Subjects: 2023 Bush Summit; the Prime Minister’s divisive Voice, Treaty, Truth proposal; Professor Megan Davis; WA’s Indigenous cultural heritage protection laws backflip; Labor’s sneaky backroom factional deal on Israel; the government’s internal bickering on its Home Affairs shambles; Welcome to Country.
Mr Dutton, good morning to you.
Good morning, Ray.
You’re on your way, what, to Tamworth sometime later today?
Yes, just off to the airport now and we’ll arrive there later this morning. It’s a really important summit, lots of opportunities to talk about issues which are relevant and really important to regional communities.
Okay, let’s get back to the Voice. You’ve been attacked left, right and centre by the Government and by people from the left, about you saying the Uluru Statement from the Heart is not one page. Now, we’ve had that refuted by the Prime Minister and Professor Megan Davis.
Let me play you some audio, I’ve played a few times this morning already:
Many people don’t know, is 18 pages long. It’s not just the one page invitation to the Australian people, it also includes what we call ‘Our Story’, which is an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander history of Australia. It’s unfortunately one of the parts of the Uluru Statement that is not often read and overlooked. So those 18 pages include our stories; so our history of our people and also a few pages – about four – on the reform. Why do we want a Voice? What will a Voice do? So, I urge everybody, if they do have the opportunity to look at the Referendum Council Report and read that whole document, which we call the ‘Uluru Statement from the Heart’.
Now, there’s a number of things there, Peter Dutton, that the last line, that whole statement, and then she said ‘part of the Uluru Statement often not read’. That would be the pages beyond page one I suspect. So, why lie when it’s there? The audio, the video – I’ve got the video! She said it in 2018 at the Henry Parkes Oration. You can’t back away from that. It was quite clear that it’s more than one page.
To be honest, Ray, I just don’t know what’s going on. I don’t understand why the Prime Minister or others need to misrepresent the situation. I mean, the Prime Minister is all over the shop on whether he supports a Treaty or truth telling or reparation payments or the detail around how the Voice will affect every area of government decision-making. He tells one story to one audience and then a different story to the next audience and thinking that he’s not going to be caught out.
Megan Davis should be taken at her word. She said that there’s 18 pages. It’s there in black and white, and as you say, the audio, it’s not doctored. I mean, that’s exactly what she advised, and Megan Davis, as we know, is the Chair of the Referendum working group that was appointed by the Prime Minister.
So I just think the facts are the facts and if you stick to that, people can throw all sorts of personal abuse – that doesn’t worry me in the slightest – but I think if you look objectively at everything and what they’ve said on the record and the rest of it, I mean, it’s indisputable.
Did someone tap Roger Cook – the new Premier in WA – on the shoulder so that he’d backflip on this controversial Cultural Heritage Law? It’s been shelved in New South Wales only until after the Voice, it’s been shelved federally ’til after the Voice, and obviously Mr Cook will go back to it after the Voice. Do you think someone tapped him on the shoulder from Canberra.
Oh, there’s no doubt that that’s the case. I’d say the Prime Minister, his office, would have been pushing pretty hard. People shouldn’t forget, though, that Tanya Plibersek’s looking at this exact legislation at the moment, and if you’ve got over a quarter of an acre – 1,100 square metres on the WA proposal – if you want to dig a post hole, you need to get an Indigenous consultant, a heritage consultant in to give you a report. It’s completely unworkable and I think it – particularly when you’re talking about freehold land – disrupts people’s right to enjoy what they’ve worked hard for.
I mean, nobody wants to disrupt Aboriginal heritage, or culture, or sites of significance, but I just don’t know where this stops. I mean, you’ve got this craziness in Queensland where you’ve got a State Minister who’s sending non-Indigenous people out of the room to have discussions. I just don’t know where it stops, Ray.
The Treaty that the Prime Minister’s promising, it seems that most of those that are in the know, those that are involved in some of these negotiations, believe that the Treaty will go on for 20 to 30 years. Well, I mean, you’re talking about billions and billions and billions of dollars of having lawyers sitting round tables in Sydney and Melbourne negotiating this – which is not going to make one iota of difference to a better outcome for people in Alice Springs or Tennant Creek.
I can’t understand why the Prime Minister is being dishonest with the Australian public, why he’s withholding the detail deliberately. The legislation for the Voice, he’s now said won’t be produced to the Parliament until after the Voice vote has taken place. I mean, what sort of rock show is he running?
Now, speaking of rock shows, Penny Wong announced this week declaring the West Bank and Gaza as occupied Palestinian territories – that was on Wednesday. The Prime Minister fell over himself in The Australian yesterday, saying, ‘oh, we love Jewish people, we love Jewish communities’. I mean, they should call him ‘Each Way Albo’, he’s had a punt each way. She makes one announcement and then he – because he gets attacked by the Jewish lobby the next day – he backs away at a million miles an hour.
I mean, this seems to be the approach now, though, of the Prime Minister. You see it on energy as well, Ray. I mean, they’re out saying one thing before the election; ‘you’ll get a $275 reduction’, and then they back out of that after the election, people’s electricity prices go through the roof. You’ve got Chris Bowen out attacking gas, saying that we can have no more gas and then you’ve got the Industries Minister – who’s WA based, telling West Australians, ‘no, no, we need more gas in the system’. It’s just the duplicity that I don’t think people will cop.
I mean, the PM’s not across the detail of many of these issues – we know that we saw it during the election campaign – but I think on the issue of Israel, it’s clear that the Labor Party has a huge problem, particularly with the hard left. The hard left of the Labor Party detest Israel, they’re strong supporters of Palestine because it goes against what Israel is arguing for – that’s just their instinct. The Prime Minister has been the leader of the left of the Labor Party for decades. He doesn’t want people to be reminded of that, but that’s the fact and he’s been part of many conversations and discussions within the Labor Party that have been very vicious in their outlook in relation to the Jewish community and I think it’s unacceptable. The Prime Minister didn’t talk about this before the election, didn’t tell people of Jewish faith in our country that he would turn his back on Israel.
They’re our most important partner in the Middle East and to walk away from them – there was no advice given to the Ambassador, there was no advice given to the Government of Israel – and I think, frankly, it’s an international embarrassment for the Prime Minister. I just don’t know what their next step will be; what will be the next wish?
When you start trading our national interest and our interests of our allies for peace and harmony at an ALP conference, then I think we’re in big trouble. If the Labor Party makes these sort of side deals, you see the issue in relation to the low-level nuclear waste facility for the medical waste that needs to be disposed of, they’ve abandoned that during the course of the week as well, even though there’s desperate need for that site to be developed. Why have they done it? Not because it’s in our national interest, because they don’t want to fight at the ALP conference next weekend.
This has just broken on Sky News – so I’m not trying to blindside you, but it’s an important one. They are reporting an administrative oversight and tensions between senior ministers – that would be, I think, Clare O’Neil and Mark Dreyfus – failure to provide important written support for the latest round of relisting terrorist groups. A document obtained by the powerful bipartisan Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security in June, and now, in the hands of Sky News shows Clare O’Neil did not provide a written endorsement to relist Boko Haram and Islamic State on that list. On that occasion, Ms O’Neil specifically wrote to the Attorney General to endorse the relisting of Islamic State and other groups under the Criminal Code. It’s being touted by senior government sources with knowledge of the situation: ‘the latest example of tension between Dreyfus and O’Neil’. Why would Dreyfus refuse to list Islamic State on a terrorist list? Why would he do that?
Well Ray, from last time when Mark Dreyfus was Attorney-General – Australians shouldn’t forget this – he never introduced a bill to strengthen the powers or the situation of ASIO and the Australian Federal Police.
We introduced 24 Bills to try and keep our country safe – and thank goodness, touch wood, and pray as best you can that we don’t have any terrorist attacks into the future – but we prevented attacks because of those Bills that we brought in.
So, Mark Dreyfus again is on the hard left of the Labor Party and if you don’t have this as a priority, well, these administrative errors take place. There’s no question; I mean, you can see it in the dynamic when you see them in the room between Mark Dreyfus and Clare O’Neil. Clare O’Neil is at war with her Secretary at the moment. You see the review that she’s just commissioned to try and white ant Mike Pezzullo, the Secretary of her Home Affairs Department.
I mean Clare O’Neil – I always say there are good and bad on both sides of politics – but I think Clare O’Neil’s still believing that she’s at university; some of the games and the nonsense that she interjects in Question Time, etc. I think she’s a juvenile player, and I think that’s upset people like Mark Dreyfus and the Prime Minister as well.
So, there is a lot of tension and there’s a lot of pressure that the Government’s feeling at the moment because families are hurting. People know that the Government’s been obsessed with the Voice and not concentrating on trying to help families and pensioners and self-funded retirees on the issue of cost of living. Some of the energy decisions that they’re making at the moment where they’re solely focussed and obsessed on renewables – that’s what’s driving up power prices by ten, 20, 30, 40 per cent, and I think it’s why they’ve got a few fronts open at the moment.
Okay. Just one final thing; you may have heard what Tony Abbott had to say in Perth:
I’m getting a little bit sick of Welcomes to Country, because it belongs to all of us, not just to some of us.
Look, I’ve said in relation to them, there are good ones and bad ones. The one that was done before Origin in Queensland was outstanding because the gentleman spoke about unity and coming together and, you know, being ‘all as one’, so to speak, but people have a problem –and I don’t know this to be a fact – but apparently there’s a fee involved. When you get a Welcome the Country, someone gets a fee, I guess for performing it or one of the Indigenous Council gets it or something like that. Where are you at with Welcome to the Country?
Well, I think it’s a respectful way to acknowledge the Indigenous heritage of our country; it’s why I support Constitutional recognition. I think that would be an important statement for us to make, and the Prime Minister has the opportunity to do that instead of the Voice question in October, and we’d end up with a unifying moment instead of the moment of division that the Prime Minister’s going to deliver in October.
But I do get the point that when you go to a function and there’s an MC who I think appropriately can do recognition, you then get the next five or ten speakers who each do their own Acknowledgement to Country, and frankly, I think it detracts from the significance of the statement that’s being made.
I think there are a lot of corporates that just do it because they think it’s what people want to hear and I’m much more a practical person in wanting to see those young kids go to school, to see less domestic violence in Indigenous communities, to see less sexual offending against young kids, and I want to see more Indigenous kids at school and university, and better housing and frankly, I think that’s where the concentration should be.
I think the Government, frankly, is sort of too obsessed with the whole virtue signalling, which is part of it, but the practical delivery of the outcomes on the ground is, I mean, it’s difficult for Labor to get that outcome because they’re so obsessed with some of the symbolism, and I think real people suffer as a result of that.
Okay. Travel safely to Tamworth. We’ll talk next week. Thank you.
Thanks Ray. See you, mate.