1. An unlikely politician?
Born in Sydney’s Southerland Shire in 1969, 43-year-old Tanya Plibersek is the daughter of Slovenian immigrants. Her parents came to Australia with little more than the clothes on their backs, with Ms Plibersek’s father working on the Snowy River hydroelectric scheme in the 1950s.
2. Politics came early
Ms Plibersek’s first involvement with politics came when she was just 14 years old, when she encouraged her friends at Jannali Girls High to attend Palm Sunday peace rallies. She became a member of the Australian Labor Party at 15, before going on to become dux of her class and studying communications at Sydney’s University of Technology. After working as a staffer for Senator Bruce Childs, Ms Plibersek was endorsed as the ALP’s candidate for the seat of Sydney, which she first won in 1998 (succeeding Peter Baldwin).
3. One half of a power couple
Plibersek is married to Michael Coutts-Trotter, the Director-General of the New South Wales Department of Family and Community Services. The Australian reports they met while studying journalism at the University of Technology, Sydney. “The first time they spoke to each other was when the class was discussing the qualities of the NWA (an abbreviation of Niggaz With Attitudes) song F . . k da Police. Mr Coutts-Trotter took the side that it was an unreasonable attack on the police, while Ms Plibersek took the free speech angle,” The Australian reported.
4. A politician … and a mother
While she has very serious responsibilities as the Deputy Opposition Leader, Ms Plibersek’s first responsibility is to her three children – 12-year-old Anna, Joseph, 8, and Louis, 3. Ms Plibersek breast-fed each of her three children for their first year, making good use of the parenting facilities available at Parliament House.
5. Spurred by a family tragedy
Ms Plibersek’s life was rocked in 1997 when her brother, Phillip, was murdered in Port Moresby. He had been 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 Fairfax Media. Just 12 months later, she was elected to Parliament.