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Q And A -

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TONY JONES: Good evening and welcome to Q&A and joining us tonight: the conqueror and Kilimanjaro
and Kokoda, Shadow Treasurer Joe Hockey; author, Indigenous person of the year and professor of
law, Larissa Behrendt; the Booker Prize winning author of Schindler's Ark, whose latest work,
Australians, is the first volume of a three part national history, Tom Keneally; the Minister for
Housing and the Status of Women, Tanya Plibersek; and the director of the Free Market Institute of
Public Affairs, John Roskam. Please welcome our panel.

Remember that Q&A is live from 9.30 Eastern Time, so you can join the Twitter conversation and also
send your questions via SMS to the number on your screen, 197 55 222, or go to our website, While you're there, you can register to join the studio audience and ask a
question in person, just like Jason Fraser.

JASON FRASER: My question is about the controversy surrounding Dennis Ferguson. This week we have
seen elected officials pandering to their constituencies' mob element in an effort to get him
removed from their own electorate. Is there any instance where an elected official has grounds to
defy their constituencies' wishes, in the face of a well organised mob?

TONY JONES: And just to fill everyone in the late news today, Dennis Ferguson has refused to live
his apartment. The state minister is allowing him currently to stay put. Tom Keneally, your take on
the power of a well-organised mob?

TOM KENEALLY: Well, I have some sympathy with the peaceable elements in that district who are
concerned and I don't know why he was settled in an area where there are a lot of young kids. This
is not to say that we suspect him necessarily to commit another crime, but I would have thought the
inner city, where there are few schools, where children come only in the care of parents, might
have been a better choice. The more stringent ideas of creating a compound for paedophiles, make me
uneasy and, of course, the other thing is, sadly, many paedophiles are member of kids' families

TONY JONES: What do you think of the more extravagant ways some of these community activists, if
you like, have behaved? I mean putting a coffin in front of his door step. Someone put a Molotov
cocktail, evidently, into the ground. Someone last night was stabbed in a violent incident. I mean,
there's a lot of tension around this whole thing.

TOM KENEALLY: Yes, and it's hard for people to keep cool but they should because these events are
no solution at all.

TONY JONES: Yeah. John Roskam? Incidentally, I've just been told that Ferguson has agreed to move
out temporarily. Apparently, he's going to move out under periods of high tension, which is
obviously an unsuitable and temporary arrangement.

JOHN ROSKAM: Well, I think there's two issues. There's the first issue of if he's committed the
crime, if he's been punished, if the sentence has passed, then he should be allowed back into the
community. How long are we going to be punishing these people for? There's a second question of
concern about potential people re-offending again, and you have to separate the two things. But as
Tom said, you know, I'm reluctant to call these people who are concerned a mob. I mean the
community is concerned. Perhaps they are right to be concerned and I think governments and
ministers should listen to that but I think the sooner we separate out the two issues then the
better we'll be, rather than just talking about a person or a group of people completely out of
context in this debate.

TONY JONES: Larissa Behrendt?

LARISSA BEHRENDT: Well, I think we do have to assume that when somebody has been convicted of a
crime and been punished that our system has worked towards rehabilitating them and if we're not
assuming that then obviously there's some work that we need to do there. I agree that it's
understandable that people would be emotive about this issue, especially because it relates to
their children and so I think we need to manage that integration back into the community far
better. I think it's very foreseeable that you'll get these kind of tensions so they should be
managed much better from the start. And I think Tom makes a really important point, that this
wasn't the only case of paedophilia that was in the news this week, and we do tend to look at this
issue as though there are these crazy people in the community that are a menace to our kids. At the
same time a lot of children are vulnerable within their own homes, and it's probably a really
timely reminder that we need to be looking at prevention, as well, and making sure that DOCS and
services like that are really funded to be able to be preventative and to intervene as well.

TONY JONES: The questioner is obviously worried about the mob element of the pressure being put on
politicians. Do you have any thoughts on that?

LARISSA BEHRENDT: Well, you know, I think that there are some times when there is hysteria and
people are reacting emotionally and there are other issues that need to be balance, like some of
the ones we've mentioned here about people's rights to reintegrate into the community where
political leader is really important. And sometimes having people make strong statements who are in
a leadership position about what is appropriate behaviour and what isn't can actually have a very
normalising effect.

TONY JONES: Tanya Plibersek, there's your opportunity, if you like, to make some sort of
normalising statement. What are your thoughts about the question, in particular, that we've just
heard and where we go from here?

TANYA PLIBERSEK: Well, just very quickly, I think that parliamentarians owe people service and they
deserve to represent the views of their constituents but they also owe judgment and there are times
when you might disagree with a campaign that's running in your community or your electorate and you
bring your judgment and if the majority of the electors don't like the decision you've made, then
they're opportunity is, at the next election, to get rid of you. But the Dennis Ferguson issue is
not one where I would be standing up against the expression of concern about the location of this
fellow. I agree generally that our jail systems should be aiming to rehabilitate. One of the
questions that we ask is has someone participated in a program that is likely to lead to their
rehabilitation? Has this person admitted that they've committed a crime that has hurt other people?
Have they indicated a willingness to change their behaviour in the future? And if the answer to
those things is no, then I'm frankly not surprised that people express concern and, as a parent,
certainly my behaviour would change if I had a known paedophile living in my street. I'm not going
to, you know, go into a whole lot of details about Dennis Ferguson the person and what he's done
and hasn't done, but, yes, my behaviour would change as a parent. I wouldn't feel comfortable
letting my kids, you know, run next door and, you know, play with the next door neighbours or run
down to the shop centre. I'm not surprised that - parents have so many - they're putting so many
strictures on their children already. We live in a world that is so concerned about stranger danger
and all these pressures already, to live with that fear everyday and to restrict your children's
ability to develop a sense of adventure and independence even more. To have to explain to them why
it is that they shouldn't be talking to this particular next door neighbour when they're six or
eight or nine years old, I think they're very difficult things to ask parents to do.

TONY JONES: So, Tanya Plibersek, here's the fundamental question then for politicians and
particularly for housing ministers like yourself, because he is, after all, in public housing -
what we now call community house. Where do you put him?

TANYA PLIBERSEK: Well, I do think it is actually very important to have housing for people who are
leaving jail. It's important if someone has got an ongoing sort of parole or something like that to
know where they are, for a start. It's very important that you don't release people to go and live
on the streets or go back to their known criminal associates and you really reduce the risk of
recidivism when you sort out someone's housing before they leave jail. So I'm not arguing that he
shouldn't be housed, but I want him housed somewhere where I knew that he was in contact with
parole authorities or whoever else he needed to be in contact with and somewhere that's away from
kids and families.

TONY JONES: Well, he's a fundamental question. What neighbourhood doesn't have children?

TANYA PLIBERSEK: Well, and Tom, you're not right about the inner city. I mean, there are more and
more families living in the...

TONY JONES: No, but that's a sort of not in my backyard answer as well, isn't it? I mean, because
you live in the inner city?

TANYA PLIBERSEK: Yeah, well, so I know that there's lots of kids in the inner city. And so I know
that there's lots of kids in the inner city.

TOM KENEALLY: I meant the inner inner city.

TANYA PLIBERSEK: Yeah, like the CBD.



TONY JONES: I don't know many suburbs that don't have children.

TANYA PLIBERSEK: It is a really difficult question. I mean, I suppose you could say that there are

areas that are largely commercial retail or light industrial or country - you know, country areas
where someone is a little bit out of town or something. I don't really - I don't have an address in
mind but I have a lot of - no, I really don't have an address in mind. But I do understand why
parents would worry about that. I don't think people should be vigilantes. I never believe in
vigilantism but equally I think that this is one of the worst crimes that people can commit and one
of the most worrying.

TONY JONES: Let's hear from Joe Hockey on this issue.

JOE HOCKEY: Well, as a parent, if I had a paedophile - convicted paedophile more in next door, I'd
want him out of the neighbourhood pretty quickly. It is just zero tolerance.

TONY JONES: Where would you want him to go?

JOE HOCKEY: Well, you know what, there are convicted paedophiles that have gone into the community
all around Australia. Mr Ferguson is not the first but there are obviously some communities out
there that are accepting convicted paedophiles. And I just make the point about paedophilia: there
is a very high level of recidivism with paedophilia so your children are at risk, you know, in that
sort of environment. I've got a zero tolerance for that sort of - as I think most Australians do
for that sort of behaviour but, quite frankly, I don't think it's a mob mentality. I think people
protecting their families is perfectly understandable and it should be defined as a mob because
it's a natural and proper instinct.

TONY JONES: Well, I mean we're just learning - we've known all along, but we're learning that these
things are happening within families, as well. The Victorian case...

JOE HOCKEY: Of course they are.

TONY JONES: ...that's just come up, the man they're calling the Australian Josef Fritzl is now in
jail. We can't talk too much about the case, but it's happening not only with strangers, but it's
happening within families.

JOE HOCKEY: Of course it is, and, you know, there are a whole lot of reasons for it but the first
point - you know, the first point you get to is to protect your family. Now, that's why it is not a
mob mentality. That is the natural instinct of a parent as it should be an you can perfectly
understand that. And the second point is I don't care if this guy runs for the rest of his life
because those people that he has hurt will have to carry it for the rest of their lives.

TONY JONES: Okay, let's go to another question. Clearly there's a tremendous amount of public angst
about this. Here's a question that reflects that and it's from Cynthia Fernandez-Roich.

CYNTHIA FERNANDAZ-ROICH: Yes. Why the government doesn't implement a policy of castration after the
paedophiles complete their sentence in order to avoid public persecution?

TONY JONES: Cynthia, just while the microphone is still there, are you talking about literal
castration or chemical castration?

CYNTHIA FERNANDAZ-ROICH: Chemical castration so in order to decrease the risk of...

TONY JONES: Okay, Tom Keneally, you've actually written about this.

TOM KENEALLY: Well, the great problem we have in all this discussion is whether paedophilia is
remediable by therapy in prison and psychiatrists disagree on that issue so no wonder parents are
scared. And the other issue that I've heard debated is whether castration actually works and,
again, there's a division between people about whether it works. And then, of course, there's - I
hate to raise it but there's the question of whether the state should make such an intrusion on
people's bodies. Maybe they should, but, again, I don't know any - because the experts don't know,
a layman like myself can't reach a conclusion either. But it is that uncertainty about whether
paedophilia is remediable, which is plaguing the people where Ferguson and others life.

TONY JONES: Tanya Plibersek, do you know the answer to that? I mean, is it something that the
government is considering, permanent solutions to issues like this?

TANYA PLIBERSEK: Well, certainly, the Federal government would not be in a position to do something
like that because the correctional facilities and the sort of law enforcement you're talking about
is at a state level so we are certainly not. But like Tom, I have read a little bit about this and
the thing that makes me believe that that would not be a successful approach is that the sort of
paedophilia that you're talking about is a - in one sense it's a sexual crime. In another it's a
crime of power and control and it goes a lot beyond an irresistible sexual urge. It's not that you
want to have sex with someone, it's a deep-seated, abhorrent inability - it's people who are
incredibly insecure and the only way they can feel secure and good about themselves it to hurt and
dominate someone who is completely defenceless and I don't know...

TONY JONES: Okay. The questioner just wanted to respond there so we'll allow that to happen.

CYNTHIA FERNANDAZ-ROICH: Is not in the public interest. I'm saying that the government should do
something about it juts to prevent this because the rate of re-incidence is higher so wouldn't the
government think of alternatives in order, well, they can't relocate it. Every time they relocate
it they spend money to relocate it that the taxpayer pay and you know they should have some
alternatives, not only, you know, well, we can't castrate it but the government should do something
about it.

TANYA PLIBERSEK: Yeah, but you have to have alternatives that will work and so I guess what I'm
saying is you need to look at the evidence of what will work and...

TONY JONES: All right. We've just got another person who wants to make a comment up there. I'll
hear from you and then we'll probably move this topic on. Yes? Sorry, there's a - oh, okay. There's
one down there, as well. Sorry, just a bit confused. There we go, the chap in the red.

AUDIENCE MEMBER: Yeah, well, give this guy in North Ryde is in his sixties and blind, like do you
think the people in North Ryde would even care if he was castrated or not? Like, would that make a

TANYA PLIBERSEK: Look, can I just say something? The thing is that it doesn't have to be the sort
of physical abuse that castration would stop. If you're looking at internet child pornography, you
are guilty of child abuse because you are creating a market for child abuse. Chemical castration
doesn't fix that. If you abduct a child and frighten it and you don't have - this is getting really
technical, but you don't have genital contact with that child, that child is damaged just as much
and for just as long and just as deeply, so you can't focus - you're kind of focussing on the
technical aspects of sexual acts when child abuse is a much deeper and much more complex crime than

TONY JONES: Okay, I'll just hear from Joe Hockey one more time, then I'll move on.

JOE HOCKEY: Well, Tony, I'm not a medical expert. I don't know if castrating someone would change
their behaviour. I just don't know the answer to that. I'm sure many others - you know, there'll be
some experts out there. I think, you know, anything you can do to stop an offence occurring, you
have to consider and it's appropriate to consider.

TONY JONES: Okay. I'm going to move on. You're watching Q&A. An unpredictable program where you get
to ask the questions. If you'd like to ask a question in person, go to our website and register to
join the audience. And our next question, indeed, comes from in the audience from Matt Esterman.

MATT ESTERMAN: This is for Tom Keneally. As an Australian historian and historian of Australian
events and issues, what impact do you think your background or political persuasions have on your
research or writing of Australian history or what other factors influence the kind of story that
you construct about the past?

TOM KENEALLY: I think that everyone who writes about history, whether he be a lay historian or a
major historian like Blainey or Manning-Clark, I think the history is forced through the syringe of
who you are. When I was a little kid, my mother had this icing syringe and she'd fill it with icing
and then put various nozzles on it. Well, the nozzle is the historian and the icing inside is
history. So some icing will come out triangular. Some like a star. So definitely the sort of person
you are - you are a, one would hope, a reflective lens but you're also through your temperament and
political persuasions a refractive lens as well.

TONY JONES: Larissa, you've read Tom's book. I mean, do you sort of see anything of his political
views within the history?

LARISSA BEHRENDT: Well, I liked the book because it was a real ripping yarn and I like the way that
he tells history as a story. And I think when you approach it like that, the reader does give the
author a fair bit of leeway knowing that they're giving you a perspective and you get the sense
very quickly that this is a very well researched book, so you feel like the facts are underlying
there, even though there's a perspective and I think what Tom does really well is that he looks at
it from a human point of view and that's very engaging and I think the other thing that he achieves
with the book by trying to bring in different perspectives and being very inclusive about how he
tells history is he kind of debunks this view that had become very prevalent until very recently
that you either have a black armband view or history or you have a white blindfold one. I think he
manages to look through a whole range of issues in the period that he looks at that show that
dichotomy to be false.

TONY JONES: We actually have a question from the audience that's along those lines. Let's go to
Felipe Serra-Martins.

FELIPE SERRA-MARTINS: With the history wars thriving on how to accurately tell the story of
Indigenous Australians and European settlement, do you believe political correctness threatens to
degrade Australia's amazing historical achievements?

TONY JONES: Joe Hockey, let's hear from you on that, because I think it's probably fair to say that
John Howard was the chief proponent of the history wars and his view was that there was a black
armband view of history.

JOE HOCKEY: Well, I think, look, history is always being redefined by the historians. They tend to
do that and they're own political views do colour their interpretations of events.

TONY JONES: It got defined somewhat by politicians for 10 years, as well.

JOE HOCKEY: Well, oh, Tony, it's not happening now? I mean, is that what you're suggesting, that
it's not happening under Kevin Rudd? You know, there was just a 10-year black hole in the economy,
you know, that - if you believed the Prime Minister lately and I think - I think it is very
important that you try and look at history from lots of different angles. I think we are now
entering into a period of historical analysis that is heavily influenced by personalities and when
you look at - you look at one of the bestselling books in recent times, Kokoda from Peter
Fitzsimons. It engages with the personalities the whole way through and it makes the whole story of
Kokoda far more readable and I think it's laudable because we are living in an age of
personalities. We are - we've gone away from dry history analysis to look at everything through the
eyes of the participants at the time.

TONY JONES: So you don't have a broader view of your former political leader about the way in which
political correctness influenced the teaching and the writing of history?

JOE HOCKEY: Oh, I think it goes in waves. I think John Howard had an excellent point at the time
but it goes in waves and I suspect - as historical analysis does. I mean we can all go back to the
writings of A.J.P. Taylor and take a fairly anodyne view of different events or, you know, which is
in some ways bereft of personalities but every 10 or 20 years there's a new trend in historical
analysis and I think it's great. I think it makes it far more interesting.

TONY JONES: Let's hear from Tom Keneally. You wanted to see an end to the history wars. You talked
about that straight after writing this book.

TOM KENEALLY: Yes, even in a successful society like Australia you don't get an inevitable rise and
rise and rise. No sane person says on his birthday, "You're the most bonza person that ever lived.
You've never made a mistake. Thank God you've been on this upward trend from the day you were born.
No, at every anniversary we grieve what we have done wrong and we celebrate what we have done right
and we also celebrate our luck and no country similarly, without being pathological, can say to
itself, well, it's all be up and up and up. Australia has grasped for the light and it's a very -
it's been a very successful country, both institutionally and in spreading a certain level, a
higher level than in The Sudan, I tell you, of happiness throughout the populace. But it's still
been more a search for the light rather than a secure grabbing - a secure achievement of it.

TONY JONES: Tom, come back to Felipe Martin's question there, the last part of it. Do you believe
political correctness threatens to degrade Australia's amazing historical achievements?

TOM KENEALLY: Well, I don't think so. I mean simultaneously we saw the degradation and
dispossession of the Aboriginals, particularly up to 1860 and I try to cover that in my book. But
you also have the triumph of the secular society, where you begin. It's the only purpose designed
penal settlement on earth that went on to achieve by 1860 the most extraordinary institutions for
its day and, indeed, we need that sort of inventiveness around now. But I think we can accommodate
both ideas at once. I think most human beings can accommodate the idea that sometimes they've been
saints and at other times they've been absolute scum and the two can live together because that's
we are, fallen creatures.

TONY JONES: John Roskam?

JOHN ROSKAM: Oh, the point about Tom's book is it's an optimistic book and I think you're right
that for a long time the story taught in school - I've worked at universities, has been a story of
dispossession, of disappointment, of sadness, of oppression and that is all in Australia's history
absolutely. But Australia is one of the most successful democracies in the world and what's
refreshing about Tom's point is his optimism is the way that Australia is a pretty good country. We
are lucky to live here. We are fortunate. And I think we are now starting to redress the balance.
And the history wars are simply politics played out on another stage and there's never an end to
the history wars, but luckily we have people like Tom and Geoffrey Blainey and others who want to
set out the facts. I mean, the other thing Tom's book is - there are lots of facts, there are lots
of names, there are lots of dates. If you look at history books now in our schools, most of those
facts are out and so we're going to see hopefully now a rearrangement of Australian history which I
think is fantastic for our children.

TONY JONES: Tanya Plibersek, you're laughing there. Looking a little sceptical, perhaps?

TANYA PLIBERSEK: Well, I just think that it's like Joe's idea that the G20 is a big left-wing
conspiracy. I don't think...

JOE HOCKEY: You mean it's not?

TANYA PLIBERSEK: I think there's this notion that all these terrible things were happening in the
teaching of history that actually just weren't happening. I think - I am proud of this country. I
am a patriot. I love this country. I'm very grateful that my parents came here in the 1950s, all of
that. But to be truly - if you truly love someone, you love them with their failings and you know
their failings too and I think that that's true of our history, as well. I don't see how we can be
proud of our role in Gallipoli, if we cannot take responsibility for the dispossession and the
damage we did to Aboriginal Australians and I think if you are prepared to take credit for the good
things in our past then you have to take responsibility for the things that we're not proud of.

TONY JONES: Larissa?

LARISSA BEHRENDT: Well, I think that there's also something that's very exclusionary about saying -
leaving out Aboriginal history as just being - well, when you do that you're overcoming political
correctness because, you know, I think that's a really important part of Australian history and to
overlook it is not simply just a political issue, it's an active excluding a really important part
of Australia's identity and history and excluding the first peoples who have had a story here for
40,000 years or more. And I think one thing that people don't realise when they argue about the
history wars and talk about white blindfold and black armband or talk about whether people were
massacred or whether it was genocide, is that for many Australians those are debates that don't
actually affect their view of history. I don't know one Aboriginal person whose view of their own
history in the country, about the impact of the removal policy, the impact of dispossession, was at
all changed by the debates that occurred between historians and occurred in the opinion pages of
Australian newspapers. I mean, part of that is a reflection of the fact that we get our history
from a lot of other sources than what we simply read. We get it from our parents, our grandparents,
knowing the histories of our communities. So I think that outside of those history wars, I think
it's really important to remember that when you start talking about history as though there's an
aspect of political correctness, it's usually masking a practice of excluding really important
voices that need to be acknowledged as part of the central part of the Australian story.

TONY JONES: Very good. Let's move on again. We've got another question in the audience from Adam
Gascoigne-Cohen. It's on the same sort of - well, in the same general area.

ADAM GASCOIGNE-COHEN: This is again for you, Tom. Your book, and also Sydney History Week, places a
heavy focus upon scandal and debauchery within early Australian colonial society. Do you think that
Australian history has to be sexy or seditious to be successful and popular?

TONY JONES: Tom Keneally?

TOM KENEALLY: Well, early Australia particularly New South Wales, which stretched nearly to the
Western Australian border was very, thank God, sex and drugs and rock 'n' roll.

JOE HOCKEY: Nothing's changed. Nothing changed.

TOM KENEALLY: But while you have the debased east, it is amazing to me that there are people in
South Australia and Western Australian who came to those places on the basis of an idea proposed by
a jailed man, Edward Gibbon Wakefield. And those yeoman, those civic saints who came to South
Australian and Western Australia are equally amazing as convicts in that they sold up. They had a
prospect of particular land they would occupy, which, as we know now, was Aboriginal land but they
did so on the basis of a prospectus written in London by someone who had never been here. So I find
it - there's a lot of faith or innocence in the story of Australia. Deprivation - oh, there's a
wonderful picture in the book, which is not my credit...

TONY JONES: I'm not going to give you the book now to show everyone the pictures, but can I just
interrupt there because...


TONY JONES: ...let's stick with sex for a minute because there is this - that's the text of the
question. There is this wonderful passage about what has now become known as the founding orgy of
Australia and it's the time when, off the Lady Penrhyn, the women convicts unloaded onto the shore.
Actually, I picked a little passage from the book. I wouldn't mind if you'd read it out for us.
Just from about there.

TOM KENEALLY: "Their frenzy," the frenzy of the convicts, that is, "was that of people ejected from
the known world and making a rough if brutal bed in the unknown one. Antipodean licentiousness had
its beginning here and almost certainly Antipodean rape."

TONY JONES: Let's talk about this founding orgy. It's really, isn't it? I mean it really happened.
You've got lots of quotes from witnesses, some of them more reliable than others.

TOM KENEALLY: Yes. Indeed one of the chief witnesses was an evangelical on a ship some way off
shore, so I think we can discount him but Watkin Tench, a very amiable young officer saw it and he
said the licentiousness was considerable and marriages recommended. He said that there's a form -
that marriage should be a form of social control, not necessarily a sacrament.

TONY JONES: That's one of the fascinating things about these early officers, some of them anyway. I
men Watkin Tench is one of them. Phillip himself, Captain Phillip, is another. You say these were
men of the enlightenment. Interestingly - and they're very different, in fact, to the people who
went across and founded America on the Mayflower, would never have allowed licentiousness to flower
on day one. I mean they were puritans. These guys were not.

TOM KENEALLY: Well, our Adam and Eve, as you can see from that quotation, were pre-fallen. We never
had an Adam and Eve, unless they were Aboriginal ones. We were pre-fallen and you can't imagine. I
mean, look at America's founding. The purity of those people, the religious dissenters landing at
Plymouth Rock. Mind you, the impact on the native peoples was about the same with the sinners of
Australia and the saints of the United States.

TONY JONES: That's a good opportunity for us to go to our next question, which is from - who is it
from? Frances Peters Little.

FRANCES PETERS LITTLE: Oh, hi. Yeah, my question is historian Anna Clark has come out and said
recently that she was really surprised - she was shocked at the vehemency of how many students were
disinterested in Australian history and, in particular, Indigenous history. So I suppose my
question to the panel is does anyone have any ideas how we might be able to address that problem?

TONY JONES: Now, Larissa, you were talking about this a moment ago. Do you have any suggestions? I
mean, if people were actually shocked by students actually being antagonistic to being taught this
history, what can you do about it?

LARISSA BEHRENDT: Well, I think Frances makes a really good point, that we find at universities
that Indigenous studies is most often taken up by Indigenous students or overseas students and it's
really hard to engage students in an elective way into looking at Australian history, and
particularly Indigenous history. I do a lot of work with schools and teachers often say that when
they try and introduce Indigenous issues into the curriculum, kids start to roll their eyes and
seem to feel like there's some fatigue about it. There's sort of two aspects to that. The first is
I think we need to integrate Indigenous issues much more into the curriculum, so that it's not just
taught as an elective, but we can see it as a fundamental, central part of things that people are
learning through their school system and the reluctance to think about Aboriginal history as
important is probably reflective of the fact that we haven't done a very good job of making most
Australians realise that their history is tied very much with the history of Aboriginal Australians
and until we can actually shift Australia to a mindset where they realise that the fate of
Aboriginal people and the history of Aboriginal people isn't just about Aboriginal people, it's
about Australians, and it's Australian history - that's a fundamental shift. We're all vested in
the history that Australia has experienced. We're all vested in what happens to Aboriginal people,
and that's the fundamental shift that we need to have before people will be engaged.

TONY JONES: John Roskam?

JOHN ROSKAM: Well, I think you're right that for a long time in our schools - and I've been
involved in the education system in a political sense for 20 years - history has been taught like
politics so you have history teachers trying to indoctrinate their students into a political way of
thinking. And the point is we have to know about Eddie Mabo, we have to know about Bennelong. We
also have to know about Arthur Phillip. We have to know about Gough Whitlam and Fraser and everyone
else in between and as soon as we start understanding that history is about people, it is about
evidence - certainly there's going to be politics involved, but I would completely understand if I
had my history teacher back in grade six or year seven or whenever trying to indoctrinate me into
his or her political views rather than giving me the evidence and letting me make up my own mind
and I think that's what has been missing out of the debate for a long time.

AUDIENCE MEMBER: Yeah, well, I went to a school where I was told that Aboriginal people didn't
exist, so I already grew up with that.

JOHN ROSKAM: And that's wrong and we are redressing the balance, but I think we have to understand
there's a balance and, as Tom said and we'd all agree, there's good points and there's bad points
but overall Australia is successful and we have to understand our weaknesses as well.

TONY JONES: I'm going to interrupt you there. A lot of people with their hands up. We'll start with
this gentleman here.

AUDIENCE MEMBER: Isn't this facts that you speak of, though, situated within power knowledge
relations of the facts at the time.

JOHN ROSKAM: That's the problem.

AUDIENCE MEMBER: No, the facts at the time, though, were actually generated by people in power, so
there's no such thing as objectivity that you speak of.

JOHN ROSKAM: That's exactly the problem and you're an example of it, if I can say in a friendly
way. It is a fact that in 1788 the first fleet arrived Botany Bay. We understand that. You know,
certainly there is interpretations, but this post modern view, this theoretical structural,
philosophical view that there's no such thing as evidence, there's no such thing as facts, it's all
refracted through our personal experience, is a exactly what is turning kids away from history and
I think that's a tragedy.

TONY JONES: Well, let's hear from a couple more people in the audience. This gentleman here has had
his hand up for a while.

AUDIENCE MEMBER: Yeah, I think there's also a problem here in terms of studying history. I've been
to school - a history teacher at school, as well and there are obviously a number of different
approaches to history. When I listen to Tom's, there's very much a nationalist - it's not a biased,
but it's obviously a nationalist view of history, because it's writing about Australia. There's
also a great man theory of history and I notice that Tom has also mentioned people like Tench,
Wakefield, et cetera, and so when we actually talk about politicians, they're obviously great men.
So my question is actually to Joe Hockey...

JOHN ROSKAM: Great man.

AUDIENCE MEMBER: ...who many have said is the man who would be king and I'd like to know, Joe, you
also mentioned personalities and the idea of political change, the idea that you came from a
government where certain policies like work choices are possibly the reason why you didn't win the
last election, and I'd like to know now, as a reconstructed person, how you're going to go back to
the Australian people with their memory, which is probably pretty good, of some of the excesses of
the Howard Government?

TONY JONES: Okay. I tell you want, you've gone so far off the topic, that I'm going to take that as
a rhetorical comment and move on. There's another person down there with their hand up just behind
there. Yes, let's hear from you?

AUDIENCE MEMBER: We've heard a lot about the importance of evidence in history, but I want to know
where the evidence that you have, John, to say that there is all this bias? I've only heard opinion
from you tonight. What evidence do you have to say that we're all being dominated?

TONY JONES: Yeah, okay, a quick answer, because I want to hear from the rest of the panellists, as

JOHN ROSKAM: I think you look at the text books and you look at how students are not studying


JOHN ROSKAM: ...and who students are not involved in history and I think that's really sad.

TONY JONES: All right. Tanya Plibersek?

TANYA PLIBERSEK: Well, I was actually going to be a little bit more positive about the teaching of
history. I love reading history. I loved Tom's book and one of the ways that I try and engender an
interest in history in my own kids is by telling them stories and some of the are what you are
calling great man stories. I talk about figures in history and a lot of the figures I talk about
are women, as well, particularly to my daughter, because I want her to know that there are great
women in history too. But I also tell her stories and my son as well. From a very early age I've
tried to include it in our normal conversation and I think that if you think you're going to get
kids in year nine in high school and start then teaching them about Australia history, you've
missed a whole lot of the enthusiasm and the imagination that young kids can bring. One of the
great things about history is being able to put yourself in someone else's shoes to try and imagine
what it was like to live at a particular time or who you would have responded if you lived in a
particular political situation or - and I think that young kids have an almost limitless capacity
for that if you engage them early.

TONY JONES: Okay, Tom, it's interesting, isn't it, to hear that history still creates great
passions around the audience and on the panel.

TOM KENEALLY: Always will, I think, but I don't think the great - I don't think history is a
patriotic duty, as it used to be, and I don't think that the great man theory works. I agree with
you. I only write about the great man or the great woman if you could get them down off the plinth
and see what they look like in their long johns. If not in their physical long johns, in their
spiritual long johns. And so that's the point. Captain Stirling, through determination and
disobedience founded in Western Australia. He also rode out and supervised the slaughter of Noongar
Aboriginals at Pinjarra. Both those are true.

TONY JONES: Larissa, let me just bring you in here. We're talking about the great men in history.
Of course, it's very hard to get a perspective on Aboriginal people at the time, except through the
eyes of those writing diaries, like Watkin Tench, of Arthur Phillip himself. You get pictures of
Bennelong and other characters. Pemulwuy, indeed, who was a warrior who fought against the
settlers, as if they were invaders. What's your thought about how you can actually redress that

LARISSA BEHRENDT: Well, actually, there are other recordings of those instances that didn't occur
by white people keeping journals. There is actually very strong oral histories in Aboriginal
communities about a lot of those interactions. Tom and I were talking earlier about a part of his
book that looks at the Eliza Fraser captivity narrative and, again, if you look at what was written
about that at the time, it's all written by white people. But if you take the time and go back to
talk to the Butchulla people who live in the Fraser Island area, they actually have very strong
oral histories of the time that Eliza Fraser was living amongst their own community. So I think
your question actually raises a really good example of the fact that perhaps sometimes we
underestimate how many sources are there, and it's a really good example of how we've only chosen
to look at the story from a very narrow perspective.

TONY JONES: Okay. I'm going to move on, because you're watching Q&A. Remember you can send your web
or video questions and the reason I'm moving on is because we're about to go to a video question.
You can send them to our website. The address is on your screen. Now, we've just received today a
video question from Ganygulpa, who uploaded her video question from the Milingimbi Community, in
north east Arnhem Land.

GANYGULPA: One set of lawmakers are wanting to keep Aboriginal languages living and strong. One
government is saying they want to preserve Indigenous languages and one government is saying that
they want to take away bilingual and to have Yolngu kids taught in English for the first four
hours. Why are they contradicting each other? Because we're stuck in the middle.

TONY JONES: Stuck in the middle. Joe Hockey, I know that's a tough question for the shadow
treasurer but this whole question of whether to teach English solely or teach English primarily to
Indigenous kids in remote communities. Let's hear from you on that first?

JOE HOCKEY: Well, I really want to go back to the question that was asked a little earlier, which I
didn't have a chance to respond to, and that is about - a lot of Indigenous history is, in fact,
oral history and I stood in the middle of the Birdsville Track a few years ago and a local elder
sat down with me and with a stick and the sand, and the dirt, he explained to me the history of his
tribe, his people, and it was inspiring stuff. And I don't think you could ever get that from a
lecturer up the front of a lecture theatre. You have to live it because that is the nature of it
and I can say that as someone with...

TONY JONES: All right. You were obviously holding that inside and I should have come to you
earlier, but we now...

JOE HOCKEY: Well, no, it is...

TONY JONES: We now have got to respond to the question we just heard.

JOE HOCKEY: It actually - you're true to form tonight, Tony, and...

TONY JONES: I'm just trying to get you to answer the question.

JOE HOCKEY: Well, yeah, okay. We'll I'm going to answer the question. It's directly linked.


JOE HOCKEY: Because you need - to give Indigenous children the best hope in this world they have to
learn English. It's essential. I'm sorry, it is absolutely essential in an English speaking nation.
That does not mean that you should sacrifice your native tongue, whatever that might be, but there
are so many different dialects in the Indigenous communities and you try and preserve what is the
natural dialect of your family but you need to have English, otherwise you'll never have an
opportunity to get ahead in Australia.

TONY JONES: Tanya Plibersek, let me bring you in here. It's a big issue. You know, a whole Four
Corners program done on it earlier this week and, you know, that question came to us unbidden,
knowing that there'd be a government person on the panel, so what's your view?

TANYA PLIBERSEK: It really alarms me when I say I agree with Joe, and I don't say it very often

JOE HOCKEY: Don't tell anyone. Please don't tell anyone.

TANYA PLIBERSEK: No, I don't tell anyone, yeah.

TONY JONES: Haven't seen a lot of that this week, have we? But we'll come to that later.

TANYA PLIBERSEK: I think that it is - I think that it's absolutely critical to preserve Indigenous
languages. I think it's absolutely critical that kids learn their own language but I think we live
in a world where the majority of work and the majority of further education is in English and that
you narrow kids options so much if their English literacy and language is not good that it's just
not a fair thing to do. You have to have both. You absolutely have to have both.

TONY JONES: Okay, let's hear from Larissa.

LARISSA BEHRENDT: People who teach bilingual education have the same aspirations about teaching
Aboriginal children their language and this assumption that bilingual education is about only
teaching aboriginal languages is completely false. The aim of bilingual education is to acknowledge
the fact that the children of the school will have English as a second language. So you teach in
the language that the children know and you teach them the things that allow them to have
competency around numeracy around literacy. They will learn words and how to spell words in their
own language in the same letters that they will then learn to be able to read English in and I
think one of the things that the Four Corners show highlighted is that when bilingual education is
supported properly, it actually achieves those aims of teaching Aboriginal children by
acknowledging that English will be their second language much more effectively and I think the Four
Corners show highlighted that there hasn't been a commitment to supporting bilingual education in
that spirit and there's this demonising of Aboriginal culture in the education system, as though
that's part of the problem. The Four Corners program also highlighted that just as importantly
schools around the Northern Territory that weren't bilingual also had very poor outcomes in terms
of attendance and performance for Aboriginal kids, and the Four Corners program showed that in
these areas where there is bilingual education there are a whole range of other factors that are
impeding education for Aboriginal kids: over-housing; lack of teacher training; lack of teachers
who know how to teach English as a second language.

TONY JONES: Tom, do you have a view on this?

TOM KENEALLY: Well, four hours seems a big part of the school day to devote to English. I don't
know what the right quotient should be but I think in a world where so many languages have been
lost, it would be a tragedy if these kids lost the language through which they connected to their
ancestors. But I also agree with Joe and others that for competence in the broad world in which
English is the lingua franca, which is a contradiction in terms but they're going to need it.

TANYA PLIBERSEK: Tony, can I just add a little something?


TANYA PLIBERSEK: The question that you had was from the Kimberley, I think, and we actually, in New
South Wales...

TONY JONES: No, it's from Arnhem Land.

TANYA PLIBERSEK: From Arnhem Land. I'm sorry, I couldn't remember. We actually have, in New South
Wales, a whole lot of schools that teach Indigenous languages and they teach Indigenous languages
to Aboriginal kids and non-Aboriginal kids and they do a really good job of engaging with local
communities and bringing in older people. They do contribute to school attendance. It does have a
really good result. So I think that there is a really strong case that Larissa has made that
learning Aboriginal languages at school can improve early literacy and can certainly make kids feel
more comfortable at school and can make non-Aboriginal kids have a better understanding and respect
for Aboriginal culture and we can't only focus on the sort of remote communities that you're
talking about.

TONY JONES: Okay, quickly, we've got someone down here that wants to make a comment.

AUDIENCE MEMBER: I was just interested in how there's a lack of - I think it's a travesty that
there's a lack of emphasis placed on being able to talk spin and speak Mandarin in order to become
successful later on in your life.

TONY JONES: Joe Hockey, do you want to jump in on that? I mean, Mandarin speaking obviously in
vogue at the moment.

JOE HOCKEY: Obviously in vogue. Well, as long as you've got the opportunity to learn. You know,
there are people that feel very comfortable with their heritage tongues, if I can use that term and
there are...

TONY JONES: What's yours, by the way?

TONY JONES: Well, it's probably - well, my father counts in French and swears in Arabic and he is
of Armenian heritage. Dad speaks six languages and I struggle with one so there you go. It is a -
and I really wish that I had the opportunity to study another language.

JOHN ROSKAM: But, Tony, there's a broader question. These discussions about languages are important
but 15 per cent of our students still leave school functionally illiterate in English and as
important as Mandarin is, as important as all the other languages are, what I'd rather see is we
focus on every single child leaving school able to read and write, and that's not the situation at
the moment. We get that fixed and then we can have all these marvellous discussions about foreign
languages. But until then, I think let's focus on what we need to do first.

TANYA PLIBERSEK: There's actually a lot of evidence that learning a second language helps with
those things. There's a lot of evidence.

TONY JONES: All right. Okay.

JOHN ROSKAM: (Indistinct) kids who can't read.

TONY JONES: I'll draw a line under that for now. You're watching Q&A, the live and unpredictable
forum where you get to ask the questions. Here's something different for Q&A, a newsflash. Oh,
we've got a newsflash. Peter Costello's former staffer Kelly O'Dwyer has won Liberal pre-selection
for Costello's seat of Higgins at the next election. So let's move along to a political question, a
video one from Rob Pickavance.

ROB PICKAVANCE: The childish and immature antics of Federal MPs during Question Time this past week
have disenfranchised a large part of the voting population. Can parliament recover from behaviour
that would likely have its members expelled from kindergarten, or should we just resign ourselves
to more infantile conduct?

TONY JONES: Joe Hockey, you spent a little time in the sin bin this week yourself, didn't you? What
is going on in Question Time? It seems to have gone completely crazy.

JOE HOCKEY: Yeah, that's a very good question and, look, there's a lot of passion and emotion in
Question Time and it's not dissimilar to some family dinner tables when you're arguing about major
political issues or social issues. It has got an antiquated format at the moment. I think...

TONY JONES: I'm just trying to remember the last time I had to leave the dinner table for a number
of hours as you did.

JOE HOCKEY: Well, maybe - well, can I tell you, Tony, I grew up in a family of six and when it got
to politics, it became quite animated at times and especially if you were sitting down for two
hours straight and that was without any alcohol, I can assure you. The thing about parliamentary
Question Time is that I think the camera has changed it and the news are always looking for the
short grab, the three second grab, and I really regret that it's come down to that. I would hope
that there would be more debate, that we can engage in constructive conversation in Question Time.
The British Question Time in the House of Commons is, I think, much better. The Senate is much
better than the House of Representatives and I don't think it does any of us any credit, Question
Time, but let's change it.

TONY JONES: Tom, did you happen to see any of Question Time this week? I mean, I noticed lots of
people leaving from the gallery, ordinary voters sort of coming out shaking their heads going, "Is
this what we paid for?"

TOM KENEALLY: Yes, well, I happen to be a member of the board of a wonderful body called The
Constitutional Education Fund and we sponsor, amongst other things, parliaments in school and at
one stage two parties of kids were brought in to the state house as government and opposition, two
groups of high school kids, and the first thing they did was sling insults at each other. So that's
an index of how the political culture of Question Time is absorbed by children.

TONY JONES: Tanya Plibersek, it doesn't make you proud to hear that and when you were in
government, weren't you asking for four minute answers from ministers and that seems to have gone
by the board, to say the least.

TANYA PLIBERSEK: Well, I think that people focus on what happens in Question Time...

TONY JONES: I mean, when you were in opposition.

TANYA PLIBERSEK: Yeah. No, I knew what you meant. And I agree with Joe that what you see on the 30
second news piece in the evening is a very small part of what parliament is about and I think - I
know there are very few people who tune in to parliament during the day but if people listen in to
the parliamentary news network and listen to the debate and listen to - or watch on line. You can
sometimes watch some of the parliamentary committees - you get a very different idea of what
parliament is about. I don't think Question Time is the best illustration of the work we do.

TONY JONES: Well, I'm afraid that's where we'll have to leave it, because we've run out of time, as
always. Please thank our panellists: Joe Hockey; Larissa Behrendt; Tom Keneally; Tanya Plibersek;
and John Roskam.

Next week Q&A will come to you live from Adelaide. We'll be joined by: Australia's longest serving
Foreign Minister, Alexander Downer; the Minister for Early Childhood Education, Youth and Sport,
Kate Ellis; former Democrat leader Natasha Stott Despoja; anthropologist and author Peter Sutton;
and the editor of Adelaide's Sunday Mail, Megan Lloyd. To send in a question for this prominent
group of South Australians, go to our website.

This week, incidentally, marks the first anniversary of Malcolm Turnbull's leadership of the
Liberal Party and with that in mind we'll finish tonight with a mash-up by a view who insists on
being called Damian the Social Phobic Vegan Freak. Good night.