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ABC News 24: The Drum -

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(generated from captions) This Program Is Captioned

Live. Hi, I'm Steve Cannane.

Coming up on The Drum, should

the big bank be allowed to cut weekend penalty rates? Is the

Treasurer about to cut more

middle class welfare? And the

move to ban forced marriages in

panel tonight, Damian Australia. Joining me on the

Scott Stephens and James panel tonight, Damian Smith,

what's Paterson. First a look at

what's making news. Here's Kumi

Taguchi. Thanks , Steve.

Tributes have been pouring in

for country music star Jimmy

Little who died in his sleep the age of 75. Little's music Little who died in his sleep at

reached both the Aboriginal broader Australian reached both the Aboriginal and

broader Australian music scene

over six decades. He was also

known for raising awareness

about the high rate of kidney disease and diabetes amongst Indigenous Australians. Jimmy

Little's family is planning release a statement later Little's family is planning to

today. A Perth magistrate has agree would the lawyer for agree would the lawyer for the former West Coast Eagles

captain Ben Cousins that the

footballer is unlikely to face

jail time if convicted of a drugs charge. 33-year-old Cousins made a brief at the Perth Magistrates Court Cousins made a brief appearance

this morning and did not enter this morning and did not

until a plea. He was released on bail

until his next appearance in

June. Cousins was arrested last

week after police allegedly found 4.5g of methamphetamines hidden in his body. The

ambulance union says fatigue

was not nesserl a factor for

twOr paramedics who mistake

lane declared a man dead after a car crash yesterday.

Paramedics could not feel a

pulse on the 30-year-old but

ances ses worker removing the

man from the car noticed signs

of life. The man is now in

hospital in a critical condition. Ambulance roirk is investigating the incident. We

need to go through the of the investigation with the need to go through the process

conversation with them to paramedics. We've had a cursory

understand the circumstances. They've been frank and open

with us. Obviously it's very

difficult for them and

devastating for the man's

family. We didn't get into the

patient because of how he patient because of how he was trapped in the vehicle and how damaged it was and it was too

dangerous for paramedics to get

in and under the vehicle so

they couldn't put any equipment

like a monitor or anything on like a monitor or anything

the gentleman at the time and

so all they could do was check

for his breathing and pols and at that stage they could not detect any pulse. The Media

Entertainment and Arts Alliance

and the international crime and the international

experts are calling for the

Federal Police to investigate

the murder of Australian

cameraman Paul Moran in Iraq in

2003. Paul Moran died when he

was caught in a blast while on

assignment for the ABC. The

head of the Islamic extremist group Ansar al Islam claimed responsibility and for the attack and taunted Australian Government to come attack and taunted the

and get him but the AFP decided there was not enough

information to go ahead with the inquiry. The Australian

Government is sending urgent

flood aid to Fiji where heavy

flooding has killed at flooding has killed at least

four people and forced

thousands from their homes.

emergency centres where food Around 11,000 people are using

and water is being distributed.

But supplies have been cut to

many areas and holiday flights

from Australia to the islands

are being cancelled. More than 1400 Australians are 1400 Australians are registered as being in Fiji, none have

been hurt. Burma's pro democracy leader Aung San Suu

Kyi has hailed a new era for

the country after her

Opposition claimed a victory in

by-elections. The national league

league for democracy's own unofficial results show it's

won 43 of 44 seats contested. Aung San Suu Kyi told

supporterse she's pleased about

the enthusiasm the Burmese

people have shown for the

political process. That's the

latest news, now back to The

Drum with Steve Cannane. This Program Is Captioned

Live. Hello and welcome to The

Drum. I'm Steve Cannane. Coming

up, the RBA under pressure to cut interest rates. Is the

Medicare safety net about to

get thinner? And the women speakingute against arranged

marriages in Australia. Our marriages in

panel tonight, CEO of Rate

City, Damian Smith, ABC online

religious editor Scott Stephens

and in Melbourne, James Paterson from the Institute of

Public Affairs. You can join us

on Twitter using the hashtag

the drum. There more signs

today of the patchy Australian

economy. The manufacturing

in March after throoeings index found the sector shrank

months of growth. The number of

residential building residential building approvals

fell last month by 7.8% and the

latest consumer price survey by TD securities and the Melbourne Institute showed the annual

inflation rate reached a 2-year

low. Although conditions seem low. Although conditions

favourable for a rate cut, most market watch rrz tipping

they'll stay on hold. Damien,

should the Reserve Bank cut

tomorrow? I think they should.

The Reserve Bank cares about

more than anything else

inflation. The rate of growth

of prices in Australia. With

very few exceptions, prices aren't growing terribly fast in

Australia. The prices that are growing fast in Australia which

do have a big impact on

people's lives are utility builds, interest rates, the cash rate is set by the RBA and

passed on by banks. The retail sector is struggling in Australia. That's not the only

reason to cut rates but if you did cut rates you would free up

a lot of money in the economy.

I reckon there's around $60

million a month just sitting

there right now in extra

mortgage repayments that conservative households are

paying down the debt faster than they should. That money

would almost definitely get

freed up into retail and other

spending if you cut rates by 25

basis points. There would be

tens of millions of dollars a

month the consumers would put back into the back into the economy. Should

they cut rates now or after

Swan's Budget? That would be

after their May meeting, two

meetings away. I think they

know the Budget is going to contain cuts. There's been a huge fiscal contraction in the

last 12 to 18 months. That

tells the RBA there is no risk

there. Employment growth is

flat, retail spending is flat.

That says why wait, why not

move now. James, we talked

before about the manufacturing

data that suggests the manufacturing

manufacturing sector is

contracted. There was a report

released today by released today by the Australia

Institute that suggest ed that the mining boom should in some way be slowed down and you

could contract the mining boom

to a certain degree and that

would have a spill-over would have a spill-over effect

with wages, with skills

shortages and also with the dollar. What do you dollar. What do you thing about

that idea? . It's a that idea? . It's a pretty complex argument for the

Australian institute to be

making and an even more complex

policy for the Australian

Government to institute but let's just work through this

logically. We've got a booming

sector of the economy sector of the economy that's doing really well and returning

great investments and resources

back to the Australian economy

but it's going too well. We

want to slow it down. want to slow it down. I don't think many Australians that

would resonate well with them.

I think most Australians like

the fact that the mining sector

is growing because it's paying into their superannuation. The idea it's benefitting manufacturing is not clear either. You could either. You could subsidise manufacturing which manufacturing which the Government already does but that's nat going to fix the problems. Manufacturing problems. Manufacturing is facing competition pressure and

temporary protection from the Australian Government is not

going to fix that. A central

question here in this Australia

Institute report is what rate

of growth in had mining sector is in the national interest. That's not a question you hear

debated much in debated much in that area? It's not and we're one of the

few countries in the world that hasn't been having an active

debate about the way the

economy relates to society

generally. I think it

demonstrates we really have

seen a shift over the last 40

years in the way in which State

politics on the one hand and

economy on the other really operate. Governments really have transformed them selve

understand to what might be called

called a market State. called a market State. Their

primary goal and objective is to provide a kind of buffer for

national interest over against the

the international community the international community so regulating investment, making sure foreign interests don't

have too much of a foothold and

at the same time we often hear

this language from Government

back to us which is to maximise

individual interest but I think

what's been missed and that way of the Government or the of the Government or the State

undering its role in society is

that what we're experiencing

all over the world is the

massive deaptlisation massive deaptlisation of the middle class and in other middle class and in other words , increasingly capital itself,

the means of production, are being owned by a certain small

group of people and while there's high rates of employment there's low levels

of property ownership of property ownership and business participation so this

kind of test which is to say,

"OK, none of us wants to see

this dialled right back to this dialled right back to a trickle but at the same time

what's the broader social

consequences that have been had

here and are there ways of

enhancing the relationship of

economics to society without

the simple tax and redistribute

which is a pretty monolithic

way of seeing things." way of seeing things." Damien, normally increasing growth is considered in the national

interest for a country. There-S

there any argument you see that has merit of slowing down the

growth rate in mining at the moment? I'm not sure the argument necessarily is slow it

down, it argument is get a fair

rate of return from the taxpayer. Richard Dennis and

'The Australian' had a smart idea in that papeture is have

an auction-based system for

miners to get access miners to get access to exploration leases and other

things and therefore the most

profitable procts would come

first. I don't want to low slow

the mining boom down, that level of investment snros

through to millions of

Australian s through super Australian s through super but there are probably projects

going ahead in Australia that

aren't economic and are there

because we've got an equity

market in Australia that's extremely tolerant

extremely tolerant of risk in

mining. Two geologists and a

bit of ground in WA can generally get you on the stock exchange in Australia. exchange in Australia. James,

quick response from you on quick response from you on the

idea of auctioning off mining sites? Steve, if sites? Steve, if the Australia

Institute really want to Institute really want to do

something for manufacturing, there's two things they could

advocate for, one is they could

advocate and deregulated workplaces because that would lower the cost for

manufacturing firms. Secondly,

they could advocate against the carbon tax because that's going to be a serious hit on to be a serious hit on many manufacturing firms but you

won't see them talking about

either because their agenda either because their agenda is slowing the growth in slowing the growth in the

mining industry because they

don't like tall poppies.

Damien ? I knew you would

come out here on this one because the reality is labour costs aren't the reason

Australia isn't growing in advanced manufacturing. Take

lithium ion batteries, the heart of consumer electronics

for the next 40 to 50 years. Electric vehicles, laptops,

everything. About 5% of everything. About 5% of the batteries is labour cost. batteries is labour cost. The reason Australia can't compete

is not that we've got too

expensive a workforce, we've

got a scale problem, got a scale problem, we've

certainly got a dollar certainly got a dollar problem but to suggest somehow slashing

wagicise a way for Australia to

become viable in international manufacturing isn't working

with the facts. We can lower

input costs but one of the mine reasons Australia cannot compete is scale and extra

taxes on the mining disro are

not going to fix that either.

If we had a billion people it

may fix that. Mieveing on, the big banks are pushing to redefine normal working redefine normal working hours to include weekends. They've

argued the challenges would promote more flexible work

practices and the improve

productivity. Currently, bank

workers are entitled to penalty

rates for weekend work. Bill

Shorten has expressed concerns

about the banks' motives. this

a wage cut in stealth and this

is not a wage cut for the

is not a wage cut for the CEOs

on several million dollars a

year, this a potentially a wage

cut for part-time workers,

women workers, people who earn

40 to dlf 50,000 a year. 40 to dlf 50,000 a year. Let's have a mature discussion about

what suits the employer and the

employee but let's not be under any any illusion the only way the

banks can keep making profits

is cutting the penalty rates

and conditions of and conditions of low-paid

works. Nins invited the big

banks and finance banks and finance sector to

hold talks on workplace

relations in the finance

sector. Would this has been an

easier argument to mount if it

was coming from the small

business sector rather than the

banks? Yes, and whether we

like it or not, it feeds into

popular discontent, on what

basis would one want to do this? This is unfortunately

one of the consequences of low

unemployment, that weir going

to see various forms of radical

social injustice in the social injustice in the form

of- Don't we have high employment in Australia at the

moment, unemployment is only

around 5%. Yes, sorry. I hope

I didn't speak wrongly. I meant high employment and low

unemployment. It's been a long

time since we've had a serious

debate about what a living wage

might in fact mean because

we've always, it seems, had

this kind of buffer, this safety

safety net of some

safety net of some type of Government intervention to make

sure that families don't get

hit too hard and yet there is a

deeper debate to be had here deeper debate to be had here on

what level, where does income

stop? Where should income

levels stop so that all sorts

of different not just psychological but also personal

effects such as pride in one's

work but also the ability to be

able to provide for one's

family and increase

opportunities for the family

itself to make a decision that,

say, both members of the family

don't want to have to work so don't want to have to work so I

think this does touch on a

deeper moral debate that I

think is quite problematic. James, your reaction to the

bank's move here. I love that

Bill Shorten is asking for Bill Shorten is asking for a

mature adult debate and the

first thing he does is to be shamelessly populist about the

CEO salaries. That reveals how

serious Bill Shorten is about a

mature adult debate. The

economy is changing, lot of

people prefer to work on the weekends. When weekends. When I was a student

I could not work during the week because I was studying and

I preferred to work on

thewalks. No I'm sure thewalks. No I'm sure you

preferred penalties too. I was

happy to receive it if it was there but frankly y would have

worked for much less than that

because it was the time I could

work. The thing is if I'm

willing to work and if my

employser willing to employ me

and we're table to gree to a

rate at which I'm employed,

whied the some Government or unions intervene in the

process? I'm happy, my

employer is happy. We're

clearly in a 7-day week world.

I deal with the customers of

the banks every day of the week

and they want flexibility and

the ability to do things in

different hours. That needs to be accommodated. I don't think that should come at the cost of

a reduction in the total amount

that people get paid. My understanding is there is

actually flexibility in the

current workplace rules to

renegotiate hours, to renegotiate rosters and to get

rid of penalty rates but to

wash them across the year in a

more flexible roster. If the agenda is reduce the cost of employment, I understand why

people get grumpy about that

and compare that to CEO

salaries and say that doesn't seem fair. If the ajenled saw

to say we want flexible rosters

and we want to pay you and we want to pay you across

52 weeks but change your roster

from time to time, that's a

reasonable point and ironically

that can be done in the current

rules. I accept James is right

there, is going to be some

populism out of the Government

on this- They need some

populism. They need populism. They need something

popular but get rid of that debate because as a fact-based debate you can do lot of this,

what you can't do is cut the amount peep get amount peep get in their take-home pay. In a interview with the 'Courier-Mail', Julia Gillard

ruled out means testing the 50%

childcare rebate but childcare rebate but did suggest the Government is

looking hard at the Medicare

safety net which gives 80%

refunds when families run up

medical expenses of more than

$1200 a year. The cost of a

scheme, a Howard Government

initiative, has been rising

with many higher income earners

reaping the benefits. Damien,

is this an area that should be

looked at in the Budget? There

is a range of welfare

circulation scheme that need circulation scheme that need to

be looked at. This one of them.

The childcare rebate is another. There's too much

taking taxes from people and

giving it back to them in ways

that cost everyone. I don't

think anything will be done in

the May Budget because having

floated the trial balloon, I'm sure this Government will back

away from it quickly as they

tend to, but there is too much

of this washing of money. Comes

out of middle class tax payers

and goes straight back to them.

If we want to do something

about that, let's cut their

taxes by a few points but taxes by a few points but there

are simpler and cheaper ways of

putting money in people' profits rather than taking from

them and giving it back. Would

you support a cut to the

Medicare safety net, James? I

would support means testing everything. Everything

Government does, if it's there

for social equity it should for social equity it should be

means tested. Damien is

absolutely right about the

inefficiency of a system that takes money from us and gives

it back to us in a it back to us in a different form. I would be happy to see Medicare and many other Government services means

tested and the saves throw back

to the same people through tax

cuts. There was a study in

2009 which showed in certain

areas with the Medicare safety net, 78% of those fees net, 78% of those fees were

ending up in the doctors'

pockets and 22% in the consumers' pock sotes consumers' pock sotes the benefit was flowing on not to

the individuals but to doctors themselves. Scott, the opposition is going through

pose this. Tony Abbott was the

architect of the Medicare

safety net. Do you safety net. Do you find it unusual that the Liberal Party, the party of the individual the party of the individual is supporting these kinds of

middle class welfare that's making individuals dependent on

Government? Absolutely and it

does reveal something, doesn't it, about the way it, about the way that politics

in this country is quite

skewiff. They've actually lost

some kind of deeper historical

or traditional narrative so you

find things being opposed just

for the sake of Opposition. I know we've been singing that

for a long time but I for a long time but I think-

These are also thing they

supported when the Coalition

was in Government That is

right but even then it was a rather illogical step for a Conservative Government to be

taking. What I find taking. What I find worrying here is that if there are

various forms of social safety nets that are going to be

provided, that really does have

to be backed up, it seems to

me, by some kind of coherent

narrative that's going to narrative that's going to be

told to the nation as a whole

about why we do this, about

what social benefit and even what social benefit and even if some members of society don't

need that, just why it is that

other members of society do and

when this suddenly becomes

about how this is going to

adversely affect me, the

monthly budget and when there's

no broader social rationale, no broader social rationale, it really becomes very difficult

for Governments to sell. I

think we've lost the capacity

to sell the broader social

rationale which is why this can

just descend into political illogicality. How much discomfort is there within the Liberal Party that Tony Abbott continues to support various

forms of middle class welfare, James? There's a reasonable

amount, Steve. I've spoken to

many Liberals who are concerned

about this and partly we're in

a topsy-turvy world because the

Labor Government, the Government, doesn't want to

make the cuts and in an ideal

world they wouldn't make world they wouldn't make the

cuts but they've made a political promise to get to a

Budget surplus and they want to

achieve that and the Opposition

is happy to take advantage of the political damage that comes

from spending. The much more

fill soskically consistent

thing for the Liberal Party to

do was support every instance

where the Government wanted where the Government wanted to

cut taxes and cut spending because that is what the

Liberal Party is supposed to be about. A

about. A $was an argument on

Friday in 'The Age' which said by cutting so hard in this Budget it's going to have a

real effect on GDP in

Australia? Absolutely. It

already is. There's no two ways

about it, that the contraction, the fiscal contraction of Government over the last 12 to

18 months has been a net drag

on the economy. The economy was

growing slower than it was in part because there's less Government spending. You can question whether it was the

right spending and the stimulus package and that's a legitimate

debate but let's not debate but let's not kid

ourselves. The high likelihood

is if this Government goes

ahead with a plan to produce ahead with a plan to produce a

surplus, the economy will

probably grow slower in the

next 12 months than if it spent some money and that's going to

be a serious problem for them

12 months from now because the

things that put money in

people's pockets people's pockets fundmentally

are about economic growth and this Government will face an

election with a very slow-growing economy. The

Opposition is warning against a

proposal to allow asylum

seekers to challenge their ASIO

assessment. A parliamentary

committee handed down its committee handed down its final report last week which recommends every application

for refugee State bees

processed within 90 days. As

well as changing the ASIO Act

so that confidential assessments could Shadow immigration Scott

Morrison says the Coalition will oppose the move. That's

an absurd suggestion. It exposathise processes and

systems and intelligence

sources and other things that

rilt relate to how ASIO do this

to things it shouldn't be

exposed to. We rely on exposed to. We rely on these assessments. The committee made

it clear they didn't think

these assessments had been

arrived at lightly. arrived at lightly. Currently there are over 40 asylum seekers in detention centres

stuck there in definitely.

They've been granted refugee

status so can't be sent home

and can't be released because

of a negative ASIO security

assessment. Scott, does

something need to be done? If so, what? Absolutely. It

highlights the highlights the immensely complex nature of global people movements. Unfortunately there

have been not a few instances where ASIO assesses have been unnecessarily cautious and unnecessarily cautious and tone deaf to the shifting realities in had countries these people

are coming from. The deeper

issue is we now have this

growing group of people who

really are not just in limbo,

they're kind of in a permanent

illegal State. They've got no reference to either

international law or international law or local law

and- We've got a situation

where some of them, like I

interviewed a family last year

for Lateline for Lateline in February last

year, a 4-year-old boy and his

mother are out, he didn't

understand why his dad is

locked up and has been locked

up for over a year and is in

there in definitely. He's now start ed school and it's

difficult for him to visit his

father because it takes a long

time for them to get public transport to where they live to the detention centre.

Precisely right and then to deny precisely this group of

people access to the law to

challenge their assessment I

think is just taking a bad

situation and making it in

definitely worse. James, what

do you think? I do admit to

being torn on this, Steve. I

can see fairly reasonable

arguments of why you wouldn't

want to expose a want to expose a sensitive

security process up to what

will effectively be the public

domain but nOend, if people's

lives are going to be materially affected by a decision by a Government

department, they are entitled

to have the decision reviewed

and to ask question that decision because Governments

aren't perfect, whether it's a

security agency or the tax office. Governments make

mistakes and I think it is reasonable we have a legal

system that reviews the

decisions of the Government departments. Could you

potentially have a pable that

sits in judgment on ASIO who

has high security clearance and

would not necessarily blurt out everything about the process

and what went into it but at

least there was another stage

of review if someone wanted to

challenge and find out what was

going on with their ASIO

assessment? The courts do have

a way of dealing with sensitive security issues. There are ways

that the court hearings can be

held in camera or that details

can be suplesed about certain

cases - suppressed cases - suppressed about certain case those it is

probably in the legal system's capability to do this but have

the a legitment security concern too. Damien? Scott

Morrison's comments prove about the dects of classic liberalism

in Australia. - death of classic liberalism in Australia. The notion he would say there should be no right of

review for a quasi-secret

Government agency. I think we

can all agree there must be

ways of doing this with appropriate levels of security. It happens all the time. It

happens around the world. But

the notion that ASIO should

never be subject to review,

that there word is God, that's

just plain wrong in terms of

the great democratic tradition that Australia has and the

notion that we should say to

people who want to people who want to come and

live in this country, "We will actually deny you any of the

rights and benefits of the way in which we believe that law

should be practiced," it's just

plain wrong. We plain wrong. We also don't know where ASIO is getting

their information from but

there is a good chance it is

from the Sri Lankan Government who was in civil war against

the Tamil Tigers, the LTT, in

the north of Sri Lanka. Perhaps the information the information filtering back

about a lot of these men who

were Tamils and perhaps had

connections with the LTTE may

be coming from one side of the

argument? Precisely right. In

which case not only is the information tainted but it's almost - there's the very high

risk it would be structurally

faulty but I do wonder if this

isn't beginning to point the

way to a kind of graded system

of detention. I mean, I of detention. I mean, I do understand and I accept the the

need for some sort of security

clearance. I understand that entirely and I understand there

is the deeper need not to rush

people out into the wider

community and for there to be

some - but surely there is some

middle space here between the

temporary process of detention

and being unleashed on society

where the needs of family can be

be taking place, the inherent

complexities of international relations and internal politics

can be taken into account but I

think beginning to sound the

alarm and wave the flag of nontransparent processes

because we need to protect our

- we need to defendant our security above all else y think

that there is a kind of in humanitarian tinge here that

can be accepted. The idea of gay marriage isn't a problem for all religious groupses in

Australia. 20 leaders from different faiths have signed a

letter calling on people letter calling on people to

declare support for. On the

weekend, the Catholic Church

wrote a letter urging people to

oppose the rivet members biz.

The public submissions to the Senate committee on the inquiry closed

closed today. When it comes the too the religious

organisations, hoado they line

up on whether they're in favour

or opposed to gay marriage?

Unfortunately they don't line

up cleanly and this is one of

the real complexities of the

debate, unfortunately. The most vocal opposition to gay marriage has been the Roman

Catholic Church for all sorts

of reasons and I simply don't

think - I myself am not a

Catholic, I'll confess I'm a

bit ambivalent about the

question of gay marriage but I think there are broader social

concerns at the heart of the Catholic concerns about gay

marriage and one of the

concerns is it does not fall in

the purview of the State's

authority to undo and redefine

something that predates the

State itself, in other words

that marriage is a fundamental

civil and social organisation

that precedes the State. It is

a pre-State institution and the

State can't turn around and the

shift the contract of marriage

so it becomes a sexual contract

between two adults, no matter who. I don't accept there is an

internal and homophobic basis

there, is a deeper social

concern and social conservatism

here. Other churches and here. Other churches and faith

groups t seems to me, they've allowed their either objection

or nonobjection to fall down

much more - not so much on the basis of social protection and

conservatism but the conservatism but the extension

of rights. Can't we all begin

recognising that this advent, the

the desire to extend the

quote-unquote right of marriage to

to same-sex couples, this is a

very, very new funonnn. As late

as the late '60s and early

'70s, most gay activists said

marriage is too normative, it's too straight, it's too recognised by the recognised by the State.

There's this kind of - so There's this kind of - so the

idea of rights being extended I

think reflects the fact that

the only way that we the only way that we can

understand right today is

rights that are equally

distributed to all individuals rather than certain

institutions that exist for institutions that exist for the

sake of society as a whole sake of society as a whole and

having read the letter, having

seen there is- The letter from

the Catholic bishops you're

talking about? No, sorry, the

statement by the 25 faith

leaders, the statement to me

did seem quite incoherent. It's

a fairly sloppy argument. It

seems to me because it has nothing to do with gay marriage

as such, and it has everything

to do with the loosening of the ties of marriage it to two

people who love one another people who love one another and I think that's somewhat problematic. We just happen to

be having the debate about gay marriage but the logic marriage but the logic that's

so often used has nothing to do with gay marriage itself. Scott, what about the Catholic

bishops, the six Catholic bishops who wrote to 80,000

parishioners. Do you think

their attitude to gay marriage reflect the parishioners'

attitude to gay marriage? I don't think it malters. The

theological duty of bis s is

not to democratically represent the church. The the church. The responsibility

of parishioners is to have a

kind of not only allegiance and adherence to the faith but also

tococt kind of dialogue with

what it might mean to live

faithful lay as a Catholic

today. I don't accept for a

moment that bishops ought to be

taking a straw poll of people

and determine social stances or

doctrine as a result. What I think we are running a real

risk of, however s this

widening gap between those

people who are - if I can put it this way it this way - theologically serious about not just Western

society but what the church's

role inn that society is and a

large, it seems, group of

Christians and parishioners that are really feeling

themselves quite conflicted

about, well, we know people who

are gay, we don't want to deny

rights and meaningful

institutions to them so I think

unfortunately the debate's not progressing well because

there's not a great deal of actual communication taking

place. We're going to move on

and talk about a very and talk about a very different form of marriage now and it's a

practice often hidden within Australia's migrant

communities. Some women

sometimes in their teens being forced to marry against their will by their families and relinlingsz leaders. Often

their husband-to-be is a first

cousin and

cousin and someone they've

never met living in a foreign country. The Federal Government

is planning to is planning to introduce

legislation to ban the unions

and tonight at 'Four Corners' a

group of brave young women are speak outh to reporter Sarah

Ferguson. When 17-year-old Australian Samir Khan arrived

in Pakistan with her father

there, were no such protections

available. They drove on to her

father's village several hours

away in a remote area of the

Punjab. It was like a Des

erted village like with sand

everywhere and mud bricks and I

thought, "Where am I?" You know, having baths the

old-fashioned way with a bucket

and a little cup." and a little cup." Samir's grandparents and father lived

in this village until he moved

to Australia in his 20s.

Marriage between cousins is

common in Pakistani communities

at home and abroad. In some UK

cities, more than 60% of

Pakistani women are married to

their first cousin. Samir's father reassured her they weren't there for marriage to

her cousin. He said, "No, no,

don't listen to them. Everyone

loves to talk here. You just don't listen to them. don't listen to them. I've told you now. Nothing's going to happen." Then, Samir's mother

flew in to join them from

Australia. I said, "Mum, why?

I'm going to come back soon

anyway. It's a waste of

money." When they left the

village to collect her mother

from Lahore, Samir assumed they

wouldn't be coming back. There

was only four days left for me

to go back to Australia and I

said, "Yeah, I'm nearly home

now, I'm hOflway there in now, I'm hOflway there in my mind." Instead, her mind." Instead, her father

insisted they go back to the

village. Straight from lumore

we went to their house and I

was sitting there and I see the

shake and the imam, like they

walk in and I thought to

myself, "What's going on? Why

are they here?" My uncle was walking past and I said to him, "What's going on?" He said,

"You're getting married today."

I said, "What?" I was in shock.

I just didn't know how to cry.

I thought - I started praying

that, "Please, God, kill me

now. I just want you to kill me

now. I'd rather not go through

this." No-one asked Samir if

she wanted the marriage to go

ahead. The sheikh didn't come

in and say, "Do you agree?"

Which we're supposed to be

asked three times, and I

overheard one of his uncles

saying, "We've already asked

the girl. There's no need to

ask her. Just give us the

papers. We'll tell her to sign

it," and then they came and

said to me, "Sign, or else,"

like literally, "Or else," and

I knew what they meant by that

so I just - my mum said, "Just

get it over and done with."

What did they mean by, "Or

else."? I don't know, to hurt me. Sarah me. Sarah Ferguson's 'Four

Corners' program airs tonight

on ABC 1 and Sarah joins us now

on The Drum. Welcome back. Hi, Steve. What ended Steve. What ended up happening

to Samir? How did she get to Samir? How did she get out of that horrific of that horrific situation? It

took her a long time to get out

of it but there and then of it but there and then she was clear they would hurt her

or kill her and she's sitting on her own in her cousin's

house in Pakistan, surrounded

by her extended family. She's

all alone. She's a very, very

gutsy Australian teenager. She

would have run or fought if she

could but she thought those

people were about to hit her or

kill her. She went through with

it, came back to Australia without her husband, had get to

him his spousal visa, again

under pressure from the family.

The sis parts of the forced marriage thing t is not just marriage thing t is not just a

cultural thing, it's also about

visas. She fought for 10 years.

She went to two Sydney imams to try to get out of it. It's not

a valid marriage even under Islamic law. They knocked her

back and said, "You have got to

do what your father says and

stay married." She eventually

found an imam in western Sydney who investigated the case and

gave her an annulment. It took

10 years to get out. One of the things I find extraordinary

is her father, who is meant to

protect her, is sitting in a

room with her facilitating a

marriage and she feels her life

is under threat if is under threat if she doesn't go through with that. This is

a man she loved. Before they

went on holiday she was alt the

airport and she was worried

because the issue of marriage was un resolved. was un resolved. She was

playing cricket in the backyard

when she was 12 and she heard

her relatives talking about her relatives talking about it

and she thought, "Hang on,

they're talking about me." they're talking about me." She

had a response that lasted all

of that time. She got to the airport and said to airport and said to her father, "Are you absolutely sure this

is not for the marriage?" She

said, "No, trust me," of course

she thrusted him, he was her

father So he betrayed her. father So he betrayed her. How

does he feel about his daughter

now that she's speaking out?

This is one of the amazing

things about this girl and all

of these people in their

program, they're all speaking without their faces covered. She managed to get She managed to get her annulment and also managed to bring her father round which is

very s erkvery unusual. Her

father now accepts that she

will choose her husband. That's

unusual. She's already been to

a degree rejected by plenty of

members of her community and

all of the people in the story

face that, that in this situation where the whole of the family's honour is seen to

be defined through or the major criteria is

criteria is the sexual

behaviour of the daughters, if

those daughters do anything

wrong in any way outside of the

situation that's been dictated

by the father, it is seen to

bring down the whole family so

they are literally put outside

of the family, put outside of the family, put outside of the community. Samir is the community. Samir is one of

the very, very few who managed

to get what she wanted, she got

an annul ment, got rid of an annul ment, got rid of the forced marriage and managed to

bring her father over to the sensible side at the same

time. Have you got a sense of

how many others are in the same

situation as Samir? It is very

hard thing to count. We found

fantastic women in New Zealand

who count them. They've

recognised in many family violence

violence cases when women call

in distress for help that

there's a forced marriage

behind them so they count, they have a separate box they tick

for forced marriage. In

Australia we dointed count it,

don't count it as a separate

discreet issue in family violence. The Australian Government have seen cases Government have seen cases of girls who've gone to the Family

Court to get the court to take their passports from thatparence to prevent it

happening until they reach 18.

There are cases throughout but

we don't know how many. We know

everybody across the issue

either the individuals

themselves or people who work

in the area, they all know it's going on and know there are

very, very few people who have

the courage to speak about

it. Nicola Roxon, the

Attorney-General, wants to act.

She's got laws she want to put

before the parliament. What

difference would that make? If you marry a 14-year-old, there are sex crimes you could

prosecute somebody under. This is going to come into the same

sort of bag as trafficking, sex

trafficking. It is very serious

offence, carries a very, very

heavy penalty. I think they're hoping

hoping this will act as a dis

incentive so if you're father

thinking you'll hook up your daughters to their first

cousins in Pakistan, you're out nauted going to do nauted going to do it because

you know it's a crime. The

difficult thing is to imagine difficult thing is to imagine a

15 or 16-year-old girl calling

the police saying, "Take my parents away," know thaing

could get a 10-year jail

sentence. Some people argue

it's possible it will drive it underground. The overwhelming

response to people is to say response to people is to say it is underground, that's the

problem. That's why you have to

send Mrs Rocken a clear message

that this is totally unacceptable in Australia.

Scott? Wow. This is quite extraordinary. What it does

resonate with me is there is

ongoing and it seems to me

widening tension taking place

across the west at the between Governments most often

absolutely correctly trying to

impose a kind of common rule of

law, as you've mentioned within

Islam itself coercion within

marriage is already forbid Yet

it seems a to me this could be

handled very, very well or

extremely badly. It if this is

seen as one more instance of

Western Governments trying to trample over Islamic

communities- It's also coptic Christians, it isn't just

Islamic but you're right, we're

in this area, this is the

space. This is why people don't

talk about it because talk about it because they're afraid of those things. A certain amount of certain amount of political correctness I think has been at

play here where people have

said this is community business

f we get into it we'll be seen as racists and once again travelling on top of the recognise of our recognise of our Islamic migrant so we won't do it.

There are allies here to be had

and some of the things many Muslim leaders within the West and around the world have been

saying is that this is saying is that this is an ongoing battle taking place

within Islam itself between

those who have taken forms of

chauvinism and misogyny and

bigotry and just painted it with

with a kind of thin veneer of

Islamic teaching and that there

is a real - there are allies here

here to be made and it seems to

me it would be important for

the Government to be very -

That's right. They did - they

have found those people within

the community who are - there's

a chap in the program, an

Islamic teacher in Sydney, I'm

not going to call him moderate,

he's just an Islamic teacher,

he doesn't deserve to he doesn't deserve to be modrlt

or immoderate. He is just a

teacher. He investigated it

from an Islamic point of view.

There's no question the

Government has these allise but it's an interesting thing

because if we allow because if we allow these

issues to be defined as cultural or quasi-religious

issues we're already fighting

on the wrong plain. These are

issues of simple issues of

rights. They're not religious

and in fact the culture element

can even be broken down because

in many, men a cases it's at

least as important that the

visa is delivered at the ends of it. Damien? Sarah, you

mentioned in the story two

imams had the opportunity to

either stop or unpick what either stop or unpick what had

happened and didn't. What in

your view can Government do

about that? Clearly, there's a

notion in law that you don't

walk in between a priest and a

parishioner and say, "The two

of you need to disclose this conversation," the confessional, for example. How

do we deal with imams clearly

doing something that will at

some stage next year be some stage next year be against

the law? First of all, let's

listen to the imam in question from Lakemba who did the right thing. Do you remember a few

years ago Brendan Nelson was talking about putting money

into proper training of imams

in Australia while we were on

the Islamic question, that sort of - I don't know what happened

to that idea t came and went

but we've got one of thissuse

in Australia is in our Islam ic

communities we have such a patchy situation where patchy situation where you've

got people of got people of genuine learning and then a bunch of

fly-by-night who are basically

representing themselves as

representing a moderate or a

mainstream view of the

community when it's nothing of

the sort and if you even look at Pakistan and Afghanistan where there are still plenty of

horrors going on in relation to

attitudes towards women, there are

are some areas of progress but

lot of these men come here,

don't move from the moment they arrive, their thinking doesn't

evolve. They build a power

evolve. They build a power base around outmoded around outmoded and extremist views and they have a really

unnecessarily powerful unnecessarily powerful position within the community where in

within the community where in a bigger community they bigger community they would

have to fight much harder for

their power base. So I don't know whether Brendan Nelson's

idea of greater education is the

the answer but it's listen to

the moderates. Sarah, thanks very much. Don't call them

moderates. You can watch Sarah's report Sarah's report tonight on 'Four Corners' tonight on ABC 1 at

8:30 Australian eastern

standard time. That's all for

The Drum. Thanks to the panel,

Damian Smith, Scott Damian Smith, Scott Stephens

and James Paterson. You can

check out the website at

abc.net.au/The Drum and I'll

see you at the same time

tomorrow night. Closed Captions by CSI