TRANSCRIPT - Sky News AM Agenda, Tuesday 17 February 2015

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Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran, Beheading of Coptic Christians, Copenhagen attacks, Malcolm Turnbull

KIERAN GILBERT, PRESENTER: Tanya Plibersek, thanks for your time. In the words of one of the lawyers for the two members of the Bali Nine, the court proceedings in Indonesia remain live, they remain a possible course of action, but the Attorney-General keeps threatening to move them and proceed with the execution. What’s your reaction to these developments to where things stand at the moment?

TANYA PLIBERSEK, DEPUTY LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION: I have spoken to the legal team of these two young men and they do believe that they still have some legal processes that need to be completed. I think of course that we need to go through every possible legal channel before the young men are moved.

GILBERT: What’s the likelihood of that, given the comments out from the Indonesian government, the Attorney-General on behalf of President Joko Widodo, it doesn’t look promising, it hasn’t for many days now?

PLIBERSEK: Well we continue, both the Government, the Opposition, former Prime Ministers as you’ve identified today, many, many prominent Australians continue to be in contact with their contacts in Indonesia, urging that either mercy be shown to these two young men or at the very least, that the legal processes that are currently still live be allowed to run their course.

GILBERT: What do you say to those, and some Australians share this view as expressed even last night on national television, that these individuals knew what the punishment was before they undertook this crime and that the Indonesia law has to be respected in that sense?

PLIBERSEK: Of course we understand people having that view and I understand particularly people who say that Indonesia is a sovereign nation and it has its legal processes and we wouldn’t expect people to seek to interfere in Australian legal processes. What I would say is that after ten years in jail, these two young men are a terrific example of the reform that can happen within the Indonesia jail system and it would be beneficial for Indonesia to claim credit for the reform of these two young men, to use them as an example of what can happen when people are given the opportunity of a second chance.

GILBERT: While some members of the Bali Nine, the- I should say, my apologies, the Bali bombers, Amrozi, Muklas and Samudra were executed. A number of those involved, including Abu Bakar Bashir, weren’t, I guess this comparison comes up a bit and this is, you know, part of the reaction, such a fierce reaction in Australia to this imminent execution I guess.

PLIBERSEK: Look I think Australians were deeply wounded by the Bali bombing, losing so many of our own people at that time. But even at that time, there were Australians saying that the death penalty shouldn’t be enacted for the Bali bombers that were caught. So I think you actually need to have a principled opposition to the death penalty wherever it occurs and whenever it occurs, and in fact the Indonesian government is arguing for its own citizens on death row in other countries. I believe it weakens the argument of the Indonesian government for its own citizens to be shown clemency if they’re not prepared to show clemency to the citizens of other nations. And I’ve made that point directly to the Indonesians that if they want to see mercy for their own people, if they go to other countries and argue for mercy for their own people, they need to have a principled position against the death penalty for citizens of other nations and indeed for Indonesian citizens within Indonesia.

GILBERT: It’s hypocritical, isn’t it, otherwise? Their current stance is absolutely hypocritical.

PLIBERSEK: Well I think you can say it certainly weakens the argument.

GILBERT: What about the Government’s reaction, I know that there’s been strong support for what the Government’s done thus far, you and Julie Bishop have been in close contact over this matter, what about if sadly these two young, rehabilitated men are executed via firing squad, two of our own citizens, there’s got to be some diplomatic response, doesn’t there?

PLIBERSEK: Yes, and I think the time for having those discussions is well down the track. I think now our focus has to be on making every effort to save the lives of these two young men.

GILBERT: Should the Federal Police have to answer for some of this as well, given that they tipped off the Indonesian authorities when they could’ve picked them up back in Australia?

PLIBERSEK: I think it’s unquestionable that it would’ve been better to pick these young people up when they returned to Australia. And I would’ve been quite happy for them to do long jail terms in Australia. They’ve done something very, seriously wrong. It was a large quantity of drugs and they should’ve received serious sentences, but it plainly would’ve been preferable for them to be caught in Australia, dealt with in our Australian judicial system, served time in an Australian gaol and hopefully be rehabilitated here as they have been in Indonesia.

GILBERT: What’s your sense, do you think the Federal Police recognise that mistake?

PLIBERSEK: Look, I don’t think it’s productive to have that conversation now. I think our focus really has to be on all of the measures, formal, informal, diplomatic, business, all of the channels we can use to continue to plead for the lives of these young men.

GILBERT: What about boycotting Bali as a destination, that’s been discussed on social media and elsewhere that Australians should boycott Bali as a tourist destination. Your thoughts on that?

PLIBERSEK: I think it’s, you know, it’s up to individuals to make up their own holiday plans but when this issue was first raised, I really thought at the time that the decision makers in Jakarta who are proceeding with carrying out these sentences, I frankly don’t think that they’re paying much attention to the livelihood of your ordinary Balinese person. I should also say that any Australian who has travelled to Bali would know that there’s a great deal of mutual affection between the Balinese people and Australians. I think- I certainly don’t believe that a boycott of Bali would make a great deal of difference to decision makers in Jakarta. I don’t think their lives would be affected at all by that.

GILBERT: Okay, let’s move on to a couple of other issues internationally. This shocking incident, beheading of 21 Coptic Christians, Egyptians, by ISIS sympathisers in Libya. Now this has brought Egypt into the fray- attacking this group in Libya. What’s your reaction to this story? Is there any, I suppose, benefit in having Egypt as part of this fight despite the horrific circumstances under which this has taken place?

PLIBERSEK: I think it’s very important to say firstly that this is an appalling crime, and that Coptic Christians have been persecuted in a, for a long time, in many different scenarios, in a number of countries in the region. It’s very important that the Coptic community here in Australia know Australians stand with them and are appalled by what’s happened in Libya. Egypt is a potentially very important figure in the fight against DAESH in the Middle East and I think it is important to have Egypt engaged constructively.

GILBERT: And finally to Copenhagen and the shootings there, another reminder of the risk and the very real threat of lone wolf terror attacks, as if we needed any reminder.

PLIBERSEK: Again, an appalling attack and I think it does raise these complex questions of how do you predict a person or a group of people might be planning something like this when they’re not part of an organised network. I think it’s very important that we continue to give support and resources to our security and intelligence organisations to keep Australians safe and that we continue to work with international partners to work out how we might best predict the type of people who might be inclined to this sort of attack.

GILBERT: Finally, on a lighter note to finish our interview this morning, Tanya Plibersek. Your regular sparring partner, Malcolm Turnbull, last night was on the ABC, generated a fair bit of response to his appearance, I suppose everything he does at the moment generates a reaction, but I guess it must be a relief for Labor to have the speculation on the other side of the fence for a change after the last few years?

PLIBERSEK: Well I think certainly Malcolm’s been biding his time and been building his support amongst the backbenchers in the Liberal Party for whatever it is he’s got planned. I guess what I would say is whether it’s Malcolm Turnbull or Scott Morrison or Julie Bishop or any of the others who think they’ve got a shot at leading the Liberal Party, the problem’s not the salesman, the problem’s the product. And all of those same people sat around the Cabinet table and agreed to the poisonous and unfair Budget that’s turned so many Australians off the current Government. Unless they can articulate a policy difference, rather than just, you know, a different way of expressing the same policies, I don’t know that they’re going to make that many inroads. Australians have rejected the Budget because it’s unfair, it’s full of broken promises and it hurts ordinary people. Unless they’re going to chuck the measures that are detailed in the Budget, I don’t know that the actual salesperson is going to have much of an easier time than the current salesperson.

GILBERT: Okay, Tanya Plibersek, thanks for your time this morning, appreciate it.

PLIBERSEK: Thanks, Kieran.


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TRANSCRIPT - ABC News 24, Monday 16 February 2015

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Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran

KIM LANDERS, PRESENTER: Joining us now is Opposition Foreign Affairs spokeswoman, Tanya Plibersek. Tanya Plibersek, do you hold out any hope that these executions can be prevented?

TANYA PLIBERSEK, DEPUTY LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION: Of course I do, Kim. I think while there’s life, there’s hope. And for years now, successive governments have raised the case of these two young men, previously with SBY and now with President Jokowi. Those efforts have obviously intensified in recent months and weeks as it has become apparent that the carrying out of the sentences might be imminent.

LANDERS: Do you agree with the Foreign Minister’s decision, Julie Bishop’s decision, not to fly to Indonesia to try to personally lobby for these two men?

PLIBERSEK: I think the most important thing to do is take the advice of our skilled diplomats on the ground in Indonesia. A lot of these efforts have been behind closed doors, behind the scenes, they’ve been informal approaches at many different levels, through government to government relations, Australian businesses to Indonesian businesses, right across the broad spectrum of different ways of trying to influence an outcome here. The people who are on the ground in Indonesia, experienced diplomats, have the best insight into what would help and what would potentially be harmful.

TONY EASTLEY, PRESENTER: This has been going on for years, you mentioned that just then, it seems to me that the pressure has only been wound up in the last five to six months. Was it a mistake for that to be so short, if you like, a campaign? Should this have been tried years ago?

PLIBERSEK: I think most people would say that the previous president SBY had something like an informal moratorium on carrying out death sentences. Certainly there hadn’t been any for some time and it seems that the new president has a different attitude, he’s made it a point of some pride I think to carry out these sentences that have been long delayed and so of course efforts have intensified more recently as it’s become apparent that the sentences might be carried out.

EASTLEY: But it’s a case of too little, too late though, isn’t it?

PLIBERSEK: I think what you have to take into account, Tony, is sometimes by making an issue of something, you really solidify the position that you’re trying to change and I think that may have been counterproductive in the past. Up until now, a lot of our efforts in recent months have also been behind the scenes for that reason. But as we talk to our diplomats now, as we talk to the legal teams that are representing Andrew and Myuran and their families and supporters, a conscious decision really has been made to be more public in the approaches that we’re making.

LANDERS: How strong, if these executions go ahead, how strong does Australia’s response need to be?

PLIBERSEK: I think our response to the death penalty should always be strong and consistent. We should always say that Australia stands against the death penalty for anyone, anywhere. Whether it’s Australians in Indonesia, Americans in America, Chinese citizens in China, our opposition must be principled. I think any other discussion should be left to a later date. I think the most important-

LANDERS: But there already is some- sorry.

PLIBERSEK: I just think the most important thing now is to really focus on the best interests of these two young men and talking about- anything that sounds like retaliation is a big mistake right now.

LANDERS: Even so, the Foreign Minister Julie Bishop, she has already canvassed the possibility of Australians considering travel boycotts to Bali, for example. She’s also said everything’s on the table, whether it be withdrawing diplomatic representation while no decisions have been made. Do you have a sense of what the official response needs to be from the Australian Government to express its displeasure?

PLIBERSEK: Well certainly we need to be thinking those things through and discussing them but I think any type of megaphone diplomacy is a big mistake at the moment. I would also say on the Bali boycotts, I don’t think that that’s a particularly effective threat to make. I think the elite decision makers in Jakarta are really a long way from the livelihood of a taxi driver in Bali and Australians have a great deal of fondness and respect for the people of Bali and I think that’s reciprocated.

EASTLEY: So there wouldn’t be any Labor bipartisan support for a boycott?

PLIBERSEK: I don’t think it would make any difference, Tony, I really don’t. If I thought it would make a difference, it would be a different matter.

LANDERS: Are you comfortable that no stone has been left unturned in trying to spare the lives of these two men? Whether it be from the Australian Government, our diplomats, our business community, even just members of the public.

PLIBERSEK: So I’m in contact with our diplomats, former diplomats, business figures, non-government figures, the legal team of the two young men, the families and friends and supporters of the two young men, the Mercy Campaign and I have said to all of them that if they feel that any stone has been left unturned, they should raise it with me.  And I have myself raised different approaches, new approaches with the Foreign Minister and she’s been very open to that. There is an enormous amount of cooperation with the common aim of having this sentence commuted - with having mercy shown to these two young men. I believe the best thing we can do at the moment is take, as closely as we can, advice from diplomats and former diplomats and the legal representations of the young men because those people are in the best position to know the full range of things that have been attempted. A lot of the approaches that have been made actually haven’t been made in public for very good reason.

LANDERS: Had you heard about these allegations, for example, that have been raised today about some sort of bribes being sought by the judges who did sentence these men to the death penalty?

PLIBERSEK: Well of course I’ve read what you’ve read in the newspapers. I would say that Indonesia’s made great strides in recent years with its own Independent Commission Against Corruption style body that has actually gone after some very senior political figures, there have been convictions for corruption in recent years that wouldn’t have happened years ago, so there are more stories coming out over time. It is important that when an allegation like this is made, all of the legal processes have the opportunity to be exhausted because the very last thing we’d want is any uncertainty.

EASTLEY: Tanya Plibersek, just finally, are there any, there’s still questions to be answered about how this all came about, and that is that the AFP was tipped off about this smuggling ring?

PLIBERSEK: Yes, it’s another one of those things I think is best discussed sometime down the track. We would-

EASTLEY: But it needs to be discussed, you say?

PLIBERSEK: Look it would obviously have been much, much better if this whole group of nine people were arrested coming back into Australia. It would’ve been better if they were dealt with in the Australian legal system. I have, I’m sure- I’ve been contacted by a lot of people saying that they would’ve liked to have seen these young people convicted and indeed serving long gaol sentences in Australia, but here in Australia.

LANDERS: Tanya Plibersek, we thank you very much for joining us today.

PLIBERSEK: Thank you, Kim, thank you, Tony.


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TRANSCRIPT - Weekend Sunrise, Saturday 14 February 2015

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SUBJECT: Bali Nine. 


ANDREW O’KEEFE, PRESENTER: Time is running out for the Bali Nine pair on death row. Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran clinging to the hope that Indonesia's President may grant clemency.

MONIQUE WRIGHT, PRESENTER: Now both Australian political parties put aside their differences this week to appeal for mercy. Including Deputy Labor Leader, Tanya Plibersek, who knows first-hand what a difference a second chance can make.

TANYA PLIBERSEK, DEPUTY LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION [footage]: I perhaps have a particular view on remorse and redemption because of experiences in my own life. In 1988, my husband left prison after being charged and convicted of a similar crime to these young men. I imagine what would have happened if he had been caught in Thailand, instead of in Australia where that crime was committed - where he was coming back to Australia. I think about - I didn't know him at the time, this is 30 years ago. What would the world have missed out on? Well, they would have missed out on the three beautiful children that we have had together, they would have missed out on a man who spent the rest of his life making amends for the crime that he committed.

O’KEEFE: Tanya Plibersek joins us now. Morning to you, Tanya.

PLIBERSEK: Good morning.

O’KEEFE: You’ll be far too modest to say this but knowing your husband, Michael, just a little bit, he is an incredibly dedicated public servant and just a beautiful man. Can you tell us a little bit about his road to redemption?

PLIBERSEK: Well, I wouldn't normally have talked about my personal life in Parliament in this way but I thought it was important to share this story at this time because he made a terrible mistake 30 years ago. He did a really bad thing. He acknowledges that. But he has actually spent three decades trying to serve our community to make up for it. I thought about these young men, that they should have that second chance too, to - I am not saying that they shouldn't be punished, of course they should be. They have done something really seriously wrong, and in fact punishment has to be part of it. But to have a second opportunity to reform themselves and to return something to society, I think that that is something that everyone should be granted, that opportunity for a second chance.

WRIGHT: And in fact, they have been given the chance to rehabilitate in prison which they have done. Yet, it almost seems as if that's not being rewarded. You also have another personal perspective on this. This is through your brother, Philip's murder.

PLIBERSEK: Well, the reason this is relevant is because we need to - we don't live in a society where we take an eye for an eye or a tooth for a tooth any more. We don't see gaol as retribution. It's punishment so that people can improve themselves and turn their lives around. I mentioned Philip's death because if you had let me make the decision then, I could not have thought of a punishment bad enough. But I am glad that we live in a society where we make decisions about punishment based on universal rules, rules that apply - you think through the rules and then you apply them without fear or favour to anyone. I think that's a really important principle in our justice system today. We don't let emotion run away with us. We apply the rules consistently.

O’KEEFE: I mean, some people would say that that's what the Indonesian government are doing. They are not letting the personal stories of Andrew and Myuran get in the way of the application of their universal principle of capital punishment. So...

PLIBERSEK: I understand, Andrew, why people say they are in Indonesia, they are under Indonesian law. I think a lot of Australians have said that. I understand why people say that. But the truth is, that there have been a range of sentences given to drug dealers in Indonesia and I would also say that the Indonesian government is lobbying around the world for its own people. They have got around 300 people on death row in other countries. They are lobbying for their own people not to be put to death. So I am sure the Indonesian government understands how Australians feel about Australians being put to death in Indonesia. No one is saying these young men shouldn't be punished. They’ve clearly done the wrong thing. It's the type of punishment. Because this isn't just a punishment for these two men, it is a punishment for their families too. Taking these young men away from their families, that is forever for their poor mothers and their parents. This is forever. I think it really weakens the Indonesian argument for their own citizens on death row in other countries if they are applying the death penalty in Indonesia.

WRIGHT: You stood in solidarity this week with Foreign Minister Julie Bishop. She has said that there is a risk Australians will boycott Bali in particular, us being their largest tourist dollar.

O’KEEFE: There seems to be an online movement towards that already.

WRIGHT: What do you think about that? That people are feeling like this may be the only way that they can show- they have signed the petition. Nothing seeming to work. Well, we are going to show with our dollars.

PLIBERSEK: I understand why people want to do that but I actually think the stronger argument with the Indonesian government is if you want your own people off death row in other countries, then you have to show mercy at home. I've been to Bali a few times, probably like most Australians. I always found that the Balinese people were incredibly warm and welcoming of Australians. Bali is a long way from Jakarta. I am really not sure that boycotting Bali is going to make much of a difference to attitudes in Jakarta.

O’KEEFE: Yeah, you would imagine it would cause the Balinese economy to collapse as well, given that a million Australians went there last year.

PLIBERSEK: And when you have been there, you see that Balinese culture is quite unique in Indonesia. It's not the same as Javanese culture. I think my sense was always for example, after the Bali bombings, after the Marriott Hotel bombings in Jakarta, the Balinese people stood in solidarity with Australians. In fact I was in Bali when the Marriott Hotel bombings occurred and I remember sitting on Jimbaran beach and seeing some young Balinese man flying a kite that had a tail hanging off the back of it that said, I better not say the word on television, but "mm Terrorism". You know, just wanting to express that they were so against the attack on the Westin hotel, the targeting of Australians.

WRIGHT: It's an awful thought to think that Balinese people would suffer. I also understand how Australians might be feeling, that they just are powerless, this is might be the only way they can do something.

PLIBERSEK: Yeah that’s right, it's easy to understand the point of view but I am not really sure that boycotting Bali makes a difference in Jakarta unfortunately.

O’KEEFE: Ultimately though, this is a question of what a person can do to redeem themselves and to contribute to society when we don't apply the death penalty, in the way that your husband has done so admirably. Tanya, thank you so much for joining us this morning.

PLIBERSEK: Thank you.


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TRANSCRIPT - 4BC, Friday 13 February 2015

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SUBJECT: Bali Nine. 


LORETTA RYAN, PRESENTER: Tanya Plibersek, the Deputy Leader of the Opposition joins us now. Tanya, that must have been a pretty hard and emotional time for you in Parliament yesterday. Why did you decide to share your story?

TANYA PLIBERSEK, DEPUTY LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION: Well I don’t normally talk about my personal life at work. But I think these two young men, Mr Chan and Mr Sukumaran, in Indonesia, I feel so sorry for them. You know, they’ve absolutely done the wrong thing and I think it’s quite proper that they serve a very long gaol sentence and maybe even the rest of their lives if that’s what Indonesia law says. But the reason I shared my story yesterday was because thirty years ago my husband did something very wrong, but he’s managed to turn his life around and more importantly he makes a really strong contribution to our community now as a father, as a husband and through his work as well. And I just wish for these young men that they have the same opportunity to repay their debt to society. No one’s saying they haven’t done the wrong thing, of course they’ve done the wrong thing, they’ve done something very seriously wrong. But taking away their lives doesn’t help our society in any way, it just means that they can’t repay the debt.

SKIPPEN: You’re right, Tanya. I thought it was brave of you yesterday,  and I know you’ve never shirked that- I knew your story and your husband’s story before, but to share it in the public forum now on record in the Federal Parliament, I thought it was a very, very brave move by you. Do you get disappointed by the, I guess it’s a red neck attitude from elements of our society here, when they say ‘well they’ve done the crime, they knew what could’ve happened to them, so it’s going to happen now, so suck it up’?

PLIBERSEK: I actually do understand that point of view. It is true that if you are in another country, you abide by the laws of that country. I completely respect the Indonesian government’s right to set harsh penalties to what they see as a huge problem. They’ve got a lot of people dying from drug abuse in Indonesia so I’m not surprised that they’re trying to tackle it in a tough way. I understand people saying ‘you’re in Indonesia, you abide by Indonesia laws’, that’s true. I’m not arguing that Indonesian laws shouldn’t be applied, what I’m asking for is mercy and the opportunity for these two young men to repay their debt to society. Nobody’s saying they shouldn’t have been caught, they shouldn’t have been convicted. I completely accept all of that.

The point is, if you take their lives, does it really teach anyone not to do the same crime? There’s a lot of evidence that says the death penalty is not a deterrent. If it was a deterrent, you wouldn’t have countries like the United States that have very tough applications of the death penalty, you’d have less crime there but it hasn’t shown up as less crime in the United States. So I guess the question is, are you just punishing these young men as an act of retribution or is it a genuine - I mean, they can’t reform themselves if this punishment is carried out. The other thing, I guess, I really think about a lot is, if Michael had been in this situation thirty years ago, if he had been caught in a country with the death penalty, his mother would’ve - that would’ve been the end of her. As it is now, she suffered through a lot when he went to gaol, as these young men’s families are suffering with them, but to have their lives taken away, that’s a life sentence for their families too.

RYAN: Tanya, we’re trying to save them at the eleventh hour, was enough done before this years ago? Couldn’t we have done something to plead for their mercy then?

PLIBERSEK: A lot of work has been going on over very many years. Every Prime Minister, the last five Prime Ministers have raised this at a presidential level each time they’ve met with the Indonesian President. Most of this work is being done behind the scenes. All of our diplomatic advice has been that making a big scene and a carry on is really counterproductive. So at a Prime Ministerial to a Presidential level, Foreign Minister to Foreign Minister, when I met the previous Foreign Minister in Indonesia, every time, the case of these young men has been raised. And we’ve even used in more recent times a whole lot of other Australian business people working in Indonesia, former Ambassadors, all sorts of people who might have some influence. But that’s all been done behind the scenes because all of our advice has been that making an issue of it would be counterproductive.

SKIPPEN: Looks like at the moment we have a new President who wants to make a mark. We appreciate your time this morning and thank you so much for sharing your story on the Federal floor yesterday.

PLIBERSEK: Thank you for inviting me onto the show.


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2UE, Thursday 12 February 2015

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SUBJECT:  Bali Nine.


JUSTIN SMITH, PRESENTER: Ms Plibersek, thank you for your time.


SMITH: Again, I thought you both did a terrific job in trying to get this across. The fear is that this is going to fall on deaf ears, isn’t it?

PLIBERSEK: Well I don’t think we can give up yet. I think it’s very important that we continue to use all of our relationships with Indonesia, the formal relationships, informal relationships to contact the Indonesian Government and say that we understand that these young men have done something wrong, we accept that they will be in gaol for a very long time, but we plead for their lives.

SMITH: You, I believe, have only in the last few minutes received an updated briefing. Are you able to give us any more detail?

PLIBERSEK: I spoke to the Foreign Minister during Question Time but I believe that you’ll be speaking to her after 4 o’clock so I think it’s better if she talks through those things. We have been in constant contact but I’ve been very careful not to speak publicly in any way that might jeopardise the fate of these boys.

SMITH: No, look, I think that’s a testimony to the way that you’ve both behaved on this and I congratulate you for it. I’ll get that detail off her at 4 o’clock. And as I mentioned before, I played part of what you said in the House today, this is personal for you, isn’t it? Your husband in 1986 received a nine year sentence for, I think it is conspiracy, to import narcotics and I- as I said before, I’ve not met your husband but, I think you’ll back me up on this one, I heard that he’s a ripping bloke but also he is a terrific public servant and has spent the rest of his life trying to be a good father, husband and do good deeds but he could have been put to death as well, couldn’t he?

PLIBERSEK: And I guess that’s why it was- I mean, I’ve always opposed the death penalty and my opposition to it is based on the principle that governments shouldn’t kill its citizens or citizens of other nations, that it’s not the right thing to do from a moral standpoint, I don’t agree with it. But personally, of course it made me think what would have happened if Michael had been picked up leaving Thailand, that was the place that he was coming from, instead of coming into Australia, or if he had been coming from some other nation, of course I think that and I would never had met him and I wouldn’t know what I was missing out on. But his poor mother would have suffered the rest of her life and we wouldn’t have had the three beautiful children that we’ve got. He wouldn’t have been able to repay his debt to society which he tries to do every day.

SMITH: He is a person that you can hold up and say ‘hey, people do stupid things, they even do evil things, and drugs is an evil business and let’s not dance around it, but they can become good people’. And I think Chris Bowen, your colleague, said on Q&A the other night, I thought it was a terrific sentiment which is that these guys, the ringleaders of the Bali Nine should actually be poster people for rehabilitation.

PLIBERSEK: And I think that’s an important thing to say. The person who has committed the crime has to genuinely be contrite. They have to genuinely accept that they have done the wrong thing, that they deserve to be punished and they have a debt to society that they need to repay. These two young men, Mr Chan and Mr Sukumaran, by all accounts, including the gaol governor, they’ve made a huge effort to rehabilitate themselves and to help other prisoners, to improve- to raise money for victims of Typhoon Haiyan, improve the conditions of the gaol, teach English, improve the quality of life for the other prisoners. So, I think- I’m not saying that they don’t deserve to be punished. I think it’s very important that we have strong laws and drug importation is a terrible crime because it hurts a lot of people. But if someone has genuinely- they genuinely accept that they have done the wrong thing, they are being punished, I’m not sure how the death penalty actually benefits anyone in that situation.

SMITH: Brazil and the Netherlands withdrew their ambassadors. Would you support something like that? I mean, do we need to start looking at something like that?

PLIBERSEK: Look I think it’s very important that while we’re advocating for the lives of these two young men, that’s what we focus on. I think it’s very important that all of our conversations at the moment are specifically about these boys and we don’t start getting into those kind of hypotheticals. I think it’s quite a dangerous thing to do at this stage.

SMITH: But to withdraw them, our Ambassador now, would be dangerous? I’m not talking about a protest, Tanya, I’m not talking about a protest afterwards, I’m talking about one right now.

PLIBERSEK: Actually we’ve got an acting ambassador in Indonesia at the moment, our permanent ambassador- we’re just between ambassadors at the moment. So the one who’s gone there now hasn’t been sworn in yet, of course he’s doing the job that he’s supposed to be doing. But it’s a little bit of a complicated diplomatic situation. And I think, Justin, we really need to focus, the thing right in the middle of our minds is what will help these boys best. We are taking a lot of diplomatic advice from our Department of Foreign Affairs, from former diplomats, from senior business people, Australians who are working in Indonesia and I think it’s important to follow their advice because they will understand what will be most effective with the Indonesian Government.

SMITH: Is there a- I’m not suggesting that people in the Australian government don’t know what they’re doing, or our diplomats don’t know what they’re doing, but is there something here that we’re not getting? Is there some connection between Australia and Indonesia that is not there? We think we understand the Indonesian Government, we think we understand the new president, but in a way we just don’t, we just simply don’t.

PLIBERSEK: I think we understand them but we have a fundamental disagreement because Australia dispensed of the death penalty many decades ago. We signed international conventions that urge other countries to also move away from the death penalty. We are opposed to the death penalty not just in Indonesia, but with our ally the United States, with China, our major trading partner. We oppose it whenever and wherever. And the Indonesians, they haven’t used it often, particularly in the last decade, but they think that the death penalty is an important part of the range of punishments that they can use. So we’ve got quite a fundamental different approach.

SMITH: Well, again, well done on the way you spoke today. You sounded upset there. The Foreign Minister sounded also very, very emotional. This is an awful thing that is going to happen.

PLIBERSEK: Well I think the Foreign Minister was particularly upset when she was talking about the family of Mr Chan and Mr Sukumaran and I think it’s hard not be moved by the great loss you can see their mothers, sisters and so on anticipating. They are beside themselves because of course it’s every parent’s horror scenario that their child might die. It’s hard not be moved by that, I think all of us have seen it on TV. And I guess it’s a real feature of this punishment, it’s not just a punishment for the criminal, it’s a punishment for everyone who loves them.

SMITH: Thank you very much for talking to me, I appreciate it.

PLIBERSEK: Thank you, Justin.


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TRANSCRIPT - ABC 702, Thursday 12 February 2015

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The Hon Tanya Plibersek MP

Deputy Leader of the Opposition

Shadow Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Development





ABC 702



Subject/s: Clemency for MR Chan and mr sukumaran.


RICHARD GLOVER, PRESENTER: Tanya Plibersek is on the line, hello Tanya.


GLOVER: Good we just listened to both Julie Bishop’s speech and your speech. They were both very powerful, very emotional, connected into things you’d experienced, in her case meeting the family. But in your family I imagine there was part of you that never wants to mention your husband’s dark past yet you did so today.

PLIBERSEK: Richard I don’t normally talk about it. I spoke about that 30 years ago my husband was charged and convicted of a similar crime to these two young men, and I don’t normally talk about it but I felt so strongly that a story of a person able to redeem themselves and lead a productive life and repay at least part of their debt to society is an important one to tell.

GLOVER: Redemption is possible you’ve seen it with your own eyes.

PLIBERSEK: It’s not about me today Richard, there are so many examples of people around us who have done something wrong and they should be punished, they should suffer the consequences of their actions. I’m certainly not arguing these young men shouldn’t be in gaol. But the point is people do go on to live productive lives where they can help other people and perhaps contribute something back to society and if they lose their lives they lose that opportunity.

GLOVER: You made the point that had he committed a similar crime in Indonesia or Malaysia a lot of things wouldn’t have happened for you or anyone else, he’d be dead.

PLIBERSEK: Well Michael was picked up coming back from Thailand to Australia. If he had been picked up in Thailand he would have had a very different experience. If he’d been picked up in Indonesia or many other countries he would have had a different experience. He went to rehab and he went to gaol. And it was quite right that he went to gaol. In fact I think he’d be the first person to say it was important that he face the consequences of his actions but thirty years later he’s a very productive member of society. We’ve got three beautiful children and I think that as a community it’s very important to know that people should face the consequences of their crimes, should be punished but also should have an opportunity to repay through their living service to their community.

GLOVER: Prison often ends up with more drugs, more crime back in prison. It’s a revolving door. Do you understand what it was about him that managed to produce a different outcome to that?

PLIBERSEK: You’d have to talk to him. Look I think he had a loving family I think that certainly helps. I think he genuinely experience contrition. I think that genuinely helps. I think to face the fact that you’ve done something deeply wrong, you really want to change your behaviour. And I guess the background to his story is that he was using and addicted to drugs when he became involved in a conspiracy to import drugs and he was able to stop using drugs with the help of the Salvation Army rehab and of course that makes a world of difference too.

GLOVER: And he says, I think you say this too, that every day he tries to make amends. He’s conscious of it every day.

PLIBERSEK: And I think every day he does.

GLOVER: That’s amazing isn’t it.

PLIBERSEK: Yes it is.

GLOVER: You’re obviously proud of him.

PLIBERSEK: Yes I am and I think about the families of these two young men and I think about Michael’s mother and she would have suffered the last thirty years if she’d lost her son, as these young men are facing. The punishment is not just for the offender it’s for everyone who loves them, whatever their faults and failings. When I talk about these things I don’t mean to minimise the seriousness of the crime that they are charged with. The crime, had they been allowed to complete it, would have done a lot of damage to people. I think it’s important to acknowledge that and say that our sympathy for people facing the death penalty doesn’t absolve them of responsibility for what they’ve done wrong. But as I said in my speech today about three and a half thousand years ago our first codified laws were written down on the Stela of Hammurabi which included an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth. But I’m not sure that that really serves us well today.

GLOVER: You mentioned your three children as an outcome of his continuing life today, was it hard to tell them about what dad had done?

PLIBERSEK: Yeah it was actually really hard but they have kind of accepted it in their stride because it’s like it happened to a different person it’s so far removed from the man they know. I mean anyone telling their kids what they were like as a teenager, your kids kind of roll their eyes and don’t really believe you anyway because they only think of you as the boring parent they see every day. Yeah it was awkward and I wondered… there’s two things I want my kids to learn from it, the idea of redemption and forgiveness but there’s also the idea that if you do something wrong you have to face the consequences and sometimes that involves facing up to punishments too.

GLOVER: And contrition has to be genuine.

PLIBERSEK: Well of course, it’s not contrition if it’s not.

GLOVER: He told you on the first date, that’s a bit of a date spoiler isn’t it?

PLIBERSEK: It was not quite the conversation I thought we’d be having at the end of the Thai meal on Oxford Street. I had no idea when I met him about any of this and his history and it came as quite a surprise. I think the stranger thing was not that I was prepared to look beyond it and accept him as he was then, but that my parents were able to do that. When I introduced him to my parents a couple of weeks later I told them about Michael’s background and they were always just kind and loving to him and treated him in the way that they were raised to treat people which is with generosity.

GLOVER: Well you either believe in redemption and the possibility of paying for your crimes and then moving on. We either believe in that or we don’t. And if we do believe in it… and it’s quite interesting a few years ago that Melbourne criminal who wrote the children’s book, I’ve forgotten the name right now. Chopper Reid. I was a bit conflicted about it, a bit confused about it because he’s on the publicity circuit and I said to people right here, should we have him on? Because he’d done pretty serious crime but he’s written, he’s out of prison and he’s written this book and I was always surprised by the reaction which was ‘he’s done his time.’  That was the reaction, he’s done his time, of course if the book's any good interview him about the book. It’s no good saying to someone who’s done their time ‘you can never have a proper job again you can never make a contribution again. It’s not only unfit, it’s a recipe for disaster.

PLIBERSEK: But there is the responsibility on the person who’s done the crime to never behave like that again. That’s the important part of his story too, that you do have a debt to pay. That you do foreswear the behaviour that got you into trouble in the first place. You have to be as I said earlier, genuinely contrite. And these two young men in the Indonesian gaol Mr Chan and Mr Sukumaran are by all accounts, they are model prisoners. The Governor of the gaol in Indonesia says that they are model prisoners and that they set a good example for other prisoners. They’ve done charity work, improving the conditions of the gaol, raising money for the victims of Typhoon Haiyan. They should have the opportunity to dedicate the rest of their lives to making things better for the people around them.

GLOVER: And as Julie Bishop said in her speech to Parliament how amazing it is that other prisoners are offering to go to the execution in their stead they feel so strongly about these two.

PLIBERSEK: Well they’ve got a lot of supporters in the gaol, in the system there, the authorities and by all reports they are not just contrite but trying to do something good with the rest of their lives and I’m not really sure what purpose it serves to take away that opportunity to repay their debt.

GLOVER: Thank you for talking to me. It must be hard to talk here but also talk to parliament about such personal things. Thank you very much.

PLIBERSEK: Thank you Richard.


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TRANSCRIPT - 3AW, Thursday 12 February

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SUBJECT:  Bali Nine.


TOM ELLIOTT, PRESENTER: Ms Plibersek, good afternoon.

TANYA PLIBERSEK, DEPUTY LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION: Thank you, Tom. Thank you for inviting me on.

ELLIOTT: Well look, I saw your speech, I didn’t see it live, but I watched it on television and it was a very powerful speech, and I also watched what the Foreign Minister did. Tell us why this issue touches you so personally.

PLIBERSEK: Well the first thing to say is that I’m always opposed to the death penalty, whoever, wherever, I think it’s always wrong. But today in the Parliament I spoke about one of the reasons I feel that way. About thirty years ago, before I knew him, my husband was charged and convicted of a similar crime to these two young men and of course it makes me think what would have happened if he faced the same penalty that they’re facing. He went to gaol, he was caught in Australia but he went to gaol and he served his time in gaol and he’s spent the rest of his life repaying his debt to society. And by all accounts, these two young men are also doing their very best to redeem themselves, to reform their behaviour, to help other prisoners and I hope they have the same opportunity. I think there’s no question they’ve done the wrong thing, they should have a very long time in gaol. I’m not arguing that they haven’t done the wrong thing. But I think the problem with the death penalty is you never have an opportunity to repay your debt to society.

ELLIOTT: Did your husband tell you that the gaol reformed him, I’ve read that he spent I think it was three years in places like Long Bay and other gaols in NSW. Did it have a reforming effect on him?

PLIBERSEK: I think in a way it saved his life. He spent a year in rehab before he went to gaol and then in gaol and facing the consequences of what he did, you know, cutting off drugs, that was very hard, but facing the hurt that he’d caused to society, facing the hurt that he’d caused to his family and the people that loved him was very important in him changing his life completely.

ELLIOTT: The Indonesian President Widodo has said he will not give in to pressure from Australia and change his government’s policy on carrying out death sentences. Do you think it helps Chan and Sukumaran when the Foreign Minister makes speeches like the one that she made and you make speeches like the one you made or do you think that might even make this situation a bit worse?

PLIBERSEK: Well, Tom, we’ve been working together for a long time now behind the scenes. There has been many bipartisan efforts on behalf of these young men and we’ve been taking the advice of our diplomats that it wasn’t the right time to make our pleas public. We’ve received advice now that it is the right time to be more public in our pleas so we’ve done that. But this is not the first time that Julie Bishop and I have worked together on this, it’s been some months now. We’ve written together to the Indonesian Foreign Minister and we’ve worked together to use all of our diplomatic channels, all of our informal connections to plead for the lives of these young men.

ELLIOTT: Do you think it might work? I mean, do you think there’s a chance the Indonesians might at the very last moment say ‘look, we’ve changed our minds, we’ve heard what the Australian Government has to say and we’re going to commute your sentence’?

PLIBERSEK: Well, Tom, of course we respect the Indonesian law and the right of the Indonesian government to apply their own laws. But we also understand that the Indonesian government have hundreds of their own people on death row in countries around the world and they plead for the lives of their citizens too. I think it makes it much more difficult for the Indonesian government to plead for mercy or clemency for their own people if they’re not showing it in situations like the one we’re talking about with Mr Chan and Mr Sukumaran.

ELLIOTT: I’ve had a lot of calls on this program and another program on 3AW as I’m sure radio stations around Australia have, saying ‘well, look, my child has been badly affected by drugs, our family has been affected by drugs, stuff Chan and Sukumaran, they deserve what’s coming to them’. What would you say to people who think like that?

PLIBERSEK: I understand why people think like that. Anybody who’s watched someone they love face drug addiction knows that it is terrible, it is devastating, it robs you of the person you love and leaves you with a shell of a person. I understand why families feel hurt and I understand the terrible things that drug addicted people do. And the reason my husband, he doesn’t use this as an excuse, but the reason he committed the crime he committed was because he was a drug addicted teenager. So I don’t make any excuses for drug dealers. What I say is taking someone’s life away means that they never have the opportunity to repay their debt to society. I don’t think it stops other people committing similar crimes, all it does is take away someone’s opportunity to make amends for what they did.

ELLIOTT: Tanya Plibersek, thank you so much for your time.

PLIBERSEK: Thank you very much for inviting me on the show.


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TRANSCRIPT - Sky AM Agenda, Thursday, 12 February 2015

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SUBJECTS:  Submarines; Report into children in detention; Mr Chan and Mr Sukumaran; Abbott Government’s foreign aid cuts.


KIERAN GILBERT, PRESENTER: Joining me first this morning on the program, the Shadow Foreign Minister, Tanya Plibersek. It’s another disturbing reminder of the level of this threat at the moment, of course as if we needed it after December.

TANYA PLIBERSEK, DEPUTY LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION: Well it’s reassuring of course to know that our security and intelligence and policing forces are able to protect us in this way. We are of course expecting further briefings on the two men who have been arrested and the information that led to their arrest.

GILBERT: Sure, let’s, I want to discuss a number of issues with you this morning. The submarine issue, what is Labor concerned about here in terms of the process? Yesterday David Feeney asked the Prime Minister had he done a deal, or anyone on his behalf, with the Japanese leadership. Is that your suspicion as to what’s going on here?

PLIBERSEK: So there’s two things. It’s important to remember that the Government promised to build twelve submarines in Adelaide, before the election they said very clearly they’d build all twelve subs in Adelaide. What’s happened since then is a great deal of confusion about whether a deal has already been made with Japan, to buy the submarines in Japan. The proper thing to do when you’re spending tens of billions of taxpayers’ money is do a properly funded evaluation of what we need in our future submarines, the exact capacity that we need in those submarines, and then to go out to a competitive tender process where companies that believe they could supply that sort of capacity in submarines are able to tender. It was extraordinary that the Australian Submarine Corporation seemed locked out of the ability to bid for tens of billions of dollars of work to be done in South Australia.

GILBERT: Well they’re now back in though, they’re back into the process

PLIBERSEK: Here’s the thing. What a shambles of a process. It looks like, as Senator Edwards has said, it looks like on Friday, last Friday, they weren’t allowed to bid, and by Monday they were allowed to bid. How did that decision get made over the weekend when all these phone calls were going around about leadership challenges? It looks like the Prime Minister may have made a commitment to the Japanese but because his job was under threat in the leadership challenge he’s made a commitment to Senator Edwards. He’s now broken that commitment to Senator Edwards it seems. This kind of confusion is unacceptable when we’re talking about tens of billions of dollars of taxpayer funds and even more importantly, the defence of our nation.

GILBERT: And my understanding is from the National Security Committee, sources within the Government told me that no decision has been made on this so while the Prime Minister might have had a hand shake with the Japanese Prime Minister, no final decision from the NSC has been made on the submarine acquisition, any part of it.

PLIBERSEK: Is that how we make decisions about our defence equipment now? We do handshake deals at the side of international meetings? If it is the case that there is a handshake deal, that’s appalling. You actually need a proper, methodical process. We’ve got a defence white paper underway, you need to do a funded study that looks at exactly what we need from our submarines. The sort of distances they need to go, speeds, noise profiles, how they are able to operate with submarines and other defence equipment from other nations that are our allies - and none of that is being done. It is just an extraordinary shambles of a process.

GILBERT: Have you heard any, obviously you have connections with the diplomatic corps in Canberra, have you heard concerns from the Japanese, Germans, French or anyone else personally about the way that this is being managed?

PLIBERSEK: Absolutely.

GILBERT: Or is Labor whipping this up?

PLIBERSEK: No. Absolutely, I’ve had a number of representations by other nations that believe that they could make submarines that would meet our requirements. But none of this should be decided on the basis of lobbying or our diplomatic relations with other nations - or hope that we will make friends with other nations because we’re buying their submarines-

GILBERT: Have the Japanese been in touch?

PLIBERSEK: I’m not going to talk about individual approaches or discussions I’ve had, but what I would say is that when you’re making a decision about the defence of our nation worth tens of billions of dollars that these submarines will be one of our most important defences for the next three or four decades, you don’t just make it up as you go along.

GILBERT: The Bali Nine, this looks like a terrible situation, Jokowi, the Indonesian President, has again said he’s not going to show any clemency, he’s taken a very hard line. He’s in a very difficult position politically early on in his presidency, it looks like sadly this is inevitable, that the two young men will be put to death.

PLIBERSEK: I don’t accept that it’s inevitable. I think it’s very important that we continue to use all of our connections and all of our diplomatic efforts to plead for clemency for these two young men. Nobody thinks that they don’t deserve to be punished for what they did, what they did is very wrong and very serious. But we always oppose the death penalty and it’s been very important that Australia opposes the death penalty, not just for our citizens in other nations, but that we say in a principled way that we speak to our allies about the death penalty and say that it’s never right. We also of course want to give all our support to the two young men and their families. It looks like they’ve made efforts to reform themselves and we urge the Indonesian Government to take that into account.

GILBERT: It looks like hypocrisy from the Indonesia authorities as well given they lobby other countries to declare clemency, or give clemency, to their citizens when they’re on death row, and yet there’s no such clemency here.

PLIBERSEK: I think it shows that it’s important that Australia has a principled opposition to the death penalty wherever and for whoever it’s applied to.

GILBERT: Let’s finish up on the immigration detention report. Well, actually I want to ask you about aid as well. But on the immigration issue, this Human Rights Commission report has found some really concerning findings here, and largely around the time that Labor was in office, some 2000 children were in detention, now the Government’s got that number under 200, so that’s a good outcome isn’t it? The humanitarian dividend from their tough line on boats.

PLIBERSEK: There should be as few children or no children in detention. I think unfortunately we haven’t had an opportunity to read the report in its entirety. We’ve only just received it. The Government’s had it for several months but we’ve only just received it. But from the reports that I’ve read, and from my own understanding on this issue, I know that children shouldn’t be in detention, it’s bad for them and we should in the first instance make sure that we process people as quickly as possible, to determine their refugee status as quickly as possible. But I don’t think you need a report to tell you it’s not good for kids to be in detention.

GILBERT: But I guess the question is, the Government cops a lot of flak from some quarters for their hard lines, but when you look at the end result, there are less than 200 children in detention now, there was nearly 2000 in detention in July 2013 under Labor.

PLIBERSEK: And one of the very difficult decisions we made to reduce to number of adults and children in detention was the arrangement that we sought with Malaysia where people could live in the community, they could work, their children could go to school, they could receive medical treatment. Can you understand why the Liberals blocked that arrangement? I have never had it explained to me in any credible way why the Liberals stopped that arrangement with Malaysia that would have let kids live in the community and go to school.

GILBERT: Today you’re going to be giving a speech on the issue of foreign aid. Will Labor commit to reinstate the aid cuts that have been made over the last couple of years?

PLIBERSEK: There’s no way that we can replace everything that’s been cut in the short term. We’ll have to look at the medium term to repair the aid budget. This Government’s cut $11.2 billion now from the aid budget. At every mid-year economic update and the Budget last May, more cuts were made. In the Budget last May, $1 of every $5 of all the cuts that were made came from this one program, the aid budget. This means, say 2 million kids who won’t get to go to school, or 3 ¾ million kids who won’t be vaccinated. These are cuts beyond the- the magnitude of the cuts are really beyond imagining. So $11.2 billion in one go? That’s going to be next to impossible-

GILBERT: But didn’t Kevin Rudd give the Government political cover by delaying the increase when Labor was in government? You delayed the trajectory to meet the millennium development goals and that’s given the Government political cover?

PLIBERSEK: So while we were in government we doubled the aid budget and the growth slowed slightly during the Global Financial Crisis. We would’ve reached 0.5 per cent, the target, the bipartisan target that John Howard started, of 0.5 per cent of our Gross National Income going to the aid budget. We would’ve reached that in 2017/18, so very shortly we would’ve gotten to 0.5 per cent of GNI. Under the growth projections for the Liberal Government, we will never get to 0.5 per cent and in fact the share of our national income is the lowest that it’s been since records were kept.

GILBERT: But some of the goals that Labor had set were unrealistic, weren’t they? Because our aid spend was not the quality, how do you sustain the quality and our apparatus to shovel out the money, it was growing at that big of a rate?

PLIBERSEK: I think that’s a problem that our non-government organisations would be very happy to help with. The fact that we were putting money into aid and it was growing quickly is a much better problem to have than the problem they’ve got at the moment where they’ve contracted with partners on the ground and they’re having to cancel programs. Kids aren’t going to go to school, kids aren’t being vaccinated, babies will be born without skilled birth attendants, girls won’t be going to school because of these cuts. They will have a very serious impact on the real lives of people. I think that’s the bigger problem.

GILBERT: Tanya Plibersek, thanks very much for your time.

PLIBERSEK: Thank you.


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TRANSCRIPT - ABC News Breakfast, Tuesday, 10 February 2015

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SUBJECT/S:  Liberal leadership chaos; Liberal’s unfair budget; NSW Election; Broken Promise on Submarines; Bali 9 Death Sentences 


MICHAEL ROWLAND, PRESENTER: I am joined by the Deputy Labor Leader Plibersek. Good morning to you, thanks for your time.


ROWLAND: How do you see it ending for the Liberal Party?

PLIBERSEK: I think it's only a matter of time. The reason is – I've been out talking to ordinary Australians in Queensland and Victoria and NSW in particular in recent months, nobody says to me that after 17 months of an Abbott Government they feel better off.  And the problem of course is not the leader.  It doesn't matter whether it's Malcolm Turnbull, whether it's Julie Bishop, Scott Morrison, any of the alternatives. The problem is the policies. We've got Tony Abbott of course hanging on yesterday. I think the numbers show that probably two-thirds of his backbench voted against him, that is not a good sign for any leader. But I still say the problem is not Tony Abbott the person, the problem is $100,000 university degrees, the broken promise on Gonski school education funding, cuts to hospital funding, the GP Tax. All of these things are seen as deeply unfair by ordinary Australians and that's why they're rejecting the agenda of this Liberal Government.

ROWLAND: Lots of happy faces among Labor MPs in Question Time yesterday. Isn't it the case that you escaped your worst nightmare yesterday, a Malcolm Turnbull prime ministership?

PLIBERSEK: Our worst nightmare is the fact that country is not being governed properly at the moment. Seventeen months of a Liberal Government, the deficit has doubled, debt is unlimited, unemployment is some of the highest we have seen in 12 years, our worst nightmare is a country that is not being stewarded properly, an agenda signed up to by all of the potential leadership aspirants that is all about unfairness.

ROWLAND: Voters could say the same thing during the circus of the Rudd-Gillard-Rudd leadership as well - the country not being governed.

PLIBERSEK: And we have learned our lessons from that. We are a united, focused team and it would be good to have a united focused Government.

ROWLAND: Isn’t it the case though and Newspoll confirmed yesterday that a lot of Labor voters really like Malcolm Turnbull. He is the last person the Opposition wants to see as its opponent.

PLIBERSEK: I think when Malcolm Turnbull says like he did to 2GB's Ray Hadley that he supports every single measure in the current Budget, it will be interesting to see how long they like him for. Malcolm Turnbull has done a good job of trying to distance himself from the unfair decisions made by Tony Abbott, Joe Hockey and all of the Cabinet at Budget time. He hasn't been campaigning out there enthusiastically for the Government agenda. Unless Malcolm Turnbull is prepared to say what he repudiates in the Budget in May and actually makes some serious changes, then he will go the same way. It's the policies that people are rejecting.

ROWLAND: Bill Shorten says this will be the year of policy advancement and announcement by the Labor Party. When will we see some real policies from the Opposition?

PLIBERSEK: We have already made a number of very important policy announcements, like Labor continues to be committed to real action on climate change. We have said that we will cooperate with the Government on areas where we agree with them. We have supported $20 billion worth of measures in the last Budget that provide savings and revenue over time. So the idea we are not being positive and cooperative is absolutely not right. What we won't cooperate with is the negative attacks on Medicare, on GP services, against the livelihoods of GPs, the broken promises on the Gonski school education funding reform, $100,000 degrees and so on.

ROWLAND: But there is more to come, policies on job creation, sustaining economic growth. When can we see those?

PLIBERSEK: Of course you will see them. We have at least all of this year, we hope, before a Federal election. And Labor will be making policy announcements all through the course of the year.

ROWLAND: Now, the next big contest is the NSW election. Still a lot of concern within Liberal ranks about Tony Abbott being a drag on the Liberal Party vote there. Isn't it the case Tanya Plibersek that it's a long, long time before NSW voters will be prepared to forgive NSW Labor?

PLIBERSEK: I think that is a bit rich. The Liberal Party have got close to a dozen people that have been named in ICAC and they've got people sitting on the crossbench now have that have had to resign from the Liberal Party because of matters that they were involved in, particularly on the Central Coast. I think it's important to acknowledge that we absolutely have had some very bad apples in the Labor Party and they have been cut down from the Labor Party. They have been - they have had their membership removed and that is quite right. In fact I think if people do the wrong thing, they are robbing the taxpayers of NSW but they're also betraying their comrades in the Labor Party too because we have got branch members out there working hard to deliver great services to the people of NSW - they shouldn't be let down by people in elected positions. But it certainly applies to the Liberal Party as well. I will tell you one thing, Mike Baird is not Campbell Newman. He doesn’t have the same aggressive style. What is missing from Mike Baird is the ability to stand up to Tony Abbott. When Tony Abbott cuts $10 billion from hospital funding over NSW, over the coming years, shouldn't Mike Baird say something about that? Shouldn't he stand up and say ‘Tony Abbott you need to pay the last two years of the Gonski school education funding to our schools’? We have heard nothing from Mike Baird in defence of the people of NSW when his good mate, Tony Abbott, goes after the services that they need.

ROWLAND: A couple of other issues this morning - what do you make of that promise made by the Prime Minister to South Australian Liberal MPs about that submarine project going forward?

PLIBERSEK: This whole process has been absolutely wrong headed. The way you make a major multibillion-dollar defence purchase is you work out what we need. What is it?  What kind of equipment do we need based on the threats to Australia in the future, potential threats to Australia in the future? So you decide what you need and then you go to an open tender process to see who can provide that equipment at the best possible price. Making an announcement about buying submarines from any one company or any one country without having gone through that process, particularly when there is a defence white paper being written was muddle headed and worse from the very beginning. Of course South Australians should be allowed to tender for this. It’s extraordinary that it's taken so long to come to this position.

ROWLAND: And in your capacity as foreign affairs spokeswoman, the families of the Bali Nine ring leaders are in Indonesia making a personal plea to the President there to have those death sentences commuted. Do you fear that all hope is now lost?

PLIBERSEK: I don't fear that all hope is lost. I still hope that the Indonesian Government will give these young men a stay of execution. There is a lot of diplomatic effort going on behind the scenes and I don't want to speak too publicly about that because it can compromise our diplomatic efforts. But all Australians I believe would hope that the these execution will not proceed. Labor has always been firmly opposed to the death penalty, wherever it happens, to whomever it happens.

ROWLAND: Tanya Plibersek, thank you for your time.

PLIBERSEK: Thank you.


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TRANSCRIPT - Doorstop Interview, Berkeley Vale, NSW Central Coast, Monday 2 February 2015

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SUBJECT/S: Liberal cuts and broken promises; Peter Greste’s release; Queensland election; Central Coast environmental issues

TANYA PLIBERSEK, DEPUTY OPPOSITION LEADER: It is a great pleasure to be here on the coast with David Mehan, David Harris and my friend Deb O'Neil talking about both state and federal issues. We have been talking about cost of living issues particularly for seniors today and what we have heard loud and clear is that seniors are really suffering. They are suffering from the $23 billion in pension cuts that Tony Abbott’s made, from the cuts to superannuation, from the plan to increase the pension retirement age. But they are also concerned about a whole range of cost of living issues that don’t just affect them but affect their kids and grandkids. The fact that a family on $60,000 a year is $6500 worse off because of Tony Abbott's budget cuts, the $50 billion cut to hospitals, the $30 billion cut from our schools. But there’s also the effect of Mike Baird's cost of living increases. The increasing cost of electricity, gas, water and of course council rates as well. Did you want to ask...?

JOURNALIST: Yeah, specifically if I could ask you just about your reaction to Peter Greste’s release overnight?

PLIBERSEK: Well of course every Australian is delighted to hear that Peter Greste has been released. I know that his family have been so incredibly supportive and such great advocates for Peter and for the men that he was arrested with. I know that his family will be so relieved to have him back. No journalist should be gaoled for simply doing their job and as pleased as we are to have Peter back I think it is very important that Australia continues to be part of international efforts to see the release of the two colleagues that he was arrested with.

JOURNALIST: Mrs Bishop has already spoken to him, do you intend to get in contact with him?

PLIBERSEK: Well of course I have left a message with his parents this morning, I know that they will be beside themselves with excitement that Peter is returning and I’ll look forward to speaking with him when he has had a chance to have a bit of a rest.

JOURNALIST: It has been a long time but now on his release, were you happy with the way the Government handled it, would you have handled it any differently?

PLIBERSEK: Look I think it’s very important to say that our diplomats were working around the clock to secure Peter Greste’s release. They were doing the best possible job they could, both supporting Peter day to day while he was in gaol, but also working with the Egyptian authorities to secure his release. I certainly hope that our diplomats will continue to advocate for nationals of other countries that are facing the same gaol time that Peter was facing simply for doing his job as a journalist. I think it’s of course been frustrating for all of Peter’s family, friends and supporters that it’s taken so long to secure his release. He was an innocent, he was innocent all along, he was a journalist simply doing his job.

JOURNALIST: Just another question if we get back to local issues but you were part of a government that cut down its leader, what advice have you got for the Coalition now?

PLIBERSEK: Well I think Tony Abbott is obviously facing real problems but the problem is not Tony Abbott, the man, the problem is the Liberal Party, the policy. We saw at the time of the last Budget in May, a range of spectacularly bad decisions about cuts to all of the services that Australian families rely on. Cuts to health, cuts to education, $100,000 university degrees, $23 billion cut to pensions that means aged pensioners will be up to $80 a week worse off. These policies should be junked, they can junk the leader but if they don’t junk the policies they’ll still be in deep trouble

JOURNALIST: We have news coming out today that he’s actually junked his Paid Parental Leave Scheme, is that good news?

PLIBERSEK: Well this was always a dog of a scheme. We’ve been saying for years that this is a dog of a scheme. What kind of government designs a scheme that gives the biggest benefit to the families that already have the most money? It was a flawed scheme from the very beginning. But what we need to see- the thing that is really putting pressure on Australian families are cuts to family tax benefit, and massive cuts to childcare, more than $1 billion cut out of childcare. So Tony Abbott can junk the Paid Parental Leave Scheme but if he doesn’t do something to give families some relief from the cuts that were made in the last Budget, to family tax benefit for example, and the massive cuts, billions of dollars of cuts in childcare, then we’ll be no better off.

JOURNALIST: I guess the March election is certainly drawing closer, does Queensland’s result over the weekend bring a boost to the party?

PLIBERSEK: Well I think the result in Queensland over the weekend is spectacular and Annastacia Palaszczuk should be very proud of the campaign that she ran. She has achieved what many people thought was unachievable. It’s a terrific result and the very, very strong message here is that voters will not accept being lied to. Campbell Newman came in and made a whole lot of promises, he said public servants didn’t need to worry, there wouldn’t be public service job cuts, there wouldn’t be cuts to health or education. Many of the same things Tony Abbott said, no cuts to health, no cuts to education, no cuts to the ABC and SBS, no change to pensions and no new taxes. Tony Abbott’s broken all those promises just as Campbell Newman broke his promises to the voters of Queensland. Campbell Newman’s paid the price, I think Tony Abbott’s paying the price. It’s a very strong message to governments of all persuasions that you can’t promise one thing before election, get elected and do the exact opposite. There are a number of promises made up here on the Central Coast before the last state election and I’ll let David and David speak to those promises and the way that the Baird Government has broken those commitments to the voters of the Central Coast. You can’t do that, Australians won’t accept it.

JOURNALIST:  You were here this morning, what sort of feedback on this issue were you getting today?

PLIBERSEK: Well we had a lot of people obviously talking about their concerns about cuts to pensions, cuts to Medicare, their kids and grandkids facing cuts to family tax benefit and unaffordable university education, TAFE closures. But we also had a very strong message about local people disappointed in the dishonest and deceptive representation that they’ve had from Liberals here on the Central Coast and those people who have been caught up in the ICAC controversies up here, and a very strong message about environmental promises that were made about mining and other environmental issues on the Central Coast. Very clear commitments made before the election, broken moments after the state election. And I think, well I might give the state candidates an opportunity to talk a little about those. Which David wants to go first?

DAVID MEHAN, STATE LABOR CANDIDATE FOR THE ENTRANCE: I think the issue for the Central Coast in the lead up to March 28 is ‘Who is going to stand up to Tony Abbott and the cuts Canberra have imposed on the Central Coast and on NSW?’ The local Liberals haven’t, certainly Mike Baird won’t. Only a vote for Labor will ensure that someone is arguing against Tony Abbott in NSW. Certainly in my electorate of the Entrance, the Pacific Highway at Ourimbah was announced as a new initiative of the Baird Government last week, we’ll need to go back in time and remember that Labor had already programed to have that work completed over the last four years and we were going to do it within the budget. Now Baird has come down the coast and said you will only have the Pacific Highway if you privatise electricity. That’s not good enough. We concluded stages one and two of Ourimbah within the budget while maintaining a AAA credit rating in NSW. Now Baird, Tony Abbott’s mate in NSW, has come to the coast and said you’ll only get stage three if you privatise electricity. It’s not good enough and we need better on the Central Coast.

JOURNALIST: So is that not true? It’s a lie?

MEHAN: That’s not true, it’s a lie. Duncan Gay has made a quip that people on the Central Coast hadn’t seen tractors and bulldozers in Ourimbah. Stage one and two were complete under the former Labor Government. The Advocate put a photo montage which was just a false representation of road works happening at Ourimbah. These were road works that happened under Labor. These guys can’t be trusted. The promises they’ve made in the lead up to the 2011 election haven’t been lived up to. The only people who are going to stand up to Tony Abbott and make sure the Central Coast gets what it deserves are the Labor candidates who have been arguing the case for many years.

DAVID HARRIS, STATE LABOR CANDIDATE FOR WYONG: I concur with my colleagues of course. This morning I’ve been up at Wadalba, fighting another environmental issue. It’s an issue that’s very dear to my heart. Last week we were able to save a local park that the Liberals on council had tried to develop. Today we’re up there fighting for an endangered sea eagle’s nest. People might say that’s not very important but when you’re building suburbs which are wall to wall houses you need to keep the environment that people move to this area for and what we’re seeing is that under the Liberals with their tree-felling policies etc, that they’re not worried about people’s lifestyles, they’re not worried about our local environment, they’re just worried about developer dollars and that’s not surprising when you find out that it was the developers that made donations to them before the last election even though it wasn’t the right thing to do and ICAC is certainly dealing with that. But the one thing that people on the Central Coast, and Wyong in particular, are very upset about is and they talk to me about it everyday is the broken promise on Wallarah Two coal mine. It was written in blood, no ifs, no buts, we will not let this mine go ahead. They’ve broken that promise. They’re putting pressure on the Darkinjung Aboriginal people to reconsider their opposition to letting the mine come on to their land. People need to remember that. You can’t stand up before an election and say hand on heart that you’ll do one thing and as soon as the election is over go back to them and say ‘oh no things have changed’. People vote for you because of what you say. The Liberals have proven through their actions that they can’t be trusted.

JOURNALIST: In terms of the fight for the eagle’s nest up their today, what’s actually happening? I know the community environment network was going to put in a complaint to the Department of Environment about this. Where is it at today?

HARRIS: Look when I was the local member I worked with the council at the time and residents to make sure that there were defined green corridors in that area because of the size of the developments that were going to take place. What we find with the sea eagle’s nest is that an amendment was put in saying that they had surveyed the area wrongly and they wanted to tack on some extra land. Now the current council with their development policy who have abolished their environment group within the council, there is no environment group within the council, there is no environment director anymore which is symptomatic of what Liberals are doing across the state, has put this nest at danger. Now there are only 800 nesting pairs in the whole of the east coast from Toowoomba coming all the way down into NSW. We need to protect these things they’re important to the community. I was out doorknocking in the area yesterday and people said to me they moved to the area for the lifestyle and the environment. Well guess what if you keep voting the Liberals in you won’t have the lifestyle and you won’t have the environment and you may as well be living in a suburb in Sydney and that's not what people want.

JOURNALIST: Do you know how it can be stopped though?

HARRIS: Well we’ve managed to have it fenced off through our Labor councillors at the moment.

JOURNALIST: When did that happen?

HARRIS: That happened in the last few days. We’ve been told, we understand that, they’re only prepared to keep the tree safe until the chicks leave the nest and then after that the tree would be removed. What we’re saying is it was a part of the original plan. They shouldn’t have put an amendment in, it should have gone out to public consultation in a proper way, not over Christmas when everyone is on holidays and the local newspaper isn’t being published and they need to protect it. What we are talking about is 600 - 800 new houses and we can’t protect 10 metres of bushland along the fringe. People just see this as unreasonable. We’re not against development, development will happen but we must protect our green areas.

JOURNALIST: Just one final question. I guess in the last week, or the last two weeks, we’ve seen a lot of visits from both sides of politics to the Central Coast. Do you think that reflects that the Central Coast is shaping up as a key battle ground for the March 28 election?

PLIBERSEK: Well the Central Coast has always been important to Labor. We know that we have a lot of communities up here that value the lifestyle and the environment of living on the Central Coast. But we know the coast has also had its challenges. It’s had challenges with the local TAFEs, with public transport, pockets of poverty living up here as well. And so we’ve been very active over many years including Deb’s great work as a local federal Labor Member and Senator to make sure the people of the Central Coast have a strong voice. Now this isn’t my first visit here. I’ve been here many times to talk with local residents about many different issues over the years. I’m thrilled to be back here again not just because there is the state election in a few weeks time but because this is a growing area that deserves strong representation and what they’ve been given by the NSW Liberals are a bunch of dodgy people who’ve been prepared to make promises before the election and break them five minutes after.



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