By Tanya Plibersek

06 June 2024




CHRIS O'KEEFE, HOST: Tanya Plibersek is the Federal Environment Minister and Member for Sydney, she's on the line. Tanya, thanks for your time.


O'KEEFE: It's been quite interesting to see such a bipartisan pushback against elements of the Greens.

MINISTER PLIBERSEK: Look, I think most mainstream Australians were absolutely horrified by the Hamas attack in Israel and most people have been incredibly distressed to see the very high civilian death toll in Gaza. So, the mainstream Australian community, I think, pretty much agrees that there should be a humanitarian ceasefire. The hostages must be released, all of these things. Instead of being part of that mainstream, the Greens are setting themselves apart, trying to feed division and support attacks on MP's offices, the blockading of MP's offices. They've been associated with organisations, sort of spreading stuff on the internet calling for death to the ALP. It is really quite extraordinary and extreme language. And you've got Greens MP's and senators turning up to these protests, actually stopping ordinary members of the public trying to get in to see their MP for help with their tax return or their Veterans' Affairs problem, or their Social Security problem, or their disability support package, stopping those people actually being able to get into MP's offices.

O'KEEFE: Minister, not to be flippant, but this is almost the grand final for the Greens because, you know, I know, we both went to universities and at O-week, if you're a left-wing young person, then in the O-week welcome bag, you receive a whole bunch of bumper stickers and Free Palestine is one of them. So, it feels to me that this is simply a political game for the Greens and they've almost been conditioned like this.

MINISTER PLIBERSEK: Well, I'll tell you what. I mean, I am a supporter of a two-state solution. That means…

O'KEEFE: Normal people are.

MINISTER PLIBERSEK: Yeah, I support the state of Israel and its right to exist behind secure, internationally defined borders. I support the right of a Palestinian state and I want to see people successfully living side by side. And it actually shocks me to see some of the language and some of the rhetoric we've seen from elected members of parliament. You know, we've had them accusing the main political parties of being complicit in genocide. They've been spreading false information about votes in parliament, they've been spreading false information about Australia's trade with Israel as suggesting that we're selling Israel weapons when that is simply not the case. It is, it's fair enough to have a different view. We're a robust democracy. Debate is great. Debate is part of what makes us such a strong democracy. But you have to tell the truth about this stuff, and I think political leaders have a responsibility to try and bring the Australian community together. Not to seed division. Not to seed division.

O'KEEFE: Hear, hear. Minister Plibersek hear, hear. Now, can we move to Andrew Giles? From drones to detainees, he's not going really well, is he?

MINISTER PLIBERSEK: Well, it's a pretty tough job and the person who would know it's a tough job is Peter Dutton—

O'KEEFE: No, no, no, do you reckon we could —

MINISTER PLIBERSEK: - who when he released 1300 criminals, including 64 pedophiles.

O'KEEFE: I'm interested. I'm interested in this. Do you think you could answer this question without mentioning the Opposition? Let's just do that as an intellectual exercise. Do you think Andrew Giles is doing a good job?

MINISTER PLIBERSEK: I think he's doing a good job in a very tough portfolio, and he's inherited a basket case of a department who has three reviews that talked about how badly it had been run down in recent years.

O'KEEFE: Direction 99, though.

MINISTER PLIBERSEK: No, we have to change that. No, it's been misinterpreted by the Administrative Appeals Tribunal, which again, is an organisation that's been stacked with political appointees and that's why we're trying to get rid of it.

O'KEEFE: By who? By who?


O'KEEFE: It's an intellectual exercise.

MINISTER PLIBERSEK: Well, that's a tricky question. How about, I say, by the previous government? Does that meet your rules?

No, no. There's so many failed candidates and ex-staffers. We are trying to abolish this Administrative Appeals Tribunal and again, you've got the opposition voting to keep it. So, they say the AAT is terrible because Minister Giles cancels a visa and the AAT says no, no, that person's going to stay in the country. So, you know —

O'KEEFE: Because you did a sweetheart deal with Jacinda Ardern in New Zealand.

MINISTER PLIBERSEK: Well, I think it's clear that, you know, that order has been misinterpreted by the AAT. We need to change it and we're going to do that. We're doing that right now.

O'KEEFE: Now, I was interested to see Niki Savva's piece in the Herald. You a bit cold in the freezer there, Minister Plibersek?


O'KEEFE: Is it cold?

MINISTER PLIBERSEK: I'm feeling pretty cosy. I'm all right, thanks for asking.

O'KEEFE: What's happened?

MINISTER PLIBERSEK: No, I don't think anything's happened. I think that's an interpretation. You'd have to ask Niki Savva. What makes her think that?

O'KEEFE: She's pretty good, though. She wouldn't be making it up.

MINISTER PLIBERSEK: No, she's an excellent journalist, actually.

O'KEEFE: So, is it true?

MINISTER PLIBERSEK: No. As I say, I'm feeling, I'm feeling plenty cosy. Thank you very much.

O'KEEFE: When's the last time you spoke to the Prime Minister?

MINISTER PLIBERSEK: Today, like half an hour ago. All the time. Literally all the time. Literally all the time.

O'KEEFE: Okay. In a reshuffle, what portfolio would you like?

MINISTER PLIBERSEK: Do you know, Chris, I started work here as a starter for a backbencher. And the day I first walked into Parliament House, I felt so grateful. My parents came to Australia with nothing. And I feel like the fact that I got to walk into Parliament House and work here and be part of our democracy is the greatest privilege of my life and not only that, a great sign of what a fantastic country this is. I just feel lucky every single day to be here.

O'KEEFE: Well done, Minister. Appreciate your time. All the best.

MINISTER PLIBERSEK: Lovely to talk to you.

O'KEEFE: That's the Federal Environment Minister, Tanya Plibersek.