Sunrise Interview with Minister Tanya Plibersek 29/04/24

29 April 2024





NATALIE BARR: To hot topics now. The Prime Minister has declared domestic and family violence a national crisis as thousands rally across the country over the weekend. So far this year 32 women have been killed in Australia, 27 of those allegedly at the hands of a current or former partner.

Anthony Albanese has also called an emergency National Cabinet meeting this week focused solely on violence against women, which will discuss bail laws, perpetrator research and other frontline support. Joining us now is the Environment Minister, Tanya Plibersek, and Nationals MP, Barnaby Joyce. Good morning to you. Tanya, I know this has touched your family personally, and the whole country is talking about it. At yesterday's rally the PM admitted the Government is not doing enough. What can you do?


TANYA PLIBERSEK, MINISTER FOR THE ENVIRONMENT AND WATER: Well, I think the evidence is, with one woman dying every four days, that we all need to do better; every level of government needs to do better.


As the national Government, we've committed $2.3 billion to domestic violence and sexual assault, and we've got our national plan, but of course, we all ‑ every level of government needs to invest more and do better.


So far we've got 10 days paid domestic violence leave; we've reduced the time it takes to get an emergency payment from a month to a few days, we've got $280 million going in to perpetrator programs. These are all important measures, but I'm not surprised that those people at rallies across the weekend are still furious that the behaviour continues.


And one of the things, Nat, that we've talked about on this program before, the Government's investing money, police are changing what they do, courts are changing what they do, there's more emergency support out there, but what's working against that is this incredible amount of violent misogyny online; there's this smorgasbord of violent misogyny that's been fed to, particularly adolescent boys, and so society is trying to fix it on the one hand, and on the other hand we've got the exact opposite force happening, working against us trying to improve things.


So we need to look at what government's doing, what police are doing, what courts are doing, what emergency services are doing, but we also need to look at what is happening, particularly to young men online that is supporting these misogynist attitudes.


BARR: Yeah, you're right, there's anti‑women stuff online, and also porn at a very young age being pushed to our young people online.




BARR: Barnaby, we also need these rallies, and these cries not to just be all the women saying, "Help us", we need men, don't we, to get in on this conversation, and say, we need to change a lot of angles here.


BARNABY JOYCE: Well, look, I agree what's happening is atrocious out there. As Tanya said, one in every four days, Jess Hill and Michael Salter from the University of New South Wales in regards to criminology have put out a pretty good paper on this.


You have to go behind where the child is, you have to look at the formation of the child, you have to look at the parenting, you have to support the family structure that by its very nature is the most formative in how a person thinks about how they treat other people.


In the controls of things that you rightly bring up, so much as pornography on the net and just completely misinterpreting the attitude that should exist between men and women in a respectful way. We can try and remove that, and we should, but we should also have parents who make absolutely certain that they do the frontline policing on this.


You're right, if it just goes to a protest it finishes with platitudes, it has to actually follow action. I think a lot of that action is going to be harder than just focusing on the child; you've got to be really careful you don't presume that every boy is going to grow up to be a criminal, 'cause that's what they are; you have to say, well, let's look at the total picture here, and the formation in the family is absolutely vital in that.


BARR: Yep, exactly.


MINISTER PLIBERSEK: You know, Barnaby, the problem is as women we don't know who those men are, you know, that is actually the problem. Until you're in a relationship with someone, until you know them well, you don't know who they are, so of course not every man is violent; most men, you know, would be horrified at that. But we don't know who they are until we're in relationships with them.


BARR: Yep, look, after ‑‑


JOYCE: I agree with you, Tanya. I mean there's so many people who present so well, and then you look into the history and find an AVO, or, and you find that they're not what they pretend to be. I agree with you.


BARR: Yep. And after seven o'clock we're going to be doing more on this; we're going to be talking about looking at a register. Finally in this segment though, Australian students will soon be taught old‑school discipline in an effort to stop teachers from being attacked and abused. This is a big problem too. The new model will be rolled out nationally this year after a Senate inquiry heard horror tales of students hurling furniture at teachers, keying their cars, punching them, stealing their wallets. Students will be explicitly taught how to enter the classroom quietly, how to sit down, how to listen, the correct way to ask questions. Tanya, do you think this plan will stop teachers from being abused, or to start, is it a place to start?


MINISTER PLIBERSEK: Yes, I think it's really necessary, both for teachers and for kids, so they can learn in the classroom. You don't need the cane or the strap, you do need to teach self‑discipline.


BARR: Barnaby, what do you think?


JOYCE: Yeah, well, welcome to reality; if you don't have discipline in the classroom, if you don't enforce it, you have absolute chaos, and this sort of libertarian view of children can act in a classroom is just not working.


Unfortunately I did grow up at a time where you got the strap, and it's amazing how one man and [inaudible] could control 114 boys very easily.


BARR: Did you get the strap, Barnaby?


JOYCE: Quite a few times, yes.


BARR: Tanya, was it in when you were at school? A few people got the ruler over the knuckles when I was at school.


MINISTER PLIBERSEK: Yeah, I got the ruler on my hand in year one. I'll remember it forever.


BARR: What did you do, Tanya?


MINISTER PLIBERSEK: Well, it was a spelling test, and I looked up and the teacher thought I was looking around for an answer, and I wasn't, I was just looking up, so I still remember it.


BARR: Okay. We probably don't need to go back to those days but maybe split the difference.



BARR: Yes. Okay, thank you, we'll see you next week.…