By Tanya Plibersek

22 April 2021




SUBJECTS: Australia Post halting delivery of perishables; Funeral of the Duke of Edinburgh; Schools; Defamation laws and social media. 
ALAN JONES, HOST: Two influential and articulate Australian women which we love: Concetta Fierravanti-Wells, a Liberal Senator from New South Wales and Tanya Plibersek, the former Deputy Leader of the Federal Labor Party. Ladies, thank you for your time. Can I just ask you because you are both influential women - Australia Post, they have seen the light and to their credit this ban on perishables. Question first to you, Concetta. What would have ever motivated them to stop delivering perishables through their parcel service?
SENATOR CONCETTA FIERRAVANTI-WELLS, SENATOR FOR NSW: Alan, I don't know. I think that Australia Post has been a successful business and this was part of that successful business, and I really don't understand. Anyway, I'm hope that that decision can be revisited and that Australians can continue to receive all sorts of parcels and all sorts of deliveries from Australia Post. 
JONES: I'm asking you because you're in the government and you know these people, they're your people who are the Ministers. I hope you'll be able to exert some influence there. Tanya, there are stacks of small businesses, I mean, there's truffles, there's flowers, there's small goods. I'm asking both of you to stand up for small business and have Australia Post do what it should do - allow small parcels of perishables continue to use the Australia Post parcel service. Tanya?
TANYA PLIBERSEK, SHADOW MINISTER FOR EDUCATION, SHADOW MINISTER FOR WOMEN: Well, I've had cheese posted to me in the past Alan and it's terrific to be able to buy from small producers if there's something special that you're looking for, and I think it goes along with a lot of things we've seen from Australia Post in recent years - less frequent mail deliveries, really trying to get out of some of those standard things that we really expect Australia Post to do. 
JONES: Yes. I just wonder whether they are actually wanting to make sure the parcel service runs then at a loss, and they might be able to privatise it but I'm asking both of you to talk to whomever you can because this has got to be overturned. Concetta, can I just ask you a quick one on Prince Philip - the funeral of Prince Philip. Prince Harry's gone home, missing the Queen's 95th birthday. I know people don't care much but should he have stayed?
FIERRAVANTI-WELLS: I think he should have, Alan. I have to say one of the saddest and most most heartbreaking scenes from that funeral was to see Her Majesty just sitting there all alone.
JONES: Absolutely.
FIERRAVANTI-WELLS: It was just so heartbreaking.
JONES: Absolutely. I agree. Tanya, I'm a monarchist. You're most probably a republican but we're people first aren't we? Here's a woman grieving the loss of her partner after 73 years. She arrives at the funeral alone. She sits alone and she leaves alone. I mean, protocol is protocol - couldn't someone just throw an arm around her?
PLIBERSEK: Yeah, I thought that was a terribly sad image, Alan. And you're right, I am a republican but I've got a lot of respect for the Queen. She's given a lifetime of service and dedication. She's always put her duty before herself, and this was a really, a really sad image that was beamed around the world. I think the Queen would have obviously been grieving for the husband that she'd lost but it was an image that would have really reached out to so many people in the UK who have not been able to attend the funerals of loved ones at this terrible time that we've had. So I think it was, it was moving for that reason too.
JONES: Terrible. Just staying with you, Tanya because you're the Shadow Minister for Education. I don't think we should let this pass just because it was talked about yesterday. This Lindfield Learning Village in Sydney, the student created posters with: 'Stop killer cops', 'pigs out the country', 'white lives matter too much'. Last night on this program the text line was on fire. One student, Anthony from Brisbane, said: "Alan I'm a student and I can 100 per cent agree with what you've just said. Almost every teacher in my school has anti-Trump and anti-Morrison propaganda'. Tanya, how do you respond to that?
PLIBERSEK: Well, look I think has schools have to be focusing on what matters most, which is learning to read and write and do maths and science, and get all those basics. Kids need to get those basics under their belt - understand history and literature. 
JONES: Yeah but they don't.
PLIBERSEK: I've, I'm not really sure, we've spoken about that before haven't we Alan? I'm not really sure what the purpose of this stuff is and obviously our police do a terrifically difficult job.
JONES: Absolutely. Difficult.
PLIBERSEK: We should be saying that, every chance.
JONES: Yes we should. I mean, neither you, Concetta nor Tanya, nor the Prime Minister, nor Mr Albanese, nor the omnipotent Alan Jones knows what goes on in the classroom. So how can the Minister say anyone who politicises the classroom will be dealt with? Concetta?
FIERRAVANTI-WELLS: Well, Alan I have to say as Dr. Kevin Donnelly said, and has correctly assessed, the Teachers Federation of Australia has been on the march for 30 to 40 years and regrettably to the detriment of standards in our schools. This was an appalling display and I agree with the Minister for Police who called it out and it shouldn't have happened. But I think that this is regrettably the latest chapter in what I think has been regrettably a brainwashing exercise of our children in the schools. 
JONES: There's too much of it. Tanya - there's talk-.
FIERRAVANTI-WELLS: There is too much of it.
JONES: Tanya there is talk of reviewing - we've talked about this before here - Australian defamation laws. In America it's a free-for-all. It gives immunity to social media platforms for anything they publish. Trump threatened to repeal such laws. Tanya, should internet outfits like Google and Facebook and Twitter be responsible for the content that's posted by platform users?
PLIBERSEK: Well, the first people who should be responsible for what's posted are we ourselves. Now, honestly, too many people post things that they would never say to someone face to face. I think the first thing we should rely on his courtesy and common sense and a bit of common decency. When it comes to defamation law reform, it is complex when you've got different states doing different things and moving along the process to reform at a different pace - it can lead to forum shopping, for example. I would like to see social media platforms take more responsibility for some of the filth that gets posted online, I'm talking about some of the very violent pornography that we see as well. 
JONES: Dreadful.
PLIBERSEK: It seems that they're able to stop sharing Australian news when it suits them to make a political point, but apparently they're not able to do anything about some of the really toxic stuff that we see online. It doesn't really ring true does it?
JONES: That it. Yeah. Toxic, Frightening stuff. It doesn't add up. Now see, Concetta, I mean search engines like Google in America are regarded not as publishers, so they're not liable for what goes up on Twitter or Facebook. But in Australia, courts have found Google liable as a publisher. How do people get redress for the appalling stuff that's said about them and read by millions?
FIERRAVANTI-WELLS: Well Alan, I think that making social media companies identify and verify the identification of their users-
JONES: That's the first step, yes.
FIERRAVANTI-WELLS: -would be a very important start and I think that that of itself would certainly modify behaviour on social media because otherwise, what will happen is that we will continue to have this anonymous trolling resulting in fake news and continued abuse. But to your point about publishers, I think that social media companies do publish in that sense on social media and accordingly I believe that they should be treated the same as print media.
JONES: Absolutely.
FIERRAVANTI-WELLS: And that means being subjected to defamation laws in this country. 
JONES: I agree with you. It's good to talk to you both, but I think what is really good is to hear from influential people. It gives hope to people outside, and I hope that we raise the issues here, which you'll be able to take back into the forums where you have influence, so it's great to talk. We'll talk again next week. Thank you both for your time.
FIERRAVANTI-WELLS: Thanks very much Alan.
PLIBERSEK: It's a pleasure Alan. Good night, Connie.