This picture, with a purported quote attributed to Australian Member of Parliamenet, Tanya Plibersek, has been posted on Facebook by the "Patriots Defence League Australia":

"ISIS is not a terrorist organisation. It is a sovereign group fighting for freedom" - maiden speech 2002

The attribution to Tanya Plibersek's 2002 maiden speech is trivially inaccurate, since her maiden speech was in 1998, and doesn't mention any of the keywords "ISIS", "terrorist", or "sovereign" (although it does mention 'freedom', once, in the context of "freedom from victimisation" related to the end of the Great Depression). But is there any evidence that she has said anything on record to this effect?

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    2002 seems unlikely since ISIS (or a similar Arabic name) was announced in 2013, while its predecessor ISI was announced in 2006. In 2002 she may have been opposing the then expected invasion of Saddam Hussein's Iraq, which took place in 2003.
    – Henry
    Commented Jun 1, 2016 at 7:41
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    You have already shown that the claim is false. It seems impossible to prove that she never said it. What evidence will it take to satisfy you that she never said it?
    – Oddthinking
    Commented Jun 1, 2016 at 8:57
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    @AndrewGrimm it appears to be related to this iPhone app, rather than being an author attribution.
    – lvc
    Commented Jun 1, 2016 at 10:43
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    Here's an example speech by her about Iraq from 2002. Contains nothing like this alleged quote. Even leaving aside that there was no such organisation called ISIS in 2002, a comment like this from her would have been very unlikely in 2002 when groups like the one that would go on to become ISIS were being touted by Plibersek's political opponents as the 'opposition' to Saddam Hussein, and people like Plibersek were speaking out against interventions to topple Hussein. Commented Jun 1, 2016 at 11:27
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    The claim is a really low quality forgery, but remember this isn't the fault of the OP (who did a reasonable amount of research before asking the question). It'd be kind of nice to know whether it was a real quote wrongfully mis attributed to her, or whether it was entirely made up.
    – Golden Cuy
    Commented Jun 1, 2016 at 21:15

1 Answer 1


The claim in the picture is completely and utterly wrong for a number of reasons.

  • Tanya Pilbersek's maiden speech was in 1998, not 2002.
  • It does not mention the words ISIS or terrorist, or anything related.
  • ISIS did not even exist in 2002 (or 1998)

The question "has [she] said anything on record to this effect?" is too vague to answer, and even considering it gives unwarranted credibility to someone making stuff up and attaching it to a picture. The burden of evidence is clearly on anyone claiming she has said things like this to at least give a plausible date.

Actual plausible claims with dates attached can still be investigated.

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    Concur. By entertaining the claim we're effectively signal-boosting it on google, because the Stack Exchange network has a pretty high (and deserved) reputation for good signal-to-noise ratio, and thereby increasing its credibility when it clearly has none. Commented Jun 2, 2016 at 7:26

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