By Tanya Plibersek

04 November 2021




SUBJECTS: Cleo Smith; Scott Morrison’s mishandling of submarine deal and relationship with France.
PETER STEFANOVIC, HOST: Let's go live now to Tanya Plibersek live in Sydney. Tanya, good to see you, thanks for your time this morning. So we are about to go live to the WA Police Commissioner to talk about Cleo Smith and the latest in the investigation. Just want to get your thoughts on that, it really was a moment that the nation celebrated yesterday and now we can only hope that she didn't suffer any trauma.
TANYA PLIBERSEK, SHADOW MINISTER FOR EDUCATION, SHADOW MINISTER FOR WOMEN: Well, I think inevitably being taken from your parents in that way would have a lasting impact on a child, no matter what. And I'm just so delighted that she's been found. I think every single Australian shed a little, quiet tear yesterday morning when that great news came back because we were all carrying the stress of her disappearance with her family. It's such happy news. 
STEFANOVIC: Yeah, I mean, it's a parent's worst nightmare. You're a parent, I'm a parent. Can't imagine what that must be like that moment you realise that your child has vanished.
PLIBERSEK: It's shocking. It is absolutely, as you say, a parent's worst nightmare and full credit to the police who found her, the incredible investigation that they conducted to find her and find her alive. It's such wonderful news. 
STEFANOVIC: Just on to some political tête-à-têtes that are taking place at the moment, Tanya. Do you agree with Anthony Albanese that Scott Morrison gaslighted Emmanuel Macron?
PLIBERSEK: Well, I certainly think that the Prime Minister's behaviour during this French submarine debacle has been less than what you would expect from a Prime Minister. The government should have made the right decision to get the right submarine in the first place. We've wasted billions of dollars of taxpayers' money pursuing a submarine that they've now decided is not fit for purpose and then to handle the relationship with the French government, a very important Pacific power as well as an important European power, so badly, leave our nation embarrassed and weakened on the world stage. It's not what you'd expect from a Prime Minister, the leaking of personal text messages, again, not what you would expect from a Prime Minister.
STEFANOVIC: But Labor supported AUKUS and supported the nuclear submarine acquisition. By doing that, offending the French was always going to be a by-product of that, wasn't it?
PLIBERSEK: Well, every government, every nation has the right to put its own national interest first. That's not the criticism here. The criticism is making the wrong decision, costing us billions of dollars in the first place, not getting the specifications right. I mean, we’re now 10 years, almost 10 years into the Liberal and National government. They've been talking about submarines for a decade. How could they have wasted billions of dollars pursuing something that they've now decided is not fit for purpose in the first place. And then secondly, if you're going to tell a close friend and ally some bad news, you don't do it by text. It's like breaking up with someone over text message. It's just not right. It's where diplomacy and maturity are called for.
STEFANOVIC: But the Prime Minister had a right to defend himself though, right?
PLIBERSEK: No, the Prime Minister should have done the right thing. He's got the absolute right to put Australia's national interest first. Labor will always join him in putting our national interest first. This is not what the criticism is. The criticism is that he's handled the discussions and the bad news in such an immature way, like breaking up with Emmanuel Macron by text message and then leaking the text message, it's not really the thing that you would expect of a national leader. It's just not on.
STEFANOVIC: Tanya Plibersek, it was always going to be short today. I appreciate your time this morning. Thank you for that.