By Tanya Plibersek

09 June 2021




SUBJECTS: State of Origin; Biloela family; Medicare.

SCOTT EMERSON, HOST: We had Tanya Plibersek in the studio last week, it was great to have the Shadow Minister for Women and also Education here in the studio. But I'm glad she's not here today, Tanya because I suspect you're not wearing a Maroons' jersey like I am.
TANYA PLIBERSEK, SHADOW MINISTER FOR EDUCATION, SHADOW MINISTER FOR WOMEN: Well I'm wearing blue and I tell you what, I'm going to be in Queensland tomorrow, I'm coming up to Brisbane to gloat.
EMERSON: You want to win votes up here, don't say things like that.
EMERSON: Well, at least, I'm sure you'll be if you if they do win tonight. I don't think they will. But if the Blues do when tonight, you're going to party a bit harder than Gladys Berejiklian, have you seen this photo of her?
PLIBERSEK: Seriously, I was prepared to put politics aside and go and join her in the office just so it wouldn't look so sad. 
EMERSON: It is appalling. Do you think it is Gladys?
PLIBERSEK: You reckon it could be a body double? It could be Greg Hunt in a wig.
EMERSON: The Deputy Premier there, given the fact that she's facing away from the camera. I don't even know what she's looking at - and she's got the can of Diet Coke there, no sugar. 
PLIBERSEK: She's just staring at the TV like that six hours early. It's going to be a long wait.
EMERSON: Now look, in Queensland we at least, and I do rail against the Palaszczuk Government for having so many media people. And I know they're advertising at the moment for some social media positions for their office. Gladys, I think you might need some too to get better photos than this. I must admit that is an appalling photo Gladys. You have to do better than that. Well, all right then, well look, I'll give it to you. If you're from New South Wales, it is about State of Origin, so Tanya Plibersek, you are forgiven for backing the Blues tonight. 
PLIBERSEK: Well no one respects you if you dump your team when you're talking to someone else, that would be un-Australian that would be truly un-Australian. 
EMERSON: I reckon Kevin Rudd might have done that at one stage. I'm sure there was something like that. Let's not go back into a bad old days anyhow, let's not talk about that. Now, this is a very serious issue here. This family from Biloela here in Queensland. They are over there on Christmas Island. Tanika who is their daughter, their three-year-old daughter. She's now being treated for a blood infection in Perth. This is a very difficult issue for the government. I was wondering, obviously if Peter Dutton has now move to Defence. Karen Andrews is now the Home Security Minister now. Do you think that she's looking to take a different position to her predecessor? 
PLIBERSEK: Well, there were signs early on that she was but it doesn't look like that at the moment. Obviously, Karen Andrews could just make a decision to release this family. I completely support being tough on people smugglers, but you can also use a bit of common sense occasionally. Here's a family that was working, paying taxes, very well supported and accepted in their town. They've got an enormous amount of community support in Biloela, it just seems like be a good thing to apply a bit of common sense. 
EMERSON: Yeah, well look, I think that we'll see. I think obviously the federal government is trying to work to a way to try to get them into some other places, like New Zealand or the US. But this is an issue that keeps rearing its head and it's a very difficult issue I think for the federal government. I would have thought the Karen Andrews might take the opportunity with taking over the portfolio, to try to do a different approach, but we will wait and see. Earlier this week, we did see the new Newspoll came out, there wasn't really a change for the primary votes for either the Coalition or Labor, but the Greens went down a little bit, Pauline Hanson went up and that meant that it's now neck and neck: 50-50. I reckon that might be a pretty good assessment of where the politics is at the moment. 
PLIBERSEK: Well, that certainly puts us in a position that means we can win the next election, and we're going to be working very hard, first of all, to hold the government to account. They've stuffed up the quarantine, they're stuffed up the vaccine rollout. But secondly, also to talk about the sort of country that we want to see. I mean, in the most recent Budget, we saw a government that's racking up more than a trillion dollars of debt. They spent a hundred billion dollars on election night, not on election night, on Budget night. And what do we get for ordinary working people? Wages going backwards and tax hikes for low and middle income earners after the next election. And, of course, now I know your previous caller was complaining about the fact that we're raising Medicare. We'll never apologise for holding the government to account for Medicare. Don't forget, they tried to introduce the GP co-payment. They froze the Medicare rebate. They tried to privatise the payment system-
EMERSON: Yeah but Tanya Plibersek, let's not forget your ‘Mediscare’ campaign here, Tanya Plibersek, and Labor was caught out. 
PLIBERSEK: I don't agree with that at all. That was a time when the government actually had a proposal to privatise the Medicare payments system, and we know that out-of-pocket expenses are going up and up for ordinary people when it comes to Medicare and these new proposals-
So you're saying the ‘Mediscare’ campaign was legitimate, accurate and founded on fact?
PLIBERSEK: I'm saying that Labor will always stand up for Medicare, we'll always protect it and enhance it and the Liberals have never liked it. They got rid of Medibank back in the day. They've always tried to undermine Medicare, to make it a user-pays, American-style system.
EMERSON: Well it sounds like you're about to run that campaign again then at the next federal election?
PLIBERSEK: You've got right now the government saying that they want doctors to be paid less to treat patients in hundreds of different areas that they've looked at. Of course we're a bit troubled by that and we're not the only ones. The doctors are very troubled by it too. 
EMERSON: All right Tanya Plibersek, good to talk to you. We'll catch you again next week. 
PLIBERSEK: Always great to talk to you, thanks. See you, Scott.