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Meet The Press -

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September 3rd 2006


MEET THE PRESS PRESENTER PAUL BONGIORNO: Hello and welcome to 'Meet The Press. Terror suspect Jack
Thomas, the first Australian to be slapped with an interim control order. Civil libertarians are
outraged, the magistrate critical, but the Government is resolute.

ATTORNEY-GENERAL PHILIP RUDDOCK (Wednesday): The issues are quite different in relation to control
orders. The issue is about protecting the Australian community, not punishing a person for an
offence proven beyond reasonable doubt.

PAUL BONGIORNO: Today Attorney-General Philip Ruddock is our guest. And later, an information
technology expert looks at the performance of Telstra ahead of the T3 sale. But first - what the
nation's papers are reporting this Sunday, September 3. The 'Sunday Age' reports - UK police arrest
16 in terror raids. 14 were held in a London operation while another two were arrested in
Manchester in an unrelated swoop, the suspects held for training, recruitment and encouraging
terrorist activity. In Brisbane, the 'Sunday Mail' leads with - Labor closes in. The latest polling
for the paper reveals Peter Beattie will be easily returned for a fourth consecutive term, possibly
picking up more seats. The 'Sun-Herald' leads with - paroled child killer back behind bars. John
Lewthwaite is back in jail when his parole was revoked after State Government intervention. The
Adelaide 'Sunday Mail' has fund rules make T3 a nonsense. The Federal Government will retain a
reserve power of direction over the 30% of Telstra shares held in the future fund, sparking claims
it will be in effective control of the telco. Maybe it's an ironic coincidence, but the Federal
Court review of the interim control order on terror suspect Jack Thomas has been listed for
September 11. That's the fifth anniversary of the attacks on the World Trade Centre in New York, a
day which changed the world, and welcome back to the program, Philip Ruddock.


PAUL BONGIORNO: Five years down the track we'd have to say the terrorists are winning, aren't we?
We all live in constant fear of attack.

PHILIP RUDDOCK: Well, we certainly were faced with a very significant problem. The point I've made
in reflection about September 11 is that according to Dennis Richardson, who is the former head of
ASIO, more than 10,000 people trained with al-Qa'ida before September 11 and many of them were
dispersed around the world, and it was only September 11 that I think was a clear wake-up call to
us as to what the potential was when you have a group of people who clearly have in mind to
terrorise the broader community for objectives which I find very difficult to understand.

PAUL BONGIORNO: We've got a reminder of that, of course, with the arrests in London, apparently
unrelated to any previous attacks.

PHILIP RUDDOCK: I think what we're seeing in the United Kingdom is that there are numbers of groups
who it is believed are intent on carrying out terrorist attacks in the United Kingdom, and this is
of course the situation that we face. I think we've become very complacent about these matters
because we've not had on our own soil terrorist attacks. We've had, tragically, Australians die in
Bali, we've had the attack on our mission, we've had the aborted attack in Singapore. We are
clearly a target. We were a target well before September 11, long before we were in Iraq, long
before we were in Afghanistan.

PAUL BONGIORNO: The fact that we haven't had attacks - indeed, the United States hasn't had attacks
on the mainland since September 11, is it good luck or good management?

PHILIP RUDDOCK: I think that one has to be very clearly focused, and we believe that Australia is
vulnerable. A terrorist attack in Australia is certainly possible. We have no specific information,
but obviously when you look at the number of people who have already been convicted and others
charged, yet to be dealt with, we have to be alert.

PAUL BONGIORNO: The ASIO Director-General, Paul O'Sullivan, says that the threat is as great now as
it was then. What are we looking at here, are we looking at dozens out in the community or can you
give us a sort of a ballpark idea?

PHILIP RUDDOCK: Well, I think the statements that have been made are very clear. Terrorist attacks
in Australia are feasible. I don't think it's helpful to talk about specific numbers because what

PAUL BONGIORNO: Do you have an idea yourself?

PHILIP RUDDOCK: I have an idea of what we have know. My problem is what we don't know. The
difficulty you have when you're dealing with intelligence information is that others do know and
they're your enemy. And it's not always wise to let them know that maybe you're only aware of part
of what they're about.

PAUL BONGIORNO: On Thursday a Federal magistrate was highly critical of the way the Federal police
handled the control order on Jack Thomas, forcing him to abandon a beach holiday and return home.
But his most stringent criticism was for the list of people Mr Thomas couldn't call, among them
Osama bin Laden. The magistrate described them as farcical, or that list. And Jack's brother Les
was furious.

LES THOMAS (Thursday): We see this as basically a stunt. It's a vindictive move by the Australian
Federal police, and we're hopeful that it can be overturned.

PAUL BONGIORNO: Of course you've ruled out that it was vindictive and obviously the court will
decide on the merits of the control order, but at the very least isn't this a public relations

PHILIP RUDDOCK: Well, the point I would make is that in relation to control orders, their purpose
is to protect the Australian community, and one of our most fundamental human rights is the right
to life, safety and security. We're in a new environment where those are issues that we clearly
have to address. Now, I don't want to comment on the Thomas matter, it's still before the courts.
But in relation to these issues, what you have are a series of tests. The first test is whether or
not there is evidence that suggests a person has trained with a terrorist organisation. The
measures that you implement have to be reasonably appropriate to protect the Australian community.

PAUL BONGIORNO: Don't you as Attorney-General - indeed, the Government - doesn't it need to keep
the public on side and putting a list like Osama bin Laden and indeed terrorists who are actually
killed, doesn't that suggest that maybe we're bumbling around here?

PHILIP RUDDOCK: Well, what was asked for was a list that was very large, provided by the United
Nations, as to people who were known to them to have been involved in terrorist activity. And that
was the subject, as I understand it, of reduction, because the magistrate had requested it. But the
determination as to those matters was initially made by the United Nations, and I think the
argument that was put by Mr Howard on behalf of the Commonwealth was that it was reasonable that
those persons that have been identified by the United Nations be named.

PAUL BONGIORNO: Obviously they'd have to pass by you before it went to court. It obviously didn't
concern you, those names?

PHILIP RUDDOCK: Well, what I had to do was to determine - to consent or otherwise to the police
request for a control order in this issue, and that then has to go to a court. I asked my
department to carefully examine whether or not the legal preconditions for a control order had been
satisfied, and they confirmed that there was a proper basis for that decision to be made, and
that's the decision I took. The question as to the reasonableness of the orders is a matter for the
magistrate, and that's where it's being determined.

PAUL BONGIORNO: Some legal commentators have been raising doubts that the control orders, in fact,
could pass the review of the High Court. Are you fairly confident that these laws would stand
challenge in the High Court?

PHILIP RUDDOCK: Well, the argument is a very narrow argument. The argument is that you can't have
judicial officers fulfilling this function of supervising control orders, that you ought to have it
done by a retired judge. Now, in fact, before this legislation was implemented, the
solicitor-generals for the Commonwealth and the States of Australia examined it very closely to
satisfy themselves that there was a proper basis under the constitution, with the reference of
power from the States, for these measures to be implemented. If they're to be attacked, it's quite
interesting. It would undermine other forms of orders that are made by judicial officers to protect
people in the community. You know...

PAUL BONGIORNO: So you're obviously confident.

PHILIP RUDDOCK: You know we have apprehended violence orders that courts issue every day, where
they have to make a judgment as to whether or not somebody's fear justifies another being placed
under orders to limit their contact and where they might go. And these are very similar in
character, and they've long been dealt with by judicial officers.

PAUL BONGIORNO: Time for a break. When we return with the panel, we ask - has the rule of law been
the biggest casualty since September 11?

PAUL BONGIORNO: You're on Meet The Press with Attorney-General Philip Ruddock, and welcome to the
panel, Jennifer Hewett, the 'Australian Financial Review'.


PAUL BONGIORNO: And Brian Toohey, columnist with the 'Canberra Times'.


PAUL BONGIORNO: After an 18-month hiatus, the new US ambassador has arrived in Canberra. And on
Monday he staunchly defended the treatment of Australian Guantanamo Bay inmate David Hicks in terms
that were contradicted a week earlier by the marine lawyer acting for David Hicks.

US AMBASSADOR ROBERT McCALLUM (Monday): The international established law of the law of war allows
the detention of enemy combatants during the course of the hostilities. There is still a war on

MAJOR MICHAEL MORI (August 17): And when that international armed conflict ended, either in
December when Karzai initially took power, or in June of 2002, when the UN recognised the new
Government in Afghanistan, the international armed conflict in Afghanistan ended and the full body
of the international humanitarian law ceased to apply.

JENNIFER HEWETT: Minister, to many people David Hicks and the David Hicks's treatment has become a
symbol of an unfairness that he never gets his day in court or the commission. Do you ever get to a
point, do you think, where we say, "Enough is enough," or Australia says, "Enough is enough" and he
should be back here?

PHILIP RUDDOCK: Well, we are of the view that he should be put to his trial, and we want to see it
happen as quickly as possible.

JENNIFER HEWETT: But it hasn't.

PHILIP RUDDOCK: Well, in part because he and others have wanted to test the lawfulness of the
system under which he will be tried, and they're entitled to do that, and you wouldn't want to deny
them that. But if you want to test those issues it can sometimes take time. I had some people very
critical that I used an Australian analogy, and I make the point that it's only an analogy, I'm not
comparing the offences, but we did have a situation in which people waited up to five years before
they were finally convicted of very serious offences because the process under which these issues
were being dealt with were tested in our courts. And that's what's happening to David Hicks.

JENNIFER HEWETT: So you don't think the US administration is at fault in any way in how it's
handled this?

PHILIP RUDDOCK: Our view is that they need to deal with it as expeditiously as possible, and we've
been putting that view continuously to them. The further point I've made is if we reached a point
at which the United States said, "We do not intend to proceed with charges against Hicks," then
that would be a situation akin to that which we faced with Mamdouh Habib and we would seek his
return in those circumstances. But that position has not been reached. He has been the subject of
charges. The way in which those charges are to be dealt with has been the subject of legal
challenge. That is being addressed by congressional amendments that are being proposed in the
United States, and we're seeing the passage of that legislation undertaken at this time.

BRIAN TOOHEY: You fully supported the lawfulness of the previous system under which he was supposed
to be tried but the Supreme Court of the United States has overthrown that. Are you still confident
in your judgment there?

PHILIP RUDDOCK: I've looked at the judgment very closely, and it was a 5-3 decision with the chief
judge abstaining because he had previously ruled on the matter in an appeal court. If you look at
the way in which the judgments were framed, the majority who ruled that in relation to the military
commission process, it needed to have a congressional endorsement rather than a general endorsement
in the form that had been undertaken previously and was understood to be the law, that it needed to
be more specifically dealt with. And it seems to me, on reading those decisions, if the United
States congress legislates for a military commission process, and the preconditions that the court
has identified are properly met, then it should pass muster in any further challenge.

BRIAN TOOHEY: Just on the war on terrorism, Stella Rimington, who is the former head of MI5, the
equivalent of ASIO, was in Australia recently, and she strongly opposed to the use of the term or
the concept or seeing it as a war on terror or terrorism. She says you can't really have a war on
'ism' and her problem is that it produces a sort of perverse appeal in which people can feel that
they're soldiers in a war rather than murderers, that it's not helpful and it's really a matter in
which police and intelligence services are doing their traditional things, and it's best not to
call it a 'war'.

PHILIP RUDDOCK: Well, I think it's a matter of semantics when you put it in those terms. What you
have is a situation in which people train. As I said earlier in my introduction, something of the
order of 10,000 people went to Afghanistan before September 11 and engaged in training. The fact
that they weren't going to engage another army in the traditional way, but were going to engage
civilian populations, I think it makes it more heinous than what we would see in a normal wartime
situation. You have to respond to that, and you need to garner all of the resources and capacities
and skills that you have, and that's what we're doing. And that situation hasn't changed.

JENNIFER HEWETT: Minister, the war on terror, though, is probably never going to end, unlike
traditional hostilities. So do people just have to get used to the idea that there'll be a
permanent erosion of civil liberties for a war that will not end?

PHILIP RUDDOCK: Well, the point I would make is that civil liberties that we have and enjoy are
being protected against those who would change them fundamentally if they were to control our
society. Sure, if you look back at the Second World War, we had to use a whole range of mechanisms
in order to protect our community that involved...

JENNIFER HEWETT: But it was for a specific duration.

PHILIP RUDDOCK: Well, we didn't know. It was the duration of the war itself and the time it was
going to take until victory was obtained. We can look back and see how long it took. We are again
in a situation of hostilities. I don't know how long it will take. But I don't think you should
work on the basis that you can predict now what that time frame should be.

BRIAN TOOHEY: On stem cells, do you share your colleague Tony Abbott's views that there's a danger
that therapeutic cloning will end up producing a hybrid, a half-man, half-beast? Or, if not, what's
your view?

PHILIP RUDDOCK: Well, I have a view that the debate needs to be sensible and sound in which people
form views based upon their moral precepts. My view has always been one in which life is
pre-eminent. That's why I've opposed the death penalty, for instance. It's why I've, in votes in
the Parliament, have always taken a right to life position. Whether we are dealing with a right to
life argument is one that people are going to have to address in terms of their own conscience.

PAUL BONGIORNO: Would you be predisposed to allow therapeutic cloning as a research at least?

PHILIP RUDDOCK: Well, look, the fact is that research is taking place. But I've made it clear that
my position is predicated upon whether or not what we are dealing with is life as we understand it.

PAUL BONGIORNO: So you're still thinking about it.

PHILIP RUDDOCK: Well, I haven't announced a formal position on the matter. I spoke in Cabinet on
it, and we will all have the opportunity to exercise our judgment when it comes before the

PAUL BONGIORNO: Thank you very much for joining us today, Attorney-General Philip Ruddock. After
the break - Telstra's up for sale, but just how good is its performance? An IT expert's view. And
last week Environment Minister Ian Campbell unveiled a $3 million package to save the orange
bellied parrot. This was after rejecting advice that a $200 million wind farm was no threat to the
species at all. Our animated cartoon is from Nicholson and Rubbery Figures. They're regular
features on the 'Australian's' website. "If we're all absolutely quiet, we may just catch a glimpse
of yellow-bellied environment minister on his nest. Oh, there he is, digesting a report on global
warming. Now he's consulting a scientist about renewable energy. Then off he goes looking for

PAUL BONGIORNO: You're on Meet The Press. The Government's plans to sell $8 billion worth of its
Telstra shares has put the spotlight firmly on the giant telco and its management. While many in
the Government parties are furious with the outspoken attack on Government regulation, led by CEO
Sol Trujillo and his amigos, the Treasurer certainly doesn't want him sacked.

TREASURER PETER COSTELLO (Tuesday): He will be one of the lead men in explaining the company. He's
got a lot of international experience. He's well-known in the United States market, for example,
which is going to be very important for this float, and that's why it's very important that he's
there to direct this process.

PAUL BONGIORNO: And keenly watching developments, the regional director of Computing Technology
Industry Association, Edward Mandla. Good morning, Mr Mandla.

EDWARD MANDLA: Good morning.

PAUL BONGIORNO: Well, you've written that regulation suffocates innovation so you'd have to have
sympathy for Mr Trujillo, wouldn't you?

EDWARD MANDLA: To a degree. I mean, I think if you go to Sydney Airport at the departures lounge
and you spoke to people leaving about their impressions about Australia, what you find people would
say is they can't get over how slow our broadband speeds are here. In fact, we're actually coming
25th amongst OECD countries - or second last - when it comes to broadband speeds. We've got Mexico
right on our heels. Well ahead of us we've got Hungary. New Zealand you can't even see, they're in
the middle of the pack. We're right down the bottom.

PAUL BONGIORNO: Why is it a problem?

EDWARD MANDLA: I think it's a real problem because we need to be able to connect to the global
world. Children of farmers need to be able to have opportunities to innovate. There's no doubt if
we're to really participate in the global economy, we need speeds. Now, to give you an idea, the
average speeds Australia are currently are at is 1.2 megabytes. Now, a lot of people would be
saying, "Hey, I'm currently on 256K or 512K," which is a quarter or half a megabyte. The leading
countries in the world - Sweden, France and Holland - they've got an average of 5 megabytes per
second. Now this is 10 to 20 times faster than Australia. We're going to have to get these speeds
up to 10 to 20 megabytes in the next 10 years if we really want to remain competitive.

BRIAN TOOHEY: Given that Telstra just ditched a $4 billion proposal to build a new cable which
would get the speeds up a little bit towards there, it's not going to go ahead, so it says. How are
we going to get the investment which will allow Australians to enjoy those higher speeds at a
reasonable price?

EDWARD MANDLA: I think we need to have a 10- to 15-year vision as to what we're going to look like
as a technological nation. In that we need to have broadband targets. I just finished being
Australian Computer Society president. Two years ago we did a broadband policy. You would expect
that to be out of date. It isn't out of date because nothing much has happened in the last two
years. I mean, we said that by 2010 we needed to be in the top five countries.

BRIAN TOOHEY: Beyond having a vision, what's going to happen, how's it going to happen? Who's going
to actually make the investment?

EDWARD MANDLA: The current regime that we have is quite interesting. It's like Telstra runs a toy
factory and they make toys all day, but the Government says, "We want to you to make toys all night
but don't put any paint on those toys, give them to your competitors so they can put a different
colour paint on them and then compete with you in the market. We've accidentally created in
Australia with all this regulation, we've created this - what I call a bottom-feeding reseller
market. Let me put that in perspective. One.Tel is a great example of that. Everyone's trying to
share Telstra's infrastructure. It doesn't work. All they're trying to do is innovate and say,
"Well, we've got better customer service or we've got better billing." We haven't got a system that
says - we've got to invest and innovate in multiple infrastructures.

JENNIFER HEWETT: Are you saying that the Government just hasn't set the framework work right, that
it's not just that Telstra's trying to protect itself, it's also that the Government has actually
not demanded of people or made the conditions possible for people to invest more?

EDWARD MANDLA: Exactly right. I think it's time that we asked the lawyers to leave the room for a
little while and we brought technologists in to say what technology will look like in the future.

JENNIFER HEWETT: But who pays for that?

EDWARD MANDLA: Well, ultimately the public's going to have to pay a little bit, but for the long
term we've got to get those speeds up. We do need to have competing infrastructures in Australia.

BRIAN TOOHEY: If you're going to have competing - well, you seem to be at one stage wanting no
regulation of Telstra, but where do you have a monopoly, or a near monopoly, anywhere in the world
that doesn't have a competition watch dog? I mean, at the moment if you had no regulation, Telstra
could jack up its prices, both to its consumers, businesses and households, and charge more for its
rivals, who have to access its network at the moment because it controls the last part of getting
into houses and businesses.

EDWARD MANDLA: We need some regulation but ultimately Telstra's going to have to be let go. If they
don't want to build a fibre network, which is a bluff, let them go down that path if they don't
want to share. But let's find other companies and let's them help them do that.

JENNIFER HEWETT: Do you think T3, the whole process of T3, is going to make this harder or easier
for people in terms of getting proper broadband speeds?

EDWARD MANDLA: I think now that this whole debate over Telstra's sale is over we can start focusing
on broadband speeds. You know, what we really need to look at - all the other countries in the
world are arguing fibre, satellite, wireless - we're still in this ADSL world. We've got to start
arguing, what are the technologies of the future - and there will be other technologies, maybe -
broadband over powerlines. We've got to get a culture where bankers are excited to invest in
telecommunications. They want to don't want to fund companies that are using Telstra's
infrastructure to undercut Telstra. It doesn't make sense.

PAUL BONGIORNO: OK, we need finance and a lot of it here. If the bankers don't want to do it, is
the Government going to have to do it?

EDWARD MANDLA: If you look at some rural areas, we have to get in a partnership with State
governments and also local governments to make this happen. There are certain regional areas where
we need to do that.

PAUL BONGIORNO: You've certainly given us a lot to think about there. Thank you very much for
joining us today, Edward Mandla, and thanks to our panel Jennifer Hewett and Brian Toohey. Until
next week, good-bye.