By Tanya Plibersek

10 November 2021




SUBJECTS: Queensland vaccination rates; Electric vehicles; Federal Election. 

SCOTT EMERSON, HOST: Well she comes from New South Wales and she is Shadow Minister for Education, and Shadow Minister for Women, Tanya Plibersek. How are you Tanya?


EMERSON: Oh wow, geez Tanya you're not the first person that's ever said that to me over the last decade! Anyway, Scott-free is another one.


EMERSON: But I'm much more expensive than that I have to say. Look we're pretty good up here, and of course you would have heard the big news announced by the Palaszczuk Government yesterday of a roadmap for us to - well what's gonna happen after December 17th. And today we have hit, I know that New South Wales this old news for you guys, but today we hit the 80 per cent first jab mark and that means for us, we can get rid of our masks unless we're in airports or on a plane.

PLIBERSEK: Congratulations. That's fantastic. It's a huge effort from all those people have gone out and gotten vaccinated, not just for themselves, but for their families, their communities, and like you say it's the path back to normal.

EMERSON: Yeah a path back to normal, that will be the case. That will be great. Look, let's talk about a few of the issues that have come up this week in federal politics. Electric vehicles, now Scott Morrison, he made that announcement this week. I was on TV that morning with Bill Shorten, your former Leader, and I could tell you there was a big smile on his face when that policy was announced and of course he didn't miss the opportunity to mention Labor's policy from 2019, when Scott Morrison bagged that policy. Now, the Prime Minister has come out and, when he was announcing the policy he was questioned by journalists about this - how is this different from what Labor was doing. He said Labor had a mandate. Now that wasn't quite the truth because look, you had a target, not a mandate. But one of the issues we've been talking about on 4BC Drive over the last couple of days is how do you pay for the lost revenue because of the reducing fuel excise? EV vehicles don't do it. The Coalition has been silent on this. What about Labor? What is their view? How do you make up for the lost revenue? 

PLIBERSEK: Yeah, well the first thing to say is we're very excited about the idea that electric vehicles will become cheaper for Australian families. You've got to get those upfront costs down, and Labor's policy would make electric vehicles thousands of dollars cheaper to buy in the first place. And of course, they're much cheaper to run. But you're quite right, there are issues like the fuel excise issue and our proposal is that we would work with the car manufacturers, unions, the states and territories and consumers, to have Australia's first ever national electric vehicle strategy that would look at this issue of fuel excise, but it would also look at what we can do to manufacture components at least or perhaps even whole electric vehicles here in Australia. It would look at how we use the Commonwealth government's reach, both through its vehicle fleets, but also the buildings that we use to make charging stations available and so on. So you actually need to absolutely do what we want to do, which is make those cars thousands of dollars cheaper, but you have to look at those associated issues down the track as well. 

EMERSON: Well you say associated issues there - do you accept that it can't be one rule for some and one rule for others, and that is that that those who are driving electric vehicles need to be able to pay their way, they can't just get a free ride in terms of paying for the upkeep of our roads and just leave it to those that are have got fuel` petrol or diesel driven cars?

PLIBERSEK: Look, I think the first step is to make sure that we have the infrastructure available for more electric cars and to make those cars cheaper. Because we know that if you look around the world, the big car manufacturers - a number of them are saying we're making our last internal combustion engine vehicles in the next few years. We need to be ready for this change. And what would be great is, instead of being at the back of the pack, that Australia was actually leading the, leading the way into manufacturing cars again. I mean this is the government obviously that goaded our car industry industry into leaving Australia. I'd like to be grasping the opportunities that this big change, global change, offers us.

EMERSON: But I guess the bottom line here is, Tanya Plibersek, and this applies also to the Coalition, but neither the Coalition or Labor have said 'All right then we're going to have, according to the AAA, a $2 billion loss in revenue per year because of the reduction in fuel excise revenue'. Neither of you have got a set plan. I hear what you're saying about oh we'll have a strategy moving forward, but we are heading towards a federal election. Neither side of politics seems to have a plan to work out how to fill that revenue black hole. 

PLIBERSEK: Yeah, we have absolutely identified that as something we need to plan for in the future, and that's why we will develop our first national electric vehicle strategy. But at the moment Scott, only about 20,000 of the vehicles on Australian roads at the moment are registered electric cars, out of 15 million cars. So we do have a little bit of time to get this stuff right. 

EMERSON: Now I mentioned the Federal election Tanya Plibersek, now I saw some analysis earlier this week in terms of possible dates, and what from that they were saying to me when I read it was that there's no way we can now have a Federal election this side of Christmas, the dates just don't match up. So do you accept that the next Federal election will be sometime in in 2022? 

PLIBERSEK: Yeah, I think if it wasn't called this last weekend, it's very unlikely that it can be this year. I think it is much more likely to be early next year. But you know, whether it's March or May, I say bring it on. Because Australians really have sacrificed so much, they've worked hard, they've been disciplined, they've been kind. You know, Queenslanders have gone out and gotten vaccinated because they want to get the economy and our society back on track. Australians deserve a government that's worthy of them. 

EMERSON: Well, alright, we're talking about the election - bring it on, Tanya Plibersek. But I get the impression, at least from Scott Morrison, and I'm sure from Anthony Albanese, that already the campaign has started. Scott Morrison is out there. Since he came back from Glasgow, he didn't have to go into quarantine, he seems to be hitting some marginal seats, out there campaigning. I'm sure that from both sides of politics -

PLIBERSEK: Straight into the high-vis, hey?

EMERSON: Well, I think I've seen a few bit of high-vis from your leader as well, Tanya Plibersek, I don't think Anthony Albanese is adverse to a bit of a vest at a construction site. 

PLIBERSEK: Well, what you can say for sure is that Scott Morrison will call an election when he thinks it best suits him and the question for the Australian people is, do they feel better off after eight years of an LNP government? What we've seen in recent weeks and months, inflation increasing and wages still struggling to keep up with that - do people feel better off? I don't think they do. And Scott Morrison, you know, he'll say anything. A few years ago he was absolutely against electric vehicles, today he says that they're the best thing since sliced bread. A couple of years ago he was against zero net emissions, now he's in favour of it. What are you going to get if you vote for this guy again? Who knows. 

EMERSON: Well I think the bottom line is, we're going to have a very, very long election campaign, and a faux election campaign before Christmas. Tanya Plibersek, catch you again next week. 

PLIBERSEK: Great to talk to you Emmo. See you.