By Tanya Plibersek

23 October 2023





NATALIE BARR: To hot topics now, and the Prime Minister will arrive in Washington in just a few hours' time for an official four-day visit to the US. He's set to meet with President Joe Biden in the Oval Office as well as other key US leaders. On the agenda will be kickstarting the AUKUS submarine program which has hit a bit of a hurdle in Congress, and also encouraging American companies to invest big in Aussie businesses. Albanese has copped a bit of criticism for being abroad in what will be his 17th trip in just 18 months. Let's bring in Environment Minister Tanya Plibersek and Nationals MP Barnaby Joyce. Good morning to both of you.


BARNABY JOYCE:  Good morning.

BARR: Tanya, well the world is on a knife's edge as we know for the last few weeks. How important is it that our Prime Minister visits President Biden right now?

MINISTER PLIBERSEK: Well, I think it's really important that Australia has good relationships with the rest of the world, and most particularly the United States. You know, there's no more important military and intelligence ally than the United States.

As you mentioned we're right in the middle of the final negotiations on the AUKUS submarine deal. And of course, it's not just about security and intelligence. One in four Australian jobs relies on international trade or international relationships. So the PM will be going to China next. We've been successful with reducing Chinese tariffs on our barley; we're working on other areas like getting rid of the tariffs on wine as well. Of course, that makes a huge difference to the Australian economy.

BARR: Barnaby, the PM has copped a bit of flack for travelling too much. Air Miles Albo they call him sometimes. Do you think that's fair? Or would meeting a US leader face‑to‑face in this very important time, when we're sort of on the edge of this Middle East war, be important?

JOYCE:  Avgas Albo, but no, I don't have any problems with him travelling to the United States, nor to China. What I do have a huge problem with is I'm here in Danglemah, I should be in Canberra where they've shut down the Parliament. Do they believe that Marles is not up to the job? And if it's not Marles then it goes to Penny Wong. In fact, if you go down the list in Cabinet, it might actually get to Tanya Plibersek. And I'm okay with the Parliament working under somebody else.

I think it's highly conceited that the Prime Minister thinks, "Well, if I'm not there we just shut the show down." I mean that's ridiculous. He must have so little confidence in the people around him or he's so full of himself that he thinks that the only person who could possibly run the Parliament is him. That's why you have Deputy Prime Ministers, leaders of the Senate. That's why all the Ministers have got a watermark, one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten, and as one goes, two takes over, as two goes three takes over, as three goes four takes over, and one of those numbers is Tanya. She'd probably be about eight, I'd say, but she does have a watermark on her paper as well.

BARR: Okay. Well, Tanya, can you respond to that?

MINISTER PLIBERSEK: Well, we sit for, I don't know, seventeen, eighteen, twenty weeks a year depending on which year it is, and we've got plenty of business that we've got through this year. We've got a number of additional sitting weeks still to go. We've added a sitting week. I really don't know what Barnaby's complaining about. He'll have plenty of time to sit in Parliament House and talk about whatever he's got on his mind. I'm actually off to ‑‑

JOYCE: Quite a lot. Quite a lot.

MINISTER PLIBERSEK: I'm actually off to regional New South Wales today. I've got plenty to keep me busy in the electorate as well.

JOYCE: Tanya, we were supposed to sit. It was a two-week sitting, and then Albo decides that he has to go to USA and all of a sudden you just call off Parliament.

MINISTER PLIBERSEK: Yeah, and there's an extra week at the end.

JOYCE: It was in the diary, we're supposed to be at work. We're supposed to be at work in Parliament. But instead, you're going to regional New South Wales. Well whoop‑de‑doo, congratulations, well done. But we're supposed to be at work, Tanya, in Canberra.

MINISTER PLIBERSEK: It is actually also work in the electorate, Barnaby, and out talking to people in their home communities.

JOYCE: But why did we change? Why did we change? Why'd you cancel it? Why'd you cancel it

MINISTER PLIBERSEK: Well there's an extra week on the end, Barnaby. I don't know why you're getting so agitated. And I actually think Parliamentarians being out talking to the community about their concerns ‑‑

JOYCE: You're making it up.

MINISTER PLIBERSEK: ‑‑ is really a big part of our job as well.

JOYCE: No, no, no, this is Albanese being full of himself.

BARR: Barnaby ‑‑

JOYCE: He doesn't trust Richard Marles and he's just said, "No, if I'm not there, shut the show down." Crazy.

BARR: Barnaby, you'd be happy with some time off. You'd be setting up the marquee and putting the ice in the esky.

MINISTER PLIBERSEK: That's why he wants to be in Canberra, he doesn't want to be helping with the arrangements.

BARR: Getting ‑ ooh.

JOYCE: That's a cheap shot, Tanya.

MINISTER PLIBERSEK: He doesn't want to be putting the bonbonniere on the table.

JOYCE: Ooh, meow, meow. No, I'm quite happy to do work wherever I am. We've got a drought on here at the moment, so.

BARR: But as far as the ‑‑

JOYCE: Quite happy to come back and I'll get round the electorate as well.

BARR: As far as the wedding, Barnaby, are you prepping, putting the ice in the eskies, getting ready for next week or the week after?

JOYCE: Oh, well, I was hoping it would be a quiet show. When I saw it on the front page of the paper I realised that that plan was out the window. So, let's deal with it as best we can.

BARR: You can't trust these pesky journalists, can you, to leak these sort of things?

JOYCE:  No, no, no. I have to talk to Vikki about that, won't I? She worked for the stable that printed it, but she didn't put it out there. But anyway, that's life.

BARR: Tanya, are you ‑ did you get an invite, Tanya?

MINISTER PLIBERSEK: No, but I do wish Barnaby and Vikki well. Congratulations and I hope it's a beautiful day.

JOYCE: Thank you very much, Tanya. Thank you.

BARR: Barnaby, are you in on much of the planning or have you left most of it to Vikki?

JOYCE:  Yeah, yeah, no, of course I am but it was just at the start, we were just going to have immediate family and then of course once you invite one person another person's got to come, and you've all been through this process. But, you know, I just – I always think the most important day, it's just for the two getting married, and just keep it quiet and enjoy the day. Otherwise, you spend your whole day as a host making sure everybody else is happy and it kind of gets really busy and not much fun. It usually ends up in a fight.

BARR: I hope it doesn't end up in a fight. Barnaby, I hope it's a lovely day. We wish you well. Congratulations.

JOYCE: Thank you. Thank you, Tanya. Thank you, Nat.

BARR: Thank you. We'll get a low down in a couple of weeks.