By Tanya Plibersek

02 February 2022





SUBJECTS: Leaked text messages; Scott Morrison’s failures; Federal Election.
SCOTT EMERSON, HOST: Every week we are joined by the federal Shadow Minister for Women and Education, Tanya Plibersek. How are you Tanya? 
EMERSON: Look, we're just facing a storm here so looking out the window here at Cannon Hill, my little window they give me here so I don't feel like I'm completely in a prison, it's a bit lighter out there, but I - just updating for our listeners there - on the weather radar that band of storms, it's passed Brisbane heading out to the coast, but there is, as I said, another smaller band of storms just sweeping in, just past Crows Nest now, heading towards Dayboro, so just bunker down if you need to be and just stay safe on the roads if you're in the rain as well. Now Tanya, the Prime Minister gave a very lengthy address to the National Press Club yesterday. Probably most of the interest seems to be focused on the questions after the address, including all these text messages between an unnamed senior Liberal Minister and former New South Wales Premier Gladys Berejiklian. Now, according to the text messages, Gladys Berejiklian called the Prime Minister "horrible", and the Liberal Minister called him a "psycho" and a "fraud". Look, this is just surely just, you'll just be lapping this up for the Labor Party, just months out from a federal election?
PLIBERSEK: Well, I guess these are the people that know Scott Morrison best and apparently that's what they think of him. So people will draw their own conclusions from that. I actually think that Australians have made their own minds up about Scott Morrison though. I'm not really sure that these sorts of messages change a lot. I think they've watched the Prime Minister run away from responsibility during the COVID crisis that we faced, where everything is someone else's responsibility - he doesn't hold a hose, every problem is someone else's fault. And they've made their own minds up about him as a leader. He's not shown a lot of leadership. 
EMERSON: You say these are the people who know him best, and we don't know who the Minister may be, Barnaby Joyce did say today, well he seemed to slip that it was a she, and he says, well lots of people do know who it is. But this description of the Prime Minister as "horrible" and a "psycho", do you think he's a horrible man? Do you think he is a psycho?
PLIBERSEK: I'm really not going to get into, kind of, personal commentary on him. My problem is not so much with his personality, it's what he's failed to do for our nation. The vaccine stroll out, the failure on quarantine, the hit and miss application of JobKeeper, which has seen some companies do well when they didn't suffer any decline in their revenue and some people miss out altogether so that we've seen about 40,000 jobs lost from universities for example - I mean, these are the things that I would criticise him for, and you know, Scott, one of the things that I think people have forgotten is that a lot of these problems do pre-date COVID as well. The flatlining wages that are having such a huge impact on families at the same time as petrol prices are going up, child care is going up, out-of-pocket health care costs are going up, rent is going up - all these things are going up, flatlining wages, that's been happening for eight years. It hasn't been happening for the last couple of years of COVID, and we doubled the debt and doubled the deficit before COVID hit. So I think people are critical of the way that Scott Morrison has managed the COVID crisis, but I would say even looking at the whole of the term of this government, there's a lot not to like there.
EMERSON: Obviously the Newspoll that came out on Monday. I know politicians say they don't focus on the polls and they wait until election day -
PLIBERSEK: And I am going to say that.
EMERSON: Oh but you know that's not the case Tanya Plibersek. Look, the reality is every pollie looks at the at the polls as they go through, whether they think they give them credence or not, they do look at it. And look, when you look at that Newspoll, 56 to 44, Labor would win the election in a cakewalk if that was the case there. Is Labor's strategy a small target strategy? While this is all happening for Scott Morrison, Anthony Albanese, I see him out there on the hustings, I see some little announcements going on back and forth. But I mean, it's not like he's up there front and centre all the time, and isn't that probably the smart strategy from Labor to keep yourself out of the way at the moment, just let the Coalition do all this and have this bit of internal fighting?
PLIBERSEK: Well, I'm not happy to see chaos in the LNP because it's important for our democracy that we have a contest of ideas, we don't just have one team, kind of eating itself alive. I think for us, for Labor, the really important thing to do now is to continue to focus on the real issues, not kind of get distracted by the circus is going on in the LNP. So we need to focus on a fair day's pay for a fair day's work, making sure that people get a wage rise when they're working hard. A really good education system so that our kids get every opportunity and that's why we made our announcement about helping kids after COVID that are going back into the classroom, having them do that safely and pick up where they left off before the disruption. Medicare. Aged care. Cheaper, cleaner energy. These are the things that we need to focus on, not get distracted by the circus in the LNP.
EMERSON: All right Tanya Plibersek. Great to chat. We'll talk to you again next week. 
PLIBERSEK: Always a pleasure. Thanks Scott.