Subjects: Cardinal George Pell AC; changes to the $5 note; Alice Springs crime crisis; court action against Monique Ryan; Labor’s relaxation of 501 visa deportations back to New Zealand.
The Opposition Leader joins me every Thursday on the line. Peter Dutton, g’day.
Good morning Ray.
As I said, I won’t canvas your decision, that’s a decision for you and for other people to take about who goes to funerals, but I’ve stated my case and we’ll move on.
I’m a bit concerned, and you would have just heard the news about the $5 note. Do you have any doubt that the Prime Minister directed the Reserve Bank to remove King Charles from the note and replace him with Indigenous art?
Well Ray, I’ll come to that in a second, but just in terms of the funeral this morning. There are atrocious acts that are committed by people of churches and that’s been recognised, as you say, and have lives been destroyed? Absolutely.
Like you, I’ve fought very hard over many years for the rights of victims of sexual abuse. I’ve arrested and prosecuted people who have committed those heinous crimes, but there’s also a time to celebrate somebody’s whole life and the contribution that they’ve made, and there is also a period of reflecting on the mistakes of the past and the Catholic Church, the Uniting Church, the Anglican Church, many governing institutions otherwise, who have committed terrible acts in the past have tried to provide compensation for some of those victims and there are some victims who will never recover.
But my decision to go to Cardinal Pell’s funeral this morning reflects the fact that he contributed a lot, particularly to Catholic education, and to the church otherwise, and I think it’s important for our country to recognise obviously, our Indigenous culture, which is something you’re coming to, but we have a lot to thank the churches for over a long period of time in our country. Our British heritage which has given us the society and the systems of government that we live in today, and we’ve got a great multicultural community as well.
So, I think it’s important that we celebrate that. I thought there was a great injustice done, as was pointed out by the High Court, when – whether you agree with somebody or whether you believe that they’re guilty or not guilty – in our country, you’re innocent until you’re proven guilty, and a court makes a finding or a jury makes a finding of guilt or innocence and that’s the way that our system should operate. We’re not convicting people in our country on the vibe, or because we think that they’ve got a membership, or part of an organisation that has committed bad deeds, and that’s my perspective on things.
Now, in relation to the $5 note’s note – there’s no question about this – it’s directed by the government. I think the Prime Minister should own up to it. We know the PM’s not across the detail on many of these issues, but in relation to this, he would have been central to the decision making. If it’s a decision they’ve made, own it, just be responsible and put your hand up and say, ‘this is the reason we’ve made it.’
I think it’s another attack on our systems, on our society and our institutions. There’s obviously significant attacks on Australia Day, people want to change that. There will be then an attack on the national anthem, the flag, the name of Australia – as we’re seeing in other parts of the world.
So, I just think you’ve got to stand up and a lot more Australians have to be heard. I know the silent majority don’t agree with a lot of the woke nonsense that goes on, but we’ve got to hear more from those people online and business leaders have to speak up against it as well. Nobody wants to discriminate on any basis, but some of these discussions and some of the direction that we’re taking under the Albanese Government – none of this was mentioned before they were elected in May of last year.
A former leading ABC journalist and EP that I actually went to school with – now retired – told me the presentation on the AM program and on their morning TV program was no more than propaganda. It was reported by a young woman, who was at the meeting, but her reporting of it did not fall into line with the tone that’s been reported back to me by everyone else who was at the meeting, and she lined up a couple of women, not Indigenous women, to scream white supremacy, which apparently was not an issue at the meeting.
The ABC has an obligation to present, as is its charter, all sides of the argument. You can’t have a news reporter giving opinions. The young lady involved wore Indigenous earrings, she’s an Indigenous woman. Can you imagine the furor if someone who supported – on the ABC –Australia Day, wore Australian flags on their lugs and pushed one particular side of the argument about Australia Day being retained on January 26? I mean, the controller and Ita Buttrose would be in a state of conniption, at such an outrage, but there’s not a word said. They defended the woman this morning saying, ‘oh no, she presented a balanced report’. It wasn’t balanced, it was unbalanced and it didn’t show any side of the argument other than these women screaming ‘white supremacist’ inside the meeting, which didn’t reflect what the meeting was all about. Someone’s got to hold the ABC to account because they’re not holding themselves to account.
Well Ray, I just think they lose credibility when they do this. Everybody wants an independence from their national broadcaster, and again, we see it in other parts of the world, where they can report objectively and then let the reader or the listener or the viewer make up their own mind once you’ve got all of the facts. But telling people what to think is not part of their mandate and prosecuting political arguments and taking sides on political issues is not the mandate of the ABC.
Ita Buttrose should step in because in Alice Springs, you’ve got a meeting of 2,000 people – so you are going to get a wide variety of people, of course you are – but to say that somehow this is anything other than for the vast majority of those people, an expression of their frustration of living in a society where they don’t feel safe; where they’re worried about kids who are being sexually assaulted; where they’re worried about women who are subjected to domestic violence on a rate that wouldn’t be acceptable nowhere in our country, and somehow it’s tolerated in Alice Springs.
So, I think for the Northern Territory Chief Minister, for the Prime Minister, for the Indigenous Affairs Minister Linda Burney and others, they’ve got to start listening to the voices coming out of Alice Springs.
The government was well aware of this last year, and the problems that existed on the ground. They’ve done nothing for months and months and months, and tragically, somebody’s going to be killed in Alice Springs. If you’ve got kids running around with machetes and axes, it’s inevitable. I really desperately worry that the Prime Minister’s got to roll his sleeves up here. It’s not just about alcohol, it’s a cultural issue, particularly within the public service up there, that because we’re talking about Indigenous kids, you can’t take them away from their family, put them into a safe environment where they can sleep at night without being annoyed by adults or molested by somebody in the family unit. That’s the reality of what’s happening.
I know it’s a really difficult topic to talk about, and it’s an unsavory subject, but that is the reality of the life that many of these kids are leading up there, and the ABC and others to dismiss it, and ‘there’s nothing to see here, and this is just a mob that’s dominated by white supremacist’. It’s rubbish, and frankly, they’re doing a disservice to everybody in that local community. They’re Australians who share the same values as we do. They’re a community that just want law and order restored. They want to be able to go their businesses, they want to be able to go to work. They want their grandmothers to be able to go to the shops to buy groceries without being harassed. It’s a pretty basic request and why the government can’t get in there and address this is beyond me.
The government, we believe via Sky News, is going to introduce or reintroduce the total alcohol ban. The details we don’t know, but still the Prime Minister is doggedly pursuing his plan for the Voice. We read today; he wrote to you. What did he say to you in a letter yesterday?
Well, he wrote back to me. Obviously, I’d sent him a letter three weeks ago, just asking 15 basic questions, and I think they’re reasonable questions and as we saw in the poll, there are 87 per cent of Australians who have no idea what the Voice actually is.
The Prime Minister has made a decision, and it’s a political decision, that he will hold the referendum sooner than what he’d first proposed, and that he’s not going to provide the detail to the Australian public. I asked 15 reasonable questions, in his response to me, none of those questions have been answered and again, I don’t know why, but that’s a decision for him so we’re not too much further down the track.
Okay, now you’ve been in politics for a fair chunk of time. You’ve had a lot of people work for you – chiefs of staff when you’re in high power position in government, now in opposition, Leader of the Opposition. It appears that teals are starting to understand the difficulty of being in government or in opposition or in Parliament House.
Monique Ryan’s former Chief of Staff Sally Rugg, launching actions because she was deemed to have been asked to work unreasonable work hours. So, obviously Ms Rugg was of the opinion that when she started work, it was a nine to five sort of job. You start at nine, finish at five, and annoying phone calls that came in at 10 o’clock at night were not part of the operation?
Well, I’d be really interested Ray, to have a further look at Monique Ryan’s employment history, and interactions with other people in workplaces where she’s been before, because I know that she’s described by some of the other teals as quite a prickly character. Now, I don’t work closely with her, but that’s their account. I just really think it bears a little more scrutiny.
But Monique Ryan is a Green. I mean, there’s no sense pretending that she’s a disaffected Liberal. She was a member of the Labor Party, and left them because they weren’t left wing enough. So, I think a lot of people in Kooyong, frankly, might be looking at Monique Ryan and wondering whether she’s got the qualities that are required to an effective local member that can act in their interests instead of her own. So, I think this is still a bit of a way to go on this issue.
Now, one final one; new Prime Minister New Zealand Chris Hipkins. He’s welcomed the announcement that Australia will overhaul its approach to deporting New Zealand citizens, who spent more than a year in prison.
Now, the Australian Immigration Minister Andrew Giles has issued a ministerial direction to his department to pay greater attention to the strength, duration and nature of a person’s connection to the Australian community, but I think the answer lies here. This is why the new Prime Minister Hipkins wants to change it. From figures late last year – 3,000 people have been deported in New Zealand from Australia since the enforcement policy started in 2015. According to Radio New Zealand, 57 per cent of the deportees – so more than 1,600 committed crimes arriving back in New Zealand, of the 14,000 offences, 3,000 them violent.
So, we’re sending people back whether they were, you know, here for a long time or a short time, once they’re shown to be violent, back to New Zealand. The incoming federal Labor government’s going to keep the violent offenders here so we can look after them instead of their native New Zealand.
Well Ray again, this is not something that the Prime Minister was honest about at the last election. If he was going to water down the laws that allow us to deport criminals, then he should have said that at the last election, but he didn’t.
I find it really difficult that that level of dishonesty is going to result, ultimately, in people who commit serious crimes staying here to reoffend when they should be sent back to their country of origin and Australian citizens don’t get cut this slack. If you’re in the UK, or if you’re in Zimbabwe or New Zealand or Fiji, wherever you are, as an Australian citizen, you’re defined by your birth and that is that you’re an Australian citizen. Doesn’t matter whether you’ve been in that country for a short period or a long period of time. If you commit a crime, you’re deported, and it’s a basic principle of international law, and for the government to depart from that is quite remarkable.
So, if you’ve got a kid who’s 15, comes here from New Zealand, arrives having lived in New Zealand for 15 years, he’s 31, and he commits a sexual assault against a child or somebody in our community. Under the Coalition. I would have punted him straight back to New Zealand or wherever he came from. Couldn’t care what country he came from, but I wouldn’t want him here with a potential to reoffend against kids, or against women, or commit another crime. Under the Labor Party, that guy can stay.
So, we’ve had discussions on different cases over the years where the public has rightly said, ‘why are we so tolerant and allowing somebody of that character, that poor character to stay?’
Well now, Anthony Albanese’s allowing that criminal to stay, and I just don’t think it’s acceptable. I don’t think it’s what the majority of Australians would want from their government, and it was deceptive at the last election. I think the government should be called out for it and it should be a bipartisan position that if you’ve got somebody here who’s not an Australian citizen, who commits a serious offence against an Australian citizen, then they should be deported. You come here, as a guest of our country, you’re expected to abide by the rules of our country. It’s not an unreasonable proposition, and it’s exactly what other countries expect of Australian citizens when we visit their country.
I thank you for your time. We’ll talk again next week.
Thanks, Ray. See you mate.