By Tanya Plibersek

23 June 2021




SUBJECTS: The Nationals’ comments on working women, Labor’s child care plan, Barnaby Joyce; Liberals’ vaccine rollout chaos; 30 years of Slovenian Independence. 

LAURA JAYES, HOST: Let's go live now to the Shadow Minister for Education and Shadow Minister for Women, Tanya Plibersek. Good to see you. At the risk of giving you a free hit here, outsourcing parenting. What do you think of that?

TANYA PLIBERSEK, SHADOW MINISTER FOR EDUCATION, SHADOW MINISTER FOR WOMEN: Well, it's a bit rich coming from people who spend half the year in Canberra, isn't it? And it just shows how out of touch some of these Nationals are. My dad worked six days a week, my mum stayed home looked after us, and I'm very grateful to her for doing that. I've made a different choice with my family. The point is whatever choices families make, we should be backing those choices, and that's why Labor's child care policy helps all families earning an income of under $530,000. And when you compare it with the Liberals' new child care policy, 750,000 more families benefit under Labor's policy than under Scott Morrison's.

JAYES: What does the return of Barnaby Joyce change do you think?

PLIBERSEK: Well, it doesn't look like it's going to change a lot of policy, does it? I think this was all about Barnaby Joyce's personal ambition. Michael McCormack's a decent fellow. He's an old-school country gentleman Nat and he's been replaced by a blowhard. Not for any big policy differences, they can't articulate what the policy changes are, but simply because Barnaby Joyce was ambitious to get his old job back. The problem with the Nats overall is that back in their electorates they say they're for regional Australia, but then they come to Canberra and they vote for cuts to childcare, Medicare, cuts to schools, cuts to pensions, cuts to family tax benefits, flatlining wages. They vote for all the things that hurt regional communities. 

JAYES: Climate change, obviously we haven't spoken about this in depth for quite some time. It's been a little bit on the back burner, for the first time in about 20 years I've got to say, but COVID has done that. But look once we get closer to the election it will become an issue once again, we've seen that around by-elections. How does Labor balance the need to do more on climate change and really tell people in the regions that their jobs are safe? That's where Labor needs to make up ground, doesn't it?

PLIBERSEK: Well action to bring down energy prices and bring down pollution is a great opportunity for the regions. Australia can be a renewable energy superpower. And that means that we would bring down energy prices and create jobs in the region. The fact that we've had 22 energy policies under the Coalition, the chaos and confusion is a jobs killer. These delays are a jobs killer. And we know that Australians get it. I mean a quarter of Australians have solar panels on their roof. Some of them are doing it because they're worried about climate change, some of them don't care about climate change - they've worked out that solar electricity is the cheapest form of electricity in human history and they want a piece of it. And our businesses, our industries could get a piece of it too if only we had a government that finally got an energy policy right.

JAYES: To be fair, we haven't seen all of Labor's details about what it would do and promise at the election. Are you going to do that soon?

PLIBERSEK: Well, you've seen a very strong commitment to zero net emissions by 2050, a commitment that we share with State and Territory governments of both persuasions and you know, just incidentally for the Nationals we share that commitment with the National Farmers Federation, the Meat and Livestock Corporation, the pork industry, the gas and oil industry, big transport companies like Qantas, our big banks. Everybody gets it, that this is an economic opportunity, it's a jobs opportunity and by turning our backs on renewable energy and the cheaper electricity it brings we are turning our backs on jobs. 

JAYES: Indeed. Well, look, it's going to become an issue again. Particularly with Barnaby Joyce back in the Leadership. But look, I just want to quickly ask you about Annastacia Palaszczuk and also this outbreak in Sydney. You're a Sydney MP, we've seen now a little bit of compassion shown by Annastacia Palaszczuk to let a son see his dying father, but shouldn't this have been made earlier?

PLIBERSEK: Look I think it's really important that we follow the medical advice but where there's a situation like this, where we can safely reunite man with his dying father, of course, we just need to take a common sense and compassionate approach and I hope that it will be sorted out quickly. 

JAYES: Indeed. General Frewen is looking at the rollout of the vaccines, the state say there's just simply not enough supply. What would Labor do at this point? Can you strike new deals? Is there something you can do? Or we've just got to deal with it? 

PLIBERSEK: We absolutely should have got more deals earlier on, but what Labor has also said that if we were in government we would be manufacturing MRNA vaccines here in Australia. We also need to make sure that we're advertising, encouraging people to get the vaccines when they are available. I completely accept that there is a big problem with the supply of the Pfizer vaccine at the moment. We need to encourage people to get it when it's available and we need to get hotel quarantine right. We're now up to 24 breakouts from hotel quarantine. Labor has said that as well as manufacturing vaccines, the MRNA style vaccines here in Australia, we need to have purpose-built quarantine facilities. We can't be relying on tourist hotels, in our CBDs, to meet our quarantine requirements as a nation. 

JAYES: Just finally, before we run out of time, it is 30 years since Slovenian Independence. I know we must have a lot of viewers in the Slovenian diaspora. Do you have a message for them this morning? 

PLIBERSEK: [SPEAKS SLOVENIAN] I just said I'm happy that we can celebrate 30 years of Slovenian Independence! 

JAYES: Do you know more Slovenian than that?

PLIBERSEK: Yeah, I'm not really great at speaking it. But I understand it very well. My parents spoke to us in Slovenian when we were growing up so, you know, I can understand it pretty well and I can speak it really badly. 

JAYES: Well, you know, if some of our viewers did understand you there, I'm going to get them to email and we'll test you next time Tanya Plibersek, thanks so much. 


JAYES: Now you're just showing off. Thank you.