Tragic reason Plibersek led Labor

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Tanya Plibersek’s daughter has revealed the devastating reason her mother abandoned plans to run for the Labor leadership in 2019 as she supported her in a court battle against an abusive ex-boyfriend.

In a harrowing account of her abuse as a teenager, Ms Plibersek’s daughter Anna has revealed her mother gave evidence at the trial and also sat in court as she delivered an hour-long victim impact statement.

The court process involved Anna giving evidence for four days in the witness box, three of which were under cross examination.

Tanya Plibersek with her daughter Anna. Picture: Richard DobsonTanya Plibersek with her daughter Anna. Picture: Richard Dobson

“I experienced pretty much every kind of abuse you can think of. It was emotional, it was physical,’’ Anna says in a new biography of her mother.

“I lost so many friends. I was so manipulated. I wasn’t myself. I lost myself.”

She said she wondered why it had happened to her, given all her advantages and support.

“You make excuses for them,’’ she said.

“It’s never-ending. And I wanted to look after him, to be good for him. It can happen to anyone.”

Tanya Plibersek revealed she was dealing with a family incident during the leadership ballot after the 2019 election. Picture: Gary RamageTanya Plibersek revealed she was dealing with a family incident during the leadership ballot after the 2019 election. Picture: Gary Ramage

Anna said the decision to go to court was traumatising and almost broke her.

Ms Plibersek also gave evidence during the trial on the impact of her boyfriends’ behaviour. The ex-boyfriend was convicted of assault.

“I was more upset that she was subjected to all the kinds of questions that I thought we stopped asking victims of crime in the 70s,’’ Ms Plibersek said of her daughter’s experience.

“What were you wearing? What had you been drinking?” It enraged me to see up close how broken the system is and how much it adds to the trauma.

“I’ve always known it could happen to anyone. The way men like that behave is very calculating. They take someone away from their support networks, their friends, their family. They destroy self-confidence, so they can’t behave in the way they normally do.”

During the interview for the book, Ms Plibersek broke down in tears when recounting the experience.

“So what happened to Anna fits in exactly with everything I know academically about the issue, and I have known since I was her age, and everything I have ever said,’’ she said.

“But knowing this stuff doesn’t alleviate the guilt of not protecting her.”

The former deputy leader revealed that the secret trauma was the real reason she decided not to run for the leadership, which she did not disclose at the time.

“And the thought of not being able to be there for her through that was just too much,” Ms Plibersek said.

Anna said on the day her mother decided not to run for the leadership they went out to lunch.

“We celebrated, mum and me. I remember how nice it was. Just going out to lunch in the middle of the day,’’ she said.

Anna said she met her former boyfriend as a teenager and the controlling behaviour escalated over time to what Ms Plibersek described as a “serious crime.”

Ms Plibersek said she was “devastated” to hear of her daughter’s abuse. Picture: Gary RamageMs Plibersek said she was “devastated” to hear of her daughter’s abuse. Picture: Gary Ramage

In a social media post today, Ms Plibersek explained the circumstances of the revelations in a new book detailing the highs and lows of her political career.

“Like any parents, her father and I were devastated when we found out. Anna is sharing her story today because since then, she and some friends have set up a peer support volunteer-run organisation called the survivor hub to try and help other people who are going through what they experienced,’’ she said.

“We know that this is a story that is so common in Australia, we know the statistics about one in five Australian women have experienced sexual violence since the age of 15. And those statistics are just devastating.

“This is an opportunity for people to reach out and get help from the survivor hub of course also from 1 800 Respect, there is help out there. I hope this story makes someone else’s journey a little easier.”

Ms Plibersek considered running for the Labor leadership in May, 2019 after Bill Shorten lost the election for Labor.

Asked about claims she didn’t run for leadership in 2019 because she didn’t have the numbers in the Labor caucus to win, Ms

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“We’ll never know. It’s history. But I am pretty confident that if I had run, I would have won,” Ms Plibersek said.

The book, Tanya Plibersek, On Her Own Terms, written by Margaret Simons will be released on March 7.

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