TRANSCRIPT: ABC Radio National Breakfast, Wednesday 27 July 2016

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THE HON TANYA PLIBERSEK MP
ACTING LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION
SHADOW MINISTER FOR EDUCATION
SHADOW MINISTER FOR WOMEN
MEMBER FOR SYDNEY
  

 

E&OE TRANSCRIPT
RADIO INTERVIEW
ABC RADIO NATIONAL BREAKFAST
WEDNESDAY, 27 JULY 2016

SUBJECTS: Four Corners program; Royal Commission into Northern Territory juvenile detention system; education.

 

ELLEN FANNING, PRESENTER: Tanya Plibersek, should Dylan Voller be released immediately?

TANYA PLIBERSEK, ACTING LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION: Well it’s very difficult for me to comment on the individual cases, but what I would say absolutely is that our first and most important immediate responsibility is to make sure that all of the children and young people who were shown in that footage on Monday night are safe. I can’t say from this distance the best way of ensuring their safety but that’s our first responsibility.

FANNING: When politicians tell us the Four Corners footage shocked them, and when you look at the list of Inquiries that have gone on – headlines on the ABC, views on this program, stories in the newspapers – how can anyone be shocked?

PLIBERSEK: Well I think the Four Corners investigation certainly brought home in a very real way, because of the footage that was shown of the violence against those children, the extent of the problem, the brutality of the treatment that they were receiving. I think the point you’re making is how is it that we’ve gone so long with this happening, and no one has taken action? And I think that that’s a very important question for this Royal Commission. These children have been failed by the political class, I’m happy to take my share of the responsibility for that. I think it’s important that the Commonwealth and the Territory Government both examine the information that each level of Government had and why action wasn’t taken. But we need to look beyond that as well, to the systemic failures in schooling systems, in the health system, in housing. We need to ask ourselves what’s happening in our families and communities that 10 year old children are ending up in places like this.

FANNING: Certainly the Indigenous Affairs Minister, Nigel Scullion was surprised by what was revealed on Four Corners, if revealed is the right word. This is part of his press conference yesterday:

*Excerpt of Minister for Indigenous Affairs, Nigel Scullion press conference plays*

FANNING: “It hadn’t piqued his interest sufficiently”. I mean this is a man who lives in Darwin; he knew about the issue, he’s the Federal Indigenous Affairs Minister, and yet he didn’t act?

PLIBERSEK: Well I think people will make their own judgements about that.

FANNING: What judgement do you make about it?

PLIBERSEK: I think it’s inadequate, but he’s not the only person who has let these kids down; we each need to bear a share of responsibility for it.

FANNING: You know, the Minister has been criticised by Indigenous groups for his handling of his portfolio. There will be calls for him to go.

PLIBERSEK: Well I think he’s been a completely inadequate Indigenous Affairs Minister. We’ve seen about $560 million cut from this portfolio. We’ve seen reduced access to justice, we’ve seen the offer of preschool for all 4 year olds across the country under threat, particularly in remote communities, we’ve seen family and community centres under threat or closing. I mean, I think there are a number of reasons why I would criticise this Minister, but I think it is unfair to hold him solely responsible for what is obviously a deep and systemic failure that the Northern Territory Government should also bear its share of responsibility for, and previous governments too. This is not something that’s previously -

FANNING: Previous Labor Governments?

PLIBERSEK:  I’m not shying away from that. I think this is the reason that a Royal Commission is the right response in this instance. This is a long-term and deep, systemic failure. We need to look at what’s happening inside these institutions, but we also need to look at how are we failing kids that they are ending up in places like this at such young ages.

FANNING: It’s been reported that Adam Giles, the Chief Minister of the Northern Territory once said he wanted to be Corrections Minister - he’s taken over that role yesterday - and he said he wanted the job so he could put all the bad criminals in a “big concrete hole”, even if he broke every clause in the UN Convention on the rights of the child. Is Mr Giles fit to be the Corrections Minister, or indeed the Chief Minister?

PLIBERSEK:  Again, I think people will make their own judgments about that. I don’t want to use this as a political point scoring exercise, but it is plain that is we have 10 and 11 year old kids in lock ups like this, if we brutalise them, if we deny them an education and then we put them back on the streets again, what we’re breeding are more brutal criminals who understand that if you’re strong and you’re in a position of power, the way you use that strength and power is to be violent against people who are smaller and weaker than you. Is that really what we want to teach kids who are obviously already from troubled backgrounds, from situations that I’m sure most of us cannot imagine? The fact that they’re ending up at 10 or 11 engaged with the juvenile justice system in this way means that they have had years of unimaginable treatment before that.

FANNING: Mr Giles has pointed out that Federal Labor was in charge in Government in Canberra when some of this happened; you’ve said candidly the “political class” bears responsibility. Coming back to the Northern Territory, if you have a Government here that creates a deliberate system in which children can be treated in these ways – mechanical devices – an opposition in the NT unable to muster a really focused campaign to wake people up to this, should self-government in the Top End be suspended in the public interest, because you have to say, if the Top End were run form Canberra, this wouldn’t be happening?

PLIBERSEK:  Well I hope it wouldn’t be happening and this is the point – you know, again we are in a discussion, Ellen, about whether it’s the Federal responsibility or the State responsibility, or the Conservatives or Labor – none of that matters -

FANNING: I’m actually coming to the competence of the political class in the Territory as a whole.

PLIBERSEK:  I think it’s a big call to say that a State or Territory can’t govern itself because of even a catastrophic failure like this.

FANNING: I assume that if you were asked the question in the Parliament about whether mechanical restraints should be used on children, you’d have a pretty quick -

PLIBERSEK:  Clearly no. And nor should the extensive use of isolation be used against children, nor should violence or force be used against children. It is unacceptable - the behavior that we saw on Four Corners on Monday night is unacceptable and it is important to hold the individuals who engaged in acts of violence and so on responsible, but there is a problem with a system that allows this sort of treatment of children, and there is a problem with a society that sees so many children in the juvenile justice system. And frankly, there is a broader problem with our society which is that it is more likely that a young Indigenous man goes to jail than goes to university. This is a broader issue of Indigenous incarceration.

FANNING: Alright, I want to talk about mechanical devices because the Northern Territory Assembly put those devices in the hands of those prison guards. I read the second reading speech for the Youth Justice Amendment Bill which legalised the use of mechanical devices; I want to take you to the words of Labor’s Natasha Fyles, Labor’s Shadow Attorney-General. She never at any point says, “this is outrageous” and this is her conclusion, she says: “clearly the legislators drafting the Youth Act saw the use of body restraints on youth for general purposes and maintaining good order and discipline, we feel that principal should not be let go of lightly. The concerning thing,” she says with the proposed amendments, “is the continuing ambiguity of the circumstances where the constraints can be used”. So, I mean, where does Labor stand on this? You think it’s abhorrent – your face was just a mask of disgust when I asked you that question, and yet, Territory Labor is squabbling about when and how they should be used?

PLIBERSEK:  Look, I can’t answer for all of the details that took place during the debate of that Territory legislation. Are there circumstances where you need to stop someone hurting themselves? We use straight jackets for example, that kind of thing in the health system, I would -

FANNING: No, no, no – she knew what they were talking about. They were talking about mechanical chairs. She referred to it in the debate.

PLIBERSEK:  I haven’t read the debate. And I’m not going to make any excuses for it, I think those devices are absolutely shocking. But, like I say, it’s impossible to expect me to answer for what everybody said in the debate in a Territory Parliament.

FANNING: The Attorney General, George Brandis said on 7:30 last night he’s got draft terms of reference, he does propose to take this beyond the Northern Territory. Can I ask whether the Opposition has had any input into that process?

PLIBERSEK:  Our Shadow Attorney General, Mark Dreyfus has spoken with George Brandis, I have written – I’m the Acting Leader this week – I’ve written to Malcolm Turnbull urging that it’s very important that this enquiry goes beyond the Don Dale facility, that it looks at the whole of the juvenile justice system -

FANNING: In the NT or in the whole of Australia?

PLIBERSEK:  In the Northern Territory, and indeed if there is a case for other states to be involved, we’re very open to looking at other states and territories. What I would say is in the short term, immediately, we have to make sure that the kids and young people that were shown on Monday night are safe, safe right now, because we know that they weren’t safe when this footage was taken, we know that the facility was not appropriately caring for them and protecting them, we know that whistleblowers often cop a pretty hard time after they’ve exposed this sort of behaviour, we need to ensure their safety immediately. We then need to look at the juvenile justice system – how the system itself is operating – and what is it that is funneling so many kids into this system? We need to look at alternatives, like the justice reinvestment project in Bourke, making sure that we are reducing incarceration rates, and also we reduce offending rates.

FANNING: Well Adam Giles says he wants to build a new juvenile justice facility – will that be iced while all this goes on?

PLIBERSEK:  Well I think the conditions in that facility probably do need to be improved immediately, and maybe they could put a school in there as well so that when young people get out of juvenile justice they’ve actually got an education and some skills.

FANNING: We will come to your education portfolio in just a moment but what we have learned from all of this is places where the light doesn’t shine amongst marginalised people, there is always the potential for abuse and I can’t think of a more fitting description of offshore detention centres than that I’ve just given, “places where the light doesn’t shine with vulnerable people”, should those centres be included in the terms of reference? Children are in detention there.

PLIBERSEK:  Well I think those places absolutely need greater transparency and greater scrutiny, and that’s why before the last election Labor said that we would do everything we could to allow better access, including to journalists, to those facilities, and to ensure that we had an independent childrens commissioner whose sole job it was to look after the interests of children who are in those circumstances

FANNING: And that’s a better option than including it in the Royal Commission terms of reference?

PLIBERSEK:  Well, you’re talking about other countries. Our Royal Commissions don’t operate in countries that have their own legal systems, so we can do what we can do to shed greater light and insist on greater accountability.

FANNING: Now you’ve moved from Foreign Affairs to head up Labor’s Education team. As Deputy Leader you’re supposed to be allowed to pick your portfolio, so you must have specific things that you want to achieve?

PLIBERSEK:  Absolutely. I think education – I loved the foreign affairs portfolio, it was very interesting, I enjoyed it very much, but education has always been a passion of mine and for two reasons really - because the individuals who, you know every kid in Australia deserves a decent education, every child deserves a decent education and it’s the best ticket out of poverty and out of disadvantage that we have. But it’s also really important for us as a nation. If we invest in education, we can be an innovation nation; we can prepare our young people for the jobs of the future. It’s the key to greater productivity and greater prosperity for Australia. So, both for the individual power that education has, and for the importance of it as a driver of our national prosperity, I think it’s an incomparable portfolio to take on.

FANNING: Over schools around the place, you still see the signs ‘Give a Gonski’.  Would you ever compromise with the Government over the Gonski funding, to get more funds flowing?

PLIBERSEK:  Well, what compromise are they offering?  They’ve cut $29 billion over the decade from our schools system. There is no compromise on offer here.  They say that they’ve met their responsibilities as far as, you know Christopher Pyne said they’re on a unity ticket with Labor on Gonski school education funding.  They said no school would be worse off under them – well they’ve cut $29 billion.  Where is the room for compromise? I will not resile from a needs-based funding system that says that every child in every school in every part of Australia deserves the very best education. This isn’t about the funding formula alone – it’s what that extra money buys.   It buys more specialist teaching.  It buys early intervention for kids who are falling behind.  It buys extension programs for kids who are bright and to keep them engaged in schooling. It buys extra-curricular activity – languages, music – it makes schools a place that kids want to be.  We are falling behind internationally.  We are slipping in all of the rankings – around literacy, around numeracy, around science.  We need to reverse that.

FANNING: I can imagine you going into the new office, education minister, opening the cupboard and there’s a little bit of a mess in the cupboard, and that is Labor’s past policy decisions in higher ed, uncapping university places which the Group of Eight want to end, student loans for vocational education and training’s been a disaster. We’ve seen Labor move to moderate these policies recently.  Can we expect further changes on those, just briefly?

PLIBERSEK:  Well I’m actually really proud of the fact that there’s 190,000 extra undergraduate students at our universities because of Labor. That one in four of the 750,000 or so undergraduate places is because Labor made it easier for kids to be the first in their family to go to university.  I’m proud of that.  Just as Gough Whitlam made it possible for a generation of Australians who never pictured themselves at university, to go to university, we need to keep extending the opportunity that university offers to kids who will be the first in their family, from low SES backgrounds, and so on.

FANNING: And vocational education?

PLIBERSEK:  Vocational education, absolutely. The dodgy colleges who are ripping students off need to be brought to heel and in fact a number of them should be closed. They are money-making factories for unscrupulous people -

FANNING: Propped up by these student loans schemes.

PLIBERSEK: Absolutely.

FANNING: Not such a great idea, hey.

PLIBERSEK:  No, it’s a great idea for colleges who are working properly.  There are some providers, including and I’d say TAFE first among them that offer a great quality, affordable education that people can dip into throughout their lives to upgrade their skills, to get a second chance.  The fact that there are unscrupulous people operating in this sector doesn’t mean that the vocational education sector is wrong, it means we have to crack down on those unscrupulous operators, crack down in the hardest possible way on people who are ripping off some very vulnerable students.

FANNING: Tanya Plibersek, thank you so much for making time.

PLIBERSEK:  Thank you.

ENDS

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TRANSCRIPT: Doorstop, Sydney, Wednesday 27 July 2016

commonwealthcoatofarms_4_.png 

THE HON TANYA PLIBERSEK MP
ACTING LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION
SHADOW MINISTER FOR EDUCATION
SHADOW MINISTER FOR WOMEN
MEMBER FOR SYDNEY
 

ANDREW GILES MP
SHADOW ASSISTANT MINISTER FOR SCHOOLS

 

 

 

E&OE TRANSCRIPT
DOORSTOP INTERVIEW
SYDNEY
WEDNESDAY, 27 JULY 2016

SUBJECTS: Labor's plan for schools; Four Corners program; Royal Commission into Northern Territory juvenile detention system; Kevin Rudd's nominatino for UN Sectretary-General.

 

JOHN FARRELL, PRINCIPAL: Good morning everybody and I'd especially like to welcome Tanya and Andrew to Our Lady Of Mount Carmel Catholic Primary School at Waterloo which we are very proud of as a school that has benefited from needs-based funding, but have appreciated the autonomy to be able to make the decisions that are required to help our children achieve the very best potential across the spectrum.  And our community here at Waterloo is an incredible community, we are very fortunate to work with the children that we work with each day and the families we get to meet and work with each day. There is another issue in the community which is an important one at the moment and it's the destruction of the towers, the public housing in Redfern and Waterloo which certainly, the accommodation needs to be upgraded, but it's so paramount that our families are given affordable alternatives as they so wish to remain in the area and we're very much hoping to help our families through that transition period as well. So, welcome Tanya and Andrew and we're very pleased to have you here at our school. 

TANYA PLIBERSEK, ACTING LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION: Thanks very much Principal John Farrell and thank you to the community here at Our Lady Of Mount Carmel school. We've had a great tour around from the school leaders and we've also of course met with a kindy class who are doing a great job today on their maths. They were drawing equal groups of shapes and showing their foundational mathematics skills as they were doing it, as well as foundational writing skills.

Today, at Our Lady Of Mount Carmel you see a school that has already benefited from increased needs based funding. This is a school that serves a very diverse community. It's in the heart of a very low socio-economic area, which means that a lot of the kids who start have parents who haven't had a lot of education opportunities or advantages before they start school. In fact I remember when I first met Mr Farrell here, he was pretty new at the school and he loved the school then as he does now, but he told me all those years ago that he was quite surprised that he was seeing children starting school who didn't really know how to look at a book, didn't know which way around it went, didn't know how to hold a pencil or use scissors, or any of the skills that you would expect kindy kids to start school with if they've had a decent pre-school education or the opportunity to go to play group and so on. If those children start school behind their peers, the danger of course is that they'll go throughout their schooling careers falling further and further behind with their confidence and their skills really under pressure.  So the Gonski needs-based funding in this school has allowed Mr Farrell and the school community to pick up on those kids who are at risk of falling behind and invest in them to make sure that they are brought up to the standard of their peers, to make sure that their opportunity to learn is as great as the opportunity of any other child. Mr Farrell has been talking about extra teachers, teacher’s aides, occupational therapists, speech therapists. And in a moment, I'll get him to tell you about a little bit more about those outside specialties and the way they have been brought into the school and the way they operate here. I just want to make this clear point: this school is already benefiting because of extra needs-based funding. Schools like this around Australia are already benefiting because of extra needs-based funding. That is all at risk if the Liberal Government continue with their plan to cut $29 billion from needs-based funding for our schools over coming years. Schools like this will struggle. Students like the ones we met today will struggle unless we continue to invest in the extra teaching and learning opportunities that they need to catch up with and keep up with their peers. I want to make this broader economic point as well; unless we invest in education, this nation cannot be an innovation nation, we cannot see this nation prosper, we cannot see the sort of discovery, innovation, increases in productivity that we want to see for this country unless we invest in education. Australia used to be a leading country in educational outcomes, in maths, in science, in literacy and we fall further and further behind because nations that we are competing with globally are investing more and they are doing it smarter than we are. Labor began to right this wrong with the Gonski needs-based funding system. We must continue on this path of investing more and investing smarter and increasing the results that we are see from our kids, from our schools, to make sure that we remain globally competitive.

Mr Farrell could I ask you just to talk briefly about the occupational therapy and speech pathology that the kids are getting at the school and the difference it’s making?

FARRELL: Thanks Tanya.

We have been very fortunate to be able to have the funding available to make some early interventions with our kindergarten children with speech therapists and occupational therapists. These specialists are able to attend sessions with our children twice a week and we ensure that we have a staff member with these specialists so that we are able to build the capacity of our staff to be able to be able to continue those interventions throughout the week. We know that you get real change, you get real developments in the children's capacity when they have the interventions consistently over the week.  If these interventions did not happen our children would fall further behind. We had evidence today, our children are doing incredibly with the support and with the expert teaching as well. It is so important to have that personnel being able to implement interventions that we need.

PLIBERSEK: Thanks Mr Farrell. Andrew, did you want to say a few words?

ANDREW GILES, SHADOW ASSISTANT MINISTER FOR SCHOOLS: Thanks very much Tanya, it is very hard to follow John's words and indeed yours, but I think it is important to make a couple of additional observations. Firstly, as a Melbournian how pleased I am to be in your electorate Tanya, and to see blue sky for the first time in quite a while. But also just to touch on what a great privilege it is to visit this very special school community and to emphasise this: while it is one thing to understand what the reports and the evidence tell us about the importance of needs-based funding, it's quite another thing to see it on the ground. To see it in the classroom and to hear it from the student leaders at this school. It has really demonstrated to me how critical it is going to be over the life of this Parliament to tell the stories of schools and school communities like this. To give voice to the hopes and the aspirations of the kids we have met today and the wonderful teachers who support them, who need needs-based funding, who need a Government that is prepared to invest in their future and all of our future. So thank you very much for coming to hear a bit about this today.

PLIBERSEK: Thanks Andrew. Any questions?

JOURNALIST: On the issue of a Royal Commission into detention centres in the Northern Territory, the Prime Minister revealed this morning that it would be limited to just the Northern Territory, are you satisfied with that?

PLIBERSEK: Well I think it is very early to be making such decisions. I think that it would be in fact much wiser for the Government to work with the Opposition, for the Government to work with the Government of the Northern Territory and also the Northern Territory Opposition to draft a terms of reference that do look at the whole of the Northern Territory juvenile justice system. If during the next few days and weeks evidence emerges that this is a problem that is more broad-spread than what we saw on Monday night in the Northern Territory, I think that it is very important for the Government to be open to looking more broadly at the juvenile justice systems in other states and across the country. We need to be aware that over the next few days and next few weeks, more information might emerge. The Government would be wise to just pause now and to be open to terms of reference that actually allow us to get to the bottom of some of the systemic failings in juvenile justice.

JOURNALIST: You could always extend the terms of reference later, it's quite common isn't it?

PLIBERSEK:
I think it is possible that in 6 months or a year the terms of reference could be expanded to look at other states and territories. I just think it's very important that in the first few days after revelations like this, we're looking at possible terms of reference for the Northern Territory, but we should be aware that further evidence might come to light, further evidence that this is a problem not just in the Northern Territory but elsewhere, and in that case we have to be open to looking at other states and territories.

JOURNALIST: The Prime Minister is in Cairns today on a Border Force boat to celebrate what he says is 2 years since a successful people smuggling operation has made it to Australia.  Is that true and is it something to celebrate?

PLIBERSEK: Well I think what it shows is if the Liberals had been prepared to work with Labor on our proposed arrangement with Malaysia we could've made a difference much earlier than this.

JOURNALIST: But is it something then to mark, positively?

PLIBERSEK: Well I think we're all pleased that we haven't seen further loss of lives at sea, at the same time we have to understand that globally we see well over 60 million displaced people. Australia has made commitments for example to take more people from Syria, we don't seem to have fulfilled our commitments in that respect yet - so I think celebration is not the word I would use. 

JOURNALIST: Just on Kevin Rudd as well, Julie Bishop's come out and said that he'd be a good fit for the UN top job. What are your thoughts on his, I guess, would he be a good fit for that role?

PLIBERSEK: Well of course he would be, I mean he's a distinguished former Prime Minister and Foreign Minister and I think most Australians would be surprised to think that anybody in the Government is considering not backing an Australian candidate for such an important international role.

JOURNALIST: Do you know what happened with Peter Costello and the IMF? There's some suggestion that when Labor was in government they didn't promote his aspirations there.

PLIBERSEK: Well I don't know whether Peter Costello ever came to us with a proposal that he should be supported for the IMF. We supported him for appointment to the Future Fund, which is a very responsible domestic position. He asked for that, we supported his, we supported him in that aspiration, I think it's a bit difficult to support someone for a job they've never applied for - as far as I know. If someone can show me evidence of something different, I'd be interested to see it. Thanks everyone.

ENDS

 

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TRANSCRIPT: Doorstop, Melbourne, Tuesday 26 July 2016

 

commonwealthcoatofarms_4_.png 

THE HON TANYA PLIBERSEK MP
ACTING LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION
SHADOW MINISTER FOR EDUCATION
SHADOW MINISTER FOR WOMEN
MEMBER FOR SYDNEY
 

THE HON MARK DREYFUS QC MP
SHADOW ATTORNEY-GENERAL
SHADOW MINISTER FOR NATIONAL SECURITY
MEMBER FOR ISAACS

ANDREW GILES MP
SHADOW ASSISTANT MINISTER FOR SCHOOLS

TIM WATTS MP
MEMBER FOR GELLIBRAND

 

 

E&OE TRANSCRIPT
DOORSTOP INTERVIEW
MELBOURNE
TUESDAY,26JULY 2016

SUBJECTS: Four Corners program; Royal Commission into Northern Territory juvenile detention system; Needs-based school funding.

 

TANYA PLIBERSEK, ACTING LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION: Well thanks very much for coming out today. I wanted to start with a few comments about the shocking story on Four Corners last night. I think any Australian, any human being anywhere would have been shocked by the footage that Four Corners obtained of children in detention being beaten, isolated and gassed.  

It's impossible to think that this has been happening in Australia, in the Northern Territory for a number of years. Of course Labor supports the Royal Commission that's been proposed by the Prime Minister today. It is absolutely vital that we get to the bottom of what was happening in this detention facility.  

Of course, over the next few days we would expect consultation with the Government on the terms of the Royal Commission, on the Royal Commissioner who will be appointed.

I think there is, over the next few days and over coming weeks, something else that will happen in our Australian community which is a broader and deeper discussion of how it is that 10 and 12-year-old children end up in the juvenile justice system. We need to look at the system in the Northern Territory, at the particular institution, the actions of the people who are employed there, what the Government knew - all of these questions will be asked, but I think we have really a deeper responsibility as a society and as a community to ask ourselves how it is that 10, 11-year-old boys ended up in the juvenile justice system in the first place. How have they been let down by the broader community, by schools, by their families? What is it that's led them to the troubled lives and the behaviour that's taken them into contact with the juvenile justice system?

I'm going to ask Mark Dreyfus to say a few words about the Royal Commission and also about the Indigenous justice targets that Labor has suggested be included in the Closing the Gap strategy, because while ever we live in a country where it is more likely that a young Indigenous man ends up in jail than in university, we need to take a systemic approach to reducing rates of incarceration and rates of offending in the first place. Thanks Mark.

MARK DREYFUS, SHADOWN ATTORNEY-GENERAL: This has been a great shock to I think, any right thinking Australian, the footage that we saw on the Four Corners program last night. It's why Labor has straight away backed the Government's announcement that there is to be a Royal Commission.

What we would urge on the Government is that it be a full examination of the juvenile justice system in the Northern Territory. It shouldn't just be confined to the particular prison where these young boys were kept, in fact where these young boys were tortured. We need to make sure that it's a systemic inquiry.

During the election campaign, Labor announced our commitment to introduce as part of Closing the Gap, justice targets for the Indigenous community of Australia, and with that we announced our commitment also to look much more closely at schemes that are referred to as justice re-investment. Something that has been already tried by the community of Bourke in NSW, that the South Australian Government is prepared to support, some investigations of it, and we think that this approach of looking at alternatives to imprisonment is something that is essential.

It doesn't mean being soft on crime in any way. It means that we have to look hard at whether or not we should continue to invest huge sums in jailing very, very high numbers of Indigenous people and particularly Indigenous young people across Australia. Quite possibly it would be a far better investment and that's why it's called justice re-investment, it would be a far better investment to explore community-based options, other options to move Indigenous young people away from a path of crime into more fruitful lives in the community.

PLIBERSEK: Any questions?

JOURNALIST:  You said you would consult with the Government on the Terms of Reference. At this early stage, how broad would you like the terms of the reference be?

PLIBERSEK:  Well, we shouldn't decide the terms of reference of a Royal Commission by press conference, but what we would say generally is that it seems that this abuse has occurred in one particular facility. We would like a Royal Commission to look more broadly at the system, the juvenile justice system in the Northern Territory. We want to examine whether similar things are happening in other places. We want to make sure that we look at the pathways that these young people have followed that mean that they're in juvenile justice at such early ages, and we want to examine whether there are better alternatives than seeing such young children in this sort of detention.

JOURNALIST:  Do you think maybe it should go further than just the Northern Territory then and look at other places in Australia of youth detention centres across Australia?

 

PLIBERSEK: Well, I think we need to take this one step at a time and in the first instance examine what is clearly completely unacceptable treatment of young people in these facilities in the Northern Territory, and we'll be looking with the Northern Territory Government and the Federal Government at the terms of reference over coming weeks.

 

JOURNALIST:  Do you believe Northern Territory officials knew enough information to act before this vision was aired last night on Four Corners?

 

PLIBERSEK: Well, certainly I can't answer that question. I think that is exactly the sort of question a Royal Commission would look at.

 

JOURNALIST:  Should the Royal Commission look at the incarceration of Indigenous people more broadly, so either adults or children?

 

PLIBERSEK: Well, again I'd say that it is important not to try and draft the terms of reference of a Royal Commission like this on the run. We need to sit down with the Commonwealth Government, with the Northern Territory Government and look at preliminary investigations and evidence to decide the proper terms of reference. It's important to take this approach - methodically. A royal commission is something that is not done lightly, it has extraordinary powers, it's important to ask questions that can really lead to systemic changes, to the righting of systemic wrongs. Mark, do you want to add a little bit to that?

 

DREYFUS: Only to say that the criminal justice system is intended to serve a purpose, it's intended to serve the purpose of preventing crime, of protecting our community from crime, and to have an inquiry that merely looked at conditions in jails in the Northern Territory in detention centres in the Northern Territory doesn't actually answer all of the questions that we want answered here, which includes why are there so many young Aboriginal boys in detention in the first place? What were the alternatives to them going into detention in these conditions? So it's not just the conditions under which they were kept and the dreadful treatment that was meted out to them, it's also the preliminary questions, the first questions, which are why were they there in the first place? Were there possibilities of them not going there? What else could be done? And that necessarily demands a wider inquiry certainly than just looking at the centre but we would suggest also, and I agree with Tanya, that we don't wish to draft here in a press conference, but we think this inquiry should be looking at the criminal justice system as a whole in the Northern Territory. 

 

JOURNALIST:  But that's not just an issue for the NT, WA also has quite high levels of young Indigenous incarcerations, so do you think there is a value at in looking in it at any other level because it isn't just an NT issue?

 

PLIBERSEK: Let's just take this one step at a time. Today we are focused on incredibly disturbing footage that was released last night on Four Corners. In the process of developing terms of reference, no doubt there'll be greater attention and scrutiny of the Northern Territory system. If other issues emerge, then they can be considered over coming days.

 

JOURNALIST:  Barnaby Joyce has said that the broader the terms of reference, the longer it's going to take. Is there a concern that if it becomes too broad, then the commission's not going to be able to zero in on the abuse at Don Dale itself?

 

PLIBERSEK: Well, again, I don't think it's productive to have that sort of speculation at this very early stage. We need to be methodical and sensible about the way we take this on. Of course we need to look at this particular institution and the failures that allowed this sort of treatment of children to occur. But we need to put that in a setting, in a context, as Mark has described, and look at the broader juvenile justice system because that gives us some answers about alternatives and systemic failures that have allowed this sort of abuse. OK. We might go to education now, if that's OK?

It's great to be here with Andrew Giles, who is assisting me with the schools part of the education portfolio, and with Tim Watts who is the local Member for this magnificent school. I want to thank the Principal, Brendan for having us here today and the school leaders who have shown us all around the school, and all of the terrific kids who we have met on the visit.

We were very lucky to see both a music classroom and a maths lesson, in an early stages classroom today. And, I guess there's a couple of things I'd say about this, the sort of music teaching that I saw today really would make coming to school a joy for many kids and it is exactly the sort of enrichment activity that a needs-based funding system allows.

We then went into the maths classroom, or the prep classroom, and saw the young children studying maths telling us their maths stories and using their storytelling to show us their ability to add, and do addition. We know that Australia has actually been going backwards on all of the international measures on how we do in mathematics and numeracy. It is a real challenge for us as a nation, because we know that the jobs of the future, the sort of industries that we'll see growing in Australia in years to come, the sort of jobs that involve mathematics, coding, numeracy, science-based learning, computational thinking, they're the sort of jobs that will be the high paying jobs of the future.

Seeing these basic maths skills taught so well by these dedicated teachers is a real key to understanding what we have to do more of in the future to make sure that our schooling system stops falling behind on these international measures. We've seen in Australia in recent years, Australia going from being at the top of the league table, near the top of the league tables, in maths, in reading, in writing, falling through every testing cycle lower and lower on international rankings. It is completely unacceptable. The reason that Labor undertook the Gonski school education review, the reason why we committed in the first instance to a needs-based funding system is because we know that every Australian child, in every school, in every part of Australia, deserves every opportunity to succeed.

Today we saw the music lesson that gives kids a new way of engaging at school, makes enthusiastic learners, helps them learn the fundamentals of music and perhaps discover a talent in a child that they never knew they had, makes them confident learners. And we saw foundational skills like addition in the mathematics lesson that are absolutely necessary for kids to get the basics right. Unless we have a decent needs-based funding system the sort of extra support that schools like this have received in the last couple of years, that have allowed extension activities, that have allowed teachers to upgrade their skills, that have allowed investment in catch-up lessons for kids who are falling behind and extension lessons for kids who are really good at a particular subject, to keep them interested and engaged. We can't do that without a needs-based funding system that Labor is committed to.

Over the next three years, Labor will be saying every single day that the choice is clear: you can have a Liberal Government that is prepared to cut $29 Billion from Australian schools or you can have a Labor Government that will invest in needs-based funding, so that every child, in every school, can get every opportunity. It's really important that individual kids, the kids that are falling behind to get the extra
individual teaching that allows them to catch up so that they, as soon as any problem with their learning is identified, we can invest in them and bring them up to the same speed as their peers. It is really important for kids who are gifted or talented to have those gifts explored, to give them the excitement of being able to keep developing the skills that they have.

It is really important for individual kids because a great education is the golden ticket, it is the key to a lifetime of opportunity. But it is really important for our nation too. There is no way that we can be an innovation nation unless we are an education nation. There is no way that we can be economically successful, that we can prepare our young people for the jobs of the future unless we invest in education. Every economist will tell you that this sort of investment will increase our prosperity as a nation over time. So both for the individuals that get a better education and for the future of our nation, this investment is absolutely critical and we will continue to make the case every single day for a needs-based funding system that meets the needs of every Australian child.

 

I am going to ask Andrew to say a few words because this is his first outing as my assistant minister.

 

ANDREW GILES, SHADOW ASSISTANT MINISTER FOR SCHOOLS: Thank you very much Tanya. It is a real honour to be Tanya's assistant in this important policy area and I would like to thank Bill Shorten for giving me this extraordinary opportunity and in making education a real priority for Labor in this term in Parliament. I would also like to acknowledge the amazing work of Kate Ellis and Amanda Rishworth in the last term in building on the solid foundations Labor set in Government through the Gonski review and starting on its implementation. 

 

As Tanya has just outlined, needs-based education is vital to the well-being of Australian students but also to the well-being of Australia's economy [inaudible]. And today, at Footscray West Primary School which has been great to visit with my colleague, Tim Watts, we've seen some prep-kids [inaudible]. Two amazing reminders of just how important it is that we get it right. That we deliver funding for schools based on the needs of the individual students. As Tanya has said, this is vital for those students, it is vital for their [inaudible]. But as Labor knows, as we will explain to the Australian people every day over the life of this Parliament, it is vital to securing Australia's living standards. The choice that we are going to be putting forward, that we have been putting forward, is pretty clear - between corporate tax-cuts or investing in Australia's greatest renewable resource, people. 

 

TIM WATTS, MEMBER FOR GELLIBRAND: Well thank you Tanya and Andrew. I am thrilled to be able to welcome Labor's new Shadow Education team to Footscray West Primary School, in their centenary year, on this marvellous Melbourne morning. I thank the principal Brendan Miller and the student leaders, Lily-Rose and Harvey for showing us around the school and the excellent work that their teachers are doing in giving them every opportunity in the future. And I am really particularly thrilled that Tanya and Andrew were able to see an important part of the needs-based schools funding story - and that's the extra help that it gives to kids from non-English speaking backgrounds. The importance of this was sheeted home to me recently when I was taking my daughter to school just down the road in Footscray to start prep earlier this year and I was at the school gate talking to another Dad and I leaned over to him and said "How are you settling in? How are the kids going?". And he said that he was really worried because in his home, they didn't speak English at home, they were new arrivals in Australia and he was concerned that his child wouldn't be able to keep up with the other new kids starting prep that year. I was really proud to be able to tell him that Labor's needs-based schools funding formula would give his kids the additional help they need so that they can realise every opportunity in the same way as every other student. In the electorate that I represent, around two-thirds of my constituents were born overseas or have a parent born overseas. So in Melbourne's West, we get the importance of needs-based schools funding on a really fundamental level. So in that respect, I am really thrilled to be able to welcome Tanya and Andrew here today to see this first hand. As I was thrilled to welcome Bill Shorten and Kate Ellis to this school some months ago to see the work first hand as well. So I am very enthusiastic about continuing the policy work that Labor has done over the last 3 years and continuing to put forward that very important policy choice to everyone in Melbourne's West. 

 

Thank you.

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TRANSCRIPT: Doorstop, Sydney, Tuesday 19 July

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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
DOORSTOP INTERVIEW
SYDNEY
TUESDAY,19 JULY 2016

SUBJECTS: Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull's new Cabinet; the representation of women in Parliament; the nomination of former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd as UN Secretary-General; US Vice President Joe Biden's visit to Australia;  Sonia Krugers comments

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TRANSCRIPT: ABC AM, Friday 8 July

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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 AM
FRIDAY, 8 JULY 2016

SUBJECTS: The 2016 Federal Election

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TRANSCRIPT: ABC RN Drive, Thursday 7 July

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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 RN DRIVE
THURSDAY, 7 JULY 2016

SUBJECTS: The 2016 Federal Election; the Chilcot Report

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TRANSCRIPT: ABC Capital Hill, Monday 4 July

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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 CAPITAL HILL
MONDAY, 4 JULY 2016

SUBJECTS: Labor's positive plan for Australia; division and disunity in the Liberal Party; Federal election.

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TRANSCRIPT: ABC RN BREAKFAST, Monday 4 July

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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 RN BREAKFAST
MONDAY, 4 JULY 2016

SUBJECTS: Federal election; division and disunity in the Liberal Party; possibility of a hung parliament; Labor's and medicare; Leadership.

 

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TRANSCRIPT: Doorstop, Sydney, Saturday 2 July

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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
DOORSTOP INTERVIEW
SYDNEY
SATURDAY, 2 JULY 2016

SUBJECTS: Election; Labor's positive plans for Australia; Liberals' plans for a $50 billion tax cut for big business.

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TRANSCRIPT: ABC Newsradio, Friday 1 July

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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 NEWSRADIO
FRIDAY, 1 JULY 2016

SUBJECTS: The election; Medicare: Labor's positive plans for Australia; division and disunity in the Liberal Party; Victoria volunteer firefighters dispute.

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