Federal election 2022: Could Tanya Plibersek be our future PM?

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  • Tanya Plibersek
    Australian politician

With the federal election likely to be called for early 2022, Yahoo News Australia answers the most popular questions people are Googling about key Labor Party member Tanya Plibersek, Shadow Minister for Education and Training.

How old is Tanya Plibersek?

Tanya Plibersek is 52 years old, born December 2, 1969. She is the longest serving woman in the House of Representatives.

Where did Tanya Plibersek grow up?

Ms Plibersek, the youngest of three children, grew up in the suburb of Oyster Bay in Sydney's Sutherland Shire.

She attended Oyster Bay Public School and Jannali Girls High School, where she was the dux.

Shadow Minister for Education and Women Tanya Plibersek speaks to media.
Shadow Minister for Education and Women, Tanya Plibersek has been a Member of Parliament since 1998. Source: Getty Images.

What nationality is Tanya Plibersek?

Ms Plibersek’s parents were both born in Slovenia, arriving in Australia unknown to each other as post-World War II immigrants.

Who is Tanya Plibersek’s husband?

Plibersek shares children, Anna, 17, Joseph, 14, and Louis, 8 with husband, Michael Coutts-Trotter.

Ironically, Mr Coutts-Trotter works within the camp of his wife’s opposition as the Secretary of the NSW Department of Premier and Cabinet for Premier Dominic Perrottet.

Has Tanya Plibersek’s husband served time in prison?

Ms Plibersek and her husband have been very open with Mr Coutts-Trotter’s struggle with drugs.

During their first date back in 1991, Mr Coutts-Trotter confessed that he had served almost three years of a nine-year prison sentence on a drugs charge in the 1980s.

Ms Plibersek said she was impressed that he was "so honest about it and so disappointed in his life".

The couple were wed nine years later.

In a speech to Parliament in 2015, Plibersek spoke of her husband's past, opposing capital punishment for Australians Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran, who were sentenced to death for attempting to smuggle heroin from Bali in 2005.

"In 1988, my husband left prison after being charged and convicted of a similar crime to these young men," Plibersek said.

"I imagine what would have happened if he had been caught in Thailand instead of in Australia where that crime was committed, where he was coming back to Australia." Plibersek said.

Chris Bowen MP fixes Deputy Prime Minister, Anthony Albanese's tie, as Tanya Plibersek MP looks on.
Tanya Plibersek has been touted as a future Labor leader, possibly at the expense of current leader Anthony Albanese. Source: Getty Images.

How did Tanya Plibersek's brother die?

In 1997, Ms Plibersek's brother Phillip was murdered in Port Moresby.

He was stabbed to death in his fourth-floor apartment as he fought to defend his wife from an intruder.

"It was Phillip who first said to me that I was smart, and that came with a responsibility to do something useful," Ms Plibersek told a local publication.

Just 12 months after her brother's death, Ms Plibersek was elected to Parliament.

Is Tanya Plibersek a future leader of the Labor Party?

Ms Plibersek was Deputy Labor leader to Bill Shorten at the Federal Election in 2019, however Mr Shorten stepped down after Labor’s loss.

Ms Plibersek was touted as Mr Shorten’s replacement, but she declined to run, citing it was “not my time” and instead opted to focus on her family.

Anthony Albanese was later elected unopposed as Labor leader.

There are whispers in the halls of parliament that Ms Plibersek could emerge as Labor leader before or after the next election.

Did Tanya Plibersek write a book?

Ms Plibersek edited a book called: ‘Upturn: A Better Normal after Covid-19’, which highlights how improvements could be made in economy, society, community and family following the disruptions caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.

The book was inspired by Stuart McIntyre’s 2015 book Australia’s Boldest Experiment: War and Reconstruction in the 1940s, which outlined how Australia recovered after the disruptions of the second world war.

What was Tanya Plibersek’s confrontation with Craig Kelly?

Ms Plibersek famously clashed with former Liberal MP and now United Australia Party leader Craig Kelly in the corridor of the Parliament House media gallery in February this year.

As Ms Plibersek and Mr Kelly crossed paths in the corridor, Ms Plibersek took aim at him for the “conspiracy theories” he had been telling the media.

"My mum lives in your electorate and I don't want her exposed to people who are not going to be vaccinated because of these crazy conspiracy theories you're spreading," she sprayed at Mr Kelly.

Craig Kelly and Tanya Plibersek argue in the Media Gallery at Parliament House.
Craig Kelly and Tanya Plibersek famously clashed in the Media Gallery at Parliament House over Mr Kelly's "conspiracy theories". Source: Getty Images.

The media caught every second of the exchange.

Mr Kelly left the Liberal Party not long after the stoush and is now leading the United Australia Party campaigning against lockdowns and mandatory vaccinations in the lead up to the election.

What was Tanya Plibersek’s work before she entered politics?

Ms Plibersek studied journalism at the University of Technology Sydney, graduating with a Bachelor of Arts in Communications.

She then completed a Masters in Public Policy and Politics at Macquarie University and worked with the NSW Government’s Office for the Status and Advancement of Women.

She later worked for Labor Senator Bruce Childs, before switching to work for Senator George Campbell as a research officer.

When did Tanya Plibersek enter politics?

Ms Plibersek joined the Labor Party at the age of 15.

She was elected as Member for Sydney at the 1998 federal election, aged 28.

Deputy Labor Leader Tanya Plibersek and Labor Leader Bill Shorten look on during a press conference.
Tanya Plibersek served as former Labor leader Bill Shorten's deputy until the 2019 election loss. Source: Getty Images.

What positions has Tanya Plibersek held in politics?

After the 2004 election, Ms Plibersek was elected to Mark Latham's shadow ministry and allocated three portfolios — youth, the status of women and work and family, community and early childhood education.

After Kim Beazley was elected Labor leader in 2005, she added the responsibility of childcare to her portfolio.

With Kevin Rudd’s ascension to the Labor leadership in 2006 she held the portfolios of youth, the status of women and human services and housing.

After Labor’s victory in 2007, Ms Plibersek was appointed Minister for Housing and Minister for the Status of Women.

The subsequent Labor victory under Julia Gillard in 2010 saw her appointed Minister for Human Services and Minister for Social Inclusion following the birth of her youngest son, Louis.

She was appointed Minister for Health in 2011 and held the position until Labor’s defeat in the 2013 election.

Following the Labor defeat she was elected deputy leader under Bill Shorten, also holding the shadow ministries of Foreign Affairs and International Development until 2016 and Education and Women until 2019.

She is currently the Shadow Minister for Education and Training.

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