ANTHONY ALBANESE – TRANSCRIPT – RADIO INTERVIEW – ABC RADIO ADELAIDE DRIVE WITH JULES SCHILLER – WEDNESDAY, 28 OCTOBER 2020
ANTHONY ALBANESE MP
LEADER OF THE AUSTRALIAN LABOR PARTY
MEMBER FOR GRAYNDLER
ABC RADIO ADELAIDE DRIVE WITH JULES SCHILLER
WEDNESDAY, 28 OCTOBER 2020
SUBJECT: Qatar airport incidents
JULES SCHILLER, HOST: We invited the Foreign Minister, Marise Payne, onto the program. She wasn’t available. But the Federal Labor Leader, Anthony Albanese, was available. And Anthony Albanese joins me now. Welcome, Anthony.
ANTHONY ALBANESE, LEADER OF THE AUSTRALIAN LABOR PARTY: Good afternoon, Jules.
SCHILLER: Was that good enough from Qatar? Were you satisfied by their response? It took a long time coming.
ALBANESE: Nowhere near good enough. That wasn’t an apology, that was an expression of regret. It’s a very different thing. There’s got to be an absolutely unconditional apology to these women. I would have thought that common sense tells you that some form of compensation, as well, should be provided to these women. This was an outrageous violation. It was intrusive. It was, frankly, an assault on these women. They were made to go through this humiliating exercise without being told why, taken off a plane. And to go through these circumstances is just quite horrific. And I’m shocked that it occurred. I’m shocked that the Prime Minister hasn’t picked up the phone to the leader of Qatar. I’m shocked that the Foreign Minister hasn’t rung her counterpart. And frankly, it’s not good enough. We need strong action here and a clear indication that this is unacceptable, and Australia regards this as an extreme violation of the human rights of our citizens.
SCHILLER: Qatar is looking to develop itself not only as an international hub where people are passing through on the way to Australia, like these 13 Australian women, but they’re also about to hold, or host, the world at a World Cup in 2022. Do you think that Australia should re-look at its participation in an event like that if they don’t get a satisfactory explanation from Qatar, Anthony Albanese?
ALBANESE: Well, I don’t think Australia should punish the Australian football team by not participating in the World Cup. What Australia should be seeking, though, is real answers from Qatar. And I sought a briefing from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. I had that yesterday afternoon. And quite frankly, I told them that I found the briefing completely unacceptable. There just weren’t answers. I was told, it’s now been publicly released so I can say, that there were 18 people, of that 13 of whom were Australian citizens, but they just didn’t seem to be on top of it at all. There had been no contact between Foreign Affairs officials with the women concerned. They said that was just a matter for the AFP. But surely the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade should have been directly involved. And surely this should have required a direct contact by the Australian Government leadership with their counterparts in Qatar.
SCHILLER: What measures would you like to see the Australian Government take, Anthony Albanese, if we don’t get an adequate response from Qatar? If we’re not going to use sport as a form of protest, are there other options available to us?
ALBANESE: Certainly, there are. Qatar have a relationship with Australia. In this case, the airline of Qatar is, of course, owned by the government that also owns the airport, that also regulates the airport as well. Some of the personnel involved are the same people. Qatar flies to Australia under air services agreement that are in place and under other regulations that are the responsibility of the National Government. I would have thought that we need to be stressing to the Qataris, this incident happened almost a month ago now, and we still have no answers. And they’re going to do a report in coming days. This didn’t become public until Sunday. And I would have thought that when the Australian Government were informed at the beginning of October, there should have been immediate contact with the Qatari Government. This isn’t business-as-usual. This isn’t a normal event where from time to time, Australian individuals will be subject to treatment that we don’t regard as fair or what we would regard as decent. This is a very large number of women who’ve been subjected to this behaviour and it requires a serious response from the Government. And we raised it in Parliament today. The Prime Minister should pick up the phone.
SCHILLER: Anthony Albanese, thank you for your thoughts on this. That’s Anthony Albanese, the Federal Labor Leader.