Subjects; Greens call for Governor General to intervene in citizenship crisis; Malcolm Turnbull; Manus Island protest.
ANTHONY ALBANESE: Yesterday Greens Leader Richard Di Natale made an extraordinary comment for everyone who remembers the attack on democracy that occurred on this day in 1975 by calling for the Governor General to consider intervening in the current citizenship crisis. There is no role. For anyone who remembers Whitlam’s dismissal – an elected government was dismissed by the Queen’s representative which represented an attack on our democracy and Richard Di Natale’s opportunistic writing to the Governor General will, I think, upset many of his supporters and all those Australians who understand that that action in 1975 was wrong and should never, ever happen again.
REPORTER: Are we heading into dangerous territory?
ALBANESE: The idea that Governments can be dismissed by the Queen’s representative using his reserve powers is something that I find completely unacceptable and I would have thought that anyone, particularly on the progressive side of politics, would understand that that is the case.
REPORTER: Given there are now a number of Labor MPs now with a question mark over their citizenship, wouldn’t it be the best decision to refer them to the High Court?
ALBANESE: Well the fact is that Labor has put forward a practical plan of ensuring that everyone puts their details before the Parliament – the House of Representatives and the Senate – by the first of December. You would then have an orderly consideration of that in the final week of sittings and then the High Court could consider anyone who the Parliament saw fit to be referred to it. But let’s draw an important distinction here – there are no Labor members that just sat on their hands, that weren’t aware of the Constitution, that weren’t aware of Section 44 and didn’t do anything about it. The High Court determination dismissed those people from the House of Representatives and the Senate who had taken no action with regard to their citizenship. There is no-one in Labor in that position. The only person who said they had made any effort was Malcolm Roberts and his effort was to send off an email to a non-existent address that was received by nobody, so it wasn’t a surprise to anyone that the High Court ruled him to be ineligible. We are very confident that Labor’s representatives do comply with the Constitution because we have those processes in place to consider these issues prior to an election being held, not afterwards.
REPORTER: Does the Governor General have any role to play in this Constitutional crisis?
ALBANESE: Well I think that as someone who understands the impact that Gough Whitlam’s dismissal had in 1975 on the fabric of our Australian democracy; all those people who had a look at those events said a long time ago never again should a Governor General dismiss an Australian Government. I find it extraordinary that Mr Di Natale doesn’t seem to get that message and I would suggest that Greens Party supporters will give it to him pretty clearly the next time that he takes a street walk or talks to people who regard themselves as part of Gough Whitlam’s generation.
REPORTER: Do you agree that something extreme needs to happen here to resolve this issue once and for all? It has been dragging on for a long time.
ALBANESE: What needs to happen is an orderly examination and that people need to put their information before the Parliament. It needs to be done transparently. In John Alexander’s case I find it extraordinary that John Alexander says that he hasn’t received all of the information from the British High Commission. We know that in Senator Parry’s case that information was given within a couple of days. My concern there is what is the delay? If Mr Alexander does have that information from the British High Commission then he should tell the Australian people and importantly his electorate what the basis of that information is.
REPORTER: If there was a by-election in Bennelong how do you think Labor would go?
ALBANESE: Well I’m not going to get ahead of it but the truth is that I think in general people have had enough of this Government. People know that this is a Government without a narrative, without a plan and that Mr Turnbull had a plan to get rid of Mr Abbott; he just doesn’t have a plan to govern. There is no sense of purpose. There’s no sense that he is there for any other reason other than to occupy the Lodge. He might think that it is an exciting time for him. I think for the Australian people it has been a pretty miserable time under the Turnbull Government.
REPORTER: What was your response to Christine Forster being attacked by Manus Island protesters last night?
ALBANESE: There is no place in Australian politics for demonstrations which are violent or which are aimed at intimidation. People can put across their views by all means, but it should be done peacefully at all times and I think the images that I have seen of last night’s demonstration bring credit frankly to Christine Forster for the way that she handled it. But she looked quite disturbed by the intimidation that went on, and that just doesn’t have a place on anyone let alone a woman entering into a public event, or a fundraising event, with her partner.
REPORTER: Tony Abbott today tweeted saying that the protesters infringed on the rights of an Australian in support of the rights, the supposed rights, of asylum seekers. What do you make of that sort of comment?
ALBANESE: Tony Abbott I think has lost the plot some time ago. I think you can talk about the events being entirely inappropriate, as they were last night, without further vilifying people who are thousands of kilometres away on Manus Island or Nauru. The people who were responsible for the inappropriate activity at last night’s demonstration are those people who did it, not others.
REPORTER: Just turning back to citizenship, the Government says it has advice that Justine Keay and Susan Lamb should be disqualified. Should that …
ALBANESE: Well they don’t have that and they don’t even say it. If you actually look at the advice it’s got more qualifications than anything I have seen for a long time. It’s a nonsense and the advice itself has all these qualifications from the lawyer who is paid to give the Liberal Party advice. You know, I think that it really was a waste of time and I am surprised that the lawyer concerned embarrassed himself by putting that forward. Thank you.
Leader of the Australian Labor Party, MP for Grayndler, Rabbitohs Life Member. Authorised by Anthony Albanese, ALP, Canberra.