By Tanya Plibersek

16 March 2022




SUBJECTS: Visit to Brisbane; Federal election; Labor’s plans to lift wages; Women’s Network logo.
MATT ACTON, HOST: Morning everybody. Special guest in the studio, it's lovely to have people in the studio.

ABBY COLEMAN, HOST: Tanya Plibersek. Yeah Matty put pants on for you, so congratulations for that. Good morning.

ACTON: Me or her, who are you congratulating?

COLEMAN: No, you put pants on. We were just saying it's nice to have people here.

STAV DAVIDSON, HOST: Yeah we haven’t had many people in.
TANYA PLIBERSEK, SHADOW MINISTER FOR EDUCATION, SHADOW MINISTER FOR WOMEN: Yeah and it's always a plus when they're wearing pants. 

COLEMAN: Yeah. It really is.

DAVIDSON: Isn't it?

COLEMAN: So you are the Shadow Minister for Education and Shadow Minister for Women. What are you doing here in Brissy? 

PLIBERSEK: Well yesterday I was out with my colleague Shayne Neumann, announcing some extra funding for some schools in his electorate including Ipswich State High. Today, I'm going to Redlands with Donisha Duff our candidate there to announce $500,000 extra for the women's centre there so they can do more work on preventing and supporting people are experiencing domestic violence.


COLEMAN: We were saying, it's a confusing time for this election and we don't know the actual date. Everyone's got their speculation for it - you're predicting maybe May? 

PLIBERSEK: Yeah, I reckon almost certainly 21st of May. 

COLEMAN: Okay, cool, so clear that day. Or you can vote before. It seems like it's a real, I don't know. I feel very confused as a voter, if I'm being honest, because I guess people are saying that they don't want change because of everything that's going on, but at the same time I haven't really been happy with the way that a lot of crises have been dealt with. And especially there has been a real focus, as well, on the way that women have been treated in Parliament. How do you think that Labor would do things differently? 

PLIBERSEK: Well, I think people are feeling a lot of pressure. They're worried about what's happening globally - Ukraine, China, climate change - but they're also really feeling it at home. So, we haven't seen a pay increase in about eight years, people are really finding it tough to make ends meet. Price of everything is going up - petrol, housing, childcare, out-of-pocket health expenses. Everything's going up but wages. So that is emerging, I think, as a really big issue in this election. And obviously, we've got a plan to help people increase their wages. If they're working hard and their business is doing well, they should see the benefit of that. We've also got plans to reduce power prices, reduce the cost of childcare, such a big chunk out of the family budget. 

ACTON: Through tax cuts or how is that going to happen?

PLIBERSEK: For childcare?

ACTON: Yeah, or like, you said the wages will increase, how is that going to happen? 

PLIBERSEK: Yeah well, if a business is doing well, they should be sharing some of that with the people who are making money for the business, their workforce. And recently, if you look at the way our industrial relations system is working, you just can't get a pay increase. Early childhood workers going there, saying "we work really hard, do you think you could pass more than 22 bucks an hour?" and the answer is no. You’ve got the aged care workers going to the Fair Work Commission saying there's not enough aged care workers, one in four shifts are going unfilled, and they're getting knocked back for pay increases as well. We just really need to change the system.

DAVIDSON: Yeah, because it's why they're saying we're going to see an upsurge in strikes this year as well, because of that.

PLIBERSEK: Well, honestly, you look at the increase of cost of petrol on its own, right? Over 2 bucks a litre. You look at the biggest costs to the family budget: rent, mortgage, childcare. All of those have been really outpacing wages growth. In fact, I read somewhere the other week that housing prices have gone up eleven times faster than wages. The government itself is predicting that wages will go backwards in real terms by 700 bucks this year. People feel under pressure. They feel like they're sliding backwards in their living standards. That's the most important thing for most voters. 

COLEMAN: Can I ask about the Women's Network logo, which might be a good initiative right? Like, it was very phallic symbol. And some people have come out and said that, well they've taken it down and it was supposed to be in line with the other ones. The bit this sort of bothered me is that the PM came out yesterday and said that, 'oh, well, I wasn't aware of it. And as soon as I was aware of it, when everyone else was, I took it down'. Your boss is Albanese, so in your knowledge of how you guys roll would there be any way that he wasn't aware of it or that he wasn't approving it? Like would Albanese want to be across that? Because for me, I kind of go, you're either across everything and then it was strange that you didn't approve it. Or if you’re not across everything, then people are making decisions without you and then you're not the boss.

PLIBERSEK: Look, I think the logo, I mean it is the sort of thing that I used to see scratched on the desks at school when I was growing up. It is the reason why I won't buy my 17 year old son a Sharpie because I can imagine him copying it on walls.

ACTON: You see them on desks around here too.

PLIBERSEK: It is the sort of thing that we’re laughing about, but sometimes these little things kind of tell a big story and I think the biggest story it's telling is that there's not enough women sitting around the decision-making table when these decisions are being made. So no, I don't expect the Prime Minister to be approving every logo, but I expect as a group, there’s enough women at the cabinet table, in senior roles in our bureaucracy, that would actually pick it up.

ACTON: Right, who did approve it? Did we find out who it was?

PLIBERSEK: Amazingly not a lot of people are putting their hands up.

ACTON: I get that, totally. Obviously we are going Scott Morrison about it and I agree with you, I would much prefer the Prime Minister is dealing with Ukraine and floods rather than flicking through pictures of logos, but they should just say who it was like let’s -

DAVISON: But why? 

COLEMAN: They either come down and it was a guy that did it or you do you know I mean like...

ACTON: But I'm saying to work out where it went wrong, like I just think the logo has taken up so much space. 

COLEMAN: I think a lot of people say it's symbolic. 

PLIBERSEK: Yeah, and it is the Prime Minister's own department. Like when I had the Human Services portfolio, I inherited a logo change process and I cannot tell you how many hours people were trying to get me to focus - it is important, if he's not going to do it himself that he's got enough people who are able to pick this stuff up around him. Because it's not just about logos it's about if you're missing this, what else are you missing?

DAVIDSON: It’s a bigger issue, yeah.

COLEMAN: See that's what bothered me, is that I could feel like there wasn't enough women in that area to then go are you guys for real? Because I wouldn't let you guys do something like that would I, I'd go ‘are you serious? It looks like a penis and it's a women's network, mate. Go back and change it’. That's what bothered me about it. 

ACTON: I think you're allowed to be bothered by it, but what I'm saying is it seems like it's been missed. How many people were involved in it?

PLIBERSEK: So if you're a leader, it's not just about every action you take it's about the team you assemble around you. Because any leader can't do - you’re not running the country and making coffee for the visitors to the office. Your job is to lead, but if you don't have enough women or enough diversity sitting around the table when you're making decisions, you make mistakes like this. And the logo in itself, who cares. It's not a massive deal, it's what it says about the way decisions are being made and who is making them, who's sitting around the table when they're being made.

ACTON: Well, it's great to have you in today. Thank you for stopping by. Shadow Minister for Education, Shadow Minister for Women as well. That date, one more time that you are putting on SportsBet for the election?

DAVIDSON: I've just looked at it, they don’t have it. I jumped on straight away. As soon as Tanya said it. 

PLIBERSEK: What odds are you getting on it? 

DAVIDSON: They don't have it up there yet. Very annoying.

ACTON: What did you say? May 21st?

PLIBERSEK: I reckon, yeah. If I was a betting person, but, you know, last election taught me not to be betting person.

ACTON: Thanks for coming in.

PLIBERSEK:  Thank you.