By Tanya Plibersek

10 May 2021



MONDAY, 10 MAY 2021

SUBJECTS: Federal Budget; Australia’s borders; Federal election; NAPLAN; New coins; Mothers’ Day.

KARL STEFANOVIC, HOST: Welcome back to the show. Well Josh Frydenberg is front and centre at the moment. The big pandemic recovery Budget, the Treasurer signalling his hopes for reopening the country next year to bring in billions of extra income from overseas. We're also expecting big spending on aged care, childcare, and new transport projects, for every state. Let's discuss with Shadow Minister for Education and Training, Tanya Plibersek, and from 4BC in Brisbane, Scott Emerson. Morning guys, nice to see you. Tanya, to you first of all, bit of a confusing day yesterday with mixed messages from the Government. Do you think?

TANYA PLIBERSEK, SHADOW MINISTER FOR EDUCATION, SHADOW MINISTER FOR WOMEN: About when Australians will be able to travel again? Yeah, they're all over the place. Just a couple of weeks ago the Prime Minister was saying we'd open up the borders in July and people would be able to home quarantine. Now he's saying indefinite border closures. The real problem here is that they have failed with the vaccine roll out. We were supposed to have six and a half million Australians vaccinated by now, it's only a fraction of that. And while ever that's the case, of course, it's not safe to open up international borders. 

STEFANOVIC: Scott, a poll in the Daily Mail revealed 60 per cent of Aussies are in no rush to reopen our borders, people just want to stay safe don't they, that's the reality of all this?

SCOTT EMERSON: We've seen that repeatedly through the whole series of state elections. The incumbents with strong border policies, they win. I think that just reflects exactly what people are saying, they're quite happy where they are. They're happy with the fact that Australia has been relatively safe during Covid, and they want to keep it that way. And I think that reflects, that's going to be the ongoing situation. Talking about opening up the borders, well I think, most people say that “don't open the borders until it is safe, whether it's next month or next year”, that's what they’d want. 

STEFANOVIC: Plenty of money for aged care, Tanya, and childcare. You can't argue with that though, can you?

PLIBERSEK: Yeah, except that this Prime Minister, Scott Morrison, was the Treasurer that cut $1.7 billion from aged care. He was warned at the time that it would be bad. And we've heard stories of maggots in wounds and people malnourished, up to half of residents malnourished. 

STEFANOVIC: It’s terrible. 

PLIBERSEK: And the real problem here, of course, is you get the big flashy headline one day, and then it's terms and conditions may apply, next day. So let's have a look at what's actually in the Budget. 

STEFANOVIC: Okay, but in terms of that money for childcare, there are some arguing too in the Fin Review today that it's going to lead to higher prices. 

PLIBERSEK: Yes, because there's no- you put extra subsidy in, it's a very confusing system that the Government's landed on, and there's no way of stopping that just going straight into profits for childcare operators. We need to have a mechanism that makes sure it stays affordable for families. and that extra money makes it more affordable for families and actually does something about very low wages for people who work in early childhood.

STEFANOVIC: Scott, it does appear as though, the Government are spending like drunken sailors at the moment, there's an awful lot going out, isn't there? 
EMERSON: There is a lot going out. Don't forget Karl this is probably going to be a an election budget, election probably about this time next year, maybe a little bit earlier, in April, May. And so they've got a position themselves well. And they are dealing with the kind of issues that are causing them political pain at moment: aged care, women. So they are dealing with those issues. But always think to yourself, this is framed with the idea of going to an election early next year. 

STEFANOVIC: Is that what you're preparing for Tanya? 

PLIBERSEK: Well, I don't know. It could be the end of this year, it could be early next year. But I think Scott's absolutely right. This is all about trying to fix political problems, and I think that's sad. We're going to have a trillion dollars worth of debt, and nothing to show for it long term – just an effort to get Scott Morrison re-elected.

STEFANOVIC: On your education portfolio, there's a story around today about NAPLAN and the traumatic effects of NAPLAN. What needs to change there?

PLIBERSEK: Parents and teachers need to explain to kids that testing in primary school – all it is, is an effort to make sure we haven't missed teaching you something. It shouldn't be high stakes, it shouldn't be high pressure, and as parents and as teachers, we need to be very clear with kids that this is not- they shouldn't be feeling pressure.

STEFANOVIC: But you support NAPLAN?

PLIBERSEK: I think it's really important that we are able to compare, right across the country, and make sure that schools and systems are teaching kids the basics – that we're getting the basics right. If there is a school where kids are universally behind their peers in maths, it's important that we know that.

STEFANOVIC: Scott, it seems to come up, rear its head every year. 

EMERSON: Yeah, look, I think the NAPLAN issue for me personally, is that a lot of parents say how come I'm not finding out about this information at the moment? They pay for it with their taxes. They want to know how their school is going. They want to know how the kids are going, and increasingly we're seeing this information kept away from parents. I think that's a disgrace. If the tests are being done, parents want to know, not about individual kids, but they want to know how schools are going, how their community is going in terms of education.

STEFANOVIC: Okay, controversial story of the day, and we'll get on the Mother's Day gifts in a second, because I think you both have some interesting ones, but this one first. Home and Away is getting its own coin from the Royal Australian Mint. It's not April Fools’ Day, folks. This is actually happening, along with the coins for 25 other Aussie icons. Bloody hell. This morning, we have an exclusive for you too. This is one hot off the press. This one looks to be a winner as well. This is another coin. Here we go. There we go, Tanya.

EMERSON: Sensational.

STEFANOVIC: Are you pleased with that Tanya? Iconic Australian?


PLIBERSEK: Oh it's about time really, isn't it? No actually, I am outraged by this, right. I want to know - where is Darryl Kerrigan? 

PLIBERSEK: Where is Kylie? Where is Muriel? Where is Skippy?


PLIBERSEK: Outraged.

EMERSON: But Tanya it was inevitable. Come on.

STEFANOVIC: I agree. Where is Hamish? I mean, there's so many options, don't you reckon? Anyway. We've just heard from our co-host Alex Cullen, he admitted, a startling admission on national television, that he bought his wife a leaf blower for Mother’s Day.

PLIBERSEK: No! So bad.

STEFANOVIC: Tanya, what did you get for Mother’s Day?

PLIBERSEK: Actually my husband did really well this year. He got me a massage.

STEFANOVIC: A massage.

PLIBERSEK: I mean, the “kids” got me a massage.

STEFANOVIC: And it was a, what happens in that whole process?

PLIBERSEK: Yeah, like I relax for 45 minutes, once a year.

STEFANOVIC: It's not a bloke doing it though is it?

PLIBERSEK: Actually, yes. Branislav. It was Branislav, he’s very good.

STEFANOVIC: What? What's his name?

PLIBERSEK: Branislav.

STEFANOVIC: Branislav the masseuse.

PLIBERSEK: Yeah, yeah, he's very good. 45 minutes once a year. It's so relaxing.


STEFANOVIC: Scott, what did you? I'm sure you're a romantic guy from way back. What did you get your partner?

EMERSON: Very romantic. I got my wife cattle brands, you know, what you brand the cattle with. They are actually off, they're off the old farm, the farm. I had them fixed up. There were rusted, I got them de-rusted and powder coated. So Robbie, we did the Mother's Day Classic fun run yesterday morning and afterwards I presented her with the cattle brands. 

PLIBERSEK: What do you do with them, Emmo?

STEFANOVIC: The mind boggles, Tanya.


PLIBERSEK: It's family viewing hours.

EMERSON: I can lend one to your masseuse if you like, Tanya?


STEFANOVIC: Right, it's PG viewing before 7am. Good on you guys. Fantastic stuff. Happy Mother's Day by the way. 

PLIBERSEK: Thank you.