unacceptable that there are these delays around the removal of bodies. It is clear that the international community supports the Security Council recommendation that there should be a full international, independent investigation. Countries in our region, our ASEAN neighbours have made clear that they support such an investigation. European countries have made clear that they support such an investigation. Latin American countries, the United States obviously. Around the world there is agreement that there must be a full, international, independent investigation that begins immediately. It would be of course completely unacceptable for Russia to refuse to support such a Security Council recommendation.

But Russia has another responsibility. As well as supporting the Security Council recommendation for this investigation, Russia must also use its influence with the rebels that are in the eastern part of Ukraine, in this region, to allow access to the site. To allow unimpeded access for this investigation and for the securing and retrieval of bodies. There is very strong evidence that these separatists are in frequent close contact with Russia. Russia should use its influence to ensure that the site is secured and the investigators and retrieval teams can go about their business.

Once this investigation establishes who exactly is responsible for this crime, it is critical that there is a strong international response. It’s clear with loss of life on such a scale that someone must be held accountable for that loss of life and I’m pleased to note that the UN Security Council resolution which is proposed, proposes not only an international investigation but that strong measures should flow from that investigation when we are certain about what exactly has happened here.

There’s very credible evidence though that it’s a surface-to-air missile. There are suggestions about the type of missile. There are strong suggestions about who might have fired that missile. But we need to take a methodical approach to establishing who fired the missile and where they got it in the first place and when we know that take very strong international measures against the perpetrators of this terrible crime.

I want to say that Labor supports the sending of Air Chief Marshall Angus Houston as Australia’s envoy in the Ukraine. Angus Houston is a distinguished Australian who has served Australia in some very difficult tasks in the past. This is a very difficult task and all our thoughts all our support go with him. We hope that he is able to oversee the return of Australian bodies, citizens and permanent residents, as quickly as possible to their families here. Are there any questions about this issue?

JOURNALIST: How much longer do you think these people should be there before something is done about securing the site?

PLIBERSEK: Well I don’t think a single minute should go – there should not be a single minute between when this site is secured, when bodies are removed and properly cared for so they can be transported back to their countries of origin. This has gone on too long already. There is absolutely no excuse for the interference that we’ve seen from Russian backed separatists in preventing proper access to the site and proper retrieval of bodies. It’s already gone on too long, so I don’t think it should go on any longer, it’s already gone on too long. The important thing is to get a team in there that can remove and properly transport bodies.

JOURNALIST: Should Vladimir Putin be banned from Australia if he doesn’t support an independent investigation?

PLIBERSEK: Look I think it’s absolutely critical that Vladimir Putin supports the UN Security Council resolution and I would be amazed if he doesn’t. It would be a grave misjudgement for Russia not to support this UN Security Council resolution or indeed to veto it. What I would add to that though is it’s not just supporting the words of the resolution that will be the test for Russia. We know that Russia does have influence with the separatists rebels that are in control of this part of Ukraine. Russia must not just sign on the dotted line for the resolution, Russia must use every bit of its influence with these rebels to ensure proper access to the site, proper treatment of bodies, the ability to gather evidence unimpeded and this will be the test for Russia. Their willingness to support an international, independent investigation, not only in word, but also in deed.

JOURNALIST: Tony Abbott came out against very strongly Russia very early. Do you support how he’s handled the response to this on behalf of Australia?

PLIBERSEK: I think emotions have run very high. We know now that at least 37 Australians, citizens and permanent residents, have lost their lives. It’s a very emotional time for our country. It is important that we establish a proper investigation now so that those who are responsible can face the consequences of their actions.

JOURNALIST: On another matter, how concerned is the Labor Party about Israel’s attacks on Gaza?

PLIBERSEK: We are extremely concerned about events in Gaza now. It appears that over 400 civilians have lost their lives. At last count 73 children had lost their lives. One report suggests that more children have lost their lives than militants. We understand that with Hamas firing rockets at Israel it was inevitable that Israel would seek to protect itself. Hamas rockets fired against Israel must stop. Equally however with so many civilian lives being lost now it is absolutely imperative that there is an immediate ceasefire. The consequences of this activity in Gaza are taking an extremely high toll on the civilian population there and we would urge an immediate ceasefire.

ENDS

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Television Interview, Today on Saturday

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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

TODAY ON SATURDAY

SATURDAY, 19 JULY 2014

 

SUBJECT/S: MH 17

DEBORAH KNIGHT, PRESENTER: And as Australia does come to grip with the MH17 disaster we’re joined this morning by Shadow Minister for Foreign Affairs, Tanya Plibersek. Minister good morning. It is a terrible tragedy for Australia and the world, something that we’re all really grappling to comprehend.

TANYA PLIBERSEK, DEPUTY LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION: Deb it is shocking. You don't ever expect to see such news, a civilian passenger plane shot down like this, almost 300 lives lost. We know today a little more about the Australians that have lost their lives. Very ordinary people, mums, dads, kids, teachers, grandparents, people who were doing something that they should have been absolutely perfectly safe to do, boarding a passenger plane, flying home, many of them to Australia. We also know, sadly, that many of the people from other nations were on their way to Melbourne for the International AIDS Conference. It seems that up to a third of the passengers may have been en route to this, the 20th International AIDS Conference. So you've got people there who are researchers, people who have been working in developing countries trying to get medicines to people who are dying of AIDS around the world, and the loss of people who have spent their lives, dedicated their lives to serving others, I think alongside these terrible tragedies of Australian lives lost I think we give special thought to those people too.

KNIGHT: Indeed a large pall hanging over the conference as it gets underway in Melbourne tomorrow. What sort of action do you think should be taken against Vladimir Putin and against Russia? It really is an act of murder against innocent civilians.

PLIBERSEK: Certainly this is an act of murder, but the first thing that we have to do is establish exactly what's happened. The Security Council will call on an independent, transparent, international investigation. Investigators must be at the site as quickly as possible. Unfortunately it looks, from the footage and the photographs we have seen, that civilians and indeed possibly military personnel or rebels are wandering all over the site, interfering with the site, that's completely unacceptable. It is vital that we get an international aircraft investigation team there straight away. The black box of the plane needs to be secured and evidence of exactly what has happened needs to be secured. It is very important that Russia, as a good international citizen, supports the UN Security Council resolution to have that investigation team on to the site as quickly as possible.

KNIGHT: If Russia is implicated as a result of this investigation what should the global community do to act? Australia, for example, should we consider imposing trade sanctions against Russia? What should be done?

PLIBERSEK: Look, I think it is - we're a step ahead of ourselves. Today is a day of mourning, we need to be thinking about the friends and family of those who have lost their lives. The next step is determining exactly what has happened, so pressure needs to be brought to bear to ensure that Ukraine cooperates and Russia cooperates with an international team of air crash investigators going into the site as quickly as possible, with all of the evidence being secured as quickly as possible. The next step, it looks very likely that this is a surface to air missile. People have speculated about the type of missile it is. The next step, once that is proved, is to find out who fired the missile and where they got it from. So let's take this step by step now.

KNIGHT: The families of the 28 Australians who have been killed are grappling with been their loss. Compensation funds have been set up in the past for previous terror attacks for the Bali and London bombings. Should that be extended in this case too?

PLIBERSEK: Well if the Government does that I'll be very supportive of that. I would think that would be appropriate in such circumstances.

KNIGHT: All right Tanya Plibersek we thank you for your time this morning.

PLIBERSEK: Thank you Deb.

ENDS

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ABC News Radio

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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 NEWS RADIO

MONDAY, 21 JULY 2014     

 

SUBJECT/S: MH17; GAZA CONFLICT; CLIMATE CHANGE.            

 

MARIUS BENSON: Tanya Plibersek, good morning.

TANYA PLIBERSEK, ACTING LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION: Good morning Marius.

BENSON: The Foreign Minister we just heard there speaking in Washington, she’s now going to New York where an Australian drafted resolution will be put to the United Nations Security Council. That resolution demands that those responsible for this incident be held to account, and that all States co-operate fully with efforts to establish accountability, and we’ve also learned just in the last few minutes that the Prime Minister overnight has spoken with the Russian President Vladimir Putin. Do you think the Australian Government is doing everything it should do in the aftermath of MH17?

PLIBERSEK: Well I think certainly our selection on the Security Council at the moment does give us an opportunity to take a leadership role in international efforts to ensure that there is an independent investigation, an independent international investigation into exactly what’s occurred with MH17.

BENSON: Do you think the Security Council will be effective? Because Russia obviously can veto anything, China often votes with Russia, so they can stall any action by the Security Council.

PLIBERSEK: Well look, I think it would be extremely unlikely for Russia to vote against a resolution calling for an international investigation. I think it would look absolutely terrible if they did that, I don’t think that that’s likely at this stage. How much co-operation Russia then gives in asking the pro-Russian separatists to allow access to the site is another matter. So there’s the formal agreement to the resolution, and then there’s the practical help that Russia can be, using their influence with these fighters that have been backed by Russia, to allow access to the site there’s really two things that are required here.

BENSON: Is there anything else the world should be doing, or Australia should be doing or can do, effectively beyond the Security Council action?

PLIBERSEK: Well I think the Security Council resolution is the first step. Retrieving bodies unfortunately is the greatest task before us at the moment, making sure that those bodies are kept and transported properly so that they can be returned to their families, their countries of origin, that’s the first and most important thing. Full access to the site for investigation is the next critical stage. That has to be an international team, it has to be a team that can identify, for example, missile fragments amongst the wreckage to ensure that we know exactly what has happened, what type of missile it was and so on. The third thing then is to establish who is responsible for firing this missile, and that will be a longer process. It will require the co-operation of Ukrainian authorities and the pro-Russian separatists who currently control access to the site. They will have to allow international investigators full and unimpeded access for some time.

BENSON: Should Vladimir Putin come to the G20 in Brisbane in November?

PLIBERSEK: Well I don’t think that we’re at the stage of having that discussion yet. I think it’s very important to focus step by step on retrieving bodies, investigating the site, being able to tell what type of rocket it was and so on. The next discussion is the discussion about who is held responsible and what the consequences of being held responsible are. I think it’s important that the Security Council resolution does have a clause in there that says the international community is determined to establish who is responsible. I think measures around the G20 are one possibility, further sanctions in Europe are another possibility but we really need to take this step by step.

BENSON: The world’s attention has been divided between MH17 and the action by Israel in Gaza, now 425 Palestinian’s dead and 18 Israeli soldiers have been killed. What should the world, what should Australia do in relation to Gaza?

PLIBERSEK: Well I think it’s very important that we continue strongly to say to HAMAS that the rocket fire must stop, but it’s also important to say to Israel now that the death toll, the civilian death toll at over four hundred is extremely high, and there are serious concerns now about the civilian death toll. It is important to have an immediate ceasefire. Right now, the cost of this conflict has been extremely high and the only solution right now is an immediate ceasefire.

BENSON: Could I just quickly ask you a about a domestic issue. The carbon tax was repealed last week, a poll was conducted over the weekend, no improvements in the Government’s fortunes. Is that surprising?

PLIBERSEK: Well I think Australian’s understand that we need to take action on dangerous climate change. I think Tony Abbott as Opposition Leader did a very good job of frightening people about the effects of carbon pricing. Most Australian’s have not noticed a dramatic difference in their life because of it, and I don’t think anybody is going to notice a dramatic difference over the next few weeks because it’s been repealed. On top of that, I think many Australians understand that it is necessary to take action to reduce air pollution unlimited- the production of dangerous greenhouse gases that trap heat close to our planet, and are consequently changing our climate and changing our environment will have not just an environmental effect but an economic effect on generations of Australians to come, and most people I believe understand that we need to do something about that.

BENSON: Tanya Plibersek, thank you very much.

PLIBERSEK: Thanks Marius.

BENSON: Tanya Plibersek is the Shadow Foreign Minister, and she is also the acting Opposition Leader in the absence of Bill Shorten who is in the United States at the moment.

ENDS

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