By Tanya Plibersek

12 November 2020





SUBJECTS: Energy; jobs. 
ALAN JONES, HOST: Well let's go to the panel. Tanya Plibersek, the former Deputy Leader of the Labor Party. As I've said before, a very difficult woman to catch out. I see her described today as a potential leader of the Federal Labor Party. Not far off the mark. She does her homework and prosecutes her case simply and effectively. Amanda Stoker, a Liberal Senator, the Liberal Party seem determined to keep people like Amanda Stoker on the sideline. There's talk of a ministerial reshuffle at the end of the year - if there's no room for women like, the government must be in great shape. Very humble beginnings, but Amanda has an enormous capacity to contribute to policy formulation in this country. I wonder why leaders are so often threatened by talent, but there you are. Now good evening to both of you. Tanya, I must say to you congratulations on 30 years of marriage to Michael and I rather, I rather like the message that you sent.
TANYA PLIBERSEK, SHADOW MINISTER FOR EDUCATION: Thanks Alan. It's actually 30 years since our first date but 20 years of marriage yesterday. 
JONES: Oh right.
PLIBERSEK: And he is, he's a saint, Alan, putting up with me for that long.
JONES: There you are.
PLIBERSEK: Three beautiful children. We're very lucky.
JONES: Well now look, some are saying that this week for Labor could mark the beginning of the end of the leader, Anthony Albanese. Joel Fitzgibbon made the simple point, Labor in the 21st century talks more about climate change than it does about jobs. Isn't it true Tanya, that at the last election all that stuff Bill Shorten went on with about renewable energy and the death of coal and certain victory became humiliating defeat. Come on, you're described today as a potential leader, who's listening to Fitzgibbon?
PLIBERSEK: I'm a very proud member of Anthony's team. He's doing a great job. And for me Alan, I think we've all been talking this year, 2020, as never before, about first of all keeping people safe and healthy with Covid-19, this new threat that's emerged. And secondly with economic recovery. We are in the worst recession we've seen in Australia for a hundred years and my focus has been a hundred per cent on jobs, on security. on making sure- 
JONES: That's not his point. That's not his point. He cited- 
PLIBERSEK: Alan, this is the point: we are focused on jobs and recovery, on building things, on making things, on jobs in the caring economy-
JONES: But you've taken a climate change policy, taken a climate change policy to the election over and over again, whether it's Gillard or Rudd or Shorten and you've been hammered, and this is the point he's making. I mean it's easy to be pure in opposition, but how do you win government? Amanda, this should have been an easy week for Labor. There was Turnbull and his mates at the ABC trying to destroy two Liberal Ministers and talking up a so-called sex scandal, the government seemed in trouble on JobSeeker - so the government should have been on the ropes by the end of summer. Some are saying this could mark the beginning of the end. How do you see it given you’re on the other side? 
AMANDA STOKER, SENATOR FOR QUEENSLAND: Well, I think it's a little bit rich for Tanya to say that they're focused on the economy when they spent the entire week tearing one another apart, hurling slurs at one another, over what their climate policy should be because what we know is that the dominant extreme environmentalist faction seems to dominate at the moment and there's a small group of people in the team who seem to understand that you can't have a green utopia without clean, reliable, dispatchable energy and the jobs that come with it. So I mean, the sooner they start listening to Joel, the sooner they'll be on the right track, but that's a journey for them, not, not for me. Meanwhile this week, we've been, we continue delivering for the Australian people. We've now secured contracts for 134-
JONES: Amanda. I don't think you've had a flash week either but I just want to come to Tanya. Now Tanya, I'm going to say to you, no use being a shrinking violet. You're seen by many as a Labor leader who could win. What would you do differently from Albanese to bring Joel Fitzgibbon back into the tent?
PLIBERSEK: Anthony is the Labor leader who will win. And as part of his team I'll keep my razor sharp focus on jobs. We are in the worst recession we've seen in a hundred years. I am desperate for people to have security, to have opportunity. Look, I remember Alan when I was a kid growing up, my dad would bring the pay packet home every week - and it wasn't a fat pay packet, but it came home every week. We never worried, from week to week, whether there'd be a roof over our heads and food on the table. And that's really what I want for all Australians, that sense of certainty. And if you've got that confidence, you go out and spend and you create jobs for other people.
JONES: Tanya, I know this is uncomfortable for you, but nonetheless there was a 14 per cent swing against Joel Fitzgibbon in the electorate because he said workers in the coal generation, oil and gas sectors, he said have come to believe that Labor no longer supports them or the industry they work in and he says these workers historically said, they constantly hear people saying that their chosen career - mining - represents an existential threat to humankind, must be stopped in its tracks. So Tanya would you - 
PLIBERSEK: Alan, I have literally never heard someone in the Labor Party say that. I am proud of the fact we've got a strong mining industry in this country. And I won't be lectured to by the Liberals or the Nationals or the LNP in Queensland about standing side-by-side with mining workers. When the mining workers at the Oaky North mine were locked out by their employer, it was Labor that stood next to them. Not the LNP. The Liberals and the Nationals want to make it easier to sack mining workers, to replace them with contract workers, to drive down their wages, to put them on contracts and replace them with labour hire. That's their record. Not defending mining jobs in this country. That's their record.
JONES: Well okay now don't you get a swell head - that's possibly why you should be the leader because politics is about perceptions and the perception is what Fitzgibbon has said, that people out there who used to vote for Labor in the mining industry think that actually we're an existential threat to the world, climate change is the problem. I mean, at the end of the day. Can I just come to you Amanda - in spite of all these problems, I mean Scott Morrison has been on the television since February. Albanese couldn't even make a run, you can't, that's the environment. Then you have to say oh, well what are Albanese's policies and you couldn't articulate them. But there's a poll this week 51-49, virtually a dead heat. Is there a warning in all of this for the coalition government? Amanda.
STOKER: Look, I think it shows that people want both sides of politics to be working hard in the national interest and I got to tell you, I don't bother asking people about what Labor's energy policy is because they don't have one. All they know is -
PLIBERSEK: You've had 22, Amanda. You've had 22 energy policies and it's that uncertainty that's killing jobs.
STOKER: The most common thing that people tell me -the most common thing that people tell me when I'm out and about is how much they appreciate and desperately need and have been saved by many of the supports, the record supports that have been put in place to get them through Covid shock.
JONES: Yeah but hang on Amanda, Amanda, Amanda, hang on, Amanda hang on. Joe Biden's just talked rubbish about climate change. And Scott Morrison has said 'I'll be talking to Joe Biden, and we'll work something out on climate change'. Amanda, Tanya, I just want to ask you one question before we go. The reality is, as Fitzgibbon said, in 1987 Labor's primary vote at the election was 48.2; at the last Federal election it was 33 per cent. How - you can't win government on those figures. How do you lift it for somewhere between 33 and 48? A quick answer.
PLIBERSEK: We need to keep our focus on jobs Alan. That's what my focus is.
JONES: That’s what he said.
PLIBERSEK: On building things in this country, on making things, on jobs with decent pay and conditions, on lifting the wages of people who work in areas like aged care and child care who are doing the heavy lifting in our community. And seriously Alan, we've got a Liberal Party and a National Party that wants to cut their pay, cut their penalty rates, calls these people heroes during Covid-19 and then just wants to make their jobs less secure and pay them less. They want tax cuts for high-income earners and pay cuts for low-income earners. That's their economic plan.
JONES: All right. All right. 
STOKER: And there goes the class war rhetoric again. 
JONES: Well, we'll come back next week to revisit the class war. Good to have you both on the program, good thinking, good arguments. There they are, Amanda Stoker and Tanya Plibersek.
PLIBERSEK: Always a pleasure, Alan.