By Tanya Plibersek

03 November 2021



SUBJECTS: Cleo Smith; Scott Morrison; COP26.

SCOTT EMERSON, HOST: We are joined by Tanya Plibersek. Now Tanya we all woke up with the wonderful news, this morning of Cleo Smith being found alive, safe and well, it was just extraordinary news, wasn’t it?
TANYA PLIBERSEK, SHADOW MINISTER FOR EDUCATION AND SHADOW MINISTER FOR WOMEN: It was so great Scott. I just think probably every Australian waking up hearing that had a little tear in their eyes. I think we were all so worried about what had happened to beautiful, little girl and it's just so wonderful that she's been found. So wonderful.
EMERSON: Well as I said when I heard it, look and I've been a journalist since the late 80s and I just had goosebumps when I heard the news break on 4BC news this morning. And when I told the people around me because they weren't listening to the news and they were just shocked and someone said ‘she's alive. Yes!’ Look 18 days on, you can understand why people would have thought, look, this is going to be a tragedy. We don't know if we'll find out exactly what happened, but it's probably not going to end well. And then to hear, she's been found alive and well. What a miracle.
PLIBERSEK: And the photos of her in her hospital bed. Where she's just having a little check-up. She looks really happy, she's got her little ice block.
EMERSON: She's got the ice block there and as a parent you feel it don't you, Tanya?
PLIBERSEK: Honestly I couldn't imagine how her poor mother had been feeling through this whole time - her parents. You know, it just it's unthinkable as a parent and we think about people like the Morcombes who lost their son and how it stays with you all your life as a parent to lose a child - and Rosie Batty is another one. If you can manage to do something good for other people out of that terrible well of tragedy, you're a real hero, but this one hasn't ended that way. It's ended with little Cleo going home to her family. So how fantastic is that?
EMERSON: Yeah, there were, I think a lot of people had tears of joy this morning when that news did break. Obviously, the story continues to develop there and for those who didn't hear it a bit earlier, the police have held a press conference this afternoon. They haven't revealed a lot regarding the person who's in custody, this 36 year old man, but what they have said that he only became a suspect yesterday, that he was working alone, but we obviously will get more details. And there is some expectation that charges may be laid later today, and that's WA time. So we will see where that does go. Now I'm talking to Tanya Plibersek, the Shadow Minister for Education and Shadow Minister for Women. Now Tanya, former Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, he's labelled Scott Morrison a liar and said he's been a consistent liar over many years. Is Australia's Prime Minister a liar, Tanya Plibersek?
PLIBERSEK: I think when we’re overseas, we have to be a little bit careful to be as bipartisan as we can be. We as a country, have an absolute right to act in our own best interests and wherever we can, Labor and the LNP should work together on these big issues of foreign affairs and security, and obviously, when it comes to the submarines, I don't think anyone would think this whole submarine debacle has been well-handled. I think even Scott Morrison himself would struggle to believe that it's been well-handled.
EMERSON: But that's a very different thing, I can understand and to use the terminology from Joe Biden, he said was ‘clumsy’ and he wasn't just talking about Australia either - the handling of it and letting the French know. He said it was ‘clumsy’, I don't know if I necessarily agree with him on that, but that's very different from Emmanuel Macron, basically telling the world media that Scott Morrison lied to him. And then the former Prime Minister of Australia Malcolm Turnbull coming out repeatedly saying ‘yes, he's a liar. He's a consistent liar. He's lied to me in the past. Why would you be shocked by that’-
PLIBERSEK: I mean he did. I mean he put his hand on Malcolm Turnbull shoulder and said, I'm ambitious for this man and then stuck the knife in him.
EMERSON: So, is he a liar, do you think?
PLIBERSEK: I think Malcolm Turnbull’s probably got some pretty strong views on it. Look, I don't think he - I think a lot of people think all politicians are liars, right? So I get that, you know, we're on pretty difficult terrain here. If I start pointing the finger, or others start pointing the finger, but I think this issue hasn't been well-handled and I think Scott Morrison, he does like to - how do you say it, does like to say things that aren't true.
EMERSON: I think you just call him a liar then.
PLIBERSEK: I'm trying to be nice. Come on Scott give me some credit for trying to be nice.
EMERSON: All right, then. Well, let's go back to it. Look the bottom line is, it doesn't look good. When you have a former Prime Minister slagging off at the current Prime Minister. And look you've seen that with Kevin Rudd. He's made a bit of a career about that as well.
PLIBERSEK: Yeah, I guess it also doesn't look good when our Prime Minister's releasing private text messages from other world leaders and things. So I don't think anybody's covering themselves in glory at the moment.
EMERSON: Just on COP26, all the world leaders, well apart from China who wasn't there. They've all fled now. It's going to go on for another two weeks, more talk. Did it actually achieve anything?
PLIBERSEK: Look, I think some really important things have been achieved like the agreements to end deforestation and reduce methane gas emissions. That's super important in a global sense. I'm not sure that Australia has come out as a podium finish from this international conference, but you know, it's better that Australia was there and represented. I guess the only things that Scott Morrison's really said was the zero net emissions by 2050, which we already knew before he went there. Extra funding for the Pacific, which I guess the Pacific Islands, our neighbours are really, really angry I guess at Australia's refusal to work harder to reduce the threat of climate change because they are literally seeing their shorelines washed away. They're losing fresh water, their crops are changing because of climate change. They are on the front line of the physical impact of climate change.
EMERSON: Well the only trouble I see for all this is Tanya Plibersek, I think this is talked up, is going to have a big result and it just looked like, not just a talk first, but a bit of a bore fest. Sadly, I think that has been the outcome. Look we'll catch you again next week. Always good to have you on the on the show Tanya Plibersek.
PLIBERSEK: Always great to talk to you Scott, see you.