Channel 7 Sunrise interview with Minister for the Environment and Water Tanya Plibersek

6 June 2022

SUBJECTS: Indonesia; new shadow ministry; new role as Minister for the Environment and Water.

NATALIE BARR: Joining me now is Environment Minister Tanya Plibersek and Shadow Veterans’ Affairs Minister as of the weekend, Barnaby Joyce. Good morning to both of you. It's been three years since an Australian Prime Minister has visited Indonesia. Tanya, the PM says it's more than symbolic. What is he doing there?

TANYA PLIBERSEK: Well, our relationship with Indonesia is a very important one, one of our nearest neighbours, one of our closest friends. This is a very strong signal that we want to continue to engage constructively with our neighbours and also with the ASEAN community. As well as meeting the Indonesian President, the Prime Minister will also be meeting with the Secretary General of ASEAN. We know that the best way that we can have a peaceful and prosperous neighbourhood is to work closely with Indonesia and with our near neighbours to deliver on that.

NATALIE BARR: Barnaby, the G20 will be held there in Indonesia and Bali later this year. A lot of conjecture about whether we should go if Russia is invited. What do you think?

BARNABY JOYCE: Well, I concur what Tanya just said. Indonesia is the third biggest democracy in the world. We both have a very big issue with China to the north and how these two nations work together in regards to G20. I also hear that President Zelenskyy is going to be from the Ukraine there by video conference. If we do go, we have to. No one should be at all shy and completely direct as to the murdering that is happening at the hands of Mr Putin and the families, the mothers, the children, the older people who are being murdered by the unreasonable invasion of Russia against another democracy, against the Ukraine. I think that if you can hold into account and change his position, great. Otherwise, just keep supplying the Ukrainians with arms.

NATALIE BARR: The new opposition leader, Peter Dutton, has announced his shadow Ministry. Barnaby, what do you think of the new lineup and your shift to shadow Veterans’ Affairs?

BARNABY JOYCE: Well, I always said that I was going to transition out of the leadership and basically after winning every seat to get Veterans’ Affairs is a great honour. I'm the third generation of people who've served in the armed services in my family, both grandfathers, my father and myself. And to get the opportunity to look after the people who looked after our nation is so vitally important, especially in light of the circumstances that we see right now. If that PA that had basically aluminium chaff put in it from a Chinese fighter, if that had crashed, there would now be nine dead Australian servicemen and women. And this conversation won't be happening because things would’ve taken an incredible turn for the worse. And that's why I've always said we've got to be as strong as possible, as quickly as possible for our shadow bench, with people such as Andrew Hastie in Defence, with people such as Peter Dutton, who is a very strong and capable leader, with people such as Perin Davey who's got to make sure that 450 gigs does not get bought back and we keep the irrigation area strong, that our infrastructure gets built. So that what Bridget McKenzie has to do is hold the Labor party to account, to keep the vital infrastructure going in to make this nation strong. Our job now is to hold the government to account so I hope they do a very good job.

NATALIE BARR: Tanya, you've missed out on the role of Education Minister. You've held that portfolio for six years. You must be disappointed.

TANYA PLIBERSEK: Look, I loved the education portfolio and the women's portfolio but I've held a lot of portfolios over the years and I've loved every one of them. It is just such an incredible honour to be a Cabinet Minister in a Labor government and I'm so excited to have the Environment and the Water portfolio now. If you learnt anything from the last election you learnt that Australians are demanding more from the Australian government when it comes to the environment and I'm excited about the challenge of building on Labor's legacy. The Great Barrier Reef, Kakadu, Daintree, the Tasmanian forests and, as Barnaby mentioned as well, stewarding one of our most precious natural resources, water. It's a great challenge and a great honour.

NATALIE BARR: Okay. Thank you very much. Thank you.