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06 June 2022












SUBJECT/S: China’s interception of RAAF jet over South China Sea; Australia’s relationship with Indonesia; women in the parliament; Queen’s platinum jubilee


CHARLES CROUCHER, HOST: Welcome back. Dangerous and deliberate, that's the threat from a Chinese fighter jet which intercepted an RAAF surveillance plane in international airspace over the South China Sea. Flares and chaff were released, causing small pieces of aluminium to enter the engine of the Australian aircraft. For more on this, we're joined by Minister for the NDIS and Government Services, Bill Shorten and editor of Stellar and Body and Soul magazine, Sarrah Le Marquand here in the studio. Bill, so much for relations with Beijing improving, this is a diplomatic incident.


BILL SHORTEN, MINISTER FOR NDIS & GOVERNMENT SERVICES: Absolutely. It's a dangerous action, a risky action by the Chinese military. The RAAF crew are highly professional, and they've kept themselves and their plane safe. But it's just a reminder of the important work that the Prime Minister and the Foreign Minister and everyone else is doing in our region, to make sure that China gets the message that Australia is up and about and on its toes. But I do acknowledge the professionalism of our military aircrew and it's a reminder to all Australians what a debt of gratitude we owe them.


CROUCHER: Richard Marles is both the Acting Prime Minister at the moment and the Defence Minister how should he and Anthony Albanese respond?


SHORTEN: Exactly as they're doing. I mean, maybe China says that they want to get on better with Australia, then they do rash and provocative gestures. Let's be very clear. Australian aircrew were in the right place doing the right thing, and as our government have said, won't be taking a backward step towards maintaining our rights internationally. And that's as it should be. So, I think we're doing exactly the right thing, just pushing back, and saying this is not on and it doesn't matter who's in the government in Australia, none of us are standing for this sort of conduct.


CROUCHER: Sarrah, this incident was described as very dangerous. We are in international airspace here, but how do you think the PM should respond?


SARRAH LE MARQUAND, EDITOR STELLAR MAGAZINE: Well, I agree. I think the fact that the Prime Minister is meeting with the Indonesian President today is probably a good sign. Interestingly, Indonesia, as we all know over the last 20 years, has been a slightly problematic relationship or certainly a complicated one, to be a bit more polite about it, for Australia. And I think now that the relationship with Beijing has really been where the diplomatic pressure has been in the last few years, and with this incident we're seeing that that rhetoric that's been dialled up for the last year was not all hot air, that this is very real, and it wasn't only an isolated incident. We can't just dismiss this. As someone has said, it's not just a mistake or an error made by the flight crew. There was a similar incident with the Canadian Air Force craft, so I think getting Indonesia onside would be really helpful. Obviously, the new Prime Minister recently met with Joe Biden. We know our relationship with the US is always strong, whoever is in power. I think it's interesting because Indonesia is particularly a relationship that the ALP has a strong history with. So, I'll be curious to see if the new PM taps into that.


CROUCHER: Certainly, one of the big players in the region. All right let's move on. Peter Dutton is continuing his Liberal Party renewal. He's installed ten women in his shadow cabinet team. Bill, Scott Morrison was seen as having a problem with women. I guess the election result bore that out in some of those key seats. Peter Dutton has to be given credit here doesn't he, ten women out of the cabinet.


SHORTEN: It's certainly progress. But I mean, why do the Liberal Party always expect a bunch of flowers for discovering the 21st century? I mean, I think the Liberal Party want a medal for doing what is obvious. So, to the extent they've done something obvious, that's good. But it's really going to take, I think, a lot more than just belated catch-up politics. So, I mean, people should remember that Labor has got more women in cabinet, more women in the ministry, and I think it's also going to be all the other policies and hopefully Peter Dutton will throw out some of the old baggage which Mr. Morrison had. That would be a good thing.


CROUCHER: Sarrah, certainly this should be accepted in these times. I notice Barnaby Joyce has been included in shadow cabinet. Are you surprised by some of the appointments?


LE MARQUAND: Oh look, I mean, it was interesting seeing your interview with David Littleproud earlier. I mean, he's really talking up what he calls generational change. Clearly on the Liberal side there is very much a move to sort of punish or certainly move on from the era of Scott Morrison and his allies. We've seen though of course similar things happen in the new government. You know, there was a lot of talk last week about Tanya Plibersek, who was one of the most senior women in the opposition. And now that they're in power, she's sort of been marginalised in a fairly, really highly irrelevant portfolio. I know you're going to disagree with me, Bill, there, but let's be honest, it is pretty irrelevant. Education to environment. Come on.


SHORTEN: Sarrah, that’s not right.


LE MARQUAND: Look, I would love it to be the day where it's completely uncommented on how many women and we can stop doing the maths on it. I would agree with Bill, I don't think we should be sending flowers to the new frontbench, but it's the same way. I can also say off the top of my head that there's thirteen women in the new frontbench in government. So, I would just love a day where parity is taken for granted and in fact we'll know when we're there, when sometimes there's even more men than women again. And we think, oh well we've got a female Prime Minister, a female opposition leader. Who cares?


CROUCHER: Bill? A chance to respond to that because I know you want to.


SHORTEN: Listen, a lot of what Sarrah said, obviously I agree. But in terms of Tanya Plibersek, the environment and water are important priorities, just speak to anyone living in the in the water basin in western New South Wales and Queensland. I think you'll find that Tanya is a strong performer in any job she's given.


CROUCHER: All right. Well, finally, some incredible scenes in London as the Queen's platinum jubilee celebrations wrapped up. Sarrah, to see Her Majesty out on the balcony again, all the Royal - well, the working Royal family there. And yes, what looks like the first five in line to the throne, standing on the balcony alongside.


LE MARQUAND: That’s right, a very small, hand-picked crew there. But look, that's right. It was a really lovely, I think probably a moving moment, not just for the people that were there in the streets of London, but for everyone that was watching it from afar. Because we know that her health has been a bit of a problem and she hasn't been able to participate in every aspect of the last four days of the festivities. I love what she's wearing. I think, you know, she looks so happy, doesn't she? I think, you know, whatever you think, and as long-time viewers would know, I am actually a Republican and I believe that we should be severing ties with the monarchy in the foreseeable future, but you have to say full credit to 70 years, really well done in a very difficult job.


CROUCHER: And Bill, Labor's pretty keen on ditching the Queen at some point?


SHORTEN: I think ultimately Australia can afford to have an Australian head of state. We are overdue for that. But having said that, as Sarrah said, hats off to the Queen. A remarkable job. And when you think about it, she was crowned in 1953, her father died in 1952. There are not many things in this world which have stood this test of time, although I do also have to acknowledge the Brits know how to party, don't they? I mean they know how to put on a good party. And what I love is that they've got that crockery, which has the Queen's face on it, but someone somewhere printed the wrong name. And instead of Platinum Jubilee, they've got Platinum Jublee, and now that crockery is more valuable because of the mistake.


CROUCHER: Makes it worth more.


LE MARQUAND: Ooh, as a magazine editor, that really pains me. Pay someone to do a quick last-minute proofing before you sign off on it.


CROUCHER: Certainly, a party Bill. Sarah, really appreciate your time this morning. Thank you.