By Tanya Plibersek

06 September 2021




SUBJECTS: Women's Safety Summit; [email protected]; Vaccinations for kids. 

KIERAN GILBERT, HOST: Let's go live to the Shadow Minister for Women, Tanya Plibersek. Thanks very much for your time, Tanya Plibersek. Did you welcome the Prime Minister's strong opening address at the Safety Summit today?

TANYA PLIBERSEK, SHADOW MINISTER FOR EDUCATION, SHADOW MINISTER FOR WOMEN: Kieran, I thought the speech was fine. I guess the question really is do we match the Prime Minister's words today with real action in the future? There were fantastic presentations all day, I've been listening all day, and what was interesting was that a number of people called for things that are already Labor policy. Things that we've said that we would do, including investing more in emergency accommodation for women fleeing domestic violence, including 10 days paid domestic violence leave, and including implementing all of the recommendations of [email protected] We'd love to work with the Government on a truly bipartisan approach to reducing and eliminating violence against women and their children in Australia, but it will take more than fine words, it will take real action.

GILBERT: This Summit is going to inform the national plan. The next national plan due to kick off next year. And as you said, the Prime Minister gave the speech was fine. He has copped a bit of flak. Were you surprised by that?

PLIBERSEK: Well, I guess the real frustration for a lot of people Kieran is that, you know, we've been saying the same things for a really long time. There have been Parliamentary Inquiries, there have been Royal Commissions. There's been Law Reform Commission Report, Human Rights Commission Report. And people who have been working in this area for years and even decades, women who've got lived experience of violence, they've all been talking about what needs to happen for a really long time. And instead of acting on those recommendations, dozens of recommendations, it feels like we're back at square one and having the whole conversation all over again. We know what needs to happen. We know so much of what needs to happen. What we need is action, not more recommendations but real action on the recommendations that have been made by people who have lived this for years.

GILBERT: The [email protected] recommendations that we heard Anthony Albanese saying that the Government needs to reconsider - in fact, the Government says to us today that they are actively looking at every single one of their recommendations even if not everything was included in the Bill, recognising that some of the more complex reforms require further consideration, and importantly, stakeholder consultation. So while it's not included in the most recent legislative response, it is still on their agenda. Are you pleased with that? Are you relieved that the Government is still looking at each and every one of Kate Jenkins proposals?

PLIBERSEK: They've had this report since 2020, like who was going to do the consultation if it's not the government? Who's going to move this forward, if it's not the overnment? Just last week, they voted against recommendations like putting a positive duty of care on employers to provide a safe workplace. Like supporting Working Women's Centres, giving more support to the places that someone who is being sexually harassed would go to for advice or confidential advice on what they can do. And they voted against having a prohibition on sexual harassment in industrial relations laws. Like they've had the report since 2020, who do they think is going to do the consultation, if not them?

GILBERT: True and, while there's been a further delay, you did say you want bipartisanship. How serious is that from Labor, in terms of actually sitting down and saying we have to make sure that everyone is working in the same direction here, to change? We talked about the pandemic, what about this epidemic which is hitting our nation and has done for so long far too long?

PLIBERSEK: Absolutely, and that's why we are participating in this Summit. It's why we spoke to the Attorney General about the changes that we wanted to see with [email protected] We wanted the Government to move the amendments. We would have been happy if the Government had taken the lead on strengthening that legislation. It's why we have asked the Government on multiple occasions in the Parliament to back ten days paid domestic violence leave. It would be fantastic if we could come out of this Summit tomorrow agreeing on providing more emergency accommodation for women and children fleeing violence. Because the question too often is asked, 'why didn't she leave?' when the real question should be, 'where would she go?' Surely this is something that we can all agree on. Surely, it's something we can all agree on - that we need more emergency accommodation for people who are fleeing domestic violence. The Government could announce that tomorrow. I hope they do.

GILBERT: As the Shadow Minister for Education, let's talk about this issue of vaccines for schoolkids. We know that 12 to 15,  that is going to happen. Annastacia Palaszczuk made those controversial comments last week that she wants to see a focus and a modelling and attention on those under 12. Was that irresponsible from her, given that that is actually not an approved vaccine anywhere in the world?

PLIBERSEK: I can tell you that parents are really worried about their kids. They're worried about the education that they're missing out on and they're worried about the social and emotional well-being of kids. They're missing out, not just on school, they're missing out on sport, on birthday parties, on catching up with their mates, on playing with their friends in the park. So we want things back to normal for kids as soon as possible. It's good to see that teenagers have been included in the vaccination program now and we need follow the medical advice on whether younger children should also be eligible for vaccination. I'm not going to make this stuff up as I go along. This absolutely has to be very carefully considered by our medical advisors. And we know for certain that one of the best ways that we can keep children safe at the moment, is by the adults around those kids getting vaccinated as a priority - their parents, older siblings, brothers and sisters, their teachers and the other adults that they come into contact with. And those adults by and large want that to happen. What's missing is the supply of vaccine and that's the real problem here. The reason we don't see more adults vaccinated is because of the botched job that the Government has done on rolling out the vaccine.

GILBERT: Was it unhelpful to have that intervention from the Queensland Premier, in an area where you rightly say, there is a lot of sensitivity in a lot of focus on it for parents. Was it wrong for her to make that intervention last week, given the medical advice is what it is at the moment?

PLIBERSEK: Look, I think we're all concerned about kids. It's fine to say that you're worried about the kids, we're all worried about the kids. But when it comes to how we look after kids, we need to follow the medical advice and it's very clear from medical experts at the moment that the best thing we can do to keep young children safe is for the adults around them to be vaccinated.

GILBERT: Tanya Plibersek, thanks. Talk to you soon.

PLIBERSEK: It's a pleasure. Thank you.