By Tanya Plibersek

13 October 2021



SUBJECTS: NSW Freedom Day; Glasgow 2021; Climate Change; Branch Stacking.

SCOTT EMERSON, HOST: And every week we are joined by the Shadow Minister for Education and Shadow Minister for Women, how are you Tanya?
EMERSON: Well, good. I just want to check up with you got a bit of a health check for you. How was freedom day for you?
PLIBERSEK: Well, I've got to say like a lot of working parents, freedom day was a lot like every other day, lots of Zoom meetings and trying to make sure the kids are actually doing some schoolwork. And I think really until the kids are back at school and we're back in the office, it won't be that different. The big difference for me was, on my morning walk, I was able to sit down halfway and have a cup of coffee with friends from the coffee shop that I'm used to seeing that I haven't seen in years, well what feels years, that was really nice.
EMERSON: So you didn't indulge us, did see your boss, Anthony Albanese, he went to the beers pretty early on that day. I think I saw that about like 9:00 a.m. in the morning.
PLIBERSEK: We had Albo out having a beer. We had the New South Wales Premier out having a beer and the New South Wales Treasurer. I've got to say, they're a bit more hardcore than me. I don't think I could do it before, 10 a.m.
EMERSON: All right, let's get to some of the serious stuff out there. The Federal Cabinet is meeting today to talk about climate policy. Obviously this is ahead of the Prime Minister, will he or won't he go to Glasgow for the climate change meeting early next month, but really cabinet meeting that still then got to get a party room and also the National Party's party room on Sunday. This is going to be very, very difficult for the Prime Minister to get it through past the Nats, isn't it?
PLIBERSEK: Well, it shouldn't be I mean, this is about jobs, right? Like I said to you before, there's a reason one in four Australian homes have put solar panels on the roof. It's not because they're all greenies. It's because they've worked out it gives them cheaper energy. And that's what we're about for Australian as well. Cheaper, cleaner energy to power our businesses, to power our homes. This is a great opportunity for regional communities. We've talked about the great benefits farmers can get from carbon farming in the other sorts of investments that we've seen for farmers. That's why the National Farmers Federation support zero net emissions by 2050. But it's also a great opportunity for other regional communities. We mine so many of the components that we need for the batteries that would you know, support our solar and wind farms, that would back up the energy that we need. This is a great opportunity for Australia to be exporting energy in the future, hydrogen energy. There are so many jobs on the horizon if we get this right. And they are for National Party voters. They are for Liberal Party voters. They are for Labor voters and Greens voters. This is a great opportunity for Australia and we can't turn our backs on it.
EMERSON: Alright but we don't know yet whether the Prime Minister will go to Glasgow for the COP 2021 meeting there. I'm sure Labor is urging him to go but politically if he didn't go there be a massive win for you wouldn't it?
PLIBERSEK: I'd like him to go because I think if big global decisions are being made Australia should be represented at the highest level and also because this isn't just about climate change. At these big international meetings, you'll have heads of state talking about how do we recover from the pandemic? What are we doing in our economy? How does that compliment what's happening in other countries? It's just a really good opportunity for Australia to be both formally there at the table when big decisions are being made that will affect our economy and affect our people. But also for those informal networking opportunities that really we haven't had as much in recent times because of Covid. The sort of opportunities to meet with other world leaders have been a bit, you know, few and far between for the Prime Minister. So I think it makes sense for him to be there, representing Australia.
EMERSON: Well, let's turn to another issue there. And I know this has been played out in Victoria at the moment, but this is about the allegations of branch stacking. Now I mentioned Anthony Albanese, he's come under criticism for failing to get rid of Anthony Byrne, a federal MP. He's admitted to branch stacking, why is he still there in your party? Why is he still a member of the opposition?
PLIBERSEK: Well, I think if people do the wrong thing, if anybody does the wrong thing, we should throw the book at them. But we've got to allow the independent commission in Victoria to do its proper investigation and make its findings, but I don't care who it is. I don't care if it's on our side, if it's our opponents, if people do the wrong thing, they have to face the consequences of that - no questions. It's actually one of the reasons that Labor has been fighting so hard for a federal ICAC, or a federal integrity or anti-corruption commission. It doesn't matter who does the wrong thing. It affects all of us, if any of us does the wrong thing. We need a proper integrity commission with real teeth at the federal level to investigate allegations like this, allegations against politicians, public servants, whoever it is.
EMERSON: All right, but I appreciate you say that you've got to let the process run its course, but this is someone who's admitted to branch-stacking already. He's confessed. What does Anthony Albanese need to hear more than the fact that one of his MPs has confessed to branch-stacking. Surely, he'd say, 'mate, you're out'.
PLIBERSEK: Well, I'm not going to I'm not going to defend any of this behaviour. I'm just simply saying-
EMERSON: But you are defending decision by Anthony Albanese.
PLIBERSEK: It's still before the Victorian Integrity Commission. Let's let them do their job. I think it's really important we don't interfere with court processes anywhere. I'm not calling for Gladys Berejiklian to be found guilty before she faces a New South Wales ICAC, as well. I'm saying let it do its job.
EMERSON: Tanya, let's be clear here. I'm not talking about Anthony Byrne, who's the MP we're talking about here. He's admitted it. He's confessed to it. It's not like this is a question of doubt. He has said 'yes, I've done it'.
PLIBERSEK: I'm not defending the behaviour.
EMERSON: So kick him out.
PLIBERSEK: I'm saying whoever does the wrong thing has to face the consequences of doing the wrong thing.
EMERSON: I just think it makes Anthony Albanese look weak because he's not taking a hard stand on this.
PLIBERSEK: I don't think that's fair. I think he's saying that the proper processes need time to go through, the Victorian Commission needs time to go through its proper processes. That's the approach we take - it doesn't matter who's being investigated. I think that's a standard approach we take but if people have done the wrong thing, it doesn't matter who it is. It doesn't matter if it's our side or their side. It doesn't matter if it's the most senior person or the most junior person. If you do the wrong thing, you face the consequences of that. No excuses. I mean, in New South Wales, I've been a great defender of our New South Wales Independent Commission Against Corruption. It's got Labor people in the past. I haven't for a moment said that they shouldn't - Eddie Obeid and people like that shouldn't go to jail. Good luck to the ICAC for getting them. That's why we need something like this - a really strong cop on the beat at the federal level, too.
EMERSON: All right, Tanya Plibersek. Always good to have a chat. Catch you again next week.
PLIBERSEK: Always lovely, see you.