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Q And A -

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TONY JONES: Good evening. Good evening and welcome to Q&A. Here to answer your questions tonight:
the Foreign Editor for the Australian newspaper, Greg Sheridan; author and lawyer Randa
Abdel-Fattah; the man some describe as Kevin Rudd's kingmaker now Parliamentary Secretary Senator
Mark Arbib; roving correspondent for Guy Rundle; and the Shadow Minister for Immigration
Sharman Stone. Please welcome our panel.

Remember that Q&A is live on the web from 9.35 eastern time and you can send us your questions live
to our website or by an SMS to the number on your screen, 197 55 222.

The first question tonight comes from Nicholas Esdaile-Watts.

Nicholas Esdaile-Watts: My question follows today's release of the unemployment figures, which show
the rate for April has fallen from 5.7 to 5.4 per cent, and recent figures indicating an increase
in retail spending. Does the panel believe that this is, perhaps, the return of consumer confidence
and the first sign of a market recovery?

TONY JONES: Mark Arbib?

MARK ARBIB: Well, Nicholas, we're doing much better than what we're seeing in other parts of the
world. This is a serious global recession, the likes we haven't seen since the Great Depression,
and it is very tough. Today's figures are a good start but, at the same time as that, in economics
you've got to look at the trend lines, so we really need to monitor unemployment over the next
coming months to see whether it's sustained or whether it's a one off. At the same time it's
positive and that's good. You'd rather the figures for unemployment going down than up. It builds
though, as you said, on the retail figures for last month, which showed an increase of 2.2 per
cent; the building figures, which have shown three months of positive growth; and that is different
from what's going on in the rest of the world, so that's positive; and, you know, there's going to
be much discussion about why this is happening.

TONY JONES: But there is discussion already. In The Age website, straight after those figures were
released, the business writer, Malcolm Maiden, a pretty good judge, claimed the Bureau of
Statistics got it wrong; that their April jobs figures are simply wrong. That's what he says.

MARK ARBIB: Well, as I said, we'll have to wait and see. With job figures, it's like reading polls.
You can't read a poll for one day. You've got to read the trend lines. You've got to read it over
months. But, nevertheless, you'd rather it going down, unemployment, than going up. But it builds
on the retail figures. It builds on the building figures and this is not happening in other parts
of the world. When you go overseas - you know, we were talking, Guy, before about what's happening
in the UK. You know, you have a depressed economy. You've got huge unemployment levels. You've got
huge debt and really we are doing miraculously and the government has to take some credit for it.
You're going to be surprised that I'm saying that.

TONY JONES: No, I'm not. I'm, yeah, really shocked. That's incredible news to say that.

MARK ARBIB: There is a big argument about the stimulus package.


MARK ARBIB: You know that. About whether it's working or not. Obviously, though, some of what is
happening in the economy at the moment must be due to the stimulus package. But the thing that
amazes me about the stimulus package is most people think the stimulus package is just the cash
handouts. That's what they think. But the truth is, 70 per cent of the stimulus package is actually
infrastructure and that infrastructure is starting right now in the field: the biggest school
modernisation in the country's history.


MARK ARBIB: So definitely it's early days. It's a glimmer of hope. Let's hope it's sustained.

TONY JONES: Let's hear from Sharman Stone.

SHARMAN STONE: Well, certainly, we're always happy when it sounds like things are on the improve
but, of course, Tasmania's unemployment rate rose from about 5 to about 7, and that's a serious
problem for them. I have to say that the stimulus package, the 23 billion dollar cash injection,
was all borrowed and that's our worry. We have confidence in the business sector at an all time
low. We have people wondering how they're going to get an apprenticeship in these times. Lots of
people have just left school, queuing up saying, "We can't get work". So we've got to really
protect this economy in the sense of every cent that's being spent by the Rudd Labor Government has
to be spent well. The debt accumulating has to be debt for good cause, not...

TONY JONES: Okay. Can I just interrupt there? This is a political problem for the opposition,
though, isn't it? Because, I mean, you claimed that people would save their cash payments. Now,
they appear to be spending them and you've demanded that Labor show you a single job created and
these figures say 54,000 full-time jobs were created. How do you handle that politically, because
it conflicts with everything you've said?

SHARMAN STONE: No, it doesn't, in that since we left government, unemployment has substantially
increased. We know that. We were promised 75,000 jobs with the first stimulus package. We didn't
get them. We now have some good looking numbers announced today. A number of people you've just
mentioned, Tony, are querying those numbers, but we've got a long way to go and we're accumulating
debt at a rate of a couple of billion dollars a week, all borrowed mostly from China; borrowed for
the future generation to have to pay back. Now, you can't generate jobs...

TONY JONES: Is it bad to borrow from China, by the way, the way you said that - I'm just wondering?

SHARMAN STONE: I beg your pardon?

TONY JONES: Is it particularly bad to borrow from China?

SHARMAN STONE: It's bad...

GREG SHERIDAN: It's bad for China.

SHARMAN STONE: It's bad for a government to borrow money to throw into individual's pockets at $900
a cheque and then hope somehow that future generations can bounce back; when interest rates are
going up; when you have huge debt burdens; interest rate burdens to pay back. So what we're
concerned about is the stimulus package was all borrowed money. The $900 of the first bout, I'll
call it, 80 per cent was not spent. It was, in fact, saved. This latest cash injection of $900 per
family, we don't know where that's going to go but...

TONY JONES: So you obviously don't think the retail spending jump has anything to do with people
spending money.

SHARMAN STONE: There's been obviously - there has been obviously some spend associated with the
expectation of a $900 cheque but...

TONY JONES: $19 billion they say.

SHARMAN STONE: $19 billion indeed. What we would have preferred was infrastructure spending, which
is going to be, in the long-term, productivity generating.


SHARMAN STONE: And that's what's important for jobs for the future.

TONY JONES: All right. You'll get a chance to answer in a little while.

GREG SHERIDAN: Yeah, sure.

TONY JONES: Randa Abdel-Fattah, one economist today asked, "Does anyone know someone who's
unemployed who just got a job?" Looking at these figures, they don't seem to ring true with
people's expectations or their experience

RANDA ABDEL-FATTAH: I think so. What I wanted to say, I'm not an expert, you know, in economic
issues. I sort of listen to Labor and the Liberal Party sort of discuss the best ways to mitigate
the effects of the global financial crisis and it's very hard to sort of distinguish between
constructive criticism and opposition for the sake of opposition. So, you know, on the one hand,
the stimulus packages, you know - I have faith that they are going to achieve something, and these
figures are at least a reassurance to somebody who doesn't have sort of an expertise in economic
issues that it is achieving something, but it's very hard to sort of work through what is just
opposition for the sake of opposition and what's a genuine, constructive criticism of the strategy
that the Rudd Labor Government is implementing.

TONY JONES: Let's hear from Greg Sheridan.

GREG SHERIDAN: Well, Tony, I'd like to associate myself with Randa's remarks because they just got
a round of applause. But, Tony, the real scandal here is these ridiculous figures. I mean, Mark
puts a good spin on it. He's a good man. But the real scandal here is we can't measure unemployment
in this country anymore. They've decided that they're only going to sample three people per, you
know, measurement and they have a plus or minus margin of error of 400 per cent or something. I
mean, you wouldn't have a clue whether unemployment - certainly living in Melbourne, as I do, every
week you see a company shut down and all those people go out of work. And then it's almost like
living in the old Soviet Union or something. Comrades, everything is going well, you know. You are
lucky that the party has brought you this prosperity. It's just ridiculous. The big scandal is they
should reinstate the way they measured the figures before, with a proper, credible sample,
otherwise we're just in Jokeland.

TONY JONES: I think we better let Mark Arbib respond to that.

MARK ARBIB: Well, look, I'll associate myself with that clap, as well. But can I just say, and this
is the real thing, and Sharman spoke about infrastructure and you spoke about what's in the
package. 70 per cent of this is infrastructure and the infrastructure is only rolling out now. It's
starting right now: the largest school modernisation in the country's history. We are going into
every primary school, building a new school hall, a new library or new classroom. Every school in
the country is going to get maintenance - much needed maintenance. We are fixing roads; fixing
ports; fixing rail. I mean, this government now is spending more in 18 months on rail than the
previous government spent in 12 years. This is what the stimulus package is about. It's about
spending for the future so that when we actually get an end to the economic downturn we're prepared
for the future: a productive country that can compete globally. That's what we're about. Now, it is
not a silver bullet. There is no doubt - there is no silver bullet to the global recession. There
isn't. All countries have to work together to solve this. Australia can't solve it on its own but
we can cushion the impact it's having on families, on jobs and on small business and that's what
we're working towards.


GUY RUNDLE: Can I say something (indistinct)?

TONY JONES: Yes. Yes, you can.

GUY RUNDLE: I mean, even factoring Greg's point about the way these are sampled, any sequence of
two months is utterly and completely meaningless.

MARK ARBIB: I agree.

GUY RUNDLE: Because, you know, the degree of error and the absence of a sequence just means that
you don't know what you're talking about. Unemployment may have gone up. It may have gone down. It
may have gone anywhere. It would be more scientific to cut open a goose and read its entrails to
see what's going on in the Australian economy at the moment. And what this is being driven by is
the news cycle and it's, you know - it's every publication needs something to hang some sort of
news on instead of actually analysing the deeper structural problems of the Australian economy and
the global economy. So we have this meaningless figure which is just being used to then generate
easy commentary and what's being avoided is a real consideration of how deep going the problems
with the global economy and, indeed, with our whole way of life...

TONY JONES: We've just got another...


TONY JONES: Hang on a second. We've just got another question on the economy and the budget. It
comes from John Comino.

JOHN COMINO: My question is about stimulus packages in general, given that on Tuesday night the
government is going to be handing down a very high taxing Robin Hood-style budget. Given that
governments don't have any wealth, they can only spend what they take from us first. Does this
bring into question the notion of stimulus packages in general and whether or not governments can
actually create economic stimulus and is it time to put Keynes to bed?

TONY JONES: I'm going to start with Guy Rundle. Is it time to put Keynes to bed? Now, let's bear in
mind that you've just, in your travels, spent a lot of time in Europe and the United States prior
to that. So give us that perspective, if you can?

GUY RUNDLE: Well, Keynes was a bisexual who was into S&M so let's not put him to bed in any way,
shape or form. Look, the way you've put the question is in an inherently libertarian perspective
that governments are inherently thieves who take money. Now, that's not the perspective of most
people. Most people see markets, governments and communities in partnership. The tax take provides
infrastructure and a whole range of services and you adjust that and there is a logic of right and
rationality to it. One of the interesting things about America and what happened to it in the last
- really in the last eight years but really since the beginning of Reagan, is that the idea that
tax is a form of theft has become so reflexive that what Americans have really done is degraded
their infrastructure, degraded their social structures to such a degree that they now have what
Galbraith called, you know, private affluence and public squalor. So part of the reason why the
recession hit so hard in America is because there's nothing beneath it. You know, you have a
railway system in America that Bulgaria would be ashamed of. You have a road system that is falling
apart. You have a health system that is falling apart. Everything is falling apart in America
except for the services that the rich can acquire privately. But at some point, and Swine Flu is a
great example of this, you really need public infrastructure that addresses the needs of the
population as a whole and if you don't have that, then you fall through the floor. So you now have
a situation where the American government has to buy its own auto industry back and socialise it in
order to keep the industry going. If you compare that to Sweden, Sweden has a degree of public
infrastructure so it can allow Saab to go broke as a private company and not have to bail it out.
So if you continually suck money out of public infrastructure, eventually you get to a point where
you have, really, the socialism of fools.

TONY JONES: Let me hear from Greg Sheridan on this.

GREG SHERIDAN: Well, I'm not going to have to take a courageous stand against a round of applause.
No, I totally disagree with Guy about that. The Americans are far less ideological than he claims.
I lived in America for years and took the Amtrak everywhere and it was fine. It's certainly much
better than most European rail systems; certainly better than the British rail system.

GUY RUNDLE: Oh, that's nonsense. That's utter nonsense.

GREG SHERIDAN: You know, the European model over the last 20 years produced an average of about 8
or 10 per cent unemployment. The American model produced an average of about 5 per cent
unemployment. Now, I certainly think there were very deep problems of insufficient regulation of
the financial system in America. This is not an ideological spitting contest, you know. It happened
under democrats. It happened under republicans. In Europe it happened under conservatives and
Christian democrats. It happened under social democrats. In Australia, infrastructure was massively
neglected in Labor states run by good, honest, social democrats, because there were no neo-liberal
liberal state premiers to neglect the infrastructure, you know. It's kind of childish to make this
all an ideological spitting contest. It's just a question - it's a kind of a technical question.
How do you solve this problem? Have you got to have better regulation? Sometimes you need to
increase your level of infrastructure spend.

TONY JONES: Well, in fact, the question was very specific and it ended with, "Is it time to put
Keynes to bed?" We have gone off on a philosophical...

GREG SHERIDAN: Yeah, well, I don't agree with that. Well, you know, I do agree with Guy that I
don't want to go to bed with Keynes but, you know, I don't think - Keynes is 60 years out of date
anyway. I mean, the lesson of capitalism is that it's so dynamic and protean that it's always
different. The solutions you need today are different from the prescriptions - at least, I suppose,
we're arguing about whether to put Keynes to bed instead of whether to put Marx to bed. So we've
moved on a bit that way, but we have to deal with the problems of today.

TONY JONES: All right. Let's hear from Mark Arbib on the Robin Hood budget. And, I must say, your
leakers did a very good job with the Daily Telegraph, getting the Robin Hood idea across with
actual Robin Hood on the front cover and a suggestion that you're going to rob from the rich, that
is the people who are doing very well from superannuation taxes, and give to the poor, that is
create larger pensions. Is that true or not true?

MARK ARBIB: Well, Tony, I don't think I'm going to surprise you. This is the usual dance that
happens before a budget. There are leaks left, right and centre.

TONY JONES: Where the government leaks something to the tabloids and then denies it.

MARK ARBIB: Also where journalists make calls and piece together puzzles. Get a bit of information
here, a bit of information there and come up with something.


MARK ARBIB: Might be right, might be wrong.

TONY JONES: Are pensions going to go up?

MARK ARBIB: Look, I don't know. I don't know. Well, Wayne Swan, the Treasurer, has said that there
will be pension reform so we can assume from that that pensions will go up. How much, I don't know?

TONY JONES: And will you rob from the rich to give to the poor?

MARK ARBIB: I don't know. I don't know what's in the budget, so I can't tell you that. But can I go
back to - I mean, I'm glad I'm not putting this budget together, because it is going to be an
extremely difficult budget to frame and Sharman raised the issue of debt before and said, "Oh, it's
all Labor spending and the cash splash," et cetera. But the thing that she leaves out is most of
the debt that this country has, most of the deficit that we will have, will come from the global
recession, because what you are seeing - you've seen a collapse of the mining boom. You've seen an
ending of the mining boom that sustained the country for 12 years; those rivers of gold. You are
seeing halving in the price of coke coal, et cetera; things that we've been relying on, and that
means less government revenue, less capital gains, and less company tax. So this is a very
difficult budget to frame. The Liberal Party is running a great scare campaign in terms of debt and
deficit and the question they're going to have to answer when Malcolm Turnbull stands up to address
the chamber is would he borrow? Given that revenues are collapsing, will he borrow to fix the
revenue gap?

TONY JONES: All right. Let's ask the opposition, because it is a fundamental question. I mean,
you've criticised the government for borrowing but how do you get out of this hole without

SHARMAN STONE: Well, in the first instance you've got to make sure that if you do in fact borrow,
the dollars are going to deliver you real value. When the government tells us that there's going to
be $43 billion for broadband...

TONY JONES: But does that mean you do acknowledge the necessity to borrow billions of dollars from
overseas, albeit China?

SHARMAN STONE: Well, it depends absolutely on what stage or state the economy is in. For example,
when we left the government, we had $23 billion surplus and then we found that this government
really blew out this whole notion of there being an inflation bogie; a genie in a bottle. You'll
remember all of that. So we had the Reserve Bank pushing up interest rates longer than they should.
We had a real difficulty with small business. Now we don't believe we would have had to have rushed
to borrowing as fast and as deeply as the Labor government did because, for example, we wouldn't
have had the cash splash in the way this government did. We wouldn't be talking about 43 billion
for broadband because our plan delivered more broadband than this government's plan, which doesn't
deliver, in fact, till what, 2015. Do you know if you're in a town of less than 1000 people, under
Labor's broadband prospect, you have no hope of being delivered broadband?

TONY JONES: Okay. All right.

MARK ARBIB: But what about the debt issue? I mean, you did a nice deflection there but will you
borrow? That's the question. Will you borrow? That's such a simple question. Just answer it.

SHARMAN STONE: You borrow as a government if you can see value for your nation and it's going to
deliver long-term prospects of productivity and recovery from a recession.

MARK ARBIB: So you are going to borrow? That is the...


MARK ARBIB: Like that is the case, and Malcolm Turnbull has said that. You are going to borrow. Why
don't you just...

SHARMAN STONE: You asked me how much...

MARK ARBIB: ... stop trying to run a scare campaign on debt and deficits and just be honest with
the Australian people and explain...

SHARMAN STONE: It is the...

MARK ARBIB: ... you will need to borrow to...

SHARMAN STONE: It is the depth...

MARK ARBIB: ... fix the revenue.

SHARMAN STONE: It is the depth of the borrowing that we're concerned about. We had 300 billion,
which could take 20 years to pay off. We had...

TONY JONES: Sorry, can I interrupt you?

SHARMAN STONE: It took us 10 years to pay off your last 100 billion in debt.

TONY JONES: I'm sorry, I'd like to interrupt. We've actually had a gentleman here with his hand up
in the audience. I'd just like to hear what he's got to say.

AUDIENCE MEMBER: I'm just curious, Tony, if the government's policy is robbing from the rich and
giving to the poor, why then has the government not supported university students, many of whom
live below the Henderson Poverty Line?

TONY JONES: Is it time to get involved in supporting university students, many of whom do live
below the poverty line? This is proven.

MARK ARBIB: And that is one of the reasons why the stimulus payments went to university students -
one of the reasons why - because that was part of the consideration, that university students do it
tough. At the same time...

SHARMAN STONE: $900 doesn't go far.

MARK ARBIB: the same time as that, we want to invest in education. That's what this
government is about: investing in education. The previous government cut 5 per cent off the
education budget. We're investing in universities. We are investing in education to support
students such as yourself. That's what the future of Australia is: investing in education.

TONY JONES: It's no good going to university if you can't afford to live, I think is the point
they're making. Can you help there?

MARK ARBIB: Well, as I said, that was one of the reasons why the second stimulus payment went to
university students.

TONY JONES: Now, okay, we're going to move on. Remember, if you'd like to be part of the Q&A
audience, you can log on and register at Our next question comes from in the
audience and it's from Jinho Choi.

JINHO CHOI: US President Obama has left open the possibility of criminal prosecution for former
Bush Administration officials who drew up the legal basis for torture. Does this mark the beginning
of a truth and reconciliation process for the actions of the former Bush Administration?

TONY JONES: Guy Rundle?

GUY RUNDLE: Well, I think President Obama hopes that it doesn't. I think what he would like to do
is to avoid any sort of prosecutions and move on. He's already sort of explicitly excluded the
actual serving officers who conducted the torture.

TONY JONES: He's left it to the attorney general to decide on the others. Is that right?

GUY RUNDLE: He's left it to the attorney general to decide on the lawyers who gave the advice and
anybody higher up, which would, you know, continue all the way up to Cheney and Bush, I presume. I
think Obama has played this very carefully. The first thing he did was exclude the actual serving
officers. Now, that's contrary to the Nuremberg Principle, that you have to take responsibility for
your own actions. You can't plead that you were just following orders and that's the principle we
hang Japanese war criminals, German war criminals on, including war criminals who waterboarded
people. So that was a pretty - is the word cynical? It was a pretty ruthless political move, but he
has left open the possibility then that if he finds it necessary - politically necessary - to start
those forms of prosecution or if Congress prosecutes those people, that he then maintains the
support, if you like, of serving troops and of a lot of middle America, so on the one hand it's
been a very smart sort of process. On the other hand it has actually avoided crucial responsibility

TONY JONES: Okay. Let's hear from Greg Sheridan. The term truth and reconciliation may have been
well chosen, because there is a debate going on in the States right now as to whether there should
be a truth commission to get to the bottom of this, in which immunity is given to senior official
who perhaps gave the legal advice or even gave the policy decision that the CIA could torture.

GREG SHERIDAN: Well, Tony, this is a difficult and complex issue and let me not hide in the shadows
for a minute. I supported the Bush Administration. I supported the prosecution of the Iraq War. I
thought it was right to get rid of the most bloodthirsty tyrant in the second half of the 20th
century. Now, I do agree nonetheless...


GREG SHERIDAN: Well, no. If you read any of the democrats' books, Hilary Clinton supported the war
and all the democrat policy-makers thought that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction.
But, anyway, we don't want to get onto that tributary. I do think that - although I'm happy to
argue it.


MARK ARBIB: Obama didn't support it, though. Obama never supported it.

GREG SHERIDAN: No. Hilary Clinton did.

TONY JONES: Greg, you're arguing with yourself so...

GREG SHERIDAN: Well, no. No.

TONY JONES: No one brought this up.

GREG SHERIDAN: No. No. I was responding to the gentleman in the front of the - and, Tony, I'm in
furious agreement with myself.

TONY JONES: Yeah. I noticed that.

GREG SHERIDAN: But, look, on the torture question, having said all that, I do think the Americans
went too far in their practices in Guantanamo Bay; however, it is absurd to equate this with the
practices of Nazi war criminals or Japanese war criminals. That is just ridiculous. If there is any
real crime there, the American legal system will get to the bottom of it. If you stop someone from
going to sleep - I've got absolute faith that the Obama administration would prosecute the law but
I don't believe there'll be any prosecutions, because I don't think there were any (indistinct)...


TONY JONES: Hang on. I'm going to hear from Randa, because she hasn't had anything to say for a

RANDA ABDEL-FATTAH: Why don't we look in our own backyard? I think The Australian released, a
couple of weeks ago, news that the Defence Department had about 88,000 pages of documents proving
that they knew that Mamdouh Habib had been the subject of extraordinary rendition to Egypt and that
Australians, you know, at the highest levels of government were at least complicit, if not aiding
and abetting, the torture of one of our citizens. So shouldn't we have a royal commission or an
inquiry into the fact that our government knew about torture?

TONY JONES: Randa, I'm going to interrupt you there, because we actually have a question along
these lines from Emily Heath.

EMILY HEATH: (Indistinct) by refusing to object to the imprisonment of Australian citizens in
Guantanamo Bay, do you think that the Howard Government was morally complicit in the illegal
actions, both the torture and the false imprisonment that occurred there and, in your opinion, do
you think that the Australian government should, in the future, intervene more proactively to
protect its citizens from such abuses?

TONY JONES: Randa, take that up and then I'll move it round the panel.

RANDA ABDEL-FATTAH: Well, without a doubt I think that there should be absolutely no justification
for torture and if we are to retain the moral high ground when it comes to the war on terror, then
we should be certain that our actions and our reputation is impeccable and that we have absolutely
no complicity and no knowledge - no actual contribution to one of our citizens being tortured. And
I think that it was a disgrace - what happened under the Howard era was a disgrace when it comes to
David Hicks, Mamdouh Habib and then Mohamed Haneef, and I think that's a real disgrace and we need
to have a royal commission into it.

TONY JONES: Mark Arbib, just pick up on that point, will you, because the real question being asked
here is: Obama released these torture memos. He did it and put them all out in public against some
stiff opposition from the Pentagon and others. We've just heard that The Australian has said there
are a whole bunch of Australian documents looking at this issue. Should they be released, first of

MARK ARBIB: Look, this is the first I've heard of these documents so it's hard for me to make a
comment on that. What I would say is, though, that what happened under the previous government is
extremely regrettable and torture under any circumstance is just not acceptable and that's the
government's position and this government signed up to all the UN protocols, unlike the Howard
Government, outlawing torture and that's going to be our position moving forward. People have to be
treated humanely and decently and there is no place for torture...

TONY JONES: Fair enough, but don't you need to be more proactive, if this is true, that there are
documents which indicate that Australian officials knew? Even if the allegation is true, don't you
have to proactively investigate it as a government? I mean, you now have access to all those

MARK ARBIB: Well, that is the first I've heard about it tonight, so obviously it's something that
the foreign minister or the attorney general would have to look at but, certainly, I mean this is a
government that will not accept any of our officials undertaking that and also, I think, I mean
coming back to Obama for a sec, because I didn't get a chance, I actually think that he is taking
strong steps in the right direction. He is sending a message right across the board that the United
States has changed. This is a different way of operating and that will work extremely well in terms
of relations between the United States and the rest of the world.

TONY JONES: I'll get Sharman Stone's response to that, because that question was directed at the
actions of the Howard Government.

SHARMAN STONE: That's right. I think, obviously, no Australian would tolerate or be prepared for
its own country to be involved in any way in torture. It's a stupid thing to do anyway, because any
evidence gained or information through torture can't be used in a court of law in the sort of
country Australia or the United States is. We, as a nation, are proud - can be proud of our
Australian defence record since we became involved as a nation in 1901. We've never been accused of
being a country that tortures and I have to say that I think, in the US, we haven't all the
information yet. We've got a few memos out there. There's a lot more information to come
apparently, including photos; no doubt videotapes; and so on. So we need to stand by and watch
carefully, see what evolves and the United States is going to have to take a very careful, long,
hard look at what did happen and learn from that. By the way, it wasn't this Labor Government that
decided to sign up to protocols banning torture in Australia. That's been around for a very, very
long time.

MARK ARBIB: But you didn't sign up to all the UN protocols though.

SHARMAN STONE: I don't think we've been supporting as a nation...

GREG SHERIDAN: I don't think the Kyoto Protocol is relevant here.


TONY JONES: No. If that's what you're referring to, it probably isn't.

SHARMAN STONE: You need to do your homework. You need to do your homework there, Mark.

TONY JONES: Guy Rundle, we haven't heard from you for a while.

GUY RUNDLE: I think one thing to remind ourselves of is that this is only the most visible example
of American torture. I mean, the Americans in Latin America and elsewhere have used, condoned and
supervised torture for decades and it's only Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo that this really became
visible to a large number of people. Now, what's interesting when you watch the American media and
watch the republicans trying to defend waterboarding, it's, you know, coercive techniques, it's not
really torture, this sort of thing, is the degree to which that defence of torture quickly takes
you into a realm of moral squalor which undermines the basis of your own life and that really is
something that's happened to America in the past eight years. It really has undermined the ethical
basis of its own life.

TONY JONES: Okay. We've got another hand up in the audience there. I'm going to hear from you.

AUDIENCE MEMBER: Hi. Greg, you said that if laws have been broken in Guantanamo, that you feel
confident that Obama will prosecute, however in these scenarios, people are put in a state of
exception, where they are often stripped of their rights and they're not seen as people anymore. So
in that case it also brings me to the case of the privatisation of prisons where in Western
Australia Global Solutions Limited were found guilty of murdering an Aboriginal elder. With the
global recession and the economy as it is at the moment, do you think, Mark, that the government
will be handing over prisons and hospitals to private industry?

TONY JONES: No, I'm actually going to take that as a comment because that's taken us onto a
slightly different topic.


TONY JONES: Unless you want to respond to that quickly.

GREG SHERIDAN: Well, could I respond real quickly to this: I agree with you. I'm against privatised
prisons, but I totally disagree with Guy's characterisation of America. I say from start to finish,
America has not been a torturing nation. There have been exceptions, people prosecuted and, really,
we live in a...

GUY RUNDLE: What nonsense. What nonsense.

GREG SHERIDAN: ...we live in a world in which hundreds of thousands of people are murdered in
Darfur; in which 300,000 people are kept in gulags in North Korea. There are, of course, abuses in
the American system and they are rooted out and prosecuted but I agree with Kevin Rudd that,
overwhelmingly, America is a force for good in the world, including moral good.

TONY JONES: Randa, can I just get your response to that and then we're going to move on to another

RANDA ABDEL-FATTAH: I think what makes it so much more reprehensible when it's occurring in America
is that America stands out and prides itself on, you know, respecting human values and human rights
so that's why, when American falls, it falls a lot harder.


MARK ARBIB: Can I just say, Tony...


MARK ARBIB: are exactly right, and America sets the standard. America sets the standard that
the rest of the world...

GUY RUNDLE: Oh, this is nonsense.

MARK ARBIB: ...that the rest of the world looks to and there is a change...

GUY RUNDLE: This is real, absolute nonsense and hypocrisy.

MARK ARBIB: But hang on a second. But hang on a second.

GUY RUNDLE: You have John Negroponte...

MARK ARBIB: Hang on a sec...

GUY RUNDLE: ...who was the Ambassador to El Salvador and Honduras while torture was being
supervised by American forces in Latin America for decades.

MARK ARBIB: Guy, can I just...

GUY RUNDLE: America sets the standard...

MARK ARBIB: Can we go...

GUY RUNDLE: ...for hypocrisy, not virtue.

MARK ARBIB: But, Guy, can I - sorry.

TONY JONES: This will be a final response on this subject.

MARK ARBIB: Guy, can I just say on that, I couldn't agree with you more and some of the stuff that
went on under the...

GUY RUNDLE: You just agreed with Greg.

MARK ARBIB: No. No. No. Under the...

GUY RUNDLE: Take a side, God damnit.

MARK ARBIB: Will you let me finish for goodness sakes, Guy. I know you just got off the plane, but
let me finish on this one. Go with me. Go with me. I agree with you in terms of the Bush
Administration but, in terms of Obama, we have a new administration that is heading in a completely
different direction; completely different direction. And they are sending...

GUY RUNDLE: What about Bagram?

MARK ARBIB: ...and they are sending different messages. They are working with countries that they
have never talked to for ages. They are talking to Cuba now. They are talking to the Russians now.
The reset button has been pushed on the relations with Russia.

GUY RUNDLE: What about Bagram Air Force Base in Afghanistan...

TONY JONES: Okay. All right. All right. Okay.

GUY RUNDLE: ...which is a Guantanamo in Afghanistan...

TONY JONES: We're about to go...

GUY RUNDLE: ...being run by Obama?

TONY JONES: We're about to go to that....

GUY RUNDLE: What's the difference?

TONY JONES: ....part of the world, I beg your pardon, and the next question comes from Thomas

THOMAS GREENHALGH: Overseas in Pakistan the conflict between largely corrupt security forces and
Taliban extremists in the Swat Valley will result in an estimated half a million internal refugees
fleeing the violence. Isn't it, therefore, in Australia's national interest to prevent the
democratically elected government of Pakistan from failing before it's too late, especially given
our troops in the region and Pakistan's nuclear capabilities?

TONY JONES: Let's start with Randa.

RANDA ABDEL-FATTAH: Of course it is. I'm not an expert in that area but I think that we should
definitely be doing as much as we can to assist Pakistan with their counter insurgency strategies
but I just think that we should learn our lessons. The military solution has proven itself to have
failed time and time again and we need to think of solutions that go beyond military means to help
the Pakistani people counter the Taliban insurgency. We need to have a lot more dynamic solutions
that deal with more strategic and the social dynamic of what's feeding the Taliban move.

TONY JONES: Greg Sheridan?

GREG SHERIDAN: Well, I really agree with Randa about this. The situation in Pakistan is an
emergency. It's a desperate emergency. It's a fair point you make about the democratically elected
government of Pakistan, because the people of Pakistan do not support these extremists. The Taliban
and their sympathisers don't get votes in Pakistani elections but they don't care about those
elections and they are proceeding towards Islamabad. And we know that Pakistan possesses 75 to 100
nuclear weapons. Now, part of the problem of giving aid to Pakistan in the past, of course, has
been that a lot of it has disappeared in corruption. But I think this is an emergency situation and
people like Barack Obama and Hilary Clinton who are, by no stretch of the imagination, evil
neo-cons plotting war and misery in the third world, are saying this is a mortal threat to the
security of the world. If the Taliban ends up in possession of 75 to 100 nuclear weapons, that
would be a catastrophe for Australia and we ought to regard this as a national emergency. There's
no prospect of us sending any military, nor should we, but we should do everything we can in terms
of civil aid to the Pakistani government.

TONY JONES: Guy Rundle?

GUY RUNDLE: Well, it's a sort of everybody wants to go to heaven but nobody wants to die. Everybody
wants to support Pakistan but then the question of military aid is ruled out. Look, I think this is
all a...

TONY JONES: Do you think it should be ruled in, by the way?

GUY RUNDLE: No. No. Absolutely not. I think it's the old thing that the definition of insanity is
repeating the action and expecting a different result. We've opened up this whole region to chaos
by the pursuit of, you know, trying to reconstruct failed states, trying to change state from
within by military processes. This is madness. All this does is widen the ambit of global conflict
until we have an all-encompassing global conflict.

TONY JONES: We've got someone else with their hand up down the back here. I'll just come to you.

AUDIENCE MEMBER: Could this be perceived, the situation in Pakistan, as more than just a military
risk, but also an immigration one, as well? We have a part of the world that's falling apart and
we're already in a situation where we're getting numerous amounts of refugees or illegal
immigrants, depending on the terminology you'd like to use. Can the situation in Pakistan be seen
as potentially furthering the threat of Australia having to receive even more immigrants in a time
where maybe we can't fully support them?

TONY JONES: Let's hear from Sharman Stone on that?

SHARMAN STONE: Well, certainly, wherever you've got a war zone you have refugees; people fleeing
from that terrible situation, self evidently. It will only be if they have sufficient cash and
contacts if they end up down in Australia, because the people smugglers want cold, hard US dollars
and it costs between 12 and 15, sometimes 20,000 US to make your way in the pipeline from
Afghanistan or Pakistan down through Malaysia, typically then to Indonesia, and finally for that
push off from the beach somewhere in Indonesia in a very rusty, unseaworthy vessel - probably the
most dangerous part of your journey, actually - into Australian waters. So, yes, we've got to make
sure that there is sufficient investment back right at the source of the crisis in the refugee
camps, that no doubt will be swelling, and further generated through this crisis to make sure
people are able to be resettled back home as soon as possible or into second countries where they
can have a decent life. But in terms of the numbers coming down to Australia there are already, we
believe, 5 to 7000 in Indonesia waiting to come on down.

TONY JONES: Okay. I think we're going to come back to the asylum seeker issue. I want to hear from
Mark Arbib on what was the bigger question being asked, which is what on earth you do about the
crisis in Pakistan.

MARK ARBIB: Yeah. Well, it is difficult. It's one of the most complex problems that the United
States administration faces; that the global community faces; and the significance of the nuclear
weapons, as you raised, Greg, is just shocking. Can I say it just can't be solved militarily and,
Randa, you were right when you said there needs to be economic aid. And Obama has put on the table,
I think, $7.5 billion in terms of assisting the Pakistani people and assisting the government in
terms of rebuilding their country and trying to lift their economic standards, and I think that's a
very, very good start and a very smart way of doing it. At the same time as that, though, there's
no use throwing money at the Pakistani government unless they are going to take the issue of
militants and extremists seriously and for too long Pakistan has been focussed on India and have
taken their eye off the ball, which is fighting the insurgents. So, really, I think the economic
aid is essential, but at the same time it has to be tied to Pakistan doing what they need to do,
which is fight the insurgents rather than worrying about India.

TONY JONES: Okay. Remember that Q&A is live on ABC1 in the eastern states and live on the web for
everyone, so send us your questions via SMS, 197 55 222, or go to our website, or
send us a video question, like this one from Yasmin Zarebski from Castle Hill in New South Wales.

YASMIN ZAREBSKI: Hi. My question is for Randa and it is what hope is there for Muslim women around
the world when there is so much oppression and denial of their fundamental rights in Muslim

TONY JONES: Okay. Let's hear from Randa.

RANDA ABDEL-FATTAH: It's a very legitimate question. I am a deeply committed Muslim, very attached
to my faith, and I despair when I see the status of Muslim women in Muslim countries. I have been
in a study of Islamic law recently and it amazes me the jurisprudential legacy that the Muslim
world has forgotten has so much precedent for the rights of women in Islam. There was a discourse -
a pre-modern discourse - that women were equal to men; that they had equal rights; that they had
equal opportunities to live to their full potential; and it seems that we have forgotten - the
contemporary Muslim world has forgotten that rich, just and diverse legacy. So I think that really
what needs to be done in the Muslim world - it is in crisis when it comes to the way that we engage
with our religious texts, and perfect examples are the Taliban; the Wahhabi sect in Saudi Arabia.
Here we see Islam being abused, distorted, in order to exact an appalling oppression of Muslim
women and the thing is I look for my rights not through Germaine Greer. I look at it from Islam.
It's through the Islamic legal history and legal legacy that we really, as Muslim women, can assert
our rights.

TONY JONES: I'll just hear from the other woman on the panel, Sharman Stone.

SHARMAN STONE: I support absolutely what you're saying Randa, and I think Muslim women in Australia
could take a leading role, as you do yourself, in trying to demonstrate that it is completely
consistent with Islam for a woman to stand up and be an equal partner in a marriage, succeed in
business, be an outstanding participant in community life, so I commend you for the work that
you've been doing and certainly we have real oppression in other countries. We've got very brave
Muslim women standing up but they're often a very long way from being heard and, of course, the
women generate the next generations' socialisation and so we have an intergenerational problem as
long as women are oppressed in Muslim societies.

TONY JONES: Let me throw this to Mark Arbib and to Greg Sheridan and anyone else, in fact, who
wants to talk about this. But how disturbing is it for the Australian government to find that the
government that we regard as an ally, in Kabul, has recently legislated that it is okay for a
husband to rape his wife?

MARK ARBIB: Now, I find that disturbing. Extremely disturbing. It's shocking. You know, it is a -
what can we do? I mean it is a difficult situation here. We've got broader issues than just dealing
with the Afghanistani and the Pakistani governments. I mean, we've got an issue of militancy and
we've got to rebuild the community. In terms of the rules and the laws that govern that country,
well, there's not much we can do about that, but we can certainly keep our eyes open and certainly
make our point now that we don't find it acceptable and it's not the way that we want to see women
treated and it's certainly not the way we would do it in this country.

TONY JONES: Greg Sheridan?

GREG SHERIDAN: Tony, it's an essential element of the extremist ideology, the suppression of women,
and somehow the identity of this ideology is born intimately into the status of women and we saw
that shocking video recently of Taliban in Pakistan flogging a woman who had been caught in the
company of her father-in-law. It's not only in Afghanistan. I mean, part of the disturbing
complicity of the Pakistani Security Services with the Taliban in their own country - recently they
did the deal in the Swat Valley to allow the Taliban to administer the Swat Valley, including with
all their oppression of women. But could I inject a totally optimistic note? There is a fantastic
development going on in this world which the Islamic world is not paying enough attention to, and
it's called Indonesia. The development of multi-party, pluralistic democracy in Indonesia, in which
women are taking a leading role - there is no tougher cabinet minister in South East Asia or
Australia than the Indonesian Finance Minister Sri Mulyani and all of her bureaucrats are terrified
of her. Mark, you would love to have your bureaucrats as scared of you. And that whole


GREG SHERIDAN:, it doesn't get enough attention in the Islamic world. I think too many Arab
intellectuals in the Muslim world look down on South East Asian Islam because they don't speak the
language of the Profit and so on. But I hope as Indonesia emerges a much bigger story in the Muslim
world, that will have a beneficial effect.

TONY JONES: Okay. I...

SHARMAN STONE: Tony, could I just say...

TONY JONES: Yes. Briefly.

SHARMAN STONE: Christmas time in Bangladesh, when they had an election, it was a choice
between very fundamental groups and the moderates - the Muslim moderates represented by particular
political parties. The Bangladeshis overwhelmingly voted for the moderate Muslim approach, and I
think that's to be commended to in a country so close to other less moderate Muslim nations.

TONY JONES: All right.

GUY RUNDLE: Can I say something...

TONY JONES: Just before you do - well, yes, you can, if it's quick.

GUY RUNDLE: Okay. Yeah. The thing about the Afghanistan law is that it shows the total
contradiction of trying to create modernity or nation building through the use of armed force. You
can't go in, invade a country, set up a parliamentary system, a democratic government, that sort of
thing, and say, "Here you are. You're free. Set your own laws," and then when they make laws you
don't like say, "Well, that's terrible. Go back and do it again until you get it right." Now, this
is utterly ridiculous and it shows the total absurdity, the total, you know, misguidedness of
trying to do this by force of arms.

TONY JONES: All right. We've got another question that's best described as coming from a similar
region and it's from Maha Istanbouly.

MAHA ISTANBOULY: Is there any hope for peace in the Middle East, when criticism of Israel is seen
as anti-Semitic, as we saw this month in the handling of the Durban Committee.

TONY JONES: Okay. Look, we should point out here the Durban 2 Conference, which was actually held
in Geneva, had the Iranian president repeating his earlier performance with a diatribe against
Israel, which he called a cruel and racist regime; one of the reasons why the Australian government
and many others refused to go to that conference. Greg Sheridan?

GREG SHERIDAN: Well, I strongly applaud Kevin Rudd and Steven Smith for refusing to go to that
conference. I think it was absolutely the right thing to do. Only about nine or 10 other countries
did it and...

TONY JONES: Okay. Think about the context of the question.


TONY JONES: Which is...

GREG SHERIDAN: I don't believe criticism of Israel is generally labelled as anti-Semitism. I reject
absolutely the proposition of the question. However, I do think anti-Semitism has swept back both
into the western world and the Arab world. Many scholars have examined anti-Semitism in the Arab
world. Notorious tsarist forgery, the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, which is meant to show
Jewish conspiracy to control the world, figures prominently on Egyptian television, in Saudi Arabia
and so forth. You Google the Hamas Charter, you'll see that the Jews control the Rotary Clubs and
the Lions Clubs in order to enact their vicious conspiracies and so forth. It's perfectly
legitimate to criticise Israel, as it is any other nation, when it does something wrong. But the
insane, absolutely over the top emotional hostility towards Israel from people who couldn't care
less about 300,000 Darfuries, aren't fussed about the status of women in Saudi Arabia, couldn't
give a bugger about the 300,000 people in North Korean gulag, but Israel somehow is their enemy -
there is something going on there which is psychological and very nasty.


RANDA ABDEL-FATTAH: I totally disagree with that. I know you've said before that being anti-Israel
is fundamentally irrational and evidence of psychological and ideological dysfunction...

GREG SHERIDAN: I've never said that. No, I've never said that.

RANDA ABDEL-FATTAH: When you accepted the Jerusalem Prize for being a supporter of Israel...

GREG SHERIDAN: Yeah. Yeah. I never said that Randa. That's just untrue.


GREG SHERIDAN: That's a lie, Randa. That's a lie.

RANDA ABDEL-FATTAH: I've got it in print. I'll show you after the show.

GREG SHERIDAN: Yeah, well it may be in print, but I never said it, I can tell you that.

RANDA ABDEL-FATTAH: Okay. Well, what you just said was that it is almost akin to an emotional
response, as though the crimes perpetrated against the Palestinians in 1948; the ethnic cleansing
of Palestinian villages as Israeli historians have meticulously documented after accessing Israeli
archives; is that not a legitimate source of criticism against the state of Israel? The occupation
of Palestinian territory; the discrimination against Palestinians in Israel; the ongoing suffering
of Palestinians; the stifling of their economy. This is the source of anti-Israeli criticism. It is
not about anti-Semitism. I think that continuously constructing the arguments against Israel's
occupation as a form of anti-Semitism is holding the Palestinian people ransom to this misguided
way of seeing our legitimate concerns about the inalienable rights of Palestinians to have a
sovereign state, an independent state, and it is just confusing the issues. Of course there is
anti-Semitism. There's terrible anti-Semitism in the Middle East.

TONY JONES: Randa, can I just interrupt you, because the question referred to the Durban
Conference. Did you regard the intervention of President Ahmadinejad of Iran as being anti-Semitic?

RANDA ABDEL-FATTAH: No, I read the text. He says extremely inflammatory things and remarks and his
denial of the Holocaust is disgusting but let's put that to one side and look at the actual
statements that he made about the racist nature of Israeli society. Look at it from the point of
view of an Arab Israeli and the racism that they experience as second class citizens in Israel.

TONY JONES: Let's hear from Mark Arbib on this question.

MARK ARBIB: Well, that was a difficult decision to make but it was a decision that the government
believes is right and, looking at what happened at the conference, I think we made the right call
on that. The comments by the Iranian president were just unbelievable; just led news around the
world. The truth is if the Israeli government deserves criticism then they should get criticism.
They shouldn't be protected or kept away from that. At the same time as that, really to understand
the Israeli people and understand what they've been through and understand where they're coming
from in terms of their security, I mean you've got to go to Jerusalem and you've got to go to the
Holocaust Museum to understand...

RANDA ABDEL-FATTAH: You should go to the West Bank, as well. You should go to stand at a
checkpoint. Go to Gaza.

MARK ARBIB: Well, that's true. That's true. And that's...

RANDA ABDEL-FATTAH: Take a trip to Gaza, not Tel Aviv.

MARK ARBIB: And, can I say, there are - in terms of - we've got to get peace in the end. We can
debate who's right; who's wrong. It's been happening for thousands of years. We need to get...

RANDA ABDEL-FATTAH: Sorry, Mark, but how do you get...

MARK ARBIB: But hang on a second. But there's a debate about...

RANDA ABDEL-FATTAH: There is no debate.

MARK ARBIB: ...who's right and who's wrong. We need to get peace. That is the key. They say...

RANDA ABDEL-FATTAH: Where is the debate when you boycott a conference? Where is the debate when you
last year celebrated the creation of the State of Israel? One month after you had the courage to
say sorry to the indigenous people of this country, you celebrated the dispossession, eviction,
dispossession and exile of another people in order to create the state of Israel. That's a double
standard. I don't see that as a debate. I see that as a one-sided (indistinct).

MARK ARBIB: Look, if you think Israel doesn't have a right to exist, I mean we are never going

RANDA ABDEL-FATTAH: I didn't say that...

MARK ARBIB: ...we are never going to - we are never going to agree.

RANDA ABDEL-FATTAH: I didn't say that. But my - I believe in Israel.

MARK ARBIB: And this is the problem.


MARK ARBIB: Israel has a right to exist. (Indistinct).

RANDA ABDEL-FATTAH: I must respond to that.

MARK ARBIB: They do.

RANDA ABDEL-FATTAH: Can I just, please...

TONY JONES: Okay. All right. Let's just hear from Guy Rundle.

GUY RUNDLE: What do you think of Randa's argument that Israel was founded on ethnic cleansing and
the dispossession of a people?

MARK ARBIB: Well, sorry, I understand the argument and I certainly understand the argument in terms
of dispossession but in terms of ethnic cleansing, I don't accept that. And in terms of...

GUY RUNDLE: But where - but hang on, Mark, when Israeli historians like Benny Morris use the
Israeli Defence Force archives to document dozens of massacres of Palestinian people in 1948; men,
women and children lined up against a wall and machine gunned by, among other people, Menachem
Begin, who became a Prime Minister of Israel...

GREG SHERIDAN: No. No. No. I don't think we can accept anything that Guy Rundle is saying as true

GUY RUNDLE: That is absolutely true. Hang on. Absolutely true.

GREG SHERIDAN: It's all rubbish. That is just rubbish.

GUY RUNDLE: It is absolutely true.

GREG SHERIDAN: Benny Morris has not said that. That's just complete rubbish.

GUY RUNDLE: Yes, he has said that.

RANDA ABDEL-FATTAH: What about (indistinct) ethnic cleansing in Palestine?

GREG SHERIDAN: And what about the attack on the Israeli state by five Arab armies the day that it
was declared independent.

GUY RUNDLE: Hang on. I was asking a question to Mark.

TONY JONES: Okay. I'm sorry, I'm going to interrupt both of you because there's a few hands up in
the audience. Okay, this gentleman first.

AUDIENCE MEMBER: Yes. Why should the worst genocide of the 20th century justify the worst genocide
of the 21st century?


TONY JONES: Which genocide are your referring to?

AUDIENCE MEMBER: The genocide against the Jews by the Nazis - why should that justify the current
genocide of the Palestinians by the Israelis?

GREG SHERIDAN: It is absolutely absurd to describe what is happening today as genocide. It is just

AUDIENCE MEMBER: It is a genocide.


GREG SHERIDAN: Well, that's just ridiculous.

TONY JONES: Randa, you wouldn't...

GREG SHERIDAN: You need to see a psychiatrist.

AUDIENCE MEMBER: Well, how can you say...

GREG SHERIDAN: Well how many people have been killed?

AUDIENCE MEMBER: Can you justify that claim? It is a genocide. You just have to look at the

GREG SHERIDAN: Genocide means the murder of a race.

TONY JONES: Okay. Okay. Okay.

GREG SHERIDAN: The Palestinian race is not being murdered. That's complete rubbish.

TONY JONES: Randa, we've moved to genocide. Can I just get your response to that, because I doubt
you would describe what's occurring as genocide?

RANDA ABDEL-FATTAH: I don't think that it's genocide but I don't understand why the Palestinian
people - but the point you're making is why should the Palestinian people have paid for the crimes
of the Nazis? It was because of the complicity of Europe and western nations in allowing that
appalling crime to occur against the Jewish population that they found that the best way to
transfer their guilt was to get the Palestinians to pay for the crimes of the Nazis.

TONY JONES: All right. All right. Let's hear from Sharman Stone.

SHARMAN STONE: I think there's obviously an extraordinary difficulty in Palestine right now. How
can we describe it? Not as genocide but as extraordinary circumstances for them. But the other hand
we have to have Israel's existence as a sovereign nation understood and accepted and so if you have
Hamas and Hezbollah and the Iranians saying, "No, you don't have a right to exist. We don't
acknowledge your existence," this is extraordinarily difficult for a nation that then has rockets
lobbed over its border when there's supposed to be a ceasefire. So it's a difficult, extraordinary
circumstance and what we've got to get to a solution is through diplomacy and no amount of lobbing
rockets and starving people out and putting up blockades and using white phosphorous is going to
bring any sort of peaceful solution to this. It's got to be an acceptance of the right to exist for
Israel and their, in turn, acceptance of others to co-exist (indistinct)...

GUY RUNDLE: Can I just correct you...

TONY JONES: Well, actually, before you do...

GUY RUNDLE: Well, very quickly, it wasn't the Gazans that broke the ceasefire; it was Israel that
broke the ceasefire.

RANDA ABDEL-FATTAH: On November 15, that's right.


GREG SHERIDAN: No, that's not true. Everything Guy has said about this is just untrue.


GREG SHERIDAN: It's just untrue. You should know that Guy is not telling the truth here.

TONY JONES: There'll be a huge argument about the number of rockets that were fired into Israel
prior to that. Can we just hear from this questioner here?

AUDIENCE MEMBER: Hi. About the impending peace in the Middle East, if it is, in fact, possible, as
far as Israel's actions in relation to any criticism or anything along the lines of perhaps
pursuing anything against the State of Israel, it has been strictly a military pursuit every single
time. Do you think, perhaps, it would be more constructive to, say, boycott Israeli military
ventures rather than the Iranian conference that is seen to be anti-Semitic, as inflammatory as it
may be?

TONY JONES: All right. We're nearly out of time. Mark Arbib, I'll just get you to respond.

MARK ARBIB: Sorry, can you just explain that? I mean...

AUDIENCE MEMBER: Sorry. I'm just saying...

TONY JONES: I suspect you mean protest against...


TONY JONES: ...Israeli military ventures. Is that...

AUDIENCE MEMBER: Yes. Rather than speaking so blatantly about any anti-Semitic reason.

TONY JONES: Okay. All right. Let's get Mark Arbib to respond to that.

MARK ARBIB: I accept what you're saying, but how you started in terms of the peace process, that's
the key. I mean both sides have to come to the table. There is no other way and, you know, some
people will say there is no possibility of this happening but look at Northern Ireland. No one
thought peace was possible in Northern Island and Tony Blair worked at it. He worked at it and he
worked at it with politicians in the region and they got peace. There is no doubt if Obama and
Hilary Clinton get to work that this can happen.

TONY JONES: Okay. We have to - as always, we've come to the end in the middle of a very interesting
discussion but that is all we have time for tonight. Please thank our