Sky News interview with Minister Tanya Plibersek and Peter Stefanovic 16/05/24

16 May 2024





PETE STEFANOVIC: Alright, let's go to Canberra now. Joining us is the Environment Minister Tanya. Minister, good to see you. Let's start off with your thoughts on what the Senator said.

MINISTER PLIBERSEK, MINISTER FOR THE ENVIRONMEN AND WATER: Well, I think right across Australia at the moment, there are a lot of people who are feeling this conflict very acutely. And at a time like this, it's important to focus not on what we disagree on, but what we agree on. I think we agree that the October 7 attacks were horrific. I think we also agree that the civilian death toll now in Gaza is completely unacceptable, way too high. And that's why the Australian Government is demanding an immediate humanitarian ceasefire, it's demanding the release of hostages, it's demanding proper access for humanitarian relief. I have always been a supporter of a two state solution and I think it is important now to continue to say in the face of this conflict, we must work towards peace, and peace can only be achieved with a two state solution.


STEFANOVIC: Okay, just for the record, do you think Israel has committed genocide?


MINISTER PLIBERSEK: I think that those sorts of words distract us from what has to happen right now, which is a humanitarian ceasefire, access for humanitarian aid and the release of the remaining hostages. We need to see weapons put down on both sides so that we can work towards peace and a two state solution, which is the only long term solution that will bring peace to the region.


STEFANOVIC: But that's the term that Fatima Payman has used. So, do you agree with her that Israel has committed genocide?


MINISTER PLIBERSEK: Well, it's not the term. It's not the term that the government would use and I'm not going to comment on everything that she said. I'll tell you what the government's position is. The government's position is that we need an immediate humanitarian ceasefire, hostages released, and work towards a two state solution. And I think that's what the majority of Australians and the majority of the world would say, most would say that that sort of language from the river to the sea is counter to peace. The groups on either side who are saying that there should be only one state are the ones who are working against peace at the moment. They're Hamas, extremists on both sides are both saying there should be only one state in the region. They don't agree on what that state should be. We support a two state solution. We see that as the only pathway to peace. And that includes some immediate steps. It includes the release of hostages, it includes humanitarian ceasefire and it includes access for aid, particularly providing safety for aid workers to bring much needed supplies into Gaza. We know that there is a humanitarian catastrophe unfolding there. Of course, there are concerns about what happens in Rafah, where people have fled for safety and now face continued bombardment. Of course we want to see a cease in hostilities and a pathway to a two state solution which will provide an enduring peace in the region.


STEFANOVIC: Sure. Given it's quite inflammatory what Fatima Payman has said, though. Does she need to recant?


MINISTER PLIBERSEK: Well, I'm not going to start telling my colleagues what to say. What she's saying, however, is not Labor Party policy. It's not the government's policy. The government's policy is very clearly articulated by the Prime Minister and by the Foreign Minister. And it's, as I've described it to you, we want to see peace in the region, which means a number of steps have to be taken and that it starts with a ceasefire.


STEFANOVIC: It's budget week. Of course, Minister, final question here, but Peter Dutton, his budget reply. It's coming up tonight. It's going to focus on housing, migration, security. That's expected to be the three planks. But he's also reportedly going to promise a new boom era for mining in WA by cutting back on red tape. And that's going to target your own nature positive laws. So, your thoughts on that?


MINISTER PLIBERSEK: Yeah. Isn't it typical of Peter Dutton that he's got an opportunity to tell the nation what he wants to do, how he wants to run the country. We're probably a year out from the next election and instead of saying this is the kind of Prime Minister I'll be, this is the kind of country I'll lead, and giving some details on that, he instead wants to focus on what he's going to stop, what he's going to vote against.


Both business and environment groups say that the environment laws that we've had for the last 20 years don't work. They haven't worked to protect the environment. They haven't worked for business. We're in a process of reforming them. The first tranche of those laws has passed the parliament. The second tranche will go into the parliament shortly.


We are working to better protect the environment and make faster, clearer decisions for business. In fact, we'll spend about $400 million out of this budget improving the way that we process development applications to make sure that we better protect nature and we make faster, clearer decisions.


Why doesn't he actually propose something positive instead of just talking about what he won't do. He's got the opportunity. He's got the attention of the nation for an hour. Tell us what kind of economy he wants to see. Tell us where the nuclear reactors are going to go, how much they're going to cost, who's going to pay for them. Give us details about what a Dutton government would mean. I bet he won't do that.


STEFANOVIC: All right, we shall see. Tanya Plibersek. Thank you. We'll talk to you again soon.