31 October 2022
THE HON TANYA PLIBERSEK MP
MINISTER FOR THE ENVIRONMENT AND WATER
MONDAY, 31 OCTOBER 2022
SUBJECTS: REPATRIATION FROM SYRIAN CAMPS; FEDERAL BUDGET; COST-OF-LIVING PRESSURES.
NATALIE BARR: For more on that issue let's bring in Environment Minister Tanya Plibersek and Nationals MP Barnaby Joyce.
TANYA PLIBERSEK, MINISTER FOR THE ENVIRONMENT AND WATER: Good morning.
BARR: Good morning to you.
BARNABY JOYCE: Good morning.
BARR: Tanya, we've just heard from the Western Sydney Councillor Steve Christou. He says this is a treacherous and un Australian move to bring back these four women and 13 children. They're going to be dumped in Western Sydney. That is an area where many people have escaped countries where terrorists are. What do you say to that?
MINISTER PLIBERSEK: Well, he's entitled to his view but there's a couple of things that I'd say.
The first is we are taking the advice of our security agencies about how we keep Australians safe, the best way to keep them safe. He also talked about sympathy for ISIS. No one in Australia has sympathy for ISIS. They were a disgusting organisation that did disgusting things. But as your interviewer said, a number of these women were taken as children to Syria. They were children themselves when they were taken. They've got children now who are Australian citizens growing up in some of the most dangerous places on earth.
I understand why people are concerned and it is absolutely vital that we continue to take the advice of our security agencies, that these women stay in touch with people who are prepared to supervise them. In many cases that will be for a long time. But we need to get these kids home safely and get the kids into normal schools, surrounded by family that love them, integrating into the Australian way of life. That's how we keep ourselves safe and that's how we keep them safe.
BARR: Barnaby, where do you stand on this?
JOYCE: Yeah, look, I have a large Yazidi community in the New England. I'm very proud, we've worked very hard to bring them and assimilate them into the New England. These people were raped, mutilated, murdered by ISIS.
I think ISIS, this issue is distinctly different from things such as the Biloela family. They chose to go and be part of a terrorist organisation that was murdering people, raping people, destroying the cultural heritage of countries.
The children that were born overseas are citizens of wherever they were born. As a former Deputy Chair of the National Security Committee this is going to cost millions and millions of dollars to monitor them. If we have one problem that comes in here, one person who does not relinquish the vile views they have and meets up with other people and starts espousing their views and working on the views at some stage in the future that is a massive risk to us. It is a massive problem to us.
JOYCE: So, because people chose to go there, it's totally different. You know, I've got real concerns about this, serious concerns about what happens next.
BARR: Yeah, look, the de‑radicalisation experts have said they'll be ‑‑
MINISTER PLIBERSEK: Nat, I don't think anybody's got ‑‑
BARR: ‑‑ that they have backed this plan. But Tanya, just an interesting point that the Western Sydney Councillor Steve Christou pointed out, he said why are we rewarding treacherous terror sympathisers, like Barnaby said. He also said this is about priorities, why don't we prioritise the victims of ISIS, the women, the hundreds of women who've been raped by ISIS members.
MINISTER PLIBERSEK: I agree with that, Nat.
BARR: Instead of bringing these people back first, why aren't they bringing more of those people who are suffering in those camps. What do you say to that?
MINISTER PLIBERSEK: Well, I agree with that. I think we should have a stronger humanitarian program than the previous government had.
We did bring some Yazidis here under the previous government. We obviously could have done more. We absolutely dropped the ball in Afghanistan. We didn't even get our interpreters out that had assisted Australian soldiers there.
Yes, we could have done better in the humanitarian space over the last few years. That doesn't mean that these women, in many cases who were taken as children themselves or tricked into going, don't deserve to be allowed to come back to Australia.
If they are prepared to abide by Australian laws, and they've said they will, then we need to get those kids that were born over there and women who were tricked or taken as children, back to Australia.
I don't have any sympathy for ISIS. This is absolutely not about having any sympathy for ISIS. It is a horrific organisation that did horrific things, but if you're a kid who's taken over there by your parents, you're a victim of child abuse. You're a victim of child abuse yourself.
BARR: Okay, let's move to the budget.
JOYCE: Of course, they're going to say they agree to go there.
BARR: Look, let's move on to the budget because we've had a few questions on that. It hasn't been received well. Almost half of all Australian voters this morning claiming they will be worse off over the next 12 months. The latest Newspoll results out today found that 55 per cent of people surveyed believe the budget did not do enough to help with the cost‑of‑living.
Tanya, this is what everyone's talking about, the cost‑of‑living and the budget did not help them. We know you've got debt but everyone's unhappy by the sound of it. What's your response?
MINISTER PLIBERSEK: Yeah, well we were left a trillion dollars of debt by those opposite, that's true. But we do have cost‑of‑living relief in there.
We've got cheaper childcare, cheaper medicines, better paid parental leave, uni and TAFE place, including free TAFE places for the kids, and very importantly we're changing our industrial relations laws to make it easier for people on low wages to see a pay rise.
The cost‑of‑living pressures are because prices are going up and wages aren't keeping up.
BARR: Tanya, it's great ‑‑
MINISTER PLIBERSEK: Those opposite said that low wages ‑‑
BARR: Those things are great.
MINISTER PLIBERSEK: ‑‑ are a deliberate design feature of the economic architecture. On the other hand, we want to see wages go up and that's why we're changing the law.
BARR: It's not enough though, it's not cutting through. And inflation is ripping all that off, isn't it? Because inflation's going up so much ‑‑
MINISTER PLIBERSEK: We need to do better, yep.
BARR: All of those things are eaten away as soon as they're released. Barnaby.
JOYCE: Well, there's a couple of things there that Tanya which are not correct, and I'll be polite saying they're not correct.
First of all, they weren't left a trillion dollars in debt and every time they say that they're not telling the truth. More than $100 billion out from a trillion dollars in debt. If it happens, it happens under their watch.
Secondly, because of their love for legislated carbon reduction targets is greater than their desire to reduce the cost‑of‑living, whether it's power, that's affected by both domestic and international so‑called climate targets which are standing by. Fuel, because of the effect on ‑ they're putting a new tax on refineries. Groceries, because of things such as a tax on fertiliser.
If you are getting poorer it's because remember the Labor Party is the government and these targets are absolutely 100 per cent tied to a new increase in the cost‑of‑living and means you're poorer. When they say it's the war on the Ukraine, the power crisis started before the war in the Ukraine and Europe. It started with the so‑called wind drought. They saw that. They knew about the war in Ukraine.
MINISTER PLIBERSEK: When you were in government, Barnaby.
JOYCE: Yet they still came out with this so‑called $275 promise and now it won't say its name. Say your name, say your name $275 promise. But you won't because you know it's not the truth.
MINISTER PLIBERSEK: So, Barnaby, it's just a
JOYCE: And the final thing, the final thing I'll say, Tanya, is you are the government.
MINISTER PLIBERSEK: Barnaby's just admitted that the power crisis started when they were in government.
JOYCE: Accept that you are the government, it is your problem. It was your budget, your promise, your problem.
MINISTER PLIBERSEK: You just admitted that it started under you, Barnaby, and you kept those power price increases secret before the election. You changed the law to keep power price increases secret.
JOYCE: Tanya, you're the government. You're the government. It was your budget ‑‑
MINISTER PLIBERSEK: Before the election.
JOYCE: You did nothing about it. It was your ‑ you're the government. You're the budget.
MINISTER PLIBERSEK: It would have helped if you hadn't kept that secret.
JOYCE: You've been there for long enough and you did nothing about it, and you're still tied to these targets. You've legislated these targets which means these people watching this are going to become poorer still.
BARR: Okay. I think you've both had your say.
MINISTER PLIBERSEK: And Barnaby's solution is nuclear power.
BARR: Okay, I think you've both had your say.
JOYCE: I would definitely take nuclear power over destroying people cost‑of‑living, 100 per cent.
MINISTER PLIBERSEK: Barnaby's solution is nuclear power. The most expensive form of power available.
BARR: Okay, I think you've both had your say.
JOYCE: We're going to have wind towers, here it is, wind towers coming under Tanya.
BARR: Thank you very much for your time. Thank you. We'll see you next week.
MINISTER PLIBERSEK: Thanks Nat.
BARR: Always fun you two, thank you.