By Tanya Plibersek

31 March 2022



SUBJECTS: Scott Morrison; Federal election; President Zelenskyy’s address to Parliament; Budget Reply. 
PETER STEFANOVIC, HOST: Let's bring in the Shadow Minister for Women now, Tanya Plibersek. Tanya good morning to you. So barely a few weeks after bullying claims rocked the Labor Party, they're back again. They've come back for the Prime Minister this time, as you know from Concetta Fierravanti-Wells. What's your thoughts on them from across the aisle today?
TANYA PLIBERSEK, SHADOW MINISTER FOR EDUCATION, SHADOW MINISTER FOR WOMEN: Well, it's not Labor saying this of course, it's Connie Fierravanti-Wells, it's Jacqui Lambie, it's Pauline Hanson. Before that it was Julia Banks and, of course, Gladys Berejiklian also said that Scott Morrison was a horrible, horrible person who put politics above people. And these are his own people, the people who know him best, who have worked closest to him, that are actually saying it. It's not us saying it. But I think people will draw their own conclusions from the fact that there's so many people who have worked closely with the Prime Minister who have this view of him.
STEFANOVIC: As you might have seen, those comments from John Howard overnight, that intervention there, he says what he sees anyway is not bullying it’s forceful. Well isn't that part of being a Prime Minister or being the leader of a party? Does he have a point?
PLIBERSEK: I think, of course, any leader of a party has strong views about how the country should be run. But am I surprised that John Howard, on the eve of an election, is defending a Liberal Prime Minister? No, I'm not. I mean, John Howard is the ultimate loyalist to the Liberal Party of Australia. I would expect nothing else. And to be honest, I don't think Scott Morrison would be bullying John Howard. I mean, the way bullies work is not usually that they believe people who are more powerful than them, they look for people that they think will respond to intimidation.
STEFANOVIC: Like the bullying claims that surrounded Kimberley Kitching though, should personal grievances that are designed to be destructive be made to a party before being made public?
PLIBERSEK: Look, I think it is important where there are processes in place that people can use internal grievance procedures, that they do use those grievance procedures when they're available. But I think what you're seeing here really is not just one person making a complaint, but a series of people coming out and making a complaint about the Prime Minister. This is not the Labor Party. You might not have noticed, we didn't ask a single question about it in Question Time yesterday. This is something that's happening with the Liberal Party, with One Nation, with Jacqui Lambie as an independent. They are all people who have had to sit in a room and negotiate with the Prime Minister at different times. I think it's instructive that they've each had the same sort of experience, and then you throw in what Julia Banks said a while ago, what people like Gladys Berejiklian have said, I think it paints quite a picture.
STEFANOVIC: Okay, just a quick one here in the budget. Tanya, the Prime Minister has challenged Anthony Albanese to release policies. Are you trying to sneak into office, or is your party trying to sneak into office with a quote, 'vacant space, small target strategy while waving through Coalition policies'?
PLIBERSEK: I think it's pretty rich from a Prime Minister who went to the last election with literally no policies. But we've got some very significant, very detailed policies that Australians can judge us on including our plan for cheaper, cleaner, renewable energy that will bring down power bills, support employment, and of course bring down carbon emissions. We've got very clear plans in my portfolio of education to make sure that schools are fairly funded, that kids get help to bounce back from COVID. We have got more places - 465,000 free TAFE places, 20,000 extra university places - to begin to address the skills crisis that has grown under this government. We've got plenty of detailed policy, and the easiest way people can check out those policies is to watch Anthony Albanese's Budget Reply speech tonight and to have a look on the Labor Party website and see the details of what we're proposing.
STEFANOVIC: Do you have any concerns that that may well be overshadowed by a speech given to Parliament by Volodymyr Zelenskyy?
PLIBERSEK: Look, I think these are two very important speeches for the parliament today. Every Australian is standing with the people of Ukraine. What's happening there at the moment is unthinkable. Ordinary families like ours would be making decisions about whether to take the kids and flee or whether to stay and fight, or maybe one parent is staying and fighting and the other parent is taking the kids across the border into a neighbouring country to try and keep them safe. These are people just like ordinary Australians, faced with these incredibly difficult decisions. Of course, we want to hear from the person who is leading them so courageously, who has held off the Russian invasion. The Russians thought they'd roll through Ukraine in a matter of days, and here we are weeks later with the people of Ukraine fighting to the last to defend their homeland. Of course, we want to hear from him. I think Australians have the capacity to deal with that very important speech and Anthony Albanese's very important Budget Reply this evening that will set out his vision for how Australia can be a stronger, fairer country. I think Australians are very focused on the next election. They're really paying attention now, and Anthony will have the opportunity to lay out some of our important proposals for our nation tonight. I think we can do both.
STEFANOVIC: Okay, Tanya Plibersek, thanks for your time.