TRANSCRIPT - ABC RN Drive, Wednesday 4 March 2015

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Subject: Mr Chan and Mr Sukumaran, family violence, Iraq

PATRICIA KARVELAS, PRESENTER: I understand you talked to the lawyer Julian McMahon, can you tell us about that call?

TANYA PLIBERSEK, DEPUTY OPPOSITION LEADER: I’m not going to go into the details of the conversation but I think it is important to say that there are still two legal procedures underway and that those legal processes absolutely should be able to run their course. One of them of course is an administrative type appeal and one of them focuses on the judicial commission in Indonesia and I think of course all Australians would want to know that both of those challenges are properly heard and allowed to be completed.

KARVELAS: Do the lawyers still have access to Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran?

PLIBERSEK: Look, I don’t think it’s for me to talk about the relationship between the legal team and their clients. They are in close contact but I’m not going to go into the details of that.

KARVELAS: You’ve said, as I quoted you, that where there’s life, there’s hope still and that’s been the mantra throughout as we, you know, have been on this rollercoaster waiting for where this will all end and hoping that it won’t end in the way that this country does not want it to. Do you still feel like there is hope because the common view is once the transfer occurs, it’s pretty difficult to see the Indonesians reversing their position.

PLIBERSEK: I think obviously it’s an incredibly difficult time for the men and their families, that’s obviously what they’re thinking as well I would expect. But I think because there are still legal processes underway and because the contact between the Australian Government, the Australian Opposition and the Australian business community, diplomatic community, former diplomatic community, continues, that we need to focus on those continued representations and making them as strongly and as consistently as we can. We have been saying all the way through to the Government of Indonesia that they advocate for their own people on death row around the world. They’ve got about 229 people on death row in other countries and it does of course weaken their case if they are prepared to apply that same penalty within Indonesia to the citizens of other nations. We’ve been saying of course that these young men have made a huge effort to reform themselves but also to reform others in the gaol that they’ve been in in Bali and they’ve contributed a great deal to the community in the gaol that they live in. We’ve made these points strongly and consistently and we have to keep making them through every formal and informal channel that we have.

KARVELAS: On RN Drive, my guest is Tanya Plibersek, the Deputy Opposition Leader and Shadow Spokeswoman for Foreign Affairs. If you’d like to text us on this issue, our number is 0418226576 or you can tweet us @rndrive. Julie Bishop has today raised the prospect of consequences for Indonesia if the executions go ahead, and Tony Abbott has underlined that Australia’s relationship with Indonesia will endure regardless. Will we see any diplomatic retribution if these two are executed and what is Labor’s view on whether there should be?

PLIBERSEK: Look, I don’t think it’s the time to be talking about those things at the moment. I think our whole focus and our whole public discussion needs to be on whatever we can do to assist these young men and make a strong case to the Indonesian government that while we respect the Indonesian law, we respect Indonesian sovereignty, we don’t for a moment suggest that these young men haven’t done the wrong thing and that they shouldn’t be punished. What we are doing at the moment is pleading for clemency, in the same way that Indonesia pleads for clemency for its own citizens on death row around the world.

KARVELAS: Can we move to another topic which has dominated the political agenda today, Tanya Plibersek, domestic violence. Bill Shorten, the Leader of the Labor Party, today he said that a future Labor government would hold a National Crisis Summit within 100 days of being elected on domestic violence if the Prime Minister didn’t do it first. But the Prime Minister says that COAG will work with the state and territory governments to reduce violence against women and children. Isn’t COAG more effective than a summit? A summit seems to me like a talk fest, COAG, you know, nationalising laws, kind of is a really structured way to deal with this, isn’t it?

PLIBERSEK: I think it’s very important for state and territory leaders to be involved in the reform process but they can be more effectively involved in the reform process when they’re working with people who staff front line services, with legal representatives who deal with women who have left violent relationships and struggle to get protection, with counsellors who have seen the effect on women and children of domestic violence, with the police officers who have to enforce our laws including cross border protection for women who are fleeing across borders. I think certainly state and territory leaders have to be involved in the process but they can  be most constructively involved when they’re informed by the experiences of victims themselves and the people who are tasked with looking after them.

KARVELAS: So the summit is the way that Labor wants to go forward.

PLIBERSEK: I just think you have to be a little bit careful. This is not how we want to go forward, this is one element of a package that Bill Shorten announced today that also includes substantial funding for safe at home programs, which are programs that allow women and children to remain safely in the family home and the perpetrator to be removed. There’s extra funding in there for legal services, of course a lot of community legal centres that support victims of domestic violence in their legal battles have had their budgets cut in recent times. If we’re serious about protecting women from violence, there has to be a place to go. They have to be safe in their own home or there has to be a place to go. And there has to be decent legal representation and there has to be an attitudinal change. The package announced today covers all of those areas.

KARVELAS: Do you think there is a bipartisan kind of spirit on this issue, on the domestic violence issue between Labor and the Government? It seemed to be kind of politicised by both sides today, you know, the Government was spruiking its way forward, Labor has put forward its way forward. Isn’t it the best way to deal with this trying to somehow  get together and do some serious law reform to try and deal with these problems we’re constantly seeing?

PLIBERSEK: I certainly do not doubt the dedication of every Member of Parliament to seeing an end to domestic violence in our community. It’s one of the most serious crimes in our community because of the number of people affected, because of the huge emotional and indeed financial cost. But I guess there are very different approaches to how we would handle it. I think we’ve proposed some positive measures, almost $80 million worth of positive measures today that include better legal services, better housing, better data that tracks perpetrators to see what works to stop perpetrators repeating their violence, attitudinal change and so on. The Government’s proposals today were for an advertising campaign with the states and territories, I certainly welcome that commitment, I think that’s a very valuable contribution to make and I applaud them for it. What I am concerned about are the very substantial cuts that have been made to the homelessness program, to legal services for victims of violence and community support with a cut of around $270 million to community grants programs that support the very organisations that women turn to at difficult times, to support women’s access to a bit of emergency funding when they’ve walked out of their house with nothing but a bit of clothing on their back.

KARVELAS: Last question on Iraq, in regards to the announced troop deployment to Iraq, the ALP was not advised until shortly before the announcement, with the benefit of kind of, you know, a day, 24 hours. What’s your reaction now to that and do you think this is the way that we can- this is the only way forward, that many experts have warned that we’re going into a situation that does not serve the national interest?

PLIBERSEK: I certainly understand why people are concerned about Australian involvement in Iraq because the war in 2003 was an absolute disaster. It was a disaster for Australia and it was a disaster as it turned out for the people of Iraq, as many of us said at the time that it would be. I think that the situation this year and last year is different in a few key respects because we’ve been invited by the democratically elected government of Iraq to help them protect their land and their people from an invading force, that is an incredibly brutal invading force that targets minority groups, targets women and children in the most brutal possible way. Our role is not a combat role, it’s a training role and we’ve laid out very clear criteria that Labor supports this while it’s not a frontline combat role, while it’s got a humanitarian and training role, while it’s in Iraq and not going into countries like Syria. I mean, as long as it takes the democratically elected government to protect its own people and only so long as the government of Iraq, its armies and so on, continue to behave in a way that’s acceptable to Australia. What I would also add to this it it’s very important that we watch very, very closely for any signs of mission creep. We want to have a clear response from the Government and continued updates from the Government about what the Australian mission is there, how will we judge success and what is our exit strategy. And that’s why we were so disappointed yesterday, instead of having this discussion in our Parliament, the Prime Minister had a press conference and then had himself asked a Dorothy Dix question but refused in the first instance to address the Parliament, and through it, the people of Australia.

KARVELAS: Tanya Plibersek, thanks for joining me on RN Drive.



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TRANSCRIPT - Sky News, Wednesday 4 March 2015

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Subject: Mr Chan and Mr Sukumaran

DAVID LIPSON, PRESENTER: Tanya Plibersek, thanks so much for your time. These two Australian men now being moved, what’s your understanding of what this means for the timeline in terms of their sentence being carried out?

TANYA PLIBERSEK, DEPUTY LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION: Well, I don’t think it is actually productive for me to talk about that at the moment. The Indonesian government do normally give 72 hours notice to the families of people in this situation, but when that 72 hours notice might start is a matter that is not established yet. I think the important thing to be saying at this stage is that there are still two legal challenges underway and that those legal challenges must be allowed to run their course. We need to continue to say to the Indonesian Government that with almost 230 of own their citizens on death row around the world that they weaken their case to the governments of other nations when they’re pleading for clemency for their own people. And we must continue to say that these two young men are an example of the power of the Indonesian corrective system to actually rehabilitate - rehabilitate prisoners. These young men have obviously rehabilitated themselves but they are also contributing to the rehabilitation of other prisoners.

LIPSON: As you say, those legal and diplomatic channels are still being pursued, but this morning the Prime Minister Tony Abbott said that the Indonesians’ position is hardening. Do we need to be preparing for the worst now?

PLIBERSEK: I think where there is life there is hope, and we need to as an opposition, we will do everything we can to support the Government, as they did when we were the Government, to plead for clemency for these two young men. And if there is, I have been in contact with the legal team this morning, and if there is anything we can do to support the legal actions that are underway, of course we will do that. I think it is very important to continue to make the case in every formal way and every informal way that we can.

LIPSON: You’ve spoken, as you mentioned, to the legal team. So what have they told you? What are their plans for action over the coming days?

PLIBERSEK: Well I won’t go into that, what I will say is that they are engaged in these two continuing actions. One of which is, has a kind of administrative approach, and one of which is a complaint to the judicial commission. They are very serious legal approaches, and they absolutely must be allowed to run their course. It would be shocking if these, this sentence was carried out before these legal appeals had run their course.

LIPSON: And have you had any further contact with the families or friends?

PLIBERSEK: I have had contact over several occasions with different family members and friends of these two young men. They are of course distressed beyond belief. This is a sentence not just on the young men themselves but on everyone who knows them and loves them. Particularly as they have been in gaol for some time, they have had the opportunity of repairing their relationship with their family, of showing that they have reformed. Their families of course firmly believe that these young men did the wrong thing, that they are rightly subject to the Indonesian legal system. But now that they have reformed, they should have the opportunity to pay their debt to society, to contribute to the prison community that they are part of in the way that they have been doing, in reforming other prisoners.

LIPSON: Should the worst happen, what do you believe an appropriate diplomatic response from Australia should be?

PLIBERSEK: I think it is the wrong time to be talking about anything like that, I think our focus, on the moment, at the moment, has to be on the fact that we have for many years had a strong relationship with Indonesia. There are many people in Indonesia and in Australia who are working to make that relationship even stronger in the future and I count myself as one of them. Our focus now has to be on using the strength of that friendship to appeal to the President of Indonesia, the Attorney-General and others to understand that of course we understand the Indonesian legal system but the death penalty is not a deterrent, it’s not more of a deterrent than a long gaol sentence certainly and that the Indonesian case for clemency for its own citizens internationally is weakened by this action.

LIPSON: Not just a strong relationship, it’s also an extremely important one for both countries. Is there a danger that that relationship could be damaged by Indonesia’s actions here?

PLIBERSEK: I think it’s the wrong time to be talking about anything like that. We need to focus on the needs of these two young men and continue to redouble our efforts to use every formal channel of communication and every informal channel of communication to make our case.

LIPSON: And what about the threats that some Australians have made, including lawyer Lex Lasry today, of boycotting Indonesia. Do you believe that will achieve anything in this case?

PLIBERSEK: I understand that emotions are running very high at the moment. I understand why a friend, someone who’s represented these two young men would speak from the heart at such an emotional time. I think our focus as a government, as an opposition needs to be on keeping channels of communication open and constructive.

LIPSON: And do you believe there should be a review or investigation into the Australian Federal Police actions that led to these two young men and others essentially being handed over to Indonesian authorities?

PLIBERSEK: I think the Australian Federal Police do a fine job at keeping Australians safe, but I don’t think anyone would question that it would have been much better to pick, not just these young men but all of their co-accused, up when they arrived back in Australia and seeing them subject to the Australian judicial system.

LIPSON: With that in mind, does that policy, that sort of course of action need to be reviewed or changed? Does there need to be a directive in the future?

PLIBERSEK: I think again, this is something for discussion at a future time.

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

PLIBERSEK: Thank you.



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TRANSCRIPT - ABC News Breakfast, Thursday 5 March 2015

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Subjects: Mr Chan and Mr Sukumaran, Intergenerational Report

VIRGINIA TRIOLI, PRESENTER: The pressure on Indonesia has been intense, the pleading, the requests have been consistent and repeated, they've been bipartisan, why after all of that do you believe that Indonesia is so unwilling to oblige?

TANYA PLIBERSEK, DEPUTY OPPOSITION LEADER: Well I think the new President has come in with a very clear statement that he is determined to stamp out drug crimes in Indonesia. I think it's very clear that there's a change of policy at the top level in Indonesia when it comes to implementing the death penalty. But I don't think that we should accept that that's the end of the story. Of course, we accept the right of Indonesia to have its own legal system, to determine its own priorities, but we are another country respectfully asking the President of Indonesia to reconsider the application of the death penalty in this case. We have two citizens who have transformed their lives and have transformed the lives of the people around them. A sentence like this carried out on these two young men is not just a sentence on them, it's a sentence on their families, on their friends, their supporters. And also on the people who have come to look up to them within the Indonesian gaol system as examples of reformation, rehabilitation and hope for the future.

TRIOLI: You can't have a qualified position on the death penalty, you either support it or you don't and Australia does not, but is this perhaps at least in part, Tanya Plibersek, a bit of our own history coming back to haunt us because of course at various times both Kevin Rudd and John Howard supported the death penalty, the execution for the Bali Bombers?

PLIBERSEK: I think it is very important to have a consistent position on the death penalty and to say to our friends and allies that still have the death penalty that Australia will always oppose it to whomever it's applied, wherever it may be applied, we are consistently opposed to the death penalty and I think at times like this-

TRIOLI: Although of course, just to jump in there, we weren't of course at that time. I wonder if that history is playing out a little bit here?

PLIBERSEK: I don't think you can draw that link but I would say that if there's one good thing to come out of this public concern about what's happening to Andrew and Myuran is it’s a reinvigoration of a feeling across our Australian community that the death penalty is always wrong wherever it's applied, to whomever it is applied.

TRIOLI: We've always believed that we have a, it’s been fractious at times, a reasonably good relationship with Indonesia, certainly a very strong and very important one. Why in your view is that not counting for much in this discussion at the moment?

PLIBERSEK: I actually think it does count for a lot. We've had an enormous amount of support from many, many senior Indonesian political figures, diplomatic figures, current and former, many, many people pleading on behalf of our citizens. Of course there's strong business links, there's people who have been, Australians who have been great friends to Indonesia over many years who are engaged in behind the scenes diplomatic efforts and there are many, many Indonesians who have also been pleading with the President and those around him in our- on our behalf. Unfortunately that hasn't borne fruit yet but I don't think we can accept that time has run out. I think there we need to continue to say that there are two current legal challenges under way, those legal challenges must be allowed to run their course and just as Indonesia pleads for clemency for its own citizens around the world, we will continue to plead for clemency until every avenue is exhausted.

TRIOLI: Tanya Plibersek, from the Labor Party's point of view, what consequences, if any, should flow from these two men ultimately being executed in terms of our relationship with Indonesia?

PLIBERSEK: Look, I think it's the wrong time to be talking about anything like that. I think our whole focus, our whole discussion at the moment and every effort has to be on stating very clearly that the legal challenges that remain should be completed and that in any case the President has available to him the option of showing clemency and we would plead that President Widodo think about what he would want for his own citizens on death row around the world, the clemency that he would like Indonesians to be shown by the governments of other countries and he apply that same principle to our citizens and not just to our citizens of course but to the citizens of other nations facing a similar penalty.

TRIOLI: Just one quick question before I let you go if I can, Tanya Plibersek, on the Intergenerational Report, a very important document that’s coming out today, according to some figures that have been pre-released and published today in some newspaper outlets, the most optimistic four decade trajectory shows that Australia would only be free of net debt by 2031/32 if every budget measure announced last year or something equivalent was passed and passed now. What does the Labor Party believe its responsibility is in this, in making sure that Australia is free of debt?

PLIBERSEK: This Intergenerational Report is the final trashing of Peter Costello's legacy in terms of a Charter of Budget Honesty. This is a completely political document that hasn't used Department of Immigration figures for net overseas migration, that includes in it for example savings from a GP co-payment that the Government's made clear they can't get through the House of Representatives and the Senate, it includes in it- it doesn't include in it things like their promise to get rid of means testing for the Private Health Insurance Rebate which would cost $100 billion over the next 40 years, it's a political stitch up of a document. It's the Treasurer's document, not the Treasury's document as they've made clear, this is a document that's been manipulated by Joe Hockey for his own political means.

TRIOLI: Nowhere in that answer to was an answer to my question about what the Labor Party thinks should be done to rid Australia of debt, there's no policy statement there from you.

PLIBERSEK: We announced just recently our plans for reducing multinational tax evasion. Unfortunately we had measures in place to do this when the Government, when the Liberal Government were first elected. They trashed them. They gave billions of dollars back to multinational tax avoiders. We had a carbon pricing mechanism that raised revenue, they've got a carbon pricing mechanism that spends taxpayers' dollars. We have made very large and important savings, including when I was Health Minister, things like means testing the Private Health Insurance Rebate and paying less for generic medicines when they come off patent. The Liberals opposed billions of dollars of savings in those areas so I think it's a bit rich for a Government that's come in, given $9 billion to the Reserve Bank unasked for and unneeded, doubled the deficit since coming to Government, for them to be talking about debt and deficit. We actually now have under Joe Hockey as Treasurer higher debt, higher deficits, higher unemployment, lower consumer confidence and slower growth.

TRIOLI: I assume then from your answer then that a carbon price would then be part of a Government policy should the Labor Party ever win Government?

PLIBERSEK: We'll announce more details about our policies periodically over coming months and years.

TRIOLI: You were just saying that there was a revenue raising measure and that's one you're clearly attached to?

PLIBERSEK: I'm pointing out that it is bit rich for the Liberals to come in and reduce the revenue that they're taking, to change the tax system so that they're collecting less money, they're spending more on their own priorities, they've doubled the deficit, and for them to consistently try and say that this is a Labor responsibility, they have made bad choices in Government. They have rejected the revenue that we collected in a number of different ways, they haven't replaced it. We've supported already more than $20 billion of measures that improve the budget bottom line from the last Budget but we're not going to support things that are unfair, we're not going to support things like the GP co-payment that stop people going to see a doctor.

TRIOLI: Tanya Plibersek, good to talk to you this morning, thank you.




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TRANSCRIPT - ABC The World, Monday 2 March 2015

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Subject: Mr Chan and Mr Sukumaran, Vladimir Putin, Boris Nemtsov

BEVERLEY O’CONNOR, PRESENTER: I spoke to Opposition Foreign Affairs spokesperson Tanya Plibersek who says there are still a few glimmers of hope.

TANYA PLIBERSEK, DEPUTY OPPOSITION LEADER: There's been a few heartening moves in the last few days as well and that would include the Governor of Jakarta reportedly speaking to his friend, the President, about this case and about the death penalty more generally, also of course, the former foreign minister Dr Hassan Wirajuda speaking also reportedly on this case and the fact that the death penalty doesn't do the reputation of Indonesia any good internationally.

O’CONNOR: Do you think it’s going to be enough to cut through to a President who seems really determined to carry through with these executions?

PLIBERSEK: Look, it's certainly important to have these voices speaking up in Indonesia and of course people who are politically close to the President, people who are intimately involved in advising the new Government are very strong and credible voices to make the case, first of all the moral and ethical case against the death penalty more generally. I certainly think that while there's life there's hope. There are ongoing legal efforts from the legal teams of these two men.

O’CONNOR: Do you think it changes the dynamic with which we perhaps approach Jokowi in terms of he appeared to be a reforming president coming in that perhaps was going to do things very differently yet it would appear he's playing very much to a domestic audience, that that is his priority?

PLIBERSEK: Well, I think to be fair, that most governments have their first eye on their domestic constituencies. There is a broader issue, an international issue about the death penalty and Australia always opposes the death penalty in any country for any person to whom it’s applied. We would hope that the President would consider the pleas for clemency that so many Australians and now so many Indonesians are making.

O’CONNOR: And to that point, do you think it damages our relationship going forward?

PLIBERSEK: Our relationship with Indonesia is one of the most important relationships we have. A close neighbour, of growing importance economically for Australia and certainly Indonesia's always been a very important strategic neighbour for us.

O’CONNOR: Can I take you elsewhere, Tanya Plibersek, and talk for a moment about, I guess, the difficulty that perhaps Vladimir Putin is posing to the world community. We've seen with Ukraine and of course domestically now with the shooting of Boris Nemtsov, of course he has distanced himself and condemned the killing but there is this growing feeling that there is double speak when it comes to Vladimir Putin?

PLIBERSEK: We call on the Russian Government and the President in particular to ensure that the pro-separatist rebels in Ukraine are not supported or armed or encouraged by Russia. The most recent news about Mr Nemtsov over this last day, of course, is very concerning. It's not clear who is responsible yet but it is very important that the murder is investigated swiftly and credibly, that his killers are found. I'd also add that it's very important for any country to have a strong opposition, to have critics that are heard and that can speak up safely and it is, I think the international community has seen with some disquiet that those voices of opposition in Russia have not been - well, it hasn't been a good experience for many of those people criticising the Government.

O’CONNOR: Good to talk to you, thanks so much for your time.

PLIBERSEK: Thank you.


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TRANSCRIPT - Sky News PM Agenda, Tuesday 3 March 2015

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SUBJECT/S: Iraq; GP Tax.


DAVID SPEEERS, PRESENTER: Joining me now is the Deputy Opposition Leader and Shadow Foreign Minister, Tanya Plibersek. Thanks for your time. Does Labor support this announcement?

TANYA PLIBERSEK, DEPUTY OPPOSITION LEADER: We were briefed by some defence personnel and intelligence and security personnel just before Question Time. And based on what we have been told in that briefing, we do. We support a training mission to help the Iraqi Defence Force raise its capacity to protect its own people on their own land.

SPEERS: Was there some concern in the left of your party though, as I understand it, in the caucus meeting today, some did raise concerns about this?

PLIBERSEK: No, I wouldn't say concerns. I'd say that there are many people in the Labor Party and in the Australian community who remember the disaster of the 2003 invasion of Iraq and they want to be very certain that we are not engaging in something here that doesn't have the support of the Iraqi Government and people or that is open-ended, that involves mission creep. We need to be very satisfied as an Opposition and I think as a nation that this is with the support and at the request of the Iraqi Government. And that it doesn't involve Australian soldiers taking a front line position fighting Daesh hand to hand, but it is indeed in the first instance a humanitarian and a training mission, and also that the Government has a clear plan here, a clear exit strategy. This should not be an open-ended engagement.

SPEERS: Well just on that final point, do you think there is a clear exit point strategy?

PLIBERSEK: We were certainly told that the second stage of the training mission has a two year period attached to it, that it will have regular troop rotations, it will be reassessed during that period. But, David, I think one of the issues here is it’s very important that the Prime Minister and the Government explain to the Australian people what it is exactly that Australian forces will be doing and how will they judge success. When will they know that it is time to go? These are important questions for the Australian public to be assured of.

SPEERS: Have you been assured of this, those key points you raise there, what they will exactly be doing, how we’ll judge success and how we’ll decide to bring them home?

PLIBERSEK: Yes, we had quite a detailed briefing today before Question Time, and we asked ourselves and the briefers to reassure us on all of the principles that we have set out for Labor support in the past. So that our troops won't be in front line positions, that this is only in Iraq and not Syria, that it is only so long as- until the Iraqi Government and Defence Force can protect their own people in their own land and that it is only as long as the Iraqi Government and Defence Forces behave in a way that is acceptable to Australians. So we have set out those principles.

SPEERS: Okay, I just want to be clear on this. Are you satisfied that what- that you understand exactly what they will be doing and that there will be a mechanism to judge success?

PLIBERSEK: We have had - yes. We have had a detailed briefing about what the Australian Defence Force will be doing with the Iraqi Defence Force. The type of training they will be providing and so on.

SPEERS: And all of your concerns are addressed?

PLIBERSEK: Well, I have to say it is something that we will continue to watch closely. I say for the moment based on what the Government has told us, Labor will support this additional training. But that commitment is not without conditions and it is not open-ended and I think it is important that the Government continue to talk to the Australian public, through the Australian Parliament, about exactly how the mission is progressing and what the expected exit strategy is.

SPEERS: So is it fair to say that you would still like a better explanation of exactly what they will be doing?

PLIBERSEK: I think we need continued explanations of what our defence personnel are achieving and certainly we know that they have achieved a great deal in the humanitarian area. They have been- they have managed to resupply communities that have been cut off and without supplies. They have managed to disrupt oil production facilities that Daesh were using to generate many, many, millions of dollars of oil revenue to fund their ongoing war on the Iraqi people. So we have played a good role –

SPEERS: But we also see constant reports about the Iraqi military being a corrupt outfit, payments going to so called phantom soldiers who don't really exist just to claim the money, you know, about corruption in contracting in the Iraqi military as well. How much confidence should we have that this is a worthwhile expedition?

PLIBERSEK: Well, David, I think it's very important to ask those questions along the way and there's a couple of things I'd say to that. Our training of the Iraqi regular forces, the Iraqi Defence Force, includes the sort of ethical training that Australian soldiers rely on as well. So that it does involve training about rules of engagement, about proper conduct, internationally acceptable conduct in the theatre of war. Secondly, Labor has always had, as part of our conditions in this area, that if we have evidence that the Iraqi Government is not behaving in an inclusive way, if the sectarian conflict escalates again, if the Iraqi Army is not behaving in a way that is acceptable to Australia, for example, if they were engaging improperly with militias, it would be - it is important for us to say as a country, these are our red lines.

SPEERS: And they haven't tripped those yet as far as you are concerned?

PLIBERSEK: Well, based on the information we have at this stage, we are satisfied that our conditions have been met. But I don't say this in a way that is open-ended. Of course we always support our defence personnel when they are overseas. But we need to continue to examine this mission to make sure that it is at the request of the Iraqi Government, with the support of the Iraqi people, to protect them, to assist the Iraqi Army to protect its own people on its own soil and it has to be that the Iraqi Army take the lead in this fight.

SPEERS: We were just talking a few minutes ago to Tom Switzer, a critic of this whole deployment. He makes the point this is mission creep. This is exactly what Daesh or ISIL want to happen. They want to see the US and its allies engaging more and more in this conflict. That’s what’s going to attract more people to their cause.

PLIBERSEK: Tom was a very strong and articulate critic of the 2003 war. I think he has consistently, over many years, raised some very valid concerns about mission creep and about, frankly, about the disaster that the 2003 Iraqi war was. I'm not surprised that Tom and many people like him want reassurance that it's not Australians engaging on the front line, that we are there in a humanitarian and training capacity until the Iraqi Army can stand up and protect its own people on its own soil. It's an international force. It's not a US led coalition of the willing as 2003 was. We will be one of four countries engaged in similar training of the Iraqi Defence Force, so the US of course, Spain and Germany, are also committing to a similar mission to the one that the Government has described today. So it has some important differences from 2003. But it is an extremely serious commitment and it's not something that we agree to lightly or that we agree to without conditions. We have explained our conditions and we will continue to monitor Australia's usefulness in this area and I hope we will see a very speedy end to our engagement there.

SPEERS: Now, let me ask you finally on domestic politics, the dumping of the GP co-payment today. Do you welcome the Prime Minister going so far as to say that it is dead, buried and cremated?

PLIBERSEK: Yeah, I think he said that about industrial relations in the past too and we have seen the resurrection, the zombie like resurrection of some of these policies again and again.

SPEERS: Not WorkChoices though.

PLIBERSEK: No, it is WorkChoices in everything but name and the attack on penalty rates and so on.

SPEERS: They haven't done anything on penalty rates, to be fair.

PLIBERSEK: They want to. They have been sending their backbenchers to soften people up –

SPEERS: They have said that they won't.

PLIBERSEK: Yeah, anyway, we will talk about the GP Tax. The Prime Minister said 53 times that this is necessary policy. I don't believe he's dumped this because he has listened. I think he has dumped it because he can't get it through the Parliament. And the thing that irritates me so very much about this argument is this notion that we have got an unaffordable health system. We spend, if you look at the OECD, we spend about in the middle of the pack. But for that, we get much better value. We are close to the top of the pack on life expectancy.

SPEERS: So we don't need to make any efforts to make it more sustainable?

PLIBERSEK: We spend about average but we get much better results for it and of course we have to make efforts to keep it sustainable. That's why when I was Health Minister I put a means test in place for the private health insurance rebate at a quarter of a million dollars for families –

SPEERS: Should we go further down that path?

PLIBERSEK: Just let me finish this point. Peter Dutton and Tony Abbott opposed billions of dollars of savings by asking people who were already going to buy private health insurance not to receive a government subsidy. The other billions of dollars of savings that I did as Health Minister was paying less for generic medicines when they came off patent, guess what, Peter Dutton and Tony Abbott opposed that as well. So they are not sincere in their efforts to reform the health system. The health system can always do with improvements. But the idea that we have an unsustainable system is wrong and someone should ask Tony Abbott and Sussan Ley - is it a good thing if Medicare bulk billing rates go up or is it a good thing if they go down because the answer you would get from this Prime Minister and this Health Minister is it's good when bulk billing rates go down. Well, that is the absolute opposite to what Labor believes and it is the absolute opposite to what the Australian people want.

SPEERS: Tanya Plibersek, thank you very much for that.

PLIBERSEK: Thank you David.



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TRANSCRIPT - ABC News 24, Wednesday 4 March

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Subject: Mr Chan and Mr Sukumaran, Iraq.


CHRIS UHLMANN, PRESENTER: How did you feel this morning when you heard this news that the two prisoners were going to be transferred to the island where they would be executed?

TANYA PLIBERSEK, DEPUTY OPPOSITION LEADER: I think very many Australians are feeling very sad and concerned today. It is certainly not a good sign that these young men are being transferred and I think it's particularly concerning given there are still two legal challenges under way. There's an administrative-type legal challenge and of course there are before the judicial commission concerning allegations that have to be thoroughly investigated. I think there's obviously a very strong sense that people have now, too, of sympathy for the families of these two young men. This is not just a sentence on these two young men but on all of the people who love them, to take them away so permanently.

UHLMANN: Do you hold out any hope though that these legal challenges will do any more than the others have? Indonesia has clearly decided that it’s going to go ahead and execute these two young men.

PLIBERSEK: I think while there's life, there's hope. We have heard stories before of people who have been literally on their way to have their sentences carried out and the sentence has been commuted. So I think it's very important to hold out hope and to continue to explore every avenue. I have spoken today to the legal team of the young men, I have spoken to the Foreign Minister to say that very clearly that we will do everything we can as an Opposition to support the Government's efforts in this area.

UHLMANN: Has the Government done everything it can? Obviously you have actually worked quite closely with the Government, and it would seem the Government has done everything that is humanly possible.

PLIBERSEK: I believe that the Government have explored many avenues and indeed I think successive governments have done that over many years. We very strongly made the case to Indonesia that with almost 230 of their own people on death row in countries around the world, that their carrying out of this sentence undermines their case for their own citizens. I think that is a very important point to make. The Indonesian Government continues to advocate for their own citizens around the world. It makes it very difficult for them to make a convincing argument when, indeed, they are carrying out this sentence themselves.

UHLMANN: If Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran are executed, do you believe it will damage the relationship between Australia and Indonesia?

PLIBERSEK: I think our relationship has been a strong one for many years and the important thing to focus on now is using the friendship and goodwill that has built up over many years, using the formal channels and informal channels to do everything we can to see the legal processes here, give them time to run their course. And to continue to plead with the Indonesian President, to continue to plead with him to understand that the death penalty doesn't- should never be used for any person anywhere. It's not an effective deterrent. We know that long gaol sentences are just as effective a deterrent as the death penalty. And we know too that the argument about Indonesian sovereignty, the sovereignty of the Indonesian legal system, no one challenges that. We completely accept that Indonesia has every right to the legal system that it has, what we are asking for is mercy in the application of the sentence.

UHLMANN: Australia has never tended to withdraw our ambassadors after events like this, although the Prime Minister's language has been fairly strong and said there would be an unequivocal response by Australia. Do you believe that like other countries that Australia should do something symbolic if this goes ahead and withdraw an ambassador?

PLIBERSEK: I think it's counterproductive to be discussing those things at this time.

UHLMANN: You don't think Australia should respond in any way?

PLIBERSEK: I think it's important to focus on the friendship between our two nations and to use the goodwill that we have built up over time for the benefit of these young men.

UHLMANN: Does the Australian Federal Police have a case to answer? It's been levelled against them that they should have not essentially handed these two young men over to the Indonesian police. Do we need to hear a better explanation from the police on why they did that?

PLIBERSEK: I think it’s clear that most Australians would agree that it would have been better if these young men had been picked up as they arrived back in Australia. I think if we knew that they were coming, on a particular plane, at a particular time, of course it would have been better to pick them up here.

UHLMANN: Do you think we need a better explanation from the Australian Federal Police?

PLIBERSEK: I think our focus, the whole focus of our public discussion at this time has to be in pleading for clemency with the Indonesian Government and anything else can wait.

UHLMANN: Lex Lasry, who is now a Supreme Court Judge but did act for these two young men when he was a barrister, said today ‘I will never again go to Bali or anywhere else in Indonesia’. Do you think that Australians should respond that way?

PLIBERSEK: Chris, the difficulty with this conversation at this time is it just doesn't help. We need to focus now on reminding the Indonesian Government that they have their own people on death row in countries around the world and they weaken their ability to plead for their own citizens. We need to focus on the fact that the death penalty is not a deterrent. We have to focus on the fact that this is not just a sentence for these young men but for their families and for everyone who knows them. We need to focus on the fact that they have been rehabilitated in the Indonesian gaol system and are now making a positive contribution to the lives of other prisoners and the rehabilitation of other prisoners. I think that is the discussion we need to be having at this time.

UHLMANN: And all those things have been said and resaid by you and by the Government, by their families, by everyone in Australia and yet it has not moved the Indonesian President.

PLIBERSEK: And I say again while there's life, there's hope, and we need to exhaust every legal avenue here. We must have the time for the judicial commission to do its work, for the administrative legal considerations to be gone through thoroughly. It is important that we use all of our formal and informal communications to continue to make points, these points.

UHLMANN: A final question on a different topic - to Iraq. Yesterday we saw the Prime Minister commit to training troops, there will obviously be some push and pull in that, the Special Forces will probably come out, 300 Australian training troops will go in. The Labor Party were clearly displeased by the fact that the Prime Minister didn't make a ministerial statement. Do you believe the Prime Minister was trying to politicise the issue?

PLIBERSEK: I think when we're sending Australian troops into harm's way, the Australian public deserve a clear statement about why they're going, what the mission is specifically, how will we judge when we have achieved that mission. The best way to give that explanation to the Australian people is through the Parliament. There are elected representatives - that also gives the Opposition a clear opportunity to state our position on this. Which is that we are of course - we know that the 2003 war in Iraq was a disaster. But that this situation where we are being asked by the democratically elected government of Iraq to help it protect its people and its territory from an invading force, that is quite brutal, that that is a different situation, that we will apply the criteria that we have set out: that this is only in Iraq, only until the Iraqi Government can protect its own people, that it's not boots on grounds - it is a training and humanitarian mission - and that we will only stay as long as the Iraqi Government and military forces behave in a way that is acceptable to us - that we apply those conditions.

UHLMANN: Tanya Plibersek, thank you.

PLIBERSEK: Thank you, Chris.


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TRANSCRIPT - Doorstop Interview, Parliament House, Thursday 26 February 2015

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Subject: Mr Chan and Mr Sukumaran

TANYA PLIBERSEK, DEPUTY OPPOSITION LEADER: Of course, it was disappointing this week to hear that the most recent legal case run by the legal teams of Mr Chan and Mr Sukumaran in Indonesia was unsuccessful. But I am pleased to hear this morning that the Australian Prime Minister has managed to speak to the Indonesian President about this case. Of course, Labor welcomes any effort made by the Australian Government to contact the President of Indonesia or the Government of Indonesia and plead for clemency for these two young men. Of course we admit, and they admit, that they have done a very wrong thing, and we understand the Indonesian legal system requires a tough punishment. But Labor believes that the death penalty is always wrong, wherever it happens and to whomever it is applied.

JOURNALIST: Do you believe the Abbott Government is doing enough?

PLIBERSEK: I think it’s very important now that government and non-government actors are prepared to contact their colleagues in Indonesia. So there’s been a lot of work behind the scenes, bipartisan work - the Government and Opposition working together, the Attorneys General have written to the Indonesian Attorney-General, I’ve written with the Foreign Minister to the Indonesian Foreign Minister. We hear now that the Prime Minister has directly spoken with the President. For many months this contact has been happening behind the scenes and more recently it’s been happening more publicly. I think it’s very important that we continue do it in a respectful way that understands the Indonesian position on their legal system but nevertheless makes the strong point that Australians oppose the death penalty wherever and to whomever it’s applied and certainly for our own citizens we are pleading clemency.

JOURNALIST: Do you see any avenues left for them to pursue?

PLIBERSEK: Well there is still talk from the legal team of the young men that they will be able to appeal this most recent decision. And my view is while there’s life there’s hope, and it’s important we continue to use all these formal and informal avenues to make contact with the Indonesians.


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TRANSCRIPT - ABC Capital Hill, Wednesday 25 February 2015

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GREG JENNETT, PRESENTER: Tanya Plibersek, Australia seems to be edging towards an additional troop commitment in Iraq, perhaps a training mission. How much has Labor been brought into the loop on planning for that?

TANYA PLIBERSEK, DEPUTY OPPOSITION LEADER: Well we haven't received a briefing about the proposal that John Key spoke about in the New Zealand Parliament.

JENNETT: Would you have expected one?

PLIBERSEK: We would expect a briefing before any decision's made. The Foreign Minister and Chief of Defence have both said today that no final decision has been made and we would certainly expect a briefing before any final decision is made and we would hope also that the PM would tell the Australian people about it through the Parliament, the Australian Parliament which is of course the best place to detail such an announcement.

JENNETT: As you've indicated, the trigger point for the renewed discussion that we're having right now has been John Key's statement in the beehive. Did it surprise you that it came from that side of the Tasman without being matched by a timetable in Canberra as well?

PLIBERSEK: I can't really understand why the New Zealand PM has said that it's likely that this mission will proceed and the Australian Government is saying that no decision's been made yet.

JENNETT: Now you're putting down an expectation that this should be when it's ready to be announced, announced in the Parliament. Do you think there's some risk that the PM might go to New Zealand and announce it from there and if so would that be the wrong call?

PLIBERSEK: Well, I think it's always a better thing with an issue of such importance to talk to the Australian public about it and the best place to talk to the Australian public is through the Parliament because elected representatives of the Australian population have an opportunity then to consider and respond. I think nevertheless when an announcement's made, if such an announcement's made, Labor will apply the considerations that we've brought into play in supporting the previous deployment and that would be that we support the request from the Iraqi Government for help to defend itself but on certain criteria. And that includes that there's no ground troops committed, that this is only within the borders of Iraq and not going into Syria, that it's only for so long as the Iraqi Government needs our help - until it can defend its own people - and it's only while the Iraqi Government and armed forces behave in a way that's acceptable to Australia.

JENNETT: So they're the tests that you would apply.Are you bothered at all by at least the perception of mission creep that we're going now into a training role, it seems, that goes above and beyond advise and assist? What next?

PLIBERSEK: Well, I can't answer that question because we haven't been briefed. And that's why it is important first of all that if any decisions are made the Opposition receives a full briefing and that we have the opportunity to have a debate in Australia about the parameters of our engagement. Of course we want to support the troops that are there doing such a fine job at the moment, fighting Daesh, which is a very harmful organisation. There's no question that it is right that the international community in response to a call from the Government of Iraq engages with our responsibility to protect, that we do support the Iraqi people to be able to defend themselves against some mass atrocity crimes and the threat of more mass atrocity crimes. The question is the parameters for that engagement, how far it goes and what our exit strategy would be.

JENNETT: And apart from the test that you've already outlined to us, what about numbers? Does Labor get caught up in whether it's 100, whether it's 200 or if the number came in as high as 500? Are there limits you would look to apply around that?

PLIBERSEK: Well, again, I don't think it's right to speculate about hypotheticals. I think we need to wait for a full briefing from our defence personnel about the appropriate level of engagement and why.


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TRANSCRIPT - ABC Radio National Breakfast, Tuesday 24 February 2015

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SUBJECTs: National Security, Mr Chan and Mr Sukumaran, Newspoll, Leaked Liberal Emails.


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


KELLY: I’m well, thank you. Tanya Plibersek, the Government’s looking at changes as we heard yesterday, that could render some Australian citizens stateless. Is Labor satisfied such a radical move is necessary?

PLIBERSEK: Well unfortunately we didn’t have a lot of detail in the speech yesterday. We’ll very carefully consider anything that the Government puts to us but it’s not really clear at the moment what exactly the proposal is. I think, Fran, you would’ve seen the confusion from the Immigration Minister last night, Peter Dutton, on the 7.30 Report - wasn’t actually able to answer these questions about how any of these measures would take effect and what would happen if you had a dual national whose Australian citizenship was revoked and then the country of their original citizenship wouldn’t take them back. Peter Dutton wasn’t able to answer so obviously we don’t know the details, the details haven’t been described yet by the Government.

KELLY: In theory though, how does Labor feel about the notion of winding back rights like this, Bill Shorten said yesterday there should always be a strong presumption in favour of the liberty of individual citizens. But obviously, in certain times, difficult decisions need to be made, but in theory, what’s your view of either stripping someone of their Australian citizenship or for just a sole Australian citizen, winding back or curtailing the privileges so significantly?

PLIBERSEK: Well I don’t think we should speculate about measures that haven’t been described yet, but let me talk about the principles that have been applied in the past-

KELLY: Well they have been described in those terms.

PLIBERSEK: Well let me talk about the principles that we would apply as we have in the past. The Parliamentary Joint Committee on Security and Intelligence has legislation presented to it, it goes through it in a great deal of detail, it’s got another tranche of legislation before it at the moment with data retention and the principles that we apply are that we want to give our security and intelligence agencies the powers they need to keep Australians safe, but we don’t want to give away the rights and liberties of Australians, the rights and liberties that make us the great country that we are. So it’s a balancing act there. If there is a necessity-

KELLY: Is the tipping point needing to be changed though, as the Prime Minister said on Sunday?

PLIBERSEK: I think- just let me finish on this. If there is a necessity for greater powers, they have to come with greater transparency and greater accountability and there are opportunities to increase the accountability and transparency when you’re talking about issues like data retention and like the measures that the Prime Minister was describing yesterday. We’re not going to give away people’s individual rights and privacies without expecting something in return which is the transparency and accountability that goes with any additional measures.

KELLY: Labor’s response yesterday was that it’s willing to consider all measures the Government puts up. Will you consider, have you got any inclination to agree with the Prime Minister’s assessment that more Muslim leaders should follow the leader, Western leaders, and speak out more loudly against extremism or at least describe Islam as a religion of peace and mean it?


KELLY: What did you think of that comment?

PLIBERSEK: I think it was the weakest part of the speech yesterday. I think Australian Muslim leaders have been unequivocal in their condemnation of Daesh, or ISIS or ISIL or whatever you want to call it - they’ve been unequivocal in their condemnation and it gets pretty annoying to be a strong voice for peace consistently, all the time, and have it unacknowledged in the way the Prime Minister did yesterday. And I should say also-

KELLY: Is it annoying- go on.

PLIBERSEK: I think David Irvine has said, and many other law enforcement people have told us that their greatest source of information, the most important source of information for them has been people in the Arabic speaking community who overhear something, who are worried about people that they know being radicalised. They are- the Arabic speaking and Muslim communities in Australia have been on the front line of defending Australia against these potential threats and I think that it’s important to acknowledge that and it’s important to say we are in partnership here.

KELLY: Given that, was it wise for the Prime Minister to so publicly accuse some Muslim preachers of not doing enough to preach Islam as a religion of peace or counterproductive?

PLIBERSEK: I think it certainly risked being counterproductive but I’m certainly very happy to say, and the Labor Party has said, Bill Shorten said yesterday, that we know that the partnership that we’ve had with the Muslim communities in Australia has been critical to the disruption of potential terrorist threats up till now.

KELLY: You’re listening to RN Breakfast, it’s nineteen minutes to eight. Our guest is Deputy Labor Leader and Shadow Foreign Minister, Tanya Plibersek. Can I move on to the issue of Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran, the two Australians on death row in Bali. Their lawyers are back in court today hoping to force President Widowdo to consider their cases for clemency, but the Indonesian authorities say it’s likely the pair will be sent this week to the prison island getting ready for their execution. What’s the latest you know about hope for these two? Or is hope running out now?

PLIBERSEK: Well I don’t think you can say hope is running out. I think it’s very important that this legal challenge be allowed to run its course and certainly we’ll be communicating with the Indonesian Government to ensure and to urge that this latest legal challenge be allowed to run its course. I have been in contact with the families of the young men and with their legal team and I’ll remain in contact with them. I think while there’s life there’s hope. I think it’s important that the Australian Government is consistent in its communications with the Indonesian Government saying that we would expect that this legal challenge be allowed to run its course.

KELLY: In terms of that, the Prime Minister’s comments last week reminding Indonesia of the $1 billion of tsunami aid a decade ago has unleashed, as we saw over the weekend, a protest campaign in Indonesia #CoinsForAustralia. Given that reaction was that the wrong call by the Prime Minister? Are you worried it’s harmed the chances of Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran?

PLIBERSEK: Well I think it’s very important Fran now that we watch every word we say because these two young men are facing a very serious penalty and I wouldn’t want to worsen it by any loose language myself. I think what the Prime Minister intended to say is that Australia and Indonesia have a long and strong relationship and that we hope Indonesia would, as we do, remember and value, the length, and strength of that friendship.

KELLY: Tanya Plibersek if I could move to domestic politics, some sobering news for Labor in today’s Newspoll. Your primary support has fallen three points, your two party-preferred lead has narrowed to six points. Bill Shorten has lost ground as preferred Prime Minister but still in the lead. All this following a spill motion against Tony Abbott and division in the Liberal Party. What is wrong with Labor that the voters seem to be losing interest in you too? It does suggest you’re not giving them what they want.

PLIBERSEK: I’m not sure you can say what’s wrong with Labor when we’re still in the lead.

KELLY: Yeah but you’ve lost ground when the Liberal Party has been at its most divided it’s been in eighteen months, or years.

PLIBERSEK: I think we’ve said all along that the polling, of course it’s of interest to people, but it’s background noise in the work that we do down here in Parliament and in our electorates.  So polls go up and down what matters is what people do on election day.

KELLY: Do you also take notice of the fact that in this Newspoll voters seem to put Tony Abbott way ahead of Bill Shorten on the questions of who’s better to handle the economy and who’s best to handle national security. Two key measures for the electorate. Is it time Labor did something about that and maybe got some policy out in front of the voters.

PLIBERSEK: Well I think the greatest irony of course is that Tony Abbott and Joe Hockey should be thought to manage the economy well. In this Budget last May –

KELLY: That’s the point isn’t it, given the unpopularity of this Budget, Labor is still marked down for its handling of the economy in comparison.

PLIBERSEK: And so far they’ve doubled the deficit, made debt unlimited, they continue to break promises like no new taxes, no cuts to pensions, no cuts to health and education. We’ll continue to campaign on those issues and of course as time goes by as the election comes closer we’ll give more detail about our policies.

KELLY: And just finally leaked emails from the Liberal Party, so not really your business in a sense, the Federal Treasurer Phil Higgins and demanding something be done about the conflict of interest he says is there with Peta Credlin and Brian Loughnane. Peta Credlin, the Prime Minister’s chief of staff, she’s not an elected member of Parliament she’s got quite a lot of heat and attention, do you have some sympathy for her in that position?

PLIBERSEK: Well I don’t think that the fact that she’s married to the Federal Director is anything for us to be commenting on or to have a view on. I think people are perfectly able to be professional at work and carry out roles that might be complementary or in conflict. I think what the leaked emails show is that Tony Abbott has a real problem with his party. His backbench are revolting, his frontbench are now revolting. You hear stories about ministers who’ve said they would have changed their view if they’d had the opportunity to vote a different way now in a spill motion. There’s seven of them who say that they’d vote a different way on a spill motion. These emails, the substance of them isn’t important, the fact that they’re being leaked is what’s important.

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

PLIBERSEK: Thank you Fran.


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TRANSCRIPT - Sky News PM Agenda, Wednesday 18 February 2015

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Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran

DAVID LIPSON, PRESENTER: Well, for the latest on the Bali Nine ringleaders on death row, I'm joined now by the Shadow Foreign Minister, Tanya Plibersek. Thanks very much for your time. You have stayed in very close contact with the Government throughout this. What is the latest you are hearing?

TANYA PLIBERSEK, DEPUTY LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION: Well, not just from the Government, David, but from contacts within the legal team and supporters of Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran. There does appear to have been a delay in transporting these two men to the island where the sentence was to be carried out. Of course, any delay is a good thing. It gives the legal team a greater opportunity to fully test all of the avenues that are available to them.

LIPSON: Does that delay mean the pair won't be executed this month, as far as you understand?

PLIBERSEK: Look, I can only go from the same reports that you’re reading. It certainly does increase hope that the carrying out of the sentence isn’t imminent.

LIPSON: The Prime Minister today issued what many are seeing as his toughest warning yet to Indonesia, where he says that Australia will feel grievously let down if these executions go ahead. He has also reminded Indonesia about the relief in the form of $1 billion in aid after the Boxing Day tsunami that Australia gave Indonesia. He is clearly throwing everything at trying to save these two men. But in your view, it is okay to reference the tsunami and the aid that came after that?

PLIBERSEK: Look, I'm sure what the Prime Minister meant to say is that Australia and Indonesia have been good friends for many, many decades and it is a difficult time at the moment. We are using all of our diplomatic means, formal and informal contacts, around the clock trying to assist these two young men. I think remembering that we have been good friends, Indonesia and Australia, for many decades is part of that.

LIPSON: There has, though, been, particularly in the last week, a whole lot more, as it is termed, megaphone diplomacy. We have always been told that that is not helpful. Why has that begun, from both sides of politics, mind you?

PLIBERSEK: I think we have been taking that advice of diplomats all the way along for years now. Every time there has been a contact at a senior level between the Australian government and the Indonesian government the case of these two young men has been raised. Over the course of five Prime Ministerships, I think it is, five Australian Prime Ministers have raised this with two successive Indonesian Presidents. There has been behind the scenes efforts and quiet diplomacy going on the whole of that time. That has intensified recently because of the end of the moratorium or informal moratorium on the death penalty that we saw under the previous President of Indonesia. So efforts have intensified and some of those efforts have certainly become more public in recent times because it has appeared that the carrying out of the sentence was imminent. I think it is important, even when we are being more public in our urging of Indonesia to show mercy to these two young men, that we continue to remember that the best approach is one that is respectful of Indonesia and its right to make its own laws, but pleads mercy for two young men that Australia believes have fully reformed - are terrific examples of the Indonesian gaol system allowing people to reform and turn their lives around. And we have also said, of course, that it really does weaken Indonesia's argument internationally for its own citizens on death row if they are carrying out the death penalty within Indonesia. So efforts have become more public in recent times but I think it is wise to continue to make those diplomatic approaches in a way that is respectful and consistent about Australia's opposition to the death penalty wherever it occurs.

LIPSON: I know that you have had some direct contact with particularly the families of the two men. Without breaching any privacy, can you give us a sense of how they are doing and also, if you know, how the two men on death row are doing?

PLIBERSEK: Look, the families are devastated. I mean, how could you be anything else? They know that these young men have done the wrong thing but after 10 years in an Indonesian gaol where they have really made huge efforts to turn their lives around, and to influence other prisoners to turn their lives around, to then have this sentence carried out just - you know, they feel like they are having their loved ones ripped from their arms. You know, they are inconsolable. I can't talk about how Andrew and Myuran are doing from any direct contact with them but I'm in direct contact with their families, their legal teams and so on and they are trying to keep their spirits up in the most difficult circumstances.

LIPSON: Tanya Plibersek, the Shadow Foreign Minister, we do keep our fingers crossed. Thank you so much for joining us this afternoon on PM Agenda.

PLIBERSEK: Thank you.


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