TRANSCRIPT: Doorstop interview, Wednesday 27 May 2015

 

commonwealthcoatofarms.png 

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
WEDNESDAY, 27 MAY 2015

SUBJECTS: Marriage equality; Domestic violence

 

TANYA PLIBERSEK, DEPUTY LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION: Good morning everyone. When Labor was in government, we changed 85 pieces of Commonwealth legislation to remove discrimination against gay men, lesbians and same sex couples. There was one unfinished piece of business and I am delighted to say that on Monday, Bill Shorten and I will introduce legislation into the House of Representatives for marriage equality. Marriage equality is a social change whose time has come. Australia is one of the very few countries with similar culture and background that have not moved to marriage equality. If you look at countries like the United Kingdom, New Zealand, indeed many parts of the United States and Europe, marriage equality has been legislated. More than 20 countries now have marriage equality. We believe that the Australian community has shifted very substantially on this issue and the most recent public polling suggests that 72 per cent of Australians support marriage equality. But sadly our Parliament has been slow in catching up. Bill Shorten and I will introduce this legislation on Monday and it will sit on the table for some time giving parliamentarians an opportunity to talk with their communities and to decide on their position for marriage equality.

JOURNALIST: Ms Plibersek, why doesn’t Labor support Rosie Batty’s call for ten days mandatory leave for domestic violence victims so they can go to court and seek legal advice?

PLIBERSEK: Well certainly Labor is very supportive of the agreements that have been signed that cover 1.6 million workers - that give domestic violence leave. Large companies like Telstra, large employers like the University of New South Wales in my own electorate have agreed domestic violence leave with their staff. It is worth noting that wherever this position or this provision exists in employment agreements, very few people will ever need to use it. Indeed, very few people have used the provision of the 1.6 million employees that are covered. It is certainly something that we are interested in hearing further about. What Brendan O’Connor said this morning is that when you have small employers it can be quite complex to manage the sort of provisions that are being asked for.

JOURNALIST: [Inaudible] said she’s disappointed and blame [inaudible] same sex marriage bill that it’s playing politics. Is there a risk here that you’ll set back the cause?

PLIBERSEK: Look, I don’t think so. I first drafted a bill for marriage equality more than a year ago. And I wrote to all Liberal MPs and asked if one of them would co-sponsor my bill. For a year, I’ve been asking for bipartisanship on my original private member’s bill. I have spoken to a number of Liberal MPs directly and asked them to co-sponsor my bill and sadly, that movement hasn’t happened. I know that there are a lot of Liberal MPs who support marriage equality and I think by bringing this issue to the Parliament, they have the opportunity now within their partyroom- to argue for a free vote in their partyroom. We were simply just waiting too long. As I say, more than a year ago I asked for a co-sponsor to my bill and without a Liberal co-sponsor, Labor has had to go it alone.

JOURNALIST: There’s [inaudible] had reservations about this and it is a matter of conscience, why are you voting against it?

PLIBERSEK: And I understand that-

JOURNALIST: You want to make it a binding vote though.

PLIBERSEK: I understand that for people for whom this is a- they see marriage as a religious sacrament, this is a very difficult ask for them. But marriage is more than that. Marriage is also a legal arrangement between two people that gives responsibilities as well as rights, it’s also an acknowledgment by our community of a status of a relationship. So I believe that any couple that is above the age of 18 and meets all the other legal requirements should be able to go to a registry office, to see a marriage celebrant and have that relationship formally recognised by the state. I do not expect churches to recognise or provide same sex marriage. The bill specifically makes very clear that churches will not be expected to solemnise same sex relationships. But in the case of the state recognising a relationship between two people, our community recognising a relationship between two people, to me that is now just an issue of equality and it is no longer acceptable, I believe, in the Australian community to discriminate against two people on the basis of their gender.

JOURNALIST: You acknowledge that the community has shifted, do you now concede that putting forward a binding vote for your party could’ve set back in train, was the wrong platform to put forward?

PLIBERSEK: No, I think that the fact that we’ve been having this discussion in our community and in our parliament in recent weeks has given the opportunity and a number of Labor MPs who were previously opposed to marriage equality to make clear that their views have developed alongside the views of their communities. And so I think it’s been a very healthy debate for us to have.

JOURNALIST: Are you still pushing for a binding vote?

PLIBERSEK: Well I’m pushing for this private member’s bill to be introduced to the Parliament on Monday and-

JOURNALIST: But it’s likely-

PLIBERSEK: To- well-

JOURNALIST: It is likely that this vote will be after the Labor conference so will you at the conference still be pushing for this vote to be binded?

PLIBERSEK: I’m pushing for the private member’s bill that we introduce on Monday to be debated in our Parliament. I’m pushing for a free vote in the Liberal Party because the only thing that can guarantee that this legislation is defeated is if the Liberal Party room and the National Party room don’t get a free vote. For me, the issue has never been the mechanism, it’s been the outcome. It’s been the end result. For me, recognising same sex couples and same sex families have the same legal status as opposite sex couples, is the outcome I’ve always wanted.

JOURNALIST: So you’re dropping your call for a binding vote in the Labor Party?

PLIBERSEK: I’m focused right now on this private member’s bill that I’ll be introducing with Bill Shorten on Monday at getting that through the Parliament. That’s my whole focus at the moment.

JOURNALIST: Does that mean you’re expecting [inaudible]?

PLIBERSEK: Certainly the timing for any further debate will be up to the Parliament, it will be decided by the selection committee that decides the timing of these debates. But I would certainly prefer to see this dealt with sooner rather than later, it’s important to have a few weeks for Members of Parliament to consult their electorates to consider their position but this really is a reform whose time has come.

JOURNALIST: Can I just clarify though, why are you pushing for a binding vote still? Why were you going to drop that?

PLIBERSEK: The issue is not about mechanisms at our conference-

JOURNALIST: This is an issue that you’ve pushed.

PLIBERSEK: The issue is we now have a private member’s bill that we didn’t expect to have. I certainly have always said this is not an issue of life and death, which is what conscience votes are normally confined to, this is an issue of legal equality and that is still my position. But what I would say is our focus now, our whole campaigning focus has been brought forward because we now have a piece of legislation before our Parliament for activists in our community who care about this issue, who want to see marriage equality. Their focus must also be on our Parliament, not on mechanisms, but on the substance of this legislation. The substance of this legislation would allow same sex couples to have their relationship recognised by our community and by the state.

ENDS

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TRANSCRIPT: 2DayFM with Dan & Maz, Wednesday 27 May 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
2DAYFM WITH DAN & MAZ
WEDNESDAY, 27 MAY 2015

SUBJECT: Marriage equality

 

MAZ, PRESENTER: Welcome to the show, Tanya Plibersek, good morning.

TANYA PLIBERSEK, DEPUTY LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION: Hi, it’s great to be with you.

DAN, PRESENTER: Great to have you on the show, I tell you what-

MAZ: So much pressure on that signature -

DAN: Oh my god -

MAZ: You want it to be a good one.

DAN: It’s like when you’re signing a new credit card or a new passport and you’re stuck with that one. Did you practice a few times before you signed on the line?

PLIBERSEK: Yeah, sadly I get a lot of opportunity to practice my signature, I get a lot of paperwork.

DAN: Was it definitely you or does your PA have a stamp?

PLIBERSEK: [Laughs] No, that would make life a lot easier.

DAN: Yeah, you’ve got to do it. That’s good. Even if it wasn’t you, you wouldn’t tell us. Tanya -

MAZ: Tanya, everyone’s talking about this issue today and what do you think your chances are of getting this through?

PLIBERSEK: Look I think the chances are very good. I think the Australian public has been ahead of the Australian Parliament for some time. The most recent poll I saw was that 72% of Australians support marriage equality and I think it’s a shame that our Parliament has taken so long to come to this. When we were in Government, we changed 85 pieces of legislation to remove discrimination, but this last thing, marriage equality, I think now is the time to get that done. And I know that there are people in the Liberal Party who want to support this. They’ve been outspoken on marriage equality and if Tony Abbott gives a free vote to his partyroom and we’ve got a free vote in Labor, I think it’s got a very good chance at passing.

DAN: Is that a big ‘if’? If Tony Abbott gives them a free vote, do you reckon he’ll say ‘do as I say, I’m the boss’?

PLIBERSEK: Well that’s been his tradition up til now and I know that there are a lot of people in the Liberal Party who are talking to their leader and saying, you know, the time for change has come and you’re entitled to your view as an individual but there’s a lot of us who support marriage equality and I hope that they are successful in their partyroom at convincing Tony Abbott to allow a free vote.

MAZ: Tanya, with a conscience vote, do you have to put your name to that? Or do you remain anonymous? Because I feel like that would actually change people in the Liberal Party, the way that they vote, if it was anonymous maybe.

PLIBERSEK: Yeah, well you’ll definitely know in the Parliament. If there’s a free vote in the Parliament, there’ll be some people sitting to the left of the Speaker and some to the right of the Speaker and we’ll count every vote and those votes will be recorded throughout history. In the partyroom, the Liberal party room, I think that that would probably end up being a show of hands or something as well but I can’t say I’m an expert on how they make their decisions in the party room.

DAN: Oh, who knows?

PLIBERSEK: Yeah that’s right, who knows?

MAZ: Tanya, is there a sense of slight disappointment that Australia is so late to the game on this issue and it shouldn’t even be an issue?

PLIBERSEK: Look, I think big social changes, you really need to take the community with you and there’s been a lot of people in our community who have been arguing for this change in the community, me included, in fact I had a private member’s bill that I put up more than a year ago looking for a Liberal Party co-sponsor. I spoke to a number of Liberals, in fact I wrote to all of them and said ‘would you be interested in doing this sort of bipartisan work?’ So there’s been a lot of, you know, step by step by step, because it is a big social change for a lot of people and I think the best way to handle it is to keep talking calmly about the benefits of this change. I mean, the people who are opposed to the change for religious reasons say marriage is a sacrament and something that the churches have given, and I say, okay, nobody wants to force the churches to change their position, no one wants to force the churches to marry people. But marriage is more than a religious sacrament, it’s a legal contract that you enter into with someone, that you’ll look after them and they’ll look after you. And I think for most people, the most important thing is it’s a way of telling your family, your community, the people that you love that this is your partner for life.

DAN: Yeah, I like the idea that now you guys have worked out that you can sneak a bit of legislation in if you see things that Australia is doing that you’re a bit embarrassed about. Maybe we could get a couple more through, what about a bit of legislation saying that you know we don’t tell celebrities to bugger off when they try and get their cute dogs into the country?

PLIBERSEK: Well, there’s so many things that we would love to change and it all relies on actually having the numbers in the House of Representatives which sadly as the Opposition we don’t. And the only chance we have of getting this through is if the Liberals are allowed a free vote because we don’t- even if every Labor MP voted for it, we wouldn’t have the numbers on our own in the House of Representatives.

DAN: Oh, come on, Tone, what are you going to do? What’s he going to do? Is he going to spin the wheel? Is he going to try and be the Joffrey and go ‘no! Do as I say’. It’s going to be interesting. Thanks for talking to us, Tanya.

MAZ: Thanks, Tanya.

PLIBERSEK: It’s a pleasure, thank you.

ENDS

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TRANSCRIPT: ABC 702 Breakfast, Wednesday 27 May 2015

commonwealthcoatofarms.png 

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 702 BREAKFAST
WEDNESDAY, 27 MAY 2015

SUBJECTS: Marriage equality; Daesh

 

JEN FLEMING, PRESENTER: Good morning, Tanya.

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

FLEMING: So why introduce this bill now? What’s changed?

PLIBERSEK: I think there’s a lot of momentum in our community and in our Parliament. We’ve heard a number of Labor MPs in recent weeks who’ve said in the past that they voted against marriage equality and they’ve changed their views over time. And we’ve heard a lot of people on the Liberal side saying that it’s time for a free vote from the Liberals, people who have long supported marriage equality on the Liberal side have started to become more public in that support. So I think there is a momentum in our Parliament. I think our Parliament, frankly, is behind our community on this issue. There’s very widespread community support and there has been for some time.

FLEMING: You mentioned free vote, that’s going to be a crucial part of it. Will there be a conscience vote in your party?

PLIBERSEK: Yes, there will. That’s the position of the Labor Party from our last conference that we support marriage equality but there would be a conscience vote on it, or a free vote on it, and so the question now is of course it can’t succeed unless there’s also a free vote on the Liberal side.

FLEMING: And do you have an idea of numbers on the Liberal side?

PLIBERSEK: Look, I think it’s very close. Obviously I’m talking to people in the Liberal Party about their assessment of the situation and I think it’s impossible to know until the day whether there’s complete support or not, but the numbers are very close.

FLEMING: So how do you rate the chances of success? I did read somewhere that apparently if there is a free vote, you’re about three short in the Lower House at the moment.

PLIBERSEK: Australian Marriage Equality and other organisations that have been lobbying for this have been keeping pretty close track of people who are declaring whether they’re supporters or opponents of marriage equality and their assessment is that the numbers are closer even than that. So it will depend. There’s a lot of people who haven’t really specified one way or another, because certainly for the Liberals this is not something that has been debated in the partyroom at the moment. There was a bill from Senator Leyonhjelm recently that many people thought might bring the issue to a head in the Liberal Party room but it hasn’t been discussed yet. So it’s still a little unclear how some people will be voting.

FLEMING: There is opposition within your party and also some within the union movement. Joe de Bruyn recently, he represents the Retail Union, he opposed your idea of a binding vote, he said you’re just playing up to your cosmopolitan inner city electorate. What do you say to that?

PLIBERSEK: I think it’s less important to focus on the sort of political analysis of this issue than the real outcome. The real outcome is countries very like us around the world have marriage equality. The most recent referendum in Ireland was overwhelmingly successful, but you know, UK, New Zealand, many states in the United States, many European countries, more than 20 countries now have marriage equality. And my interest really is seeing Australia join the list of those countries that doesn’t discriminate against people on the basis of gender when it comes to who they are able to marry.

FLEMING: Tanya Plibersek is with me, the MP for Sydney, also Deputy Labor Leader and seconding this private member’s bill that will be introduced on Monday. You mentioned that 75 per cent of the electorate support same sex marriage, why do you think that our elected representatives are not behind the views of the public on this one? What are the reasons why?

PLIBERSEK: Well the most recent poll that I’ve seen is the Crosby Textor poll that said 72 per cent of Australians are in favour of marriage equality. I think, I mean, we’re close to half of MPs, or maybe more than half of MPs, so the gap is not so large. I can’t really say why it’s taken our Parliament longer than it’s taken our community to shift views on this. But there is definitely a momentum. I think about my parents’ generation of people, I think if you’d asked them ten years ago many of them would’ve been opposed to marriage equality and as they’ve had time to get used to the idea of- when people in their own families come out as gay or lesbian, as they’ve thought about the underlying issue here which is a community recognising that all relationships are equal and should be treated as equal before the law. Views in the community have really shifted and I think our Members of Parliament are slowly catching up to that.

FLEMING: The question has been put to you about well, you were in government a year and a half ago, why didn’t you raise it then? So why now, and not then?

PLIBERSEK: Well I did raise it then and I’ve-

FLEMING: You did.

PLIBERSEK: I’ve supported marriage equality. Look, we changed 85 pieces of legislation when we were in government to get rid of all discrimination against gay men, lesbians and same sex couples right through Medicare, immigration, citizenship, family law, Centrelink benefits, I mean right across the board we changed legislation to remove discrimination. At the time, there was not the support in the Parliament to do this last piece of discrimination. And I think probably the support in the community was not as strong then either. There is a forward momentum here where we are removing this last big piece of discrimination.

FLEMING: I wonder what the support is for people listening now. 1300 222 702. Do you support this private member’s bill on same sex marriage? 1300 222 702 is the number to ring. So it goes on Monday, what happens then? What’s the process?

PLIBERSEK: The legislation’s introduced on Monday, and then it’ll be adjourned for debate at another time and that’s really an opportunity for people to, in the Parliament, to consider their position, to talk to their colleagues, to decide their own views, and of course it’s an opportunity for people in the community to make their views known to their Members of Parliament as well. So some time later, some weeks later at least, it will be reintroduced for further debate and we hope concluded, debate concluded before the end of the year. I am of course always looking for people in the Liberal Party or the other side of politics to work with cooperatively on this. I know many on the other side who are supporters of this and it would be ideal if this could be a debate about the future of our nation, the type of nation we want to be, rather than get into a party sort of debate where people get hunkered down in their opposing corners and refuse to see each other’s point of view. But I know that there are a lot of people on both sides of the aisle who think that this is a reform whose time has come.

FLEMING: And we have contacted a couple of Sydney and NSW Liberal MPs to gauge their views on the issue. We’re hoping to speak with them, one of them, before the end of the program. Tanya Plibersek is with us. Tanya, on another issue, the Sydney Morning Herald is reporting that the wife of Islamic State fighter Khaled Sharrouf wants to return to Australia with their five children. As Shadow Foreign Minister, would you be concerned about such a move?

PLIBERSEK: Look, I think the first thing to say is that it is beyond comprehension that anyone would take their children into that sort of horror that these children have been taken into and I think our security agencies have to make an assessment about whether it’s safe for the woman in question to return. I can tell you, if I was the grandparents of those kids I’d want them back though.

FLEMING: Are there any legal concerns?

PLIBERSEK: Well certainly anyone who’s been in a proscribed area, anyone who has supported or fought with Daesh or one of the other organisations over there would be subject to Australian law and I think if there is any suggestion that that’s the case and evidence to that effect then the full force of law should apply to the woman herself. I think we do need to of course consider the safety of the children separately. They are very young children.

FLEMING: And actually Senator George Brandis made that point as well that it’s a special case because they are children.

PLIBERSEK: I mean, goodness knows what horror these kids have experienced and I mean, they’re going to need a lot of help.

FLEMING: Thanks for your time this morning.

ENDS

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TRANSCRIPT: ABC 7.30 Report, Tuesday 26 May 2015

 

commonwealthcoatofarms.png 

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 7.30
TUESDAY, 26 MAY 2015

SUBJECTS: Marriage equality; Dual citizenship

 

LEIGH SALES, PRESENTER:  Tanya Plibersek is with me now from Parliament House. Will all Labor MPs be bound to support this bill or will it be a conscience vote so that some Labor MPs can dissent?

TANYA PLIBERSEK, DEPUTY LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION: It will be a free vote. We decided at our last national conference, Leigh, that while the Labor Party position was to support equality, there would be a free vote for Labor MPs and the question of course is: will there also be a free vote for Liberal MPs? We’ve had quite a few Liberals saying that Tony Abbott should allow their side of politics a free vote also.

SALES: Will the introduction of this bill ensure that there will be a vote on it in the House of Representatives?

PLIBERSEK: We’ll introduce this bill and then the usual process is there’s some debate at the time that it’s introduced and some time later a bill can be brought on for a vote. We are very keen to make sure that during that period, intervening period, the community has the opportunity to tell their Members of Parliament about their support for marriage equality. We know from recent surveys, almost three-quarters of Australians are supporters of marriage equality, so having a few weeks intervening period certainly allows that period of community consultation.

SALES: Labor was in government five minutes ago when you actually the power to make laws, why did your party lack the courage to take this step then?

PLIBERSEK: Well we changed 85 laws at the time, Leigh, we removed every piece of legal discrimination against gay men, lesbians and same sex couples on the statute books -

SALES: Marriage equality wasn’t one of them though.

PLIBERSEK: This is a piece of unfinished business and both Bill Shorten and I were supporters of marriage equality in the past. We have the opportunity now as the Leader and Deputy to move this bill.

SALES: You say it’s unfinished business. Why didn’t the party tackle it when you were in government though? Like, what’s changed?

PLIBERSEK: Well I think the views of the community at least in part have changed. You would’ve seen in recent weeks, Leigh, that a number of members of the Labor Party have said in the past they haven’t been supporters of marriage equality but as their community’s views have shifted, their own views as Members of Parliament have also shifted and that’s certainly true in the Liberal Party as well. You’ve got people who speak privately to me and a number who have been brave enough to speak publicly who say they have seen views in their own community shift. In fact, I mean a lot of people will tell you personal stories about their own parents or members in their family who have perhaps discovered that they’ve got a child or grandchild who’s in a same sex relationship who might not have been supporters of marriage equality but over time because of the way our communities have changed and because of the way their own personal experiences, their own families have changed, have become supporters of marriage equality.

SALES: On the citizenship proposal alerted today by the Prime Minister, is it a foregone conclusion that Labor will support it given that you’re basically in lockstep with the Government on national security issues?

PLIBERSEK: We have sought to work wherever we can cooperatively with the Government on national security issues because the most important thing that a government should do is keep its citizens safe. Because we’ve worked cooperatively with the Government, we have seen some legal changes but they have certainly not been without scrutiny and indeed in the most recent Parliamentary Joint Intelligence and Security Committee examinations of national security legislation that’s been put forward, we’ve actually achieved dozens of very significant changes -

SALES: And how about on this proposal today?

PLIBERSEK: Well we’ve only just received this proposal today. I thought your interview with Bret Walker was quite instructive. It’s true that in proposals like this the devil’s in the detail so we’ll take a good look at this. We’ll look at it methodically as we have with other pieces of legislation. But our first interest, as the Government’s first interest is, is in keeping people safe.

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

ENDS

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TRANSCRIPT: ABC 702 Political Forum with Richard Glover, Monday 25 May 2015

 

commonwealthcoatofarms.png 

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 702 POLITICAL FORUM WITH RICHARD GLOVER
MONDAY, 25 MAY 2015

SUBJECT/S: National security; Dual citizenship; Marriage equality; Child Abuse Royal Commission; Sydney Writer’s Festival

 

RICHARD GLOVER, PRESENTER: Good afternoon, Tanya.

TANYA PLIBERSEK, DEPUTY LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION: How are you going there?

GLOVER: Yeah, good. And Jillian Skinner is the NSW Health Minister and Member for North Shore and she’s here with me in Sydney. Good afternoon.

JILLIAN SKINNER: Hello, Richard.

GLOVER: Now, Australians who hold dual nationalities and are suspected of terrorism, of killing, raping, pillaging people in Syria, to quote the Immigration Minister, Peter Dutton, should lose their citizenship with the Government expected to unveil legislation this week to put his sentiments into effect. He says it’s a privilege to be an Australian and the privilege should be able to be revoked. Has he got a point, Tanya Plibersek?

PLIBERSEK: Well we have requested a briefing from the Government on the proposal, we haven’t seen any details yet. I think as a general proposition it’s true to say that citizenship comes with rights but it also comes with very important responsibilities and when you become an Australian citizen you give a pledge which I think is actually a really good description of our responsibilities, all of us as citizens. “I pledge my loyalty to Australia and its peoples, whose democratic beliefs I share, whose rights and liberties are respected and whose laws I will uphold and obey”. I think it is important that people think about the responsibilities of citizenship and if you’re talking about now these worst categories of people that are going overseas to fight with organisations that are phenomenally brutal, destructive organisations, I think there’s certainly no question that they should face the full extent of the Australian law.

GLOVER: If possible, I know politicians enjoy saying ‘look we should bring down things hard on these people’, in practice though, it’s often difficult to collect the evidence, isn’t it? Because the evidence has occurred in this jurisdiction which is by its very nature chaotic.

PLIBERSEK: It’s very difficult to get evidence and I think if you talk to our security and policing agencies here, they do an excellent job, working really hard to keep Australians safe but they’d be the first to admit to you that if you’re talking about people who are overseas, unbelievably, some of these people actually post these photos of themselves doing things that would break Australian law. But even if they’re posting messages and putting things online, unless you’ve actually got the photo, they can still come back and claim then that it wasn’t them that made the post.

GLOVER: We’re really talking about a category of people, aren’t we, where they have got dual citizenship. It’s accepted by I think both sides of politics that if somebody has only got one passport, if they’re only Australian, it is really difficult under international law to make them stateless.

PLIBERSEK: I think under international law it is very difficult. Australians are signatory to conventions that make it difficult at the very least, probably impossible to make someone stateless. You’re talking about people who are it seems, according to what we’ve gleaned from the media, Peter Dutton’s talking about people who are dual citizens.

GLOVER: That’s the category. Jillian Skinner, if we’re talking about dual citizenship do you agree that we should be doing everything we can to strip them of their Australian citizenship if they’re proved to be, if we can prove they’ve been doing that stuff?

SKINNER: Look, I’m of a similar view to Tanya. I attend citizenship ceremonies every other month. I can say the pledge like anyone else who attends, or on a regular basis, and I take it very seriously. You know, if you’re pledging loyalty to Australia and its people, respecting all its traditions and upholding the law, pledging to uphold-

GLOVER: They’re rather lovely words. I don’t think I’ve really listened to them in that sense.

SKINNER: It’s a very simple pledge but very meaningful. And look, maybe we need to spend more time educating people about what it really means. I watch people sometimes make this pledge and I wonder, you know, now when you get married, priest ministers often require you to sit down and talk about what it means to be married, the sanctity of marriage etc. etc. Maybe we need to spend more effort talking to these people about what they are saying when they take this pledge.

GLOVER: To actually explain to them what democracy is. Tanya?

PLIBERSEK: But do you know what- I was just going to say, Richard, one of the great things that Jillian’s saying , she attends citizenship ceremonies and I do too obviously as a Member of Parliament, it is a great opportunity for people who are born Australian citizens to think about our responsibilities as citizens as well. We get a lot of focus on our rights as citizens, but I think we’re not just talking about people who are newly taking the oath who need to understand what it means to be an Australian citizen, but I think all of us can take some time reflecting on what our responsibilities are.

GLOVER: Yeah, and really those words about being loyal and understanding democracy. Ireland, that strongly Catholic country, has voted strongly to allow gay marriage adding to a growing list. What is it about Australia that means that countries from New Zealand to Brazil have made this change before us? I guess I’m asking how come? Tanya Plibersek, I know you’re on one side of this debate, you’ve observed it, what is it about Australia that makes us slower than others?

PLIBERSEK: Well I think the Parliament’s out of step with the Australian people. I think the Australian people are ahead of their political representatives on this. One recent survey had 72% of Australians favouring recognition of same sex marriage. So I think this will definitely happen in Australia, it’ll happen when our Parliament catches up with the Australian people. I think it’s absolutely important to understand from the perspective of people who see marriage as a sacrament, who see it as an important religious milestone, that we wouldn’t expect churches to marry people in the church-

GLOVER: So, sorry, just to be clear on that, a church would have the right to say ‘we define, as far as our premises are concerned, we define marriage this way’-

PLIBERSEK: Yes.

GLOVER: In a traditional way.

PLIBERSEK: But marriage is more than a religious sacrament, it’s also a legal obligation between two people. It’s accepted more broadly in society, even by people who don’t have a religious background, or religious views, as an important statement of commitment to one another. So I think we have to be able to accept and understand that the churches aren’t necessarily going to move in this direction but as a state, as a country, as a government offering legal status to our citizens, I don’t think we should be able to discriminate in this way.

GLOVER: Your idea of removing the conscience vote for Labor members to say ‘look, it’s party line, you’ve got to vote’, that seemed to go down like a lead balloon with everybody.

PLIBERSEK: Well, look, I think this is an issue of- not of religious freedom, but of legal discrimination. We’ve removed 85 other pieces of legal discrimination against gay men, lesbians, same sex couples and so on. And if you accept that marriage is a legal institution between two people and two people should be able to legally marry in Australia without that discrimination, that’s my view. I am very respectful of my colleagues who have a different view. I think it’s been a very healthy debate in the Labor Party and what we’ve seen in fact- is the fact that we’re having this debate has meant that a number of people who have previously voted against marriage equality have said that they will vote for it if it comes up again in our Parliament. What we really need now is for Tony Abbott to allow his Members of Parliament to have a conscience vote on the issue so that we can see some progress to this legal discrimination-

GLOVER: But it was hard for you to argue that Tony Abbott should allow a conscience vote when you are simultaneously saying to your own party ‘we shouldn’t have one’.

PLIBERSEK: Well I think at the very least there should be a conscience vote and I think we can do better than that.

GLOVER: Alright. And Jillian Skinner, what is it about Australia? Because I think if you thought in an entirely abstract way, you were trying to predict which would be one of the first countries to allow gay marriage, you would’ve though ‘well, those Australians are pretty relaxed and they don’t like interfering with each other’s business, they’re kind of a live let and let live kind of culture, so they’re probably likely to do it earlier’ and yet we’re doing it later. How come?

SKINNER: I’m puzzled as are you, Richard. I think it’s quite surprising. But I think, as Tanya has indicated, we’ve moved. And if you’d asked the question of people just a few years ago, there would’ve been a much greater resistance whereas now the population tends to have shifted. I think the politicians sometimes are a bit slower to shift. I think if we had a conscience vote, there would’ve been a different outcome.

GLOVER: Is the plebiscite a good idea in the sense that, you know, we’ve had ones before about things like conscription for instance, which is a moral issue. And although the plebiscite is not binding on Parliament in the way a referendum is, it produces an automatic result for the constitution, it would nonetheless give the politicians a pretty good excuse for doing what the people want.

SKINNER: Well, you know, maybe you do need that. I think that most politicians have got- take more notice of their constituency, certainly in the lower house where you’ve got to be elected by them, to not need a plebiscite-

GLOVER: And yet it’s not working, is it? They’re not taking- if Tanya’s right and 72% support-

SKINNER: Well that’s why I think you need a conscience vote frankly. This is really- see I take the word gay out of it and make it an equality issue. It used to be, you know, people wanted to get married because they wanted kids. That was the old attitude. Well we accept that people get married, heterosexual people get married and don’t want to have children. So the-

GLOVER:  And we also accept marriage that marriage often happens who are past child bearing age or where there’s a medical problem and they can’t. We don’t say, well marriage for them can’t exist.

SKINNER: Yeah, we’ve moved. So if you view it like I do, as a matter of equality then it’s just a no brainer.

PLIBERSEK: And I think, Richard, the reason that Ireland did it as a referendum rather than just have the Parliament change it is because marriage is defined in their constitution, and of course it’s not defined in our constitution, it’s actually just an act of Parliament that can be changed by our Parliament, it doesn’t require constitutional change.

GLOVER: Your gut feeling is that it’s going to happen in the next 2 or 3 years?

PLIBERSEK: I’m not sure of the timeframe, but it’ll definitely happen in the near future. I can’t see something with this sort of momentum not happening.

GLOVER: Tanya Plibersek, with us here, as is Jillian Skinner. There have been calls for Cardinal George Pell to return from Rome to face accusations that have been made in the current Royal Commission, in particular an accusation he offered an inducement for a victim to drop his claims. Should Cardinal Pell return or are his previous denials of wrongdoing sufficient? Jillian.

SKINNER: Well this is another vexed one. I know that Cardinal Pell did appear before the Royal Commission previously. He has put out a statement, these are allegations are unproven. I would’ve thought he might want to come back and clarify the matter but to compel him to do, I’m not so sure.

GLOVER: But if you were him, you would come back?

SKINNER: I would if I were he because it would give an opportunity to clarify even further. His statements are very strong, Richard. So I think I personally would if I were he.

GLOVER: It was interesting to see the Sunday papers, there was such passion on both sides. I think Miranda Devine defending George Pell, people like Peter FitzSimons saying it’s a bad look essentially.

SKINNER: Well you know, the bad look- would he choose to do so himself rather than some sort of, we’ll subpoena him to come and appear before the Royal Commission. I think that he has given evidence but it wouldn’t hurt for him to come back and clarify. And to be there to address these concerns.

GLOVER: Now of course the wider picture is just that has emerged from the Royal Commission is not limited to the Catholic church at all. What’s been so shocking and surprising about it is institution after institution after institution, even in the last fortnight we’ve heard all that evidence about hospitals, medical clinics, and the degree in which victims would ring up exactly who they were supposed to ring up, I suppose I particularly mention this to you because of your expertise in health, but you know they’re ringing up the medical boards, precisely the bodies they’re supposed to ring up and they’re basically being threatened in return.

SKINNER: Yes, indeed and I think the positives that have come out of inquiries like this is the realisation of how inadequate the response was then and how it’s essential that we have much better systems and I’m very pleased to say we have in NSW now the allegations dated back to the 60s and 70s. I mean particularly a doctor in question remained in the system for a very long time, that would not happen.

GLOVER: That was a guy at the Royal North Shore, wasn’t it?

SKINNER: Yeah, that’s correct.

GLOVER: And basically boys were going in, quite innocent and he would say essentially, without being too vulgar, he’d say he had to touch them in a certain way in order to complete their medical examination and he appeared to do this for years.

SKINNER: Yes and it started in the 60s and 70s when I think first complaints were made. And he was working at the North Shore later on, and other places as well and you know, that just would not happen now. I’ve just had a meeting to do with some of the professional registration matters where another profession, not doctors, where because of the safeguards and the checks and balances now, and the healthcare complaints commission being much tougher, that is very unlikely to happen now.

GLOVER: What was it about the time though, you know, 60s, 70s, 80s that in all these institutions, the first response seemed to be to protect the institution. Whether it was a hospital, church or a scouting body, it would- there seemed to be something in human nature where they would put the institution ahead of the victim.

SKINNER: And I think it was not even the institution, it was the profession. So a doctor defended a doctor regardless of what they might have thought was the case. We’ve now got mandatory reporting with very stiff penalties if you believe one of your doctor colleagues is incompetent or has got problems. So things have changed dramatically.

GLOVER: Tanya, I think we speak for everyone when we say we knew paedophiles existed, we knew evil existed. What’s really surprised everybody is not the behaviour of the paedophiles but the behaviour of normal people, if I can say, to put it that way, who nonetheless defended them and protected them.

PLIBERSEK: Look I think this Royal Commission will be one of Julia Gillard’s most important legacies because the one thing that no one can deny is that all of those children who turned to an adult for help and had an adult punish them for raising the issue, that can never happen again. So many children went to another responsible adult, to the head of an organisation, to a person in the organisation and they were punished for disclosing and I don’t think that could happen today. I think one of the things, Richard, you say ‘how could we let it happen to the scale it did’, you know with organisations protecting the organisational reputation of the individuals within it. I think we were really, as a community, pretty naïve about the sexual abuse of children. I think if it hasn’t happened in your life or to someone you know, it is hard to conceive of such evil-

GLOVER: So that person on the other end of the phone at the medical board would just say ‘oh, that sounds unlikely’. There would be some part of them that would just disbelieve in it, I suppose.

PLIBERSEK: I think, for sure, a lot of kids were disbelieved and it’s only in this process of disclosure, the scale of the problem and the true horror that some children experienced, but coming out publicly that we understand really it was more common than we ever imagined, it is more damaging to children throughout their lives than we knew and institutions cannot any longer minimise.

GLOVER: Jillian, you’re nodding to that.

SKINNER: Yes, Richard, I was a founding member of NAPCAN, the National Association for the Prevention of Abuse and Neglect of Children. That was only in the 80s, can you believe it? And it was started by a teacher who had, well she was a principal of a primary school, who had recognised the behavioural patterns of children who were being sexually abused. And it was considered quite revolutionary to set up this organisation, that’s not that long ago.

GLOVER: I know Royal Commissions are not always a good idea and they’re vastly expensive and all that, but there have been moments when I’ve been sitting in the car listening to the PM program or something like that and listening to an executive of an organisation being quizzed and the inquiry people saying 'why didn’t you do that?’ and ‘then the file got lost’ and the act of listening to it must be so- it must concentrate the minds so much of people who are executives now of various organisations.

SKINNER: Well the Secretary of the NSW Health appeared as did the Chief Executive of Northern Sydney Local Health District and I think they got very complimentary comments from the Royal Commission about the thoroughness of what we’re now doing. But I can tell you, they spent a lot of effort looking at then and now, to make sure that we not only do we have things in place now but that we strengthen them even further for the future.

GLOVER: And Tanya, what about Cardinal Pell, should he come back?

PLIBERSEK: I think it’s completely a matter for the Royal Commission. They have the power to call witnesses and it’s up to the Royal Commission if they think that there is some additional information that they- that Cardinal Pell can give, it’s up to them. If he’s called, of course I would imagine that  he would attend.

GLOVER: I mean Jillian Skinner was saying that if she were he, she’d want to come back and try to put a point of view.

PLIBERSEK: Look I think one of the healing aspects of this Royal Commission is the opportunity for leaders of organisations, as Jillian just said, to describe how things are different now, describe the measures they’ve taken to prevent this kind of abuse continuing or happening again. So I think it is an opportunity for leaders to show that sort of leadership.

GLOVER: Okay, eight to six is the time. Monday’s political forum, with us this week is Tanya Plibersek, the Deputy Opposition Leader, she’s Member for Sydney but at the moment she’s in our Canberra studio. With me in Sydney is Jillian Skinner, the NSW Health Minister, she is Member for North Shore.

Now the closing address of the Sydney’s Writers Festival last night featured Helen Macdonald who has written a superb book about nature and the human need for exposure to nature. In her particular case it was the training of a goshawk, that fierce hunting bird, indeed at one point in the book she describes the goshawk as 30 ounces of death in a feathered jacket which is a very nice phrase. What do you get out of being in nature? Is there one  place that particularly affects you? And what about this idea that’s been expressed by some authors that we live in a world of nature deficit disorder where particularly young people just don’t get into nature enough and don’t therefore savour its ability to reduce anxiety, to show you a sense of scale about your own problems and even in the case of your eyes, to develop your eye muscles. It’s said by one author that there’s been an epidemic of short sightedness at the moment because young people don’t ever get to see a far horizon which is just a thing that makes you so sad, well me anyway. Tanya Plibersek, do you get out into nature and what does it do for you?

PLIBERSEK: I love getting out into nature but I wish I did it more often. Our favourite holiday as a family is going to Lord Howe Island which is I think probably the most beautiful place on the planet. We’ve also, you know on the weekends, we go down to Royal National Park sometimes and take the kids on, I’ve got to say, pretty short bush walks, because we get a lot of whingeing from the four year old about the bush walking. But-

GLOVER: And then from the husband when he has to carry the four year old.

PLIBERSEK: Yeah I actually, Jillian won’t want to hear this as a Health Minister, but I do use lollies quite effectively as part of my bushwalks. I think- I love it, I really enjoy bush walking, swimming at those beautiful beaches in the national park or on Lord Howe Island and it’s just so good for kids. I just love seeing them get dirty, increase their physical confidence, climb trees, jump off things. I think it’s great for kids.

GLOVER: It is a really interesting thing, I owe this to the guy who thought up this phrase, nature deficit disorder. One of the memories of childhood often for people is when they’ve had a terrible argument with their parents, you know, you’re 14 years old and everything seems to be terrible, one of the almost natural responses is to go climb a tree or go and sit under a tree. There seems to be some deep wisdom, or there was in our day anyway, where you would leave the house, the parental home and be close to something wild.

PLIBERSEK: And do you know the thing I love as well, is as soon as I was disappointed as a kid, I would go out and sit with the dog and talk to the dog and I see my kids doing the same thing too. Their relationship even with pets gives you a little bit of that at home. My kids love changing nature as well. If you take them to a beach and there’s a river running into the beach, there is an irresistible desire to dam that river. And just seeing you know piled rocks up, dragging sticks around, it’s just- there is something quite innate about that behaviour.

GLOVER: Fantastic. And I love the idea that if mum’s not got any wisdom then [inaudible] Jillian, do you get the chance to get out into nature? Do you think it matters? Are you concerned that maybe kids particularly don’t get it anymore?

SKINNER: Oh absolutely. I grew up partly on a farm as a kid, so milking cows, riding horses, playing with dogs and other animals was second nature. I now have a 5 year old and a 7 year old and their parents living with me, so we commune with the dog on the front verandah often and the garden. If you ask what I get out of it, broken nails, arthritic hands and a back ache because I’ve been catching up on the garden. And I can tell you, it’s therapeutic, it is very much about getting your hands dirty, seeing what nature does for you when you put a seed in the ground, and teaching my grandchildren that that’s where their snow peas come from, not the Woollies counter. That’s really important. But again, I’m like Tanya, I love water, so walking down Cremorne Point is my idea of bliss or going up to Port Stephens for family holidays with boats and being out in the water very much so.

PLIBERSEK: I repotted my orchids yesterday, Jillian.

SKINNER: Oh, well done.

GLOVER: There’s Stephanie Alexander, you know the great chef and cook book writer, has pioneered this movement of trying to get gardens in schools. She says once a kid sees a snow pea growing, they’re more likely to eat the snow pea.

SKINNER: And cooking it, Richard, you’ve got to get them to cook it as well. My 5 year old granddaughter doesn’t like food until you get her to cook it, then she loves it.

GLOVER: So you reckon it works?

SKINNER: Oh it does. Not always, but mostly.

GLOVER: Most of the time. The other interesting you say is, is that your nature is the garden which of course is a kind of human made artifact. And one of the most interesting debates I think at the Writer’s Festival this weekend was between Helen and others about what is wildness and how wild does it have to be? And she says it doesn’t have to be wild at all, and she tells this great story about going hunting in Maine in the United States with goshawks and falcons and how a lot of the hunting is happening in really suburban backyards and it didn’t matter because the bird was wild and that was the important thing. And wildness can be found in all sorts of places.

PLIBERSEK: She should see my vegetable patch.

GLOVER: Pretty wild, huh?

PLIBERSEK: It is.

SKINNER: I think we should compare notes, Tanya. My garden’s not too unwild at the moment.

GLOVER: The other great phrase was from Don Watson who was talking about his desire to leave the bush when he was a young man and he described the farm in which he grew up, which was just a farm of hard work really in Gippsland, and he said all a farm is is a prison  with cows and weed for gaolers. So that’s the other-

SKINNER: I can relate to that.

GLOVER: That’s the other side of nature. Tanya Plibersek, thank you very much for your time from Canberra, thanks so much.

PLIBERSEK: It’s a pleasure.

GLOVER: Tanya Plibersek is of course Deputy Opposition Leader and Member for Sydney. And with me in Sydney has been Jillian Skinner, the NSW Health Minister and Member for North Shore and it sounds like a pretty contented grandmother of two.

ENDS

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TRANSCRIPT: Mix 104.9 Darwin, Tuesday 19 May 2015

 

 commonwealthcoatofarms.png

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
MIX 104.9 DARWIN
TUESDAY, 19 MAY 2015

SUBJECT/S: Housing affordability; Palmerston Hospital

 

PETE DAVIES: [Audio cuts in] Just quickly before we move onto the Palmerston whatever it is, it’s apparently supposed to be a hospital. Bill Shorten’s Budget Reply speech, we actually had mixed reviews here. I’m of the opinion that Bill didn’t really go hard enough particularly on the area of housing affordability. I really believe that was the missing duck at the showground on both sides, Joe Hockey didn’t address the issue of housing affordability and neither did Bill to any great extent and I think that is really an area we need to look at, particularly with the bubbles in Sydney and Melbourne.

TANYA PLIBERSEK, DEPUTY LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION: Yeah, I 100 per cent agree with you on housing affordability and we’ve had all these talks in the past. People are happy when the value of their own home goes up if they’re a home owner but they forget that their kids are going to be buying into that housing market in twenty or thirty years’ time. So you actually want to have affordable housing particularly at entry level for people who want to own their own homes and you also have to have enough rental housing that people can afford to rent. In the last budget, the Liberals cut our national rental affordability scheme that had built 38,000 homes and was on track to build 50,000 and got rid of the Housing Supply Council which was the small group of economists and others who were analysing whether we were building enough homes and giving information to the building sector to say ‘no, Sydney’s short, it’s a target market’ or ‘Darwin’s short’ and they got rid of a whole lot of other housing programs, specifically targeting homeless people as well. The real key as you know, and as I know, is we’ve got to make sure that we’re building enough houses in years to come.

DAVIES: Are we going to get to the stage, Tanya, where it becomes part of a person’s life plan to work, contribute to super, build up a certain level of savings, maybe a few investments along the way, not necessarily bricks and water investments, but then inherit the family home, live in it and then pass it onto the next. I mean, are we going to get to that?

PLIBERSEK: Well I’m really hoping that my three children aren’t waiting around for me to die and leave them the family home. I think- we also had of course our first home saver accounts that gave the same treatment to young people who were saving in a special account as they would have got if they had put that money into super, the same tax benefits, the Government got rid of that as well. The key is getting young people saving early, you need to start good saving habits. What you’re seeing is in families, a lot of young people staying at home much longer with their parents-

DAVIES: Tell me about it.

PLIBERSEK: Well I want my babies to stay at home, I want them to stay at home until they’re 50. I don’t know if they agree with that. But you’ve got to start those saving habits early and developers have to think about producing a range of types of housing. It’s not just about the big five bedroom home, separate room to watch television in, double garage and the rest of it. We need to be looking at modest housing that can help someone get their foot on the ladder, so you pay off that place, like you and I did, and then when you’ve paid off your first home you can move to something bigger as the kids come along. We’re not building enough of that variety of housing types either. And we have to look at some of the underlying costs of the high cost of attaching services, the electricity, the water, the sewerage and all the rest of it, how are councils coping with that?

DAVIES: Tanya, have we made a mistake in terms of, when I say this I mean society, not governments, but have we lost sight of you know, you started out with a relatively small unit and then, well okay, maybe went to a three bedroom unit and then you went to a three bedroom piece in suburbia. Now you’ve got young people in their late-20s stitching themselves up for $700,000-800,000 mortgages because they want the big house with the back yard and the barbecue but didn’t go through that gradual progression that we went through, you know, three decades ago.

PLIBERSEK: Look, there’s no doubt that our expectations have changed. So when my parents built their first house, they built the shell of their house, the weatherboard house, they didn’t even have the floorboards down before they moved in and my dad was still working on the Snowy at that time so he’d go away for six weeks at a time, my mum was there with a tiny new baby and a half built house and my dad would come home and with each paycheck he’d buy the next thing they needed. You know, he’d buy the pots and pans that they needed, or the sink for the bathroom. So it really was a work in progress. I don’t think many young people would be content with that these days. So expectations have changed but also you’ve got to remember people are forming their families much later and you know, marrying and forming families much later so a lot of those young people were in their early 20s or sometimes even late teens when they married. So getting a little piece of your own, a little foothold, was a really big deal then. If you’re 30 and you’re moving out of home for the first time, or you’ve been used to renting with friends, with a little bit of disposable income, it’s a different- it’s hard to expect those people to go back to the sort of start that my mum and dad had.

DAVIES: Okay let’s move onto the Palmerston Hospital. I don’t know how many conversations you and I have had about this. We were just chatting before about the fact that we never wanted another version of the Royal North Shore, it was always going to be a baby Royal North Shore and it was always going to be a modular design whereby- I used to call it the lego hospital where we could whack a couple of more blocks on. That seems to have been pushed by the wayside. Politics has got well and truly in the road of it. Just to recap the conversations you’ve had, and we’ll go back a couple of years, that first conversation you and I had about the Palmerston Hospital, just explain to people exactly how many dollars then as Health Minister you put on the table.

PLIBERSEK: We offered the NT government, back in the day, we offered them $70 million and we asked them to put $40 million of their own money in. The NT government said at the time they weren’t going to do that, the previous Labor government was prepared to put in $40 million, the new government came in and said that they weren’t going to- they were going to just put $5 million on the table for a scoping study. Well, of course, you remember all that work had already been done. They knew the size of the hospital they needed in the first instance. A lot of planning had been done, it was back to square one. We finally said ‘these delays are unacceptable, we’ll pay the whole lot, just get on with building it’. So in August 2013, I announced $110 million for that hospital which was what the cost was at that time, and it still hasn’t been built.

DAVIES: And on behalf of all Territorians, Tanya, I’d like to thank you for the wonderful intersection that we have. As intersections go, it’s a cracker.

PLIBERSEK: It just drives me nuts, I’ve got to say. I’ve been out to the site, I’ve seen it, but more particularly, I’ve heard from my friend Luke Gosling about how important it is in fast growing Palmerston to have a decent- like a lot of young families out there, to have a decent service that people can get to easily. I know what the stress is on Royal Darwin as well. Royal Darwin’s a fantastic hospital, they do fantastic work, but Darwin’s grown a lot since Royal Darwin was built so we need the new Palmerston Hospital, well we needed it two years ago, but we also need those upgrades to continue on Royal Darwin.

DAVIES: To give people an idea of the age of Royal Darwin, I mean, correct me if I’m wrong but Royal Darwin is actually based on a design, the original design for the Canberra based hospital.

PLIBERSEK: Yeah, I think there are some similarities there. I’d never picked that up.

DAVIES: Yeah so if you think about how long Royal Darwin has been in situ and then when you apply the growth factor to our northern region, and in particular the rural corridor, the Palmerston area and further afield, we are way, way, way behind the times in terms of service delivery.

PLIBERSEK: And that was always the thing about Palmerston as well, it wasn’t just to serve Palmerston, it was to serve the people who have to drive through Palmerston to get to Royal Darwin.

DAVIES: Yep, absolutely. In terms of, I mean we’re just a bit over, in the big scheme of things, a bit over 12 months away from the next federal election. Should you and Bill Shorten form government in your own right, I mean, we’re not going to get the hospital built between now and the next federal election, I mean we might get another nice intersection, maybe a roundabout if we play our cards right. What commitment will you put on the table on behalf of Bill Shorten and the Labor Party right now in terms of delivering this bloody thing that’s just been dragging on and on and on?

PLIBERSEK: Well if I have to sit in Adam Giles’ office with him and hold his hand while he signs off on the plans and gets it running, I’ll do that. I know this is well overdue. I mean, we originally had wanted to work with the NT government and have them put in a share of the funding. We ended up putting up the whole funding because we couldn’t allow the people of Palmerston and beyond to put up with these delays. What shocks me is that Natasha Griggs is so keen to make excuses for them. I think the latest excuse is that the wet season got in the way.

DAVIES: What wet season? It maybe rained three times.

PLIBERSEK: I thought you folk in Darwin- you’re pretty used to building so that you do the construction during the dry and planning during the wet and work around it.

DAVIES: That’s what the brickies and labourers’ job is, is to hold the umbrella. Tanya Plibersek, always a pleasure and hopefully you’ll be back soon.

PLIBERSEK: Great to talk to you.

DAVIES: And we will certainly keep the pressure on about the Palmerston Hospital. The foot has been taken off the pedal and I think that has let the government of the day off the hook to a certain extent, but now is the time, particularly around a year away from another Territory election and no doubt that Palmerston Hospital will be front and centre. Tanya Plibersek, the Honourable Member for Sydney and also the Federal Deputy Opposition Leader.  

ENDS

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TRANSCRIPT: ABC Darwin, Tuesday 19 May 2015

 

commonwealthcoatofarms.png

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 DARWIN
TUESDAY, 19 MAY 2015

SUBJECTS: 2015 Budget; NT Government; Palmerston Hospital; STEM; palliative care

 

RICHARD MARGETSON: Tanya Plibersek, a very good morning to you.

TANYA PLIBERSEK, DEPUTY LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION: It’s great to be here.

MARGETSON: I am a little bit cynical about the arrival of federal politicians around this time of year. It seems that there’s a clutter at the moment, I think we’re expecting Joe Hockey as well, I think it’s just as it suddenly gets cold in Canberra.

PLIBERSEK: Well, I was here a few weeks ago as well, I never need an excuse to come to Darwin but I’ve got to say waking up this morning, beautiful day.

MARGETSON: The 2015 Federal Budget, obviously it’s been on everyone’s minds. $155 million for the Northern Territory, now this is one of the ones that didn’t get a lot of coverage on the national scale, but it’s very important for us. This is for the Northern Territory government to, long term, take full responsibility to deliver the essential services to the communities. The Northern Territory government at the moment still not fully sure about whether they’re accepting the deal on the table. Do you support that notion of remote communities being in the control of the territory government rather than the federal government?

PLIBERSEK: Well I support the notion that remote communities need a decent level of services and what I would ask of course is whether this one-off $155 million is going to deliver that for any length of time.

MARGETSON: Essentially they’re saying five years and then the money runs out and then we roll over to the Northern Territory government.

PLIBERSEK: Well I think the ‘then what?’ is the question. I genuinely- if the Northern Territory government can’t answer how they will continue to pay for services into the future, I think it makes those communities very nervous indeed.

MARGETSON: Pretty much what they’ve said is that they would carry on and they will continue to fund and there was a statement from Adam Giles saying “we’re not going to close [inaudible], it won’t be like the West Australian process”. But I’m just wondering whether or not the Labor Party believes they will continue to fund from the federal government.

PLIBERSEK: Well of course the proposition in Western Australia was very controversial and the reason it’s controversial is because the West Australian government made an assessment that they couldn’t afford to keep those communities going and it was incredibly nerve-wracking for the communities involved and the individuals involved within that community. I think it’s very important for Adam Giles to say how that funding will continue into the future and whether indeed communities would keep going with the level of services that they’ve got or indeed what you’d hope for in the future is increased levels of services.

MARGETSON: We will go on to of course to the things that you want to talk about with regard to education, but one of the other ones that’s been around is of course the Palmerston Hospital. Now I’m sure that if you were raising funds for Solomon, the candidate, Luke Gosling was wording you up on the situation from his point of view about the way in which the Palmerston Hospital has gone. A long time to get attended, a short time to get it built.

PLIBERSEK: Well Luke didn’t need to tell me about the Palmerston Hospital because I was the Health Minister, we offered $70 million as federal government to the NT government to build the Palmerston Hospital and we hoped that they would put in $40 million. They never did. They refused it that time - to put in $40 million so we took our funding up to $110 million which was plenty to build the hospital that the NT government back in the day said that they wanted, so around 60 beds from memory. The fact that we announced that additional funding in I think it was August 2013, and I think what you’ve got there now is an intersection, no hospital coming out of the ground now, is incredibly disappointing for all those people living in those fast growing parts of Darwin and-

MARGETSON: It’s taken around 1000 days to get through the tendering process and now the hospital’s expected to be arriving in October 2018. That’s about 885 to days to build.

PLIBERSEK: Yeah I think it’s optimistic given the delays we’ve seen all this while and I think it’s embarrassing that Natasha Griggs keeps making excuses for the NT government. She said that the wet season was the reason for one of the delays. I think people up here are used to timing their work, so they do the planning during the wet season and the construction during the dry season.

MARGETSON: Right across the Territory, Tanya Plibersek is with us in the studio this morning, and just with that long term notion, it’s okay to build the hospital but then you’ve got to run it. The AMA are pretty concerned that as you’ve seen in federal budgets, less and less support for regional hospitals, or just health budgets in general. They’re expecting a $600 million cut to commonwealth public hospital funding over a decade. That means you might build a regional hospital like Palmerston and then not be able to staff it and keep it going. What commitment would the Labor Party give running towards that and say “okay, we’ll give money to make sure it runs”?

PLIBERSEK: We increased hospital funding by $20 billion when we were in government and the trajectory from Labor was always to increase hospital funding faster than the rate of CPI growth which is what the current government has gone back to, CPI plus population growth, that means hundreds of millions of dollars cut from the NT health budget. There’s another problem as well, it’s not just the less dollars going into individual hospitals in the Northern Territory, the current government had gotten rid of all the workforce planning programs that we had. So one of the big problems here is funding the beds and the hospitals, and another big problem is getting the doctors, nurses and specialists to work in Darwin and in other parts of the Northern Territory. If you don’t have the money to pay for the hospital beds to be operating and you don’t have the doctors and the medical staff to look after the patients, then you’ve got real problems long term.

MARGETSON: We were talking obviously from our own point of view from the Northern Territory, how different are we to regional Australia elsewhere? I mean we consider ourselves pretty much as a city, or two cities, but we are regional in comparison to the east coast. How much are we a reflection of what’s going on in regional Australia?

PLIBERSEK: Well I think in regional Australia right across the board you’ve got medical personnel shortages. There’s not many parts of regional Australia that you go to that they say “we’ve got enough GPs, we’ve got enough dentists and health professionals and our hospital is fully staffed”. That’s why we put a lot of effort into Health Workforce Australia to making sure we are looking forward to where we need to employ doctors, nurses and medical staff and actually meeting those needs long term, that’s just not happening anymore. So the shortages are bound to be getting worse.

MARGETSON: You were talking about shortages in those areas, but you’re actually in the top end to address some shortages elsewhere. And you’re talking about HECS-free degrees. You’ll be down at Charles Darwin University today speaking about that. Give us a rough idea of what STEM is about, what are you trying to do for people in regional Australia with these HECS-free degrees that you’re proposing?

PLIBERSEK:  Well there are a few parts to this proposal. This is what Bill Shorten was talking about in his Budget Reply speech on Thursday night, investing in science and technology, engineering and maths so that we prepare ourselves and our kids for the jobs of the future. One of the things that you can safely say is that there are jobs around today that nobody imagined ten years ago, people are working internationally across the internet doing all sorts of research work, huge international studies where they’ve got hundreds of thousands of participants in medical research studies, just as one example. But what it relies on is our kids today being comfortable with using computers and it’s not just science students. You think about the work of a mechanic today, you basically can’t fix a car if you don’t know how to operate the computer diagnostics of a car these days. So all the jobs of the future are going to require our kids to have basic computer literacy skills and that’s what we’re talking about when we’re talking about coding.

MARGETSON: This is where it gets interesting, you just told us that what is missing in the Northern Territory is health professionals, and yet the investment that you’re announcing here has nothing to do with health professionals, it’s to do with science, technology, maths, you know, it’s not targeted to perhaps the students that you might be trying to pick up.

PLIBERSEK: We’re absolutely committed to getting more doctors and health professionals back to the top end, that’s why we had programs like Health Workforce Australia to get those-

MARGETSON: But why then the HECS-free degrees?

PLIBERSEK: Because it’s not a shortage of students that’s the problem. There are plenty of people who want to study to become doctors, the problem is then getting them to work in regional and remote locations. So the incentives need to be different. They need to be what we did for example in training people to be GPs in remote locations. If you take someone out to do their internship in a smaller hospital in a country area or a regional GP surgery, they’re much more likely to stay because they see that they like the lifestyle, they develop a connection to the local community, quite often they meet and marry someone in those few years that they’re studying to become a doctor-

MARGETSON: [inaudible]

PLIBERSEK: Maybe. So, you need to work out how to fix the individual shortages. It’s not a shortage of students, it’s a shortage of trained doctors so we need to provide the incentives there. When you’re talking about science, technology, engineering and maths, the problem is we don’t have enough science and maths trained teachers. There’s about 20,000 teachers teaching science and maths in our schools that don’t have a science and maths background. And you would remember, and all the listeners would remember that your teachers that most inspired you as a kid were the ones that were really into the thing that you were studying, they loved it, they had a passion for it. If people aren’t comfortable with the subject matter they’re teaching, it’s hard to inspire the next generation. We know that the jobs of the future are going to require people to be good at science, technology, engineering and maths so we need to train up a generation of teachers that’s comfortable teaching computer coding and all of those related subjects, and we need to really focus on making those lessons interesting for kids right through their school career so that they themselves choose those science, technology, engineering and maths careers.

MARGETSON: It’s eighteen to nine, 105.7 ABC Darwin, 783 in Alice Springs. A couple more things just before you go. It’s twenty years since the NT legislated for voluntary euthanasia and it was overridden by the federal government, that’s something I know that is pretty close to your heart, having seen your father go through those experiences towards the end of his life. Is voluntary euthanasia something that the Federal Labor government would put on the table or can afford politically to put back on the table?

PLIBERSEK: Euthanasia would be a conscience vote in the Labor Party, it’s one of the areas that we are very definite about having a conscience vote. So I can tell you-

MARGETSON: Unlike same-sex marriage

PLIBERSEK: I can tell you my personal view about it which is that you would have to have carefully crafted laws, and you have to have much, much better palliative care so that people really do have a true choice, you’re not making people live in terrible pain so the only choice they feel is available to them is ending their own lives. But I think in the right circumstances, with the right legislation, it should be something that people can choose. You mentioned my dad, and he actually had very good palliative care and most of the time he was [inaudible] to the last few days of his life, but he had a lot of pain from cancer and he had enough morphine there that if he had a drink of it, it would’ve been the end of him. Now, he was a supporter of voluntary euthanasia but he chose not to do it, because at the end he didn’t understand that he was going to [inaudible] at the very end of his life and he wanted to hang onto every last minute with us. So, you can’t first of all make assumptions, you have to have systems that are flexible enough to take into account that people change their minds and you have to have really good palliative care so it truly is a choice.

MARGETSON: But he would not have had in his situation any choice, there was no choice for him to legally take his own life.

PLIBERSEK: No, legally he could not take his own life but if he finished off the morphine that was in the bottle he effectively would have, I think. The other thing that’s really important is advanced care directives. So, a lot of people now have started to talk to their doctors about ‘what happens if I can’t communicate my wishes to you anymore?’ and when I was Health Minister we did a big project of trying to standardise all the different states’ advanced care directives and make it so you could put it on your personally controlled electronic health record. So say you’re, you know, a grandma who visits the kids interstate and she’s hit by a bus and she’s unconscious, the doctor interstate can look at the advanced care directive and say ‘oh, this lady’s got terminal cancer, she’s asked for no resuscitation, we’d have to do major hip surgery on her, the treatment would be worse than the cure', the kids will know that that’s what grandma wants so we will respect your wishes. And even that would be a very good step forward, making sure that we change the element in our hospitals, because doctors are trained to save lives and want to save lives, that they ignore the wishes sometimes, or patients can’t express their wishes clearly, and they intervene with these harsh treatments, big surgeries, you know tubes down the throat, respirating people when people would rather be let go peacefully.

MARGETSON: There’s plenty more to talk about and no doubt you’ll be discussing, as I say, the STEM program that you’ve got in mind for Charles Darwin University students later on today and I guess you’ll be soaking up the warm weather just until you have to go back to Canberra where it’s just freezing cold and miserable.

PLIBERSEK: Loving it, loving every minute.

MARGETSON: Tanya Plibersek, thanks for coming to spend some time with us this morning.

ENDS

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TRANSCRIPT: Sunrise, Wednesday 13 May 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
SUNRISE, CHANNEL 7
WEDNESDAY, 13 MAY 2015

SUBJECT: Budget

 

KOCHIE, PRESENTER: We have a special edition of Kochie's Angels this morning, dissecting the ins and outs of the Budget. Let's bring in Deputy Leader of the Opposition Tanya Plibersek, Liberal Senator Michaelia Cash and Independent Senator and selfie lover, Jacqui Lambie. Good morning, ladies. Jacqui had a selfie with Joe on the lawns here a bit earlier. Tanya, from an Opposition point of view, what do you like about the Budget?

TANYA PLIBERSEK, DEPUTY LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION: The 1.5 per cent company tax rate cut for small business and the instant asset write off, they are both Labor policies that Joe Hockey voted against in the past. So of course we are inclined to support that sort of thing. What we can't support, Kochie, is the fundamental unfairness that is still at the heart of this Budget, so massive cuts to schools and hospitals still there, increased pension age still there, big cuts to family tax benefits and now a new cut to paid parental leave for 80,000 mums.

KOCHIE: So because, small business people would be excited today. Joe Hockey says go out and spend. In the back of their mind, we’ll be saying “will it get through the Senate? I don't want to spend if I can't claim it and it doesn’t go through”. So you are saying, go out and spend, not a problem.

PLIBERSEK: Kochie, remember we proposed this 1.5 per cent tax cut and Joe Hockey and The Greens voted against it. We also had an instant asset tax write off that was $6,500 and going to $10,000 and Joe Hockey killed it in the last Budget. When you see things that we proposed in the past, you've got to say we would be inclined to support.

KOCHIE: Okay. Michaelia, enough infrastructure spend? I must admit I was a bit disappointed there wasn't as much as I thought there would be.

MICHAELIA CASH: But when you look at the infrastructure spend and in particular in relation to the injection into northern Australia, this is on top of the infrastructure spend from last year, the $50 billion record infrastructure spend in Australia's road transport system. This budget says to Australians "We are empowering you to have a go. Whether you are a small business, whether you’re a family, we are going to give you the tools to have a go”. But what it also says to Australians, this is a government that has a long-term plan for Australia's future. We are going to literally unlock the untapped potential of northern Australia. That then has a trickledown effect to all Australians. Can you imagine the jobs that are going to be created once we get the North of Australia properly going? I think it's a Budget and the feedback that I've got is that people are excited by the optimism. They are excited by the government's have a go attitude. But also the effect that we are providing them the tools with which they can actually have a go.

KOCHIE: Because most people have been in the bunker for the last 12 months, because last year's budget was so mean. Do you regret it being so mean, because it changed the psychology to being glass half empty, rather than full.

CASH: At the end of the day, we went to the election in 2013 with a number of commitments. We said we would abolish the unfair carbon tax, we actually did that. We said we would abolish the mining tax, we did that. We said we would stop the boats, we did that. We also said to the Australian people-

PLIBERSEK: You also said no cuts to health, no cuts to education-

CASH: Tanya, you know that is not true.

PLIBERSEK: No, you said that.

CASH: Health spending and education spending continues to increase.

PLIBERSEK: There is an $80 billion cut from the last Budget that’s still in this Budget, Michaelia, and there are still $100,000 university degrees.

CASH: And there are still savings measures that you took to the 2013 election and you said to the Australian people, “if we are elected, guess what, we are going to give you those savings measures” and you can continue to block them in the Senate.

PLIBERSEK: We proposed $20 billion worth of savings - with multinational company tax savings and high income super, so multimillionaires, you know Kochie, for some people on very high balances, this is a just a tax minimisation effort. We proposed $20 billion worth of extra savings that Joe Hockey’s knocked back.

KOCHIE: There's one bloke with $300 million in super which I can’t believe anyhow.

PLIBERSEK: It’s ridiculous.

KOCHIE: Jacqui Lambie, you are the person to keep the so and so's honest if you like. They’re the big parties [inaudible] what do you think?

JACQUI LAMBIE: First of all, I think when it comes to health and education, very little has been said on it, I am very concerned about that, you are right about that $80 billion. I know the health system in Tasmania, it's completely lost down there. You want to create jobs in this country, yet I have seen very little infrastructure spend out of the $50 billion that the Prime Minister had put his job on the line for and basically said “I'm going to be the infrastructure king of the nation. That's what I want to be remembered for”. I can't see that going on. So I would like to see a lot more infrastructure and it's great that they are helping out northern Australia but quite frankly everybody needs that infrastructure spend. And it should have started 12 months ago. I just don't think they are sitting around a table and they are - I actually believe they are in chaos. I don't think they can make a straight decision. They can't make a firm decision. I think that's where the problem is. If you want jobs in this country, you had better get that infrastructure spend you had better bring it forward.

KOCHIE: What about small businesses?

LAMBIE: I think what they’ve done for small businesses is great, I would’ve liked to have seen more tax cut to small businesses. But I tell you what, if you take out that Family Tax B benefit, you’re going to waste all that. Because that Family Tax B benefit, I was on disability support pension for seven years and that little bit of that Family Tax B pension that I was getting, family support, I would go out there and spend in my local community. That's all small business. So it stimulates local community. So I can't see them having that Family Tax B. There is $3. 5 billion you are going to lose straight up, so you better take that out of your Budget savings because you’re not going to get it. I can tell you that right now.

PLIBERSEK: It's pitting families against one other.

CASH: Not at all.

PLIBERSEK: It says, if you want child care spending, then you have got to give up family tax benefit and you’ve got to give up paid parental leave, for people who work in businesses like Woolworths and McDonald's, that give their staff 8 weeks, you know, it's not much extra paid parental leave, they’re going to lose that. It’s one family against another.

CASH: It is ironic that you were one of the key people who rallied against the Government's original PPL scheme saying it was too generous.

PLIBERSEK: Which gave the most to millionaires. It was.

CASH: You can't have it both ways.

PLIBERSEK: No, these are two different schemes.

KOCHIE: Okay.

PLIBERSEK: You can't give more money to millionaires and less to people working in McDonald's and Woolworths.

KOCHIE: Alright ladies, we’ll have to leave it there. Thank you kindly. As can you see, there is still a bit to go to get some of these policies through but I suppose the message to small business owners, the small business initiative seemed to have had a big tick from everybody.

ENDS

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TRANSCRIPT: National Nine News, Wednesday 29 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
TELEVISION INTERVIEW
NATIONAL NINE NEWS
WEDNESDAY, 29 APRIL 2015

SUBJECT/S: Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran

 

AMELIA ADAMS, PRESENTER: I'm joined now by Opposition Foreign Affairs spokesperson Tanya Plibersek. Ms Plibersek, good afternoon, thank you for joining us. Firstly, obviously this is not the outcome either side of government wanted.

TANYA PLIBERSEK, DEPUTY LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION: Certainly this is not the outcome the Government or the Opposition wanted. It is not the outcome that Australians wanted. Our thoughts today are with Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran's family and friends, with their legal team and with the consular staff who worked so hard over recent months and years to get a different outcome.

ADAMS: The Prime Minister moved very quickly this morning to remove our Ambassador to Indonesia. Your response to that? Is it enough?

PLIBERSEK: Well, Labor certainly supports the removal for a time of Australia's Ambassador to Indonesia and also the suspension of high level meetings between Australian ministers and their Indonesian counterparts. It might be that further action is appropriate and we will discuss that in days and weeks to come.

ADAMS: It must be very difficult for our leaders to balance the huge amount of public anger and distress that there is today with, I suppose, maintaining a future relationship between the two countries. How do you see that relationship in future?

PLIBERSEK: Well, Australia and Indonesia have had a good and strong relationship for many, many decades and it is a relationship that will be important for our future. But it is impossible not to say to the President of Indonesia and to the Government that we are deeply disturbed, hurt and angered as a people about the refusal of the Indonesian Government to grant clemency to these two young men, who had so changed, so reformed, made such a positive contribution in the later years of their life.

ADAMS: Just quickly, the role of the Australian Federal Police, there has been much made of that in this case. Should they bear more responsibility in all of this?

PLIBERSEK: We think the Australian Federal Police do a wonderful job protecting Australians but changes were made in 2009 to the guidelines in cooperation on cases similar to this. I think a question for another day is whether those guidelines have been changed enough.

ADAMS: We will have to leave it there for now. Tanya Plibersek, thank you so much for your time this afternoon.

ENDS

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TRANSCRIPT: Press Conference, Wednesday 29 April 2015

 

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THE HON BILL SHORTEN MP
LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION
MEMBER FOR MARIBYRNONG

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

 

E&OE TRANSCRIPT
PRESS CONFERENCE
MELBOURNE
WEDNESDAY, 29 APRIL 2015

SUBJECT/S: Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran

 

BILL SHORTEN, LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION: Today the Opposition joins the Government and the people of Australia  in condemning the execution of two Australian men this morning, in an Indonesian jail. I extend on behalf of the Opposition to the families of Myuran Sukumaran and Andrew Chan our deepest condolences. What happened this morning in the early hours in this Indonesian jail, it was not justice, it was the senseless waste of two good lives. Labor understands that Indonesia is a separate and sovereign country, but we are disgusted at the futile act of execution of these two young Australian men.

It is clear that in the last 10 years these two men had reformed and rehabilitated themselves. We do not believe these two men shouldn't have been punished for their crimes but there is no case in any circumstances for the death penalty to have taken place here. Labor is deeply opposed to the death penalty wherever it exists. We believe that Australia should, and we shall, campaign against the death penalty not just in Indonesia but wherever it exists throughout the world. I might ask my colleague Tanya Plibersek to make some further remarks.

TANYA PLIBERSEK, DEPUTY LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION: Thanks so much Bill. It's true that Labor today joins with the families of Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran, their friends, their very dedicated legal teams, the embassy and consular staff that have assisted them and all Australians in feeling the great sadness that has come upon our nation. These two young men certainly did the wrong thing 10 years ago, there is no question that they should have been punished, but in executing them all hope of them repaying their debt to society is extinguished.

They've made great efforts to reform themselves over the most recent decade including in the final hours of their lives, it's said that they were comforting the other prisoners facing the firing squad with them. Their families now bear the loss of these two young men for the rest of their lives, this is a life sentence for their families and friends. Labor will continue as Bill has said, in our strong opposition to the death penalty, not just in Indonesia and not just for Australian citizens, but wherever it is applied and to whomever it is applied.

SHORTEN: Are there any questions?

JOURNALIST: Do you support withdrawing the Ambassador from Indonesia?

SHORTEN: Labor does support withdrawing the Ambassador from Indonesia. Indonesia needs to understand how strongly Australia feels and how united we are in our condemnation of this disgusting act of execution. So yes we do support withdrawing our Ambassador, Indonesia needs to understand that Australians are rightly appalled at what’s happened this morning.

JOURNALIST: Do you think the Government should go further?

SHORTEN: I contacted the Prime Minister Tony Abbott on Sunday and we had a discussion about potential options. I certainly would expect that ministerial level communications and meetings will not be going forward at this point. We will talk with the Government in coming days about other responses. What we need to do here is understand that for the families of these two men, and for the Australians who are outraged, that Australian politics is united and Indonesia needs to understand that we are united in terms of our condemnation of this senseless execution this morning.

JOURNALIST: Are you confident that the Government did everything it could to try and save these two men?

SHORTEN: I believe that both the Government and Labor put in every strenuous effort to try and prevent what came to pass this morning, and as Tanya said I should also add at this point to our consular staff and the representatives of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, to the lots of behind the scenes diplomacy, and efforts by a whole range of Australians both in the private sector and in Government service, and to the legal team of the family, they will be feeling a real sense of loss, of shock. The legal processes had not been extinguished in Indonesia. The rule of law is important everywhere. I do not for the life of me understand why the legal processes in Indonesia - they were still continuing - why these executions had to come forward at this point.

JOURNALIST: How badly do you think this has damaged the relationship between the two countries, do you expect a sort of long tension between the two countries?

SHORTEN: I'll answer that, I might also ask my colleague Tanya to talk further as the Foreign Affairs spokesperson. One thing I would say is that I don't hold ordinary Indonesians responsible. The people who for instance in Bali which is a very familiar destination for many Australians, ordinary Balinese didn't do this. I see this as a failure in terms of the justice system in Indonesia and I see this as the wrong decision to have been made, but I don't blame ordinary Indonesians so that then goes to the question of relationship. Indonesia’s our neighbour, they're a sovereign nation, this decision though, to execute these two men this morning though, cannot go without reaction and outrage from Australia and that's what is appropriate but I also recognise that ordinary Indonesians were not part of this decision. I might ask Tanya to talk a bit further on this point.

PLIBERSEK: Thank you. Our relationship with Indonesia is a good one and a strong one. But it's been put under enormous pressure in recent weeks and months because Australians have been united in pleading for mercy, pleading for clemency for the lives of these two young men and we are deeply hurt and deeply troubled that those pleas for mercy have been ignored. So of course there will be a time that our relationship is put under pressure and that that hurt and that anger is expressed. Over the long-term we have to have a good relationship with our neighbour Indonesia. As Bill said it's not the taxi driver in Bali that's made this decision, it's a new President, a President whom we begged for mercy and who sadly did not hear that pleading. We said very clearly to President Jokowi that a strong man can show his strength through mercy and we're sad that he didn't heed that pleading.

JOURNALIST: Do you think the AFP and their role in this needs to be examined?

SHORTEN: Well, today's not a day I believe for the debate about what happened and where and why. There'll be days and weeks for that to be discussed. I should also though note, that following the arrests in 2005 and subsequent legal action, that in 2009 the guidelines were changed to this very question of providing information which would see people then potentially charged or convicted of penalties carrying, or offences carrying the death penalty. So the guidelines were changed in 2009. It is legitimate to say should these guidelines be tightened further? And by that making sure that on one hand the police have got a job to do, you know, to catch, you know, people breaking laws with regard to drugs but on the other hand where the death penalty is involved you've got to really balance out all the considerations. That's why you have in place guidelines so that these decisions can be reviewed before they're made so we don't get to this set of circumstances so maybe the guidelines need to be tightened. That will be I think an appropriate question for the Parliament to discussion in coming day and weeks but I go back to where I started in this answer, today my thoughts are with the families of these two men. They're with the spirit of these two men who have been executed and it's to everyone who loved Andrew and Myuran that my thoughts are with today and they should know that the nation is probably stopped from its day to day business to think and reflect about what’s happened to these two men.

JOURNALIST: Given your words about this not being the fault of the Indonesian people, what is your message to Australians who have thought about boycotting Indonesia or Bali after what happened?

SHORTEN: I'm not going to Australians not to be angry or outraged because I'm angry and I’m outraged about what has happened. There was no justice this morning. It was just a futile waste of two good lives but in coming days and weeks, I'll also say to Australians that I don't and we shouldn't hold ordinary or individual Indonesian people responsible and understand that if what has upset us is the death penalty then what Australians need to do is campaign against the death penalty wherever it exists, and it exists in more places than just Indonesia. What we should try and do perhaps, is think about these two men and keep them in our mind and argue that Australian Government and Australian leaders when they're abroad, should put forward the case to all the nations in the world where the death penalty occurs and say that this solves nothing.

JOURNALIST: Can I just ask you a few questions on other matters. On the ALP’s position on Palestine and National Conference –

PLIBERSEK: Sorry, I don't think today is the day for these other questions.

SHORTEN: I concur with Tanya. There will be plenty of times to ask us questions. It's in the nature that we like to talk about issues in Australian politics and the direction of this nation, but let's be straight today; today what matters is the two Australian men were executed. They had reformed and rehabilitated. Yes, they had committed a crime but it is clear that they were paying off their debts, they were to the community a good support to others, making a real contribution in the last 10 years and whatever contribution they could make in the future has now been stopped. That's the shame of today.

Thanks everyone.

ENDS

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