Nov 22, 2018

Transcript of Radio Interview – 5AA Two Tribes – Wednesday, 21 November, 2018

Subjects: Extremism; Melbourne attack; immigration and population. 
HOST: Good morning to Christopher Pyne and Anthony Albanese.

CHRISTOPHER PYNE: Good morning, gentlemen.

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Good morning from Sydney where it’s actually quite nice, I think.

HOST: Yeah, it’s about to turn bad I think, for you.

HOST: I just got a text from a mate – apparently it’s absolutely bucketing down on York Street – so the weather is well and truly on its way to Adelaide folks. Hey guys, I want to start talking about yesterday’s terror arrests and obviously last week we touched on the atrocity in Bourke Street that claimed the life of Sisto. Can you explain – and we’ll start with you, Chris, as the Government Minister – because a lot of our listeners have texted in asking this question and it’s one which we ourselves have a degree of sympathy for. When people put up their hands and say: ‘I would like to go to Syria to fight for Islamic State,’ why don’t we just let them go?

PYNE: Well, there is a couple of very good reasons. The first is because Australian servicemen and women are serving in that theatre of war and it’s not our job to provide reinforcements to their enemies. So if we let Australian citizens go to Syria and Iraq to fight with ISIS, they’re fighting against Australians. And so that’s one of the most important reasons we want to deny ISIS reinforcements. Secondly, we don’t export terror. You don’t solve terrorism in the world by sending your terrorists overseas into places where they can kill and maim other human beings. So we take responsibility for our terrorists or alleged terrorists. And that’s why we don’t allow them to go into theatres of war. And thirdly I guess, the final reason is that we don’t allow people to go overseas to break the law. And we don’t allow paedophiles, convicted paedophiles, to travel to Southeast Asia or elsewhere in order to be able to break the law. If we think there’s a fair chance that they will offend, we have measures in place to stop that happening. Similarly, we don’t say it’s okay for Australians to go off to be terrorists overseas and break the law.

HOST: I would imagine that’s pretty much Labor’s position on this too, Albo?

ALBANESE: What he said, exactly. I think the other point that I’d add though to Christopher’s comments – that I endorse completely – is that we should be quite proud of the fact that our security agencies do such an outstanding job. When you look at the times that we live in, the real threats which are out there, the fact that we have been kept safe by-and-large with the exception of some tragic incidents – including the lone wolf incident in Melbourne that claimed the wonderful Sisto’s life most tragically – is outstanding. And we should continue to be vigilant but we should give due credit to the agencies and the work that they’ve done.

HOST: But isn’t the problem though, that there is now significant evidence that for these miscreants, who do want to go and fight for IS, that their ‘Plan B’ is now to bung-on some kind of domestic terror attack, because their original plan has been thwarted? So Chris, you know, wearing your defence hat – say it’s 1942 and some bloke in Hahndorf puts up his hand and says: ‘I love Hitler and I want to go and fight for the Nazis’, why don’t we just intern these people?

PYNE: We are arresting people who are suspected of planning terrorist attacks, and that’s what occurred in Melbourne this week. They’re alleged terrorists who’ve been arrested and are in custody and this is something we do now quite routinely. There have been many attempted or planned terrorist activities over the last few years that we have foiled and arrested through raids, people who might be responsible …

HOST: But it didn’t know work with Shire Ali though in Melbourne, did it?

PYNE: Well, no, Shire Ali unfortunately was out on bail and he broke the law and murdered Sisto Malaspina. And these random attacks, they will occur, and any and every government will do what they can to stop them. But if I can just finish answering your question – the thing is, if they went to Syria and then tried to come back and then managed to get back or couldn’t get to Australia and went say instead to South East Asia – they will have been better trained, they’ll be hardened in a theatre of war and much more capable of delivering terrorism somewhere in the world than if we arrest them here and put them into prison.

HOST: It feels that if we arrest them here and put them into prison it seems to me though, like the community now wants a different trigger point at which when it’s established clearly that somebody does want to go and fight for ISIS. They don’t want the intelligence services to watch them anymore. They want them taken out of circulation to that point.

PYNE: And that’s what we’ve done this week and we’ve done as you know many times over the last few years. I mean the Home Affairs Department are working with our security agencies, second to none in the world. We have had unfortunately three or four incidents where people’s lives have been taken. But we have been relatively, not nearly as badly off as countries in Europe like Paris for example, Belgium or even London, Madrid. Some of these terrible examples where dozens of people have been casualties. I’m not saying any of these lives lost means that we’ve done better than other countries but our intelligence agencies are doing as well as they can.

ALBANESE: And if we look at the facts here, it’s important that your listeners don’t think people in these agencies are sitting back and watching. If they think that someone is, or a group are planning to do an event, the agencies are intervening, people are being charged and people are being put in jail, not interned – which is the term that was used and which did occur during World War Two. Where there’s many of your listeners will have parents who happen to be, or grandparents, who happen to be of Italian or German descent, who were just rounded up.

HOST: I certainly wasn’t advocating for that. But the threshold which the law intervenes being, declaring you’d like to leave to fight in a war, as opposed to getting so close to prepare a terror attack that you could do it within matter of days, which seems to be the threshold at the moment. Guys, we want to talk population. Might start with you Albo, the Prime Minister, Scott Morrison, has flagged that he’d like the permanent migration cap lowered from 190,000 to 160,000. What’s Labor’s position?

ALBANESE: Well this is a cap that hasn’t been met. So what is he on about? What we see …

HOST: Would be lower than the 162,000 that we got to June 30 this year, though?

ALBANESE: But he hasn’t said that. He’s actually said that it should be lowered to about where the rate is now, which is what’s happening. So I don’t see that this is anything other than a Seinfeld announcement. It’s about nothing.

HOST: What do you say Christopher Pyne?

PYNE: I think there’s been a bit of an overreaction to this story which is kind of the climate we all live in these days, but the truth is that the cap is 190, or the ceiling is 190,000. It’s not a goal, it’s a ceiling. In the last 12 months of the last financial year, about 162,000 permanent residents came in under that ceiling. And so what the Prime Minister is saying, is that was the number of people who we allowed in. He’s written to the State Premiers and Chief Ministers saying: ‘I want your views on population growth and immigration’. In a state like South Australia, we want more migrants. We want a higher population. I assume that Steven Marshall will write to the Prime Minister saying just that. In a state like Victoria or New South Wales they might have a different view. The problem in Australia is not a too-high population. We have 25 million people on a continent the size of the United States, which has over 260 million people. The problem is not the population; it’s the spread of the migration intake. Now, if there are too many people going into New South Wales or Sydney in particular, we will have them happily in South Australia. I’m sure the Northern Territory would stay the same and Tasmania.

ALBANESE: It’s a spread but it’s also about the infrastructure where there’s a concentration of population increases. So it’s about making sure that urban congestion in our cities is dealt with. It’s about having proper planning for our cities so that the jobs aren’t all in the CBD, so everyone’s not trying to travel to one place at the same time. It’s about addressing those quality of life issues that is a responsibility of all levels of government to deal with.

HOST: Another reason to get the public servants down to Port Adelaide. Good stuff guys. Anthony Albanese, Christopher Pyne. Two Tribes, you can hear it here only on Five AA Breakfast every Wednesday.