Aug 18, 2017

Transcript television interview – AM Agenda

Subjects; Barcelona attacks; Pauline Hanson stunt; The Multi-National Party 

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Australians are great international travellers, whether it be people when they’re young, Australians will tend to go and backpack for six months or more. I did that and I visited Barcelona, during that time, staying in a youth hostel.

I’ve visited again since, it’s a fantastic city, and this tragedy is another reminder that we need to be vigilant, that there are Islamic terrorists who want to cause us harm, and our way of life harm.

Attacking destinations like Barcelona – great international cities – is something that they see as somehow advancing their cause. What it does of course is to unite humanity against this scourge of terrorism.

KIERAN GILBERT: Back home now and we saw the stunt yesterday from Pauline Hanson. She says she was trying to raise concerns about security.

I guess we can have the debate about whether or not the burqa is appropriate in a western nation like ours in terms of the question of oppression of women and so on, its a separate debate, but I guess the security agencies would be worried about the impact of the Hanson stunt in alienating a cohort in our community.

ALBANESE: That’s right, and that’s why I think George Brandis’ immediate response was courageous and correct, and he deserves absolute credit for the dignity in which he responded to what was a very undignified moment from Senator Hanson, that did nothing to advance the debate.

It certainly did nothing, as Senator Brandis pointed out, to advance security. All of the security agencies that advise him as Attorney-General and advise us as parliamentarians, all say that what we need to do is to work with the community.

We know that overwhelmingly the Islamic community is cooperative, is loyal to this great country of Australia, and the idea of ridiculing any group in our society, attempting to single them out and poke fun at them.

It is beyond my comprehension how Senator Hanson thinks that somehow advance security, it does the opposite. It undermines it, as George Brandis pointed out so eloquently in the Senate yesterday.

GILBERT: In your view is it neither here nor there that the vast bulk of Muslims, certainly in this country but right around the world don’t wear a burqa. The criticism really underpinning it goes to the fact that it was seen to be mocking the faith given she’s not an adherent of it.

ALBANESE: That’s exactly right. I live in Marrickville in Sydney, it’s a great community, it’s a community whereby I have neighbours who happen to be of Islamic faith, I have people next door who are Salvos, I have people who are Catholics, people who are Jewish, people who are Hindu, people who are Buddhist. We live together in harmony.

We’re a great microcosm for what the world should be, people who have respect for each other, people who have tolerance for each other, people who recognise that our diversity is a strength. We should be proud of that, and shouldn’t seek to divide the community and single out any group in society and try to ridicule them.

It is counterproductive, it doesn’t assist the process, and it really undermined the dignity of Australia yesterday. I guess the point is to get people talking about Senator Hanson, we’re doing it right now, but really, if that’s the approach we have to political discourse in this country, then what we’ll see is a circumstance whereby people just try and think up stranger and stranger things to do just to get attention.

GILBERT: Yeah indeed. Just to wrap up, we’re almost out of time but I want to get your reflections on the citizenship dramas facing the National Party, particularly right now.

Is Labor reassured, have you done an audit of your own MPs so that we don’t have another spate of questions here as we await the High Court judgement on it?

ALBANESE: The good thing that we do is an audit before nominations. It’s part of the process, we have a very rigorous approach to these matters, the Nationals clearly don’t, which is why they’re becoming the multi-nationals. They’ve lost potentially a leader and a deputy leader.

I think its quite extraordinary that Senator Nash knew about this on Monday night and waited til the last couple of minutes that the Senate was sitting before she chose to inform the Senate.

That’s an outrageous abrogation of responsibility, frankly. But its consistent with a government which this week has been totally chaotic.

They lost votes on the floor of the House of Representatives. They called a quorum in themselves on Wednesday.

They had the circumstance whereby they tried to make it into a conspiracy, and questioned our relationship with New Zealand, and whether we could work, as a nation with a future New Zealand Government.

Julie Bishop really just embarrassed herself this week. This has been a shocker of a week for the Coalition Government.