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Sunrise -

View in ParlView



26 FEBRUARY 2010

Subjects: Habib allegations; Internet filter; Online Ombudsman proposal; Superannuation

KOCH: Prime Minister, good morning to you.

PM: Good morning.

KOCH: Two quick questions on this case. Would there ever have been an instance where Australian
officials were present at the torture of an Australian citizen?

PM: I find that very difficult to believe. This occurred - according to the gentleman concerned -
several years ago. Let's test the facts. But I find it very difficult to believe at face value.

KOCH: The courts have said he can claim compensation. Do you think they're right?

PM: Matter for the courts. And the great thing about Australia is that we've got an independent
legal system. So he's perfectly entitled to pursue whatever legal rights he believes he has, and
his lawyers advise him, test the facts. I go back to the first question though, Kochie- I find it
very difficult to believe that our officials would have ever been involved in that. I'm talking
about officials under the previous Australian Government as well.

KOCH: Will you look into that? Into those claims-

PM: Yep. I will, I will.

KOCH: And take it further?

PM: I will get into the detail of it. I'm surprised at face value. I don't think it's right. But
I'll test the argument that's been put. I think that's what you've got to do to be fair dinkum in
response to what people have said. But I go back to the legal question. That is, he is perfectly
entitled to pursue his legal rights in the courts, and our independent legal system is one of the
best in the world.

KOCH: Okay, alright, let's get into the questions. Last week was terrific, the question on the
Japanese whaling certainly put it back on the agenda. What's in store for us this week? Let's find
out. Dave Morgan from Sydney, you're up with the Prime Minister.

MORGAN: G'day Kevin.

PM: G'day Dave.

MORGAN: You're proposing Net Choices, mandatory filtering of Australian internet connections - has
promoted huge debate within Australia, with comments such as "it's a flawed plan which cannot stop
the spread or access to child pornography within Australia", "it's a tool that has the potential to
restrict the free speech of Australian working families", "it's a policy designed to gain the
religious vote and appease the record industry", and that "Labor has actually no mandate to
implement a mandatory filter".

Worse still, "it's a policy that will remove paedophiles from behind their computers, and return
them to the playground". Working in a business that already filters traffic for child abuse and
terrorism, I know that filtering significantly slows down our internet. Without the internet, we
have no business. My questions to you are- will you guarantee that no Australian business will
suffer any loss in productivity by the implementation of a mandatory internet filter, when
filtering is already applied? And, why do you insist on implementing a policy that will simply fail
in its objective to protect the children?

PM: Well, let's go to the sort of material that we're talking about. It's called refused
classification material. What does it involve? Acts of child abuse, acts of sexual abuse against
children, including material which also provides how to kits in terms of conducting terrorist
attacks. We have a very hardline approach on this. Is any system perfect in dealing with it? No.
But is our challenge to reduce it to the absolute extent possible? Yes. And remember, what we're
doing here is the same treatment that you extend to any piece of material out there in movies, in
videos, and now we're seeking to do the same when it comes to this awful material which I think,
you know, mums and dads watching the program this morning would be really worried about.

Now, on the question of internet speed which you legitimately raise. We've tested this with some
nine internet service providers. And what we've found is that the impact on speed is the equivalent
to 1/70th of the blink of an eye. This is backed by Optus. It is backed by Telstra. It's not
perfect, but let me tell you I will not stand idly by and allow this sort of muck to be put online
without making an effort to reduce it, given the enormous impact it has on the safety of children.

And on the coppers thing, can I just say this? Police, we've actually increased the number of
Police who are actually monitoring cyber crime every day. So we have literally 100 more coppers on
the beat federally working also on this. I think this stuff is filthy. I can't stand it. I think
these are the right measures. You're running a business, we're pro-internet, but we don't make
apologies for this.

KOCH: ok. It also brings us to- that we've been running for some time- about introducing an Online
Ombudsman. You see, 30,000 people have signed our petition for that. And in the past couple of
weeks, we've seen Facebook sites hacked into following the deaths of Elliot Fletcher and Trinity
Bates, and here's what Independent Senator Nick Xenophon had to say on Sunrise earlier this week.


KOCH: And Prime Minister, we've got the Daniel Morcombe issue, a very similar thing we've been
running in the news. And groups like Facebook, we've asked to come on and say why aren't you taking
it down. They're not doing it, and if they are they're being very slow, they won't come on the
program. Don't you think we need an Ombudsman here? It's an issue that's getting out of control.

PM: I think Nick Xenophon's idea is worth looking at. Because, you know, we just see the colliding
of the two worlds here, abuse and graphic material online, and businesses legitimately concerned
about using the internet properly, like your caller who was just on line before. So specifically on
Nick's idea, let's look at it. We actually need to do everything we can to combat cyber crime. The
role of cyber crime and internet bullying on children is, frankly, frightening, and we need to be
deploying all practical measures.

If I was a mum or a dad out there today with little kids, given some of the awful events we've seen
in recent days, I'd be legitimately concerned. So there's some more stuff to do here.

KOCH: Okay, so Nick Xenophon's going to table our petition of Sunrise viewers, you're going to have
a talk to him, hopefully we can get some movement-

PM: I will. I mean, to be frank, that's the first I've heard of it, but we-

KOCH: Well we sort of need someone to say to Facebook, take it down, you know, this is disgusting.
The grubs that are putting these sorts of sites up can't be given any air, if you like.

PM: But you know Kochie, you're dead right. And this is where we get into this really stupid debate
with what I'd describe as extreme civil libertarianism, which says any such move in that direction
means the imposition of Soviet Communism a la 1980. Look, it's not like that. People out there,
mums and dads, are sensible folks. They know where the balance lies. This stuff is off, like the
stuff we were talking about before is off, and responsible Governments have to act. It's not
perfect, but we need to reduce the problem.

KOCH: Okay, let's go to Sonia Harrison in good old Adelaide. Sonia, you've got the ear of the PM.

HARRISON: Good morning Prime Minister.

PM: Good morning Sonia.

HARRISON: I believe- good morning- I believe that there should be a Government-funded
superannuation fund set up for stay at home parents. Many of us, many, many of us for years and
years are staying at home, raising children, and missing out on accruing superannuation
contributions. During this time, we're keeping unemployment rates down because we're at home. We're
also keeping the strain off the childcare system. And parents who are using this system receive a
rebate while they're working, and of course, while they're working they are receiving
superannuation benefits. And I believe that there should be something set in place for the work
we're doing at home, so that when we're at retirement age we aren't penalised and behind the eight
ball because of these years we spend at home. I was just wondering if the Governments has ever
looked at- into this, or if, you know, there's something you can look into, and what your thoughts
are on this?

PM: Thanks Sonia. Can I just ask how many kids you've got?


PM: And basically what their age spread is?

HARRISON: I've got a nineteen year old, a six and a four year old.

PM: Okay, so you've got the full range of terror there. I can see that. Been there, done that. Not
quite that fifteen years, but getting close. Stretches the mind, doesn't it?

HARRISON: Yes, it does.

PM: Firstly, what we try to do with stay at home mums who are making an entirely valid choice in
terms of looking after their kids, no one is better or worse whether mums go back to work or stay
at home. That's just a choice for individual families. But in terms of stay at home mums, one of
the reasons why we've got the family tax benefit system is to provide that extra support for
children. Now that's one thing. Obviously, that applies more generally. I understand that. The
second thing, of course, we have is the particular payment which helps with the baby bonus.

But Sonia, rather than just sort of say everything's fine and dandy and that's all that we can do,
I'd actually like to follow up on this one more and come back to you. There's a huge number of mums
who make the legitimate choice that you've made, which is, you want to be there nurturing your
kids, particularly with the big age spread like yours, and it does affect your working life-

HARRISON: And dads-

PM: Sorry?

HARRISON: And dads.

PM: It certainly affects dads, let me tell you about that.

KOCH: Alright Sonia, the Prime Minister will take that up on board as well. Because under
superannuation you've got spouse contribution to, but that's for, I think, spouses working part
time rather than stay at home mums, maybe an extension of that to include stay at home parents.

PM: What I've learnt Kochie is that when it comes to the word 'superannuation', choose your words
very carefully, because there are a whole lot of unintended consequences with saying one thing.
Therefore, what I'd like to do seriously is come back to Sonia on what is best and most relevant in
her circumstances, but all the other mums, frankly, watching the program, who she represents. Mums
who choose to stay at home looking after their kids make a huge contribution to the nation, because
kids are nurtured in the home environment, and they become workers of the future as well.

KOCH: Excellent, alright, you'll take it up for us. Good to see you, have a good weekend.

PM: Will do.