Mar 3, 2017

Transcript of television interview – The Today Show

Subjects: Anti-terror laws; penalty rates.

KARL STEFANOVIC: There are major national security concerns this morning with intelligence experts warning there is nothing to stop home grown terrorists returning home without being charged. Christopher Pyne and Anthony Albanese join us as they always do every Friday. Morning lads.

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Good to be with you.

CHRISTOPHER PYNE: Good morning Karl. Good morning Anthony.

STEFANOVIC: Christopher, so the tough new laws to keep home grown terrorists from returning to the country have failed?

PYNE: Well, no, that certainly is not the case and the story on the front page of the Daily Telegraph is a sensational beat up. The laws that the journalist is talking about of course were never designed to keep all foreign fighters out of Australia. They were designed to take away the citizenship of dual citizens.


PYNE:  Now to be able to do that you’ve got to be able to prove that they are a dual citizen as we’ve done on at least one occasion the last few months.

STEFANOVIC: So Syria and Iraq have failed to co-operate and confirm whether someone has a dual citizenship?

PYNE: Well we have a whole range of laws, a suite of laws, in place to protect Australians.

STEFANOVIC: But this is the point of the dual citizenship. If you have it confirmed by another country and if they’re not playing ball, then what use is the law?

PYNE: Well of course we have to prove that they are dual citizens Karl. You can’t just take away people’s citizenship without actually …

STEFANOVIC: Yes but if Iraq and Syria aren’t playing ball then what is the use of the law?

PYNE: Well you have to prove Karl that somebody has two citizenships in order to be able to take the Australian one away. That is the law and of course that is the case, otherwise you would leave people as stateless people.

STEFANOVIC: OK, how do you prove it if you don’t have Iraq and Syria co-operating with you?

PYNE: Well we have proved it in the past. We will be able to prove it in the future and our security experts, our security agencies, tell us that they have all the laws they need to protect Australians. If they said to us we need additional powers for this reason or that reason, we would of course we would respond. But nobody could accuse this Government of all governments of not being as tough as possible as on the kinds of people that go and fight overseas in these appalling wars in Iraq and Syria.

STEFANOVIC: So of the 100 Australians fighting in Iraq and Syria, how many Australians have been stripped of their citizenship under these anti-terror laws? How many?

PYNE: Well, we haven’t had 100 foreign fighters attempt to return to Australia so that is another part of the story which is quite fallacious.

STEFANOVIC: How many have had their dual citizenship stripped?

PYNE: Well, you will need to ask Peter Dutton that question.

STEFANOVIC: The answer is one.

PYNE: I know that there is at least one Khaled Sharrouf.

STEFANOVIC: Just one, just one.

PYNE: Well what are you proposing Karl? That we should take away the citizenship of people when we don’t know if they’ve got another citizenship? You can’t make people stateless.

STEFANOVIC: What I am proposing is that the laws aren’t being effective. We’ve got 100 Australians fighting overseas and want to return home; there’s nothing to stop them returning home.

PYNE: Well actually Karl we have the most effective laws in this area in the world.

STEFANOVIC: If they come home now they are not going to have their dual citizenship removed.

PYNE: You are behaving like a sensationalist journalist yourself Karl.

STEFANOVIC: It’s the fact. If they come home now they can’t have their dual citizenship removed.

PYNE: There are a range of laws that the Government uses to protect Australia’s citizens. We’ve been doing it for the last three and a half years and this Government has been the toughest on terror of any in modern history – one of the toughest in the world. But that particular piece of legislation requires the terrorist, the alleged terrorist, to have two citizenships and obviously you have to prove they have another one to be able to take their citizenship away. Any other approach to that would mean that the person as stateless and that is against the international conventions that we signed up to.

STEFANOVIC: Anthony do you support any amendments at all?

ALBANESE: Well Karl, I agree with Christopher.  This is a bipartisan position. We’re not going to play politics with these issues. This is about our national interest and keeping Australians safe. If there are any amendments to legislation required, we’ll be cooperative as we have been the whole way through. This isn’t a matter of Liberal or Labor. This is a matter of Australia versus people who want to do us and our way of life harm.

STEFANOVIC: So you think the dual citizenship laws are effective and this is a beat up story as well?

ALBANESE: Well the fact is that you can’t make people stateless. We pointed that out at the time of the legislation. But there of course is a range of other legislation as well that applies here. It is against the law for Australians, who certainly are just Australian citizens, to go and fight in these places. They are breaching Australian law and therefore when they return they can be prosecuted. And they should be.

STEFANOVIC: Just quickly on another matter in terms of Malcom Turnbull, the defence of the penalty rate changes – his defence of them – has been a nightmare especially in the regions, as you would know.  Will you change it or will you continue Chrsitopher to shaft our lowest paid workers?

PYNE: Well Karl this is just another one of Labor’s pathetic scare campaigns quite frankly. The Fair Work Commission report, in Chapter 11, makes it makes it absolutely clear the change to four awards out of 122 in relation to penalty rates on a Sunday should be phased in over two years and as the minimum wage rises for those workers that would cover any losses they might have because of the changes to penalty rates. So Labor is yet again trying to distract people from high electricity prices and unreliable power as a response to their policies.

STEFANOVIC: OK. Ten seconds Anthony.

ALBANESE: Karl this is about a pay cut for some of Australia’s lowest income earners.  The Government isn’t interested in them. They are just interested in playing politics and this is now feeding into the Tony Abbott and Malcolm Turnbull cage fight. They are in a downward spiral and they are taking the entire government with them.

STEFANOVIC: Gentlemen thank you very much. Have a great weekend.

PYNE: Always a pleasure.

STEFANOVIC:  Happy birthday for yesterday Anthony.

ALBANESE: Good to be with you, Thanks Mate. Go the Rabbits.