By Tanya Plibersek

02 March 2022




SUBJECTS: Queensland Floods; Yeronga community volunteers; Access to Services Australia.

 And we are joined every week by Tanya Plibersek, but she is in town today. Tanya, have you seen the damage from the floods?

TANYA PLIBERSEK, SHADOW MINISTER FOR EDUCATION, SHADOW MINISTER FOR WOMEN: I have Scott. And I just really feel for the residents of Brisbane who've been experiencing this over the last week, and so many of them copped it in 2011 as well. I was out in Yeronga this morning with my colleague Graham Perrett and with Mark Bailey, you just mentioned, the state minister, having a look at people hosing out their lounge rooms trying to get through the rubbish out onto the footpath. It's just shocking. This afternoon I was out with Rebecca Fanning who is our candidate for a Longman at Burpengary, hearing from small businesses about the way they've been trying to cope over the last couple of years with COVID. And then copping this on top of it as well. It's a very difficult time. And I heard you, as I was waiting to come on in air Scott, I heard you talking about people who are looting. It just blows my mind that there are people who would kick a person when they're down like this. On one hand, at Yeronga we were meeting with these amazing community volunteers turning up, making sandwiches, looking after one another, just out of nowhere turning up with stuff to hand out to people who have lost everything. And then, on the other hand, you've got these scumbags who do the wrong thing, do exactly the opposite thing. You see the best of people and the worst of people at times like this, don't you?

EMERSON: You do. But the thing I always say to people is, yeah, I can point to these cases of looting and look, there's been four cases already, there'll be more than that. But overwhelmingly, there are wonderful stories about the community coming together. Like you just talked about Tanya, in Yeronga. Yeronga, it got devastated in 2011. It's got slammed again now, but you know, sometimes in these disasters it brings out the best in everyone. 

PLIBERSEK: Well when I was there, we dropped into a community centre, Community Plus+. And I saw people there who had been volunteering in 2011 and have basically never stopped working in their community as volunteers, looking out for the most vulnerable people in the community and there they are again now making sandwiches, providing food, connecting people to the services they need, doing such a great job, out of the goodness of their heart, because they're good decent people. 

EMERSON: I had Linda Reynolds, the Federal Minister there. on a short time ago about the support coming from the federal government. Are you satisfied with the level of support that's been given out of the moment?

PLIBERSEK: Look, I think of course, this support is really important. We need to make sure that people have got emergency payments in their hands to buy nappies for their kids and buy their medication and all the rest of it. I'm a little bit disappointed that there seems to be a sort of mismatch of people on the ground. We heard at the beginning from Linda Reynolds that it was going to be ok, everybody was going to do it all on the internet. And now we've got actual Services Australia centres at various locations - we've got three in Longman, which is an electorate held by the Government, and none in Griffith, Moreton, Oxley and Rankin, Labor electorates. I would really hate to think that the Government's making political decisions about this. 

EMERSON: It sounds like you're accusing them of doing that then, Tanya Plibersek.

PLIBERSEK: I know in 2011, when I was the Minister in charge of Centrelink at that time, and we had all those Centrelink workers and people from other government departments from all over Australia here on the ground in Brisbane, and I was ringing not just Labor MPs but LNPs everyday and saying "are they in the right locations? Do you need more? Are they reaching into every part of the community?" I think that's the attitude we should be taking now and I would really wonder why at Yeronga this morning that we were told that the nearest place that people could go if they needed face-to-face help was more than 20 kilometres away. So I don't think that's good enough.

EMERSON: Alright Tanya Plibersek, thanks for your time today.