TRANSCRIPT - Press Conference, 6 August 2014

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THE HON TANYA PLIBERSEK MP

DEPUTY LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION

SHADOW MINISTER FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS AND INTERNATIONAL DEVELOPMENT
MEMBER FOR SYDNEY

 

E&OE TRANSCRIPT

PRESS CONFERENCE

SYDNEY

WEDNESDAY, 6 AUGUST 2014

 

Subject/s: Homeless Persons’ Week; Youth Connections; Budget Cuts; Anti-Terrorism Legislation; Surrogacy; 18C RDA

TANYA PLIBERSEK, DEPUTY OPPOSITION LEADER: I'm here with Peter Sutcliffe and Josh Field from the Salvation Army and I am also here with Penny Sharpe and Edwina Lloyd, who are two candidates for our State election. I wanted to talk to you this week, during Homeless Persons Week, about this fantastic service at the Oasis Youth Centre, run by the Salvation Army. This is a terrific service I know that for a fact. My office was across the road for many years and I spent a lot of time in this service. It provides accommodation for homeless young people but it provides something more than accommodation. It provides this education facility, this school that we're standing in right now. This classroom where young people who are staying here and other young people from the area are able to get an education. One of the most important things about Homeless Persons’ week is understanding that there's more to ending homeless than just putting a roof over a person’s head. What we see if we take a simple approach to homelessness is that people cycle through homeless facilities. You can put a roof over their heads but 6 months later they're on the streets again. What we need to aim to do as a community is end homelessness for a person. Give them the life skills, the opportunities, to move permanently out of homelessness and one of the most critical things that we can do is make sure that young people have an education and have a job because the surest way permanently out of homelessness is to get a job. Unfortunately, in the most recent Federal Budget, three youth education programs have been cut. They've already been cut but the Government has an opportunity to reverse that decision. The three programs are Youth Connections, Partnership Brokers and National Career Advice. These three programs are aimed at getting young people into the education and training they need to get a job and then getting them work. Youth Connections, the program that funds this school that we're standing in today, has been a fantastically successful program. It's helped more than 100,000 people already and 80 per cent of people who go through Youth Connections are still in work or training 18 months later. The average cost of putting a young person through a Youth Connections program is just over $2000. So you think about the difference between investing in getting someone an education and getting them into the workforce and getting them permanently out of homelessness compared with just paying for them to remain homeless. Paying for them to stay in facilities like this or, unfortunately, even worse, end up homeless, end up in hospital, end up in prison. Youth Connections works, it’s cost effective and it makes absolutely no sense when the Government's talking about reducing unemployment to cut the very programs that help unemployed young people into the training they need or into the jobs that they can stick to. I'm going to ask Josh from the Salvation Army and Peter to say a few words about how important the Youth Connections program is for homeless young people.

PETER SUTCLIFFE, SALVATION ARMY: Thank you Tanya. For the Salvation army, the Youth Connections program is a really important part. We currently have 33 students enrolled in our program here, we have three who for the very first time, through our school here, will complete their HSC this year. Now that's important, these three young ladies, if they'd have been in the normal school system, would never have been able to complete their HSC. We've tailored a program that meets their needs. Students who come into our Oasis Youth Centre have a whole range of complex needs and they can't attend normal school because of these complex needs they have. We work with them, we tailor the program to suit. Three young ladies who will complete their HSC this year, we have another 19 completing year 11 and then the rest are completing year 10 or completing basic numeracy and literacy classes. Now for us that's an important part. What we do here at the Oasis Youth Centre is, if you like, the services we provide are like a 3-legged stool. We provide the accommodation services for them, we case manage the students and we also supply the education. Cut one of them off and you become a very unstable stool that no-one wants to sit on and so for us, the Youth Connections program, the education program we provide here is very important. So important that we're going to look at how we can continue this Youth Connections program, the school right here, even after the funding is cut. That means we've got to look at the others services we're providing and just see how we can continue to do this because we see education as an important part of stopping this endless cycle of homelessness. Around 44,000 young people every night homeless, and we've got to end this. Josh will just talk about the young ladies who are completing their HSC and what they're doing and just how it has worked with them.

JOSH FIELD, SALVATION ARMY: The current HSC students, they’re working in this environment and they actually support each other in this. There's not a chance they would have been able to get through their HSC without the support of this program and without the support of each other. They've worked exceptionally well. A couple of our students are doing food tech and only last week made this 4-layered tiered colourful cake which was fantastic and they shared that with the whole of the Oasis staff which was great so, yeah.

PLIBERSEK: Thanks, Josh. Alright, I might make some more general comments now about other areas if you like.

This week during Homeless Persons Week, we see this $128 million cut from youth programs just like this that actually permanently help young people leave homelessness but this is not the only cut that this Government's made to homeless programs. $44 million cut from all of the new building programs out of the national partnership agreement on homelessness, no new building for homeless services. We also see that the national partnership agreement on affordable housing ends in June next year. The Government's got a White Paper on Commonwealth-State relations that says basically that housing's none of the Commonwealth's business so what happens to public housing funding after June next year, who knows. We know that there were 10,000 more national rental affordability scheme properties to be built. This Government canned them in the most recent Budget as well so that's 10,000 affordable homes that would have been available under existing funding except this Government has ended that program. So everywhere you see this Government making life harder for the people who can least afford it. Cuts to pensions, cuts to supports for homeless Australians, cuts to the supports for unemployed young people. We also know that none of this was expressed before the election. Before the election Tony Abbott was saying no cuts to health, no cuts to education, no change to pensions, no new taxes. In fact, today one year ago he said, "Taxes will always be lower under a Liberal Government." We know that there's been a raft of new taxes introduced. Any questions?

JOURNALIST: In terms of the Budget cuts to this particular program, where are those negotiations at, when are they likely to come before the parliament and what is Labor doing in terms of trying to stop that?

PLIBERSEK: This program didn't require legislative change to be cut so it’s gone, the funding has already gone. The only hope is to have enough public outcry about the fact that on the one hand the Government is saying unemployed young people, we will cut their income for six months of the year, they should apply for 40 jobs a month, we want them get work and on the other hand, they’re cutting three successful programs that help unemployed young people get a job. Because this cut didn't require legislative change, it’s done. The only hope is enough public pressure to reverse this cruel cut.

JOURNALIST: There have been a number of other Budget cuts though across the board in many social services and welfare sectors and public services, what makes this particular education centre different to all of the other cuts in terms of helping stop the Budget crisis?

PLIBERSEK: Well, where do these kids go? This is a school that is built for kids who wouldn't survive in mainstream education. Many of them are homeless because they have had unimaginable trauma in their young lives. They are kids who have been let down in many cases by their families and they have been let down by mainstream schooling. They come here as a school of last resort and because of the fantastic expertise of the teachers here, because they have got the support of the Salvation Army to deal with the other issues in their lives, because they have got a stable roof over their heads, they manage to succeed through massive will and massive hard work, they manage to succeed. How can it possibly be, in our society's interests to deny these kids an education? How can it possibly be in the long term interests of these kids, we want to help them get permanently out of homelessness and the best way we can do that is to make sure they have got a job and the best way we can make sure that they have a job is make sure that we make up for the gaps in their schooling. Make sure they can read and write, make sure that they graduate Year 10 and in the case of these three young women, the HSC. And that opens so many doors to these kids who have been – many of them from a very early age have been brought up with the idea that they will never succeed.

JOURNALIST: Just on some other general matters. Do you think the Government should be making it easier to slap preventative detention orders on terror suspects?

PLIBERSEK: Well I saw the same press conference that other Australians saw yesterday, with the Prime Minister, the Attorney-General and the Foreign Affairs Minister all making some statements about what the Government’s got planned. That’s all the detail that we as an Opposition have. We hope to be briefed later in the week about the details of what the Government's proposing but we have no details at this stage. I think it is important that our security agencies, which do such an excellent job, have the support they need to prevent terrorist activity but we also need to be sure, as a democracy, that there are proper checks and balances, proper oversight when powers are increased. We don't know what the Government's proposing, we don't know the details - we don't know the details of the proposal and we certainly don’t know any details of proposed oversight or any sort of checks and balances.

JOURNALIST: The Government wants to take away the sunset clause on them. Would you agree with that?

PLIBERSEK: We were very critical of fact that the Government got rid of the independent national security legislation monitor earlier this year. They had one of these red tape repeal days and got rid of the independent position, the person whose job it is to oversee whether national security legislation is indeed doing what it is supposed to do, providing a safer environment or whether it is in fact infringing peoples' rights. They got rid of that position. George Brandis has backed down on that and he is doing a lot of that lately but he has backed down on getting rid of the independent oversight. That position, as far as we know, has not been filled. We need to have the confidence that if there are tough laws to prevent terrorism, there is also tough oversight so that our citizens and our parliament can be confident that these laws are not misused.

JOURNALIST: Do you feel that some of these new counter measures go too far?

PLIBERSEK: Well I can't say whether they go too far because all I have seen is a press conference and a press release. We need to have legislation released in draft form by the Government. We need a proper briefing for the Opposition so we can say, with confidence, that, yes, tougher laws might be needed but that goes with stronger oversight. We don't have any of that information at the moment.

JOURNALIST: In terms of the case of baby Gammy, the Prime Minister says there is not much the Federal Government can do because surrogacy is a matter for the states. Do you think that the Commonwealth could do something more?

PLIBERSEK: Well surrogacy is a matter for the states but I think it is very important that we say very clearly that no law should be changed that makes it - that increases the vulnerability of poor women in developing countries to the sort of exploitation that this young Thai woman has experienced. There is no question that any Australian that I have talked to, when presented with the information that a couple are the biological parents of a child and have taken one, a  healthy baby girl and left the sick baby boy are shocked that that is possible. This 21-year-old woman, obviously in desperate financial circumstances or wouldn't have agreed to the surrogacy in the first place, now left to her own devices to raise and care for a child that obviously has expensive medical needs going into the future. It is completely unacceptable. Of course, I am pleased that Australians have been generous in contributing to a fund for her but that is only because we know of this case. We don't know how many other cases, young women in similar circumstances who have been exploited and left on their own. It is important that we work with the states and territories to make sure that we don't commercialise this relationship in a way that allows vulnerable young women like this to be exploited.

JOURNALIST: Given that there are different laws in different states, is there room, do you think, for the Federal Government to intervene in any way or to have legislation?

PLIBERSEK: Certainly if the Federal Government's interested in developing a national approach, we would look at that on its merits. But I don't think the problem is different laws in different states, I think the problem is unscrupulous organisations overseas that get into the business of babies to make a profit. I think in addition, we have got a problem in this individual case of a couple who have made a decision that, frankly, I can't understand and I think most Australians would have trouble understanding.

JOURNALIST: The Federal Government's backed down on the proposed changes to 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act. Apparently George Brandis has said this morning that he still believes in those changes in their original form.

PLIBERSEK: This just shows that the Government's a mess on this as it is on many other areas of policy. They have gone too far. They have gone too far when it comes to allowing bigots the right to be bigots. George Brandis has been put back in his box on this one. George Brandis went too far in saying that occupied East Jerusalem wasn't occupied. He was put back in his box on that one. It seems like George Brandis is just shooting off his mouth, saying whatever he chooses. There is chaos in this area. It doesn't fill me with a lot of confidence that we have an Attorney-General at odds with the Prime Minister on some of these most critical pieces of legislation. What I would say on the other hand when it comes to back downs, is if they are going to do a back down on 18C, they should also do a back down on cutting Youth Connections and they should do a back down on the cuts to health and education and the cuts to the pensions that have turned up in this Budget. This is a problem of extremists in Government being let off the leash and then the extremists having to be hauled back when it becomes apparent that are out of step with the Australian public. Thanks everyone.

ENDS

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TRANSCRIPT - Capital Hill, 6 August 2014

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THE HON TANYA PLIBERSEK MP

DEPUTY LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION

SHADOW MINISTER FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS AND INTERNATIONAL DEVELOPMENT
MEMBER FOR SYDNEY

 

E&OE TRANSCRIPT

TELEVISION INTERVIEW

ABC NEWS 24, CAPITAL HILL

WEDNESDAY, 6 AUGUST 2014

 

Subject/s: National Security Legislation; Baby Gammy; Gaza

TANYA PLIBERSEK, DEPUTY OPPOSITION LEADER: The Opposition is still waiting on a briefing from the Government about the detail of this new package that the Prime Minister announced yesterday. I certainly think it is true to say that there is some threat in Australia, we’ve seen convictions in the past of people who are planning a terrorist attack in Australia. And it is important to give our security and intelligence organisations up to date tools to deal with that. On the other hand it's also very important that we make sure we've got decent oversight and transparency with these arrangements. We don't know any of the details yet of what the Prime Minister's proposing, we watched the same press conference as you did yesterday, we don't have any more detail than that. We would want to know first of all from the security and intelligence agencies the case they make for any increased powers and secondly from the Government what they propose in terms of transparency, accountability and oversight.

JULIE DOYLE, PRESENTER: The Prime Minister has said that democracy is going to be one of the safeguards and he wants to work with Labor and the other parties to get these measures through the Parliament, do you see that as a pretty clear signal that the Government is willing to negotiate here?

PLIBERSEK: I think that there must be room for discussion and sensible discussion. We can't work off a press release. We need to see legislation, draft legislation, and then we need to go through that legislation in a great deal of detail before we can be confident that these new powers or any new powers are both necessary and have appropriate accountability mechanisms attached.

DOYLE: On one of the proposals as it relates to foreign fighters, making it an offence to travel to a designated place without a valid reason, do you think that is an appropriate measure with the number of Australians that are heading over to these conflict zones?

PLIBERSEK: I can only say again, we've been briefed by press conference and we will wait to hear from the security and intelligence agencies about whether they think that there is a strong case for such a measure and it's a very big step to take to introduce a reverse onus of proof asking Australians to prove that they're innocent, in this instance they would be guilty until proved innocent. That is a very big step to take in our legal system and we'd want to know what the case is for such a measure and what the oversights would be, what recourse people would have.

DOYLE: Let’s look at a couple of other matters in your portfolio, the surrogacy involving baby Gammy in Thailand, the Prime Minister has said today that he doesn't want to rush the Commonwealth into legislation in a complex area like this, that there are State laws covering surrogacy. Do you think there is a greater role for the Commonwealth in this kind of area?

PLIBERSEK: I don't think having Commonwealth laws would necessarily have prevented this terrible situation. There are State and Territory laws, they do differ from place to place, there might be a case for greater harmonisation but what you've got here is a couple who have knowingly taken one baby out of a set of twins, I don’t know how you would legislate to prevent that sort of situation. I guess we need to be very, very careful when we introduce profit into this area of human relationships, because we know that parents or prospective parents are often desperate to have children. They can be taken advantage of by unscrupulous middle people and we know that poor women, particularly in developing countries, are also vulnerable to that exploitation. When you're offering someone with very few resources of her own an opportunity to make thousands of dollars to carry a baby of course that's a very tempting offer.

DOYLE: And just finally the Foreign Minister put out a statement yesterday about Gaza in which he said she's deeply troubled by the suffering being endured by the Palestinian population in Gaza, she referred to the shelling of the three UN schools as indefensible. That's strong language there, do you support those sentiments?

PLIBERSEK: Absolutely. We've heard the United Nations Secretary-General, we've heard the US Secretary of State and finally we've heard our own Government say that it is not appropriate or defensible to be shelling UN facilities. Of course, Hamas needs to stop firing rockets into Israel more than 3,000 rocket fired already into Israel but we also expect Israel to ensure that where they have the coordinates of UN facilities such as this school that they don't bomb them. There were about 3,000 people reported to be sheltering in this, the third of the schools to be shelled. It’s been reported that 10 people lost their lives as the rocket fell just outside the school gates. It is an enormous concern that even when taking shelter in UN facilities, the residents of Gaza cannot be safe. I'm very pleased that there's a ceasefire, it is absolutely critical that the world community pressures both parties to not engage in any more hostilities; too many people have died.

ENDS

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TRANSCRIPT - PM Agenda, 6 August 2014

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THE HON TANYA PLIBERSEK MP

DEPUTY LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION

SHADOW MINISTER FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS AND INTERNATIONAL DEVELOPMENT
MEMBER FOR SYDNEY

 

E&OE TRANSCRIPT

TV INTERVIEW
PM AGENDA, SKY NEWS

WEDNESDAY, 6 AUGUST 2014

 

Subject/s: National security legislation; surrogacy laws.  

DAVID SPEERS, JOURNALIST: Tanya Plibersek, thanks for your time. Can I start with the general question, do you think the nature of the terrorist threat facing Australia has changed, has intensified at all as a result of what we have seen happening in Iraq and Syria?

TANYA PLIBERSEK, DEPUTY OPPOSITION LEADER: Well I think we have known for some years there are some domestic terrorist threats here in Australia. And indeed we have seen Australians convicted of terrorism-related offences here in Australia. Certainly having Australians travel over to conflicts such as the conflict in Syria and the conflict in Iraq is something that is troubling. It is important to ensure that our security and intelligence organisations have the resources to ensure that, both that Australians don’t travel overseas for terrorism-related activities and indeed we are safe here at home. The problem with what the Government is proposing we have so little detail of what they are actually proposing. It is important if we are asking Australians to give intelligence and security organisations greater powers that that also comes with greater transparency, greater accountability and greater over sight.

SPEERS: What about this idea then of prescribing locations declared terrorist zones if you like? Anyone who visits there would have to have a legitimate reason why they visit there. Do you accept that it is difficult at the moment to charge, convict people who are actually involved in terrorist activity there? It's hard to actually prosecute them in the courts back home?

PLIBERSEK: Well, I'm certainly prepared to listen to the case being made by our national security and intelligence agencies for any increased powers that they argue that they need, and I'll be expecting a briefing later this week. What I want to hear at the same time from the Government is if there are increased powers to do these things what are the increased oversights? What are the increased accountability mechanisms? The Government's asking for us to overturn a long-standing principle in Australia, that they are saying that we would go to a situation where you are guilty until proven innocent. That's a big ask of the Australian public, and I think it is important for them to lay out the case for any such measures being necessary, and secondly what kind of transparency and oversight go with it. You can't ask Australians to put up with a situation where they are guilty until proven innocent without explaining why that is necessary and what protections innocent Australians have from such a regime.

SPEERS: What more do you think should be made available to convince Australians on this?

PLIBERSEK: Well, it's interesting that you raise the social media. I mean we have seen for example Khaled Sharouf who was an Australian who was convicted of a terrorism offence travel overseas on his brother's passport a couple of months ago. I've not heard the Government explain how the increased security measures that they are proposing would for example have made a difference in this case.

SPEERS: Well for example he would be going to a declared no-go zone, that would be the offence.

PLIBERSEK: We don't have enough detail to know whether he would have been caught up simply because of where he travelled to. We don't know whether the Government is proposing that his brother's passport would have been caught up in this. We need a great deal more information before we make policy on the basis of one press conference.

SPEERS: But isn't this the very problem. Nobody doubts this guy is up to no good. But at the moment there is a question over how to prosecute him when he comes back. If this area is declared as a proscribed location, when he does come back he will have committed an offence.

PLIBERSEK: Do you think he's likely to come back, David?

SPEERS: Well that's a separate question. If he does that's an issue the Australian Government has to deal with isn't it?

PLIBERSEK: Isn’t the question that the guy has left the country and is committing the crimes overseas? We are very happy to work with the security and intelligence agencies and to listen to the arguments that they are making for increased powers. Indeed many of the measures that are in the first Bill that is before the Parliament at the moment or coming before the parliament shortly come from work that began under Nicola Roxon when she was Attorney-General and the recognition that as our communications environment changes it may be necessary to give intelligence and security agencies different powers. It might be necessary for them to update the powers that they have.

SPEERS: I want to ask you about that metadata retention. As you say Labor's Nicola Roxon first proposed this. It was looked at extensively by a Joint Parliamentary Committee, there was bipartisan recommendation to do this, to have this sort of metadata retained. What concerns do you have about it?

PLIBERSEK: Nicola Roxon asked that the issue be examined. It is certainly something that we when we were in government were prepared to look at and prepared to listen to the security agencies on. I think it is important to be open minded about the fact that we have a changing communications environment, that a lot of information that may be useful to counter-terrorism operations is being transmitted on the internet, but David, it is impossible to make specific comments when the only proposals we have from the Government so far have been outlined in one short press conference.

SPEERS: Can I turn to the issue of surrogacy laws which have certainly grabbed the attention of many with the fairly awful case of young Gammy. The Prime Minister pointed out today, he sees this is an issue of state responsibility, he doesn't want the Commonwealth jumping all over state responsibilities. Where do you come at this one? Do you think there is a need for nationally consistent laws on surrogacy arrangements in particular?

PLIBERSEK: I'm not sure switching to a national law on this would have prevented what is really a quite awful situation for this baby Gammy and for his 21-year-old mother. I think it’s very important when you introduce profits into arrangements like this, that you have protections both for desperate parents who are vulnerable to being taking advantage of because they desperately want a child and also for surrogate parents who, for reasons of financial necessity, are also vulnerable to being taken advantage of. I think we recognise that in the case of inter-country adoption, and countries worked together on the Hague convention on inter-country adoption, because it was recognised that you had many, many desperate parents around the world and it was recognised that it is much better for a child to grow up in a loving family than it is to grow up in an orphanage. But that when inter-country adoption became increasingly popular we also saw that some extremely unscrupulous people were buying babies, lying to birth parents, even abducting, stealing children for adoption, because there was a profit to be made from it. I wouldn't want to see surrogacy go in the same way. We are seeing a growing share of international medical tourism, as it is called, going towards this sort of international surrogacy. We need to be very confident that we don't have vulnerable parents taken advantage of and vulnerable mothers, surrogate mothers taken advantage of, by people who enter into any industry, if there's a profit to be made.

SPEERS: Well, Shadow Foreign Minister Tanya Plibersek, it seems there is some debate to go on that one. Thanks for joining us this afternoon.

PLIBERSEK: Thanks David.

ENDS

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ABC Drive, 5 August 2014

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THE HON TANYA PLIBERSEK MP

DEPUTY LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION

SHADOW MINISTER FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS AND INTERNATIONAL DEVELOPMENT
MEMBER FOR SYDNEY

 

E&OE TRANSCRIPT

RADIO INTERVIEW
ABC DRIVE, RADIO NATIONAL

TUESDAY, 5 AUGUST 2014

 

Subject: National security legislation; Commercial surrogacy; Gaza.

WALEED ALY, PRESENTER: Joining me now is Tanya Plibersek, Deputy Leader of the Opposition and Shadow Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Development. Tanya Plibersek thank you very much for joining us. Could I get a sort of overarching reaction to the suite of counter-terrorism legislation we’ve seen today?

TANYA PLIBERSEK, DEPUTY OPPOSITION LEADER: Well it’s a bit soon to give you much of a reaction Waleed because we were only told slightly before the press conference that this was coming up. We’ve been offered a more detailed briefing but we’re obviously yet to take that up given the press conference only finished a little while ago. It is important to be able to protect Australians from terrorists, from terrorism related activities, but we haven’t seen really enough detail to make an assessment of whether these proposals do that effectively, or indeed whether they have the sort of checks and balances that we would expect.

ALY: Can you have a check or a balance that is adequate to justify a reverse onus of proof for people who are returning from designated parts of the world?

PLIBERSEK: Well I can’t give you a more detailed answer, because I don’t know what the government is proposing in any sort of detailed way. We’ve heard as you have the details, the headline details in a press conference. I would like to know what sort of protections the government has in mind –

ALY: Can you think of a protection that would be adequate for that sort of thing?

PLIBERSEK: Well I’m not going to get into hypotheticals about it. We were very concerned as an opposition when the position of the Independent National Security Monitor was abolished during the ‘red tape’ repeal day, or whatever it was called, that position was abolished. That position has been vacant since April, George Brandis has backed down on that, and has said that he will reinstate that position and that there will be someone appointed to that position. That’s a very important start, having parliamentary oversight of some intelligence and security matters is also important. But this is all speculation at this stage, because we haven’t received a detailed briefing.

ALY: One of the things that Julie Bishop your counterpoint was pointing to was enhanced powers, again not fully specified or detailed, but enhanced powers to cancel passports. Whatever the design of that ends up being, do you accept that there is a need for those powers to be enhanced?

PLIBERSEK: Well, I think there is certainly a need to have the power to cancel passports. I think it’s important if there is intelligence information that someone is planning to go and fight overseas with one of these very nasty organisations that we don’t allow that to occur.

ALY: The other area of this which, as I say, strikes me at the very least as being bipartisan is the idea of mandatory data retention, so ISPs keeping all of our metadata. I was just looking at a panel that was commissioned by Barack Obama to review the National Security Agency’s mass surveillance of Americans which is along very similar lines, and they concluded that this had not helped in stopping a single terrorist attack. Where is the evidence that we need this?

PLIBERSEK: Well I think you’d know that when Mark Dreyfus was the Attorney-General he didn’t support the mandatory retention of metadata at that time. We, again, have not seen any detailed proposal. There is a piece of legislation, the National Security Legislation Amendment Bill number one, that has a number of measures proposed, that has been made public, we’ve been examining that, there are public hearings coming up. That is a piece of legislation, we know the piece of legislation, we can debate it. The announcement today is just an announcement – it’s a press conference, I cannot tell you what the detailed proposal is and I think in any case like this it’s important to understand that there are very real security threats that have to be dealt with, and that our security and intelligence organisations have a very serious job to do, and an important job to do, and they need updated legislation as the environment changes, as the internet becomes a bigger feature of our communications environment. On the other hand that needs to go with proper oversight, proper transparency, and a case needs to be made.

ALY: But the original argument was made by Nicola Roxon I think it might have been when she was Attorney-General that this is something that we needed to do.

PLIBERSEK: Nicola Roxon asked that the issue be examined and I think it is important to examine as technologies change whether security agencies need updated powers to deal with that.

ALY: So as it stands then the Labor Party does not have a formed position on whether or not the retention of metadata as a principle or as an idea is necessary.

PLIBERSEK: Well we haven’t seen any detailed proposal from the Government yet. We’ve seen a press conference and we’re not going to make a decision based on a press conference.

ALY: While I’m talking legal matters I might just change tack a bit. Have you had any thoughts recently or have you developed any thoughts in response to the tragic case of Gammy in respect of surrogacy laws as they operate in Australia and whether or not there are any problems that we might need to fix up or loopholes we might need to close?

PLIBERSEK: Of course I’ve been wrestling with it like anybody would, seeing this very difficult situation for a 21 year old mother, two children of her own already, now facing raising a child who looks to have significant health problems. It’s a tragic situation, there is no one who would not feel sympathy for the child who’s been left behind when his sister’s been taken. That’s not an easy thing to grow up with. And the mother who obviously is already in financial difficulties or she wouldn’t have agreed to the surrogacy arrangement to now have a child with significant health issues to raise as well. The legislation around surrogacy varies from state to state as you know, I do understand that some people feel a very intense and desperate need and desire to be parents and really are prepared to go to very, very long lengths to do it. On the other hand I do worry about the potential for exploitation, particularly for vulnerable women, particularly in this case in a country where the economic situation of many of its citizens still is they’re living in a great deal of poverty. An industry that commercialises parenthood and attracts people into the industry that are there to make a commercial gain does trouble me, because the opportunities for exploitation are, I think, well we see the result of it.

ALY: I’ll be speaking to the Attorney-General for the ACT in the next hour of the program looking on that issue. I might come back to your portfolio just finally Tanya Plibersek, and that is the issue of Gaza. Julie Bishop has spoken out today backing an investigation, particularly into the Israeli attack that hit a UN shelter, or UN schools, that the UN has attacked, has been very vocal about. Do you agree with the United Nations assessment, particularly Ban Ki-moon’s assessment, that the shelling of the UN school was a moral outrage and a criminal act?

PLIBERSEK: I think it’s very difficult to understand how this is now the third school which has been shelled. It is very difficult to understand when the Israeli defence forces are given the coordinates of UN facilities how this can happen now for a third time. I believe 10 people lost their lives in this most recent shelling. We’re now looking at about 1800, over 1800 people have lost their lives. The vast majority of them are children, the most recent estimate that I saw was well over 300 children – sorry the vast majority are civilians, the most recent figures I saw were well over 300 children, I think 365 children had lost their lives. It is completely unacceptable. Of course Hamas needs to agree to a ceasefire and stop firing rockets, but with this death toll now and the fact that there is nowhere safe to go. Even non-combatants, all they want to do is keep their heads down and keep their families safe, taking their families to a UN-run facility and then that facility being bombed. I think there were 3000 people reportedly sheltering in that facility, the most recent school that was bombed, it is completely unacceptable. I am very pleased that a ceasefire has been declared and this time it just has to stick. The cost of this in civilian lives, including the lives of children, is just beyond imagining.

ALY: It’s been catastrophic, I think the world agrees with that much at least even if they haven’t been able to broker a lasting ceasefire. We have a three day ceasefire for humanitarian reasons, we’ll see if it lasts beyond that. Tanya Plibersek, I do appreciate your time tonight, thank you.

PLIBERSEK: Thank you Waleed.

ENDS

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The World, ABC

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THE HON TANYA PLIBERSEK MP

DEPUTY LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION

SHADOW MINISTER FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS AND INTERNATIONAL DEVELOPMENT
MEMBER FOR SYDNEY

 

 

E&OE TRANSCRIPT

TELEVISION INTERVIEW
THE WORLD, ABC

FRIDAY, 1 AUGUST 2014

Subject: conflict in Gaza.

BEVERLEY O’CONNOR, PRESENTER: The Opposition says Australia has a critical role to play at the UN given its temporary role as chair of the Security Council when it comes to Gaza. We spoke to Opposition foreign affairs spokesperson, Plibersek, thanks Tanya Plibersek. Tanya Plibersek, thanks for talking to The World. Have you been concerned up until now how little effect the United Nations actually has had?

TANYA PLIBERSEK, DEPUTY OPPOSITION LEADER: Well I think everybody's concerned that the conflict has lasted as long as it has and that the death toll has been as high as it is. It is important that Australia as a member of the Security Council express a view and do what we can to assist in bringing about a lasting ceasefire and moving of course to a permanent peace. We can’t afford a situation where we have just three days of peace and then the bombardment starts again. As I said before, the civilian death toll has been extraordinarily high, we’ve seen reports now of over 1300 dead and the majority of those unfortunately civilians, and many many of those are children.

O’CONNOR: Let’s talk about the humanitarian crisis in Gaza. What role do you think Australia should be playing.

PLIBERSEK: So the immediate priority is a ceasefire and ensuring that that ceasefire lasts, but there will be a massive task of rebuilding as well. Gaza was already experiencing social and economic deprivation, a very serious level of unemployment and very difficult economic circumstances. Of course that is exacerbated by this now – a massive task of rebuilding. I was pleased to see that the Government had donated $5 million last week for humanitarian causes in Gaza but I guess I have to point out that this only just replaces the $4.5 million that was cut from Australia's usual overseas development assistance to the Palestinian Territories in this year's Budget, in the most recent Budget. So there's only an extra $500,000 from Australia after all of this devastation. I think certainly Australia could increase its contribution to the rebuilding of Gaza that will be critical.

O’CONNOR: Is it a financial priority, though, for the Government when you see both sides of this conflict not taking a step back?

PLIBERSEK: Well I guess it's never the kids who are making the decision for their Governments to go to war and when I see footage of the incredible toll this is taking on civilians in Gaza who have lost their homes, schools have been bombed, hospital facilities and so on, I think there is an opportunity for Australia to help in the reconstruction. It is important for both parties to stop the hostilities. It is important for Hamas to stop firing rockets into Israel, for them to stop using their tunnel system to try and get into Israel but, equally, it is critical that Israel shows restraint and does not continue the military offensive that has cost so many lives.

O’CONNOR: And also of using course we hear that Hamas is using their own civilians as human shields, they're placing their armoury within schools, right next to families and homes. This is an ongoing problem in terms of who to believe in this conflict.

PLIBERSEK: Well, of course if any civilian facilities have been used to hide rockets, there were reports during the week that that's the case, of course that's unacceptable. Absolutely 100 per cent. But it is also so important to understand that the capacity for Israel to retaliate has to be restrained because the collateral deaths, the number of civilians who have been killed in this conflict is completely unacceptable.

O’CONNOR: Tanya Plibersek, The thanks so much for talking to The World.

PLIBERSEK: Thank you.

ENDS

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Insiders, Sunday, 27 JULY 2014

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THE HON TANYA PLIBERSEK MP

DEPUTY LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION

SHADOW MINISTER FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS AND INTERNATIONAL DEVELOPMENT
MEMBER FOR SYDNEY

 

E&OE TRANSCRIPT

TELEVISION INTERVIEW
INSIDERS, ABC

SUNDAY, 27 JULY 2014

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

KELLY: Would you support that?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

PLIBERSEK: Thank you.

ENDS

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Press Conference, Saturday, 26 July 2014

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TANYA PLIBERSEK MP

ACTING LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION

SHADOW MINISTER FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS AND INTERNATIONAL DEVELOPMENT

MEMBER FOR SYDNEY

 

E&OE TRANSCRIPT

PRESS CONFERENCE

SATURDAY, 26 JULY 2014     

SYDNEY

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

JOURNALIST: Thank you.

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

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

 

ENDS

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Doorstop Interview, Friday, 25 July 2014

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THE HON TANYA PLIBERSEK MP

ACTING LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION

SHADOW MINISTER FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS AND INTERNATIONAL DEVELOPMENT

MEMBER FOR SYDNEY

 

E&OE TRANSCRIPT

DOORSTOP INTERVIEW

FRIDAY, 25 JULY 2014

ULTIMO

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

ENDS

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Today Show Friday, 25 July 2014

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THE HON TANYA PLIBERSEK MP

ACTING LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION

SHADOW MINISTER FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS AND INTERNATIONAL DEVELOPMENT
MEMBER FOR SYDNEY

 

E&OE TRANSCRIPT

TELEVISION INTERVIEW

TODAY SHOW

FRIDAY, 25 JULY 2014

 

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

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

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

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

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

WILKINSON: Do you think that's possible?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

PLIBERSEK: Absolutely -

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

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

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

PLIBERSEK: Thank you.

TURNBULL: Thanks very much.

ENDS

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Sky News Afternoon Agenda

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THE HON TANYA PLIBERSEK MP

ACTING LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION

SHADOW MINISTER FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS AND INTERNATIONAL DEVELOPMENT
MEMBER FOR SYDNEY

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

LIPSON: You reject Bob Carr on that?

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

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

PLIBERSEK: Thank you David.

ENDS

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