Mar 24, 2017

Television interview – Today Show – Nine Network

Subjects: Terror, Pauline Hanson. 

LISA WILKINSON: Our Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull following the terrible events in London yesterday. For their take on what this means for Australia, Defence Industry Minister Christopher Pyne and Shadow Infrastructure and Transport Minister Anthony Albanese are with us this morning. Good morning, gentlemen.


CHRISTOPHER PYNE: Good morning, Lisa.

WILKINSON: Christopher I’ll start with you. Shocking events in London. Question is, how do we stop it happening here?

PYNE: Well of course Lisa, the events in London yesterday have shocked everybody. Just a terrible, terrible tragedy for the innocent lives involved. You raise a very good question. I mean, how does London stop someone using a vehicle as a weapon to kill pedestrians on the footpath? I mean, it’s a terrifying prospect. We’ve been very lucky in Australia. And one of the reasons we’ve been successful so far and everyone should be touching wood is because we gather as much information as possible behind the scenes on anyone who might be a threat. And we act before those threats occur. Now, we’ve been successful so far. And the Government is very mindful of what we have to do. We’ve put more resources into ASIO, AFP, ASIS, and the Australian Signals Directorate. All our agencies are working together, the States, the Territories, the Commonwealth, are all working together. That’s about as much as we can do and keep trusting that people will keep saying when they are suspicious of behaviour or they think one of the people they know is going off the rails, or they hear things, making sure they let people know so we’re not surprised.

WILKINSON: Christopher, former ASIO chief David Irvine said back in 2014 that there were 400 people at that stage on the terror watch list here in Australia. How many is it now?

PYNE: Look, Lisa I don’t have that piece of information so I can’t tell you that. It could still be 400. It could be more. It could be less. I know the Government has taken significant steps and almost every time, with totally bipartisan support. We changed the laws around terror and counter-terrorism eight times in the last three or four years with Labor’s support – working with Labor to make sure our agencies have the powers that they need to defend Australia. Whenever we think we need to change them again, we will do so.

WILKINSON: To you now Anthony, the Prime Minister said yesterday that this will not change the way we live our lives, but isn’t it inevitable that we’re going to have to change in some way, be more aware, more vigilant and more patient?

ALBANESE: We certainly are vigilant, Lisa. This is an issue that the Australian Government and Opposition are absolutely united on. One of the things that Christopher spoke about is the legislation. We’ve got quite an effective process of examining in detail any draft legislation and a cooperative arrangement to make sure we do whatever we can. All Australians will have a look at what happened in London, and this tragedy and think about the family and friends of those directly affected.But it also relates very much to most of us. Many of us have been to that very spot outside Westminster. Certainly as a parliamentarian I’ve visited there many times.

WILKINSON: Well, both the Government and the Opposition seem to be united in this. But Pauline Hanson had a very strong response to the events in London yesterday. Let’s have a look.

SENATOR PAULINE HANSON: People are feeling sorry for these people over for there. I’ve seen the hashtags #prayforLondon. Why are we at this stage? You know, are we going to send out – where’s the next city, where’s the next place around the world. Let’s pray for London. Well look, I have my own hashtag. And you won’t need to be praying for this place or that place. It’s #pray4muslimban. That is how you solve the problem.

WILKINSON: Christopher, your response?

PYNE: Well, that’s not going to solve any problems Lisa, because many of the people who are on watch list, if you like, in Australia who have we interdicted in what they might have been able to do or are about to do, are Australian citizens. And we’re not about to deport Australian citizens whose are Muslims because of any kind of xenophobic campaign. Can I just say another thing that is quite important, the agencies tell us that when there are attacks on Muslims as a group, treating them as pejorative term, it stops the information flowing to the Government and to the agencies. We get less cooperation than when we reach out to Muslims in the community and treat them as equal citizens with the rest of us. When that happens they are cooperative and supportive and often the information that comes to the Government comes from within the Muslim community of Australia who are trying to protect themselves because they are as Australian as anyone else.

WILKINSON: Okay, very quickly Anthony.

ALBANESE: I think it was extraordinary that Pauline Hanson chose to politicise an issue like this at the time that she did. The fact is that we know now that this terrorist was born in Kent in the United Kingdom.

WILKINSON: And didn’t have any terror links.

ALBANESE: Didn’t have any terror links. Those comments to play politics at a time like that, I just think said a lot about the nature of her character.

WILKINSON: All right gentlemen, we’ll have to leave it there. Thanks very much. Have a great weekend.

ALBANESE: Same to you