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Meet The Press -

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DEBORAH KNIGHT: Good morning, welcome to Meet the Press. Fallout from the dramatic car bomb plot
targeting a London night club and Glasgow airport is still being felt across the world and in
Australia. The possible links here have raised the spectre of enemies within and the long detention
and now charging of Gold Coast doctor Mohammed Haneef has again put the spotlight on civil

PM JOHN HOWARD (July 1): While going about our normal lives we have to be continuously aware that
there are people who seek to bring about death and destruction for no good purpose.

LAWYER PETER RUSSO (Thursday): Someone gave us some good advice I think which was, you know, don't
start this battle with the politicians on this type of legislation, because you're going to lose
that battle.

DEBORAH KNIGHT: Federal Attorney-General Philip Ruddock is our guest this morning. And later we'll
hear the views of the Housing Industry Association on the growing problem of housing affordability
or lack of it. But first a look at what's nation's papers are reporting this Sunday July 15.
Sydney's 'Sunday Telegraph' headlines "Reckless support of bombers". Gold Coast doctor Mohammed
Haneef has been charged with recklessly supporting a terror organisation, 12 days after being
picked up with a one-way ticket to India. Adelaide's 'Sunday Mail' says "Police raid Perth
townhouse". Federal police executed a search warrant of a Subiaco home understood to be linked to
the UK terror investigation. Brisbane's 'Sunday Mail' headlines "Rudd brother quits ALP".
Opposition Leader Kevin Rudd's brother Greg has been forced to resign from the party for donating
funds to rival parties. And Perth's 'Sunday Times' has "calls to supersize Big Mac tax."
Nutritionist Rosemary Stanton wants a fat tax on unhealthy foods to save thousands of lives a year.
The detention of Dr Mohammed Haneef, now charged with providing support to a terrorist
organisation, has again put Australia's tough new anti-terror laws under scrutiny.
Attorney-General, Philip Ruddock, thanks for joining us here on Meet the Press. Now Mr Ruddock
we'll talk about the case of Dr Haneef in a moment, but what can you tell us about the raids
yesterday and overnight on a Perth home? Is that linked in any way to the investigation into
terrorism and the possible links to overseas-trained doctors?

ATTORNEY-GENERAL PHILIP RUDDOCK: Well, I'm not specifically aware of the nature of the
investigations and nor should I be. But what I can say is that the Australian Federal Police have
worked assiduously in relation to issues arising from the linkages with the UK bombings and have
put an enormous amount of resources and time and effort into very professionally examining any
possible links with Australia, and I would expect that would continue.

DEBORAH KNIGHT: Now charges have been laid against Dr Mohammed Haneef, so we're obviously
constrained about what we can talk about for legal issues, but why did it take so long to charge
him, 12 days of very thorough police investigation as you say, and he was being held that entire
time. Are you satisfied with the strength of the case against him?

PHILIP RUDDOCK: Well, look, the point I would make in relation to the case itself is that the
police determine whether or not there is sufficient evidence to present a matter to the
Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions, who is an independent statutory officer who
determines whether or not charges can be brought, and at the end of the process of course any
individual charged with an offence is innocent until proven guilty and these matters are dealt with
by a court.

DEBORAH KNIGHT: But two weeks to come up with those charges does seem like a long time?

PHILIP RUDDOCK: Well, the point I would make in relation to the issues generally, aside from the
particular case, is that when you receive information, as they did, suggesting there may be
linkages in Australia, that's when the investigation started. And of course having established that
there is an individual of interest, the police then have to examine all of the material, and the
law envisages, particularly when you're dealing with matters where people are abroad, where you're
working through different time zones, where you're dealing with modern technologies, you do need
time to be able to assess all of that material.

DEBORAH KNIGHT: Is there any chance that Dr Haneef might be extradited to the United Kingdom to
face charges there?

PHILIP RUDDOCK: Well, in relation to extradition, Australia would not normally surrender a person
for extradition where there were outstanding matters that had to be dealt with here. We have
another case involving a gentleman charged with terrorist offences in Sydney who has been sought in
Lebanon, and the fact that he has been sought in Lebanon is a matter that will be dealt with when
any of the charges that remain here to be concluded have been finalised.

PHILIP RUDDOCK: This is the first test of the Government's tough new anti-terror laws. Dr Haneef is
by many being viewed as a bit of a lab rat. Are there any elements of the laws that you would like
to be reviewed or strengthened? Mick Keelty said yesterday he would consider the way these sorts of
cases are handled in the future?

PHILIP RUDDOCK: The point is that we continue to refine these laws through a number of mechanisms.
We had a review of the law by a retired judge, Justice Simon Sheller, and he, along with those who
participated in that review, found that the laws were substantially achieving the purpose for which
they were intended, protecting the Australian community. But...

DEBORAH KNIGHT: Are there any specifics you'd like to look at? Perhaps the 24 hour cap on dead
time. There's a cap on the amount of time to be investigated, to be interrogated, would you like a
look at the dead time?

PHILIP RUDDOCK: Well, the point I've made and I'll make it again is that is that I think the laws
have been balanced and appropriate and are in large measure appropriate for the risks that we face.
But that doesn't mean to say there won't be fine tuning arising from the particular experiences
that might flow from current investigations. But this is not the first time these laws have been
used. They have a number of aspects to them and the important point I'd make is that those who
suggest that in relation to questioning, where the matter is supervised by a judicial officer, that
we should adopt the British system for instance where there is a 28-day cap on the period in which
people can be held. It seems to me that our arrangements are more appropriate given that we do have
preventive detention, but while people are held in preventive detention they cannot be questioned.
That is the Australian regime. But if people are to be questioned, the extent to which they are
detained is taken by a judicial officer, considering all of the material relevant to whether or not
the police claims are reasonable. And I think people have seen how that worked in this instance.
The police came to a view that they couldn't reasonably pursue that claim any longer and then,
after questioning, brought further charges.

DEBORAH KNIGHT: Briefly, Mr Ruddock, do you think if Dr Haneef is found to be innocent, you say he
is innocent until proven guilty, are you confident that he'll be able to resume his normal life,
continue working in the Gold Coast Hospital with no tarnish at all on his reputation?

PHILIP RUDDOCK: Well, I would make the point that anybody who is charged with offences in
Australia, having been found not guilty, should be able to resume their life normally. And that
would apply to Dr Haneef as it would to any other Australian. But I do make this point that in
relation to charges, they are very serious issues and we appreciate they are very serious issues.
They're not brought lightly. Matters are considered by the police on the basis of evidence
available, and those matters are independently assessed by the Director of Public Prosecutions, so
these are not political issues, they're issues dealt with as part of the criminal justice system.

DEBORAH KNIGHT: When we return with the panel, Sydney about to play host to a meeting of 21 of the
world's most powerful leaders, creating a major terrorism target. How prepared are we? And the
sharpest piece of political feedback of the week was inflicted on Kevin Rudd.


DEBORAH KNIGHT: You're on Meet the Press with our guest this morning, Federal Attorney-General
Philip Ruddock. And welcome to our panel, Alison Carabine from Radio 2UE and Tom Allard from the
'Sydney Morning Herald'. Now, we're only a matter of weeks away from the APEC leaders meeting in
Sydney that's set to spark one of the largest security operations Australia has ever seen. Here's
how the Attorney-General described the challenge.

PHILIP RUDDOCK (Wednesday): It's not rocket science to work out that, when you've got a number of
people here who are high profile, that it does raise the potential for threat, and it's one of the
reasons we're spending something like $169 million on additional security measures.

TOM ALLARD, 'SYDNEY MORNING HERALD': Mr Ruddock, has the Federal Government received any
applications from foreign governments for their agents to bring in weapons for the APEC summit?

PHILIP RUDDOCK: Normally these matters are put to the Government in confidence, but I haven't seen
any such applications.

TOM ALLARD: What is your view personally and what is the view of the Government given that we are
spending $170 million on security. Is there any need for foreign governments to bring in weapons
for their agents and carry them around Sydney?

PHILIP RUDDOCK: Well, look, the point I'd make in relation to these issues is that we do believe
that the arrangements we put in place are appropriate for protecting all of the participants in
relation to an important event like APEC and also other events, but there have been exceptional
decisions taken at previous times in relation to a very small number of individuals. I can't say it
won't happen on this occasion, but the arrangements we put in place envisage that we should be able
to adequately protect all of the participants who will come to Sydney for APEC.

TOM ALLARD: Of course, we are worried about APEC being a terrorist threat and we have seen some
very interesting reports from US intelligence agencies about progress in the war on terrorism, and
basically it's a very bleak assessment and they say that al-Qa'ida has never been as strong as it
is today, certainly since 2001 and the September 11 attacks. Is that an assessment that the Federal
Government agrees with?

PHILIP RUDDOCK: Well, I've seen those assessments. My view is that these matters vary. In relation
to Indonesia for instance, Jemaah Islamiah is seen particularly through the efforts of the
Indonesian police and security to have been very significantly downgraded. It doesn't mean that it
doesn't have continuing potential to cause very considerable harm, and when somebody like Noordin
Top remains at large and he was very much involved, it is alleged, in relation to earlier bombings,
obviously concerns remain. Equally if you look at places like Iraq, al-Qa'ida is clearly active
there, the material I've seen suggests that in some parts of Iraq it has been effectively degraded
but it remains a potent force. One is concerned about what we see happening in Afghanistan with the
renewed activity by the Taliban, and al-Qa'ida is clearly involved in that. Those are issues about
which there is very considerable public reporting, it's one of the reasons that Australia made
additional commitments to Afghanistan.

ALISON CARABINE, 2UE: Mr Ruddock, national security will no doubt play out at the election. If we
could turn to broader politics. The PM will tomorrow convene a so-called council of war to try and
I guess thrash out a battle plan to counter Kevin Rudd. The polls are all still looking fairly
bleak for the Government with the election just maybe three months away. What can you do to get the
Government back in the ball game, and isn't time quite fast running out?

PHILIP RUDDOCK: Well, I'm not a commentator on polls but I can assure you of this, having worked
with the PM over decades, he is very clearly focused on winning. He believes very strongly in the
Government's performance but he also has a very clear vision as to the directions in which
Australia should be moving and dealing with and continuing to deal with policy issues in a very
determined and effective way.

ALISON CARABINE: But it's not resonating with voters?

PHILIP RUDDOCK: Well, people will make their judgment when the election is called, but the point I
would make is that PM and his team are very clearly focused and that's what the Australian people
would expect.

ALISON CARABINE: There's constant speculation about the PM's retirement plans. He won't commit to
serving another full term. You're the grandfather of the House, Mr Ruddock, you're 64. Can you give
an undertaking that if you are reelected you'll see out another three years?

PHILIP RUDDOCK: I said to one of my local papers having just been endorsed for the next campaign
that it's my intention to continue to serve the electors of Berowra. I've made that commitment, but
the point I would make in relation to the observations of the PM, he's said very clearly that he is
there as long as the Liberal Party believes he is the best man for the job, and clearly that's what
the Liberal Party believes, and he will remain there as long as that is our view.

DEBORAH KNIGHT: In an election year on the issue of the tough new anti-terror laws, it's quite
fortuitous really for a government that wants to be seen among voters to be tough on terror to have
these terror laws tested for the first time. Do you expect any positive political bounce as a
result of this?

PHILIP RUDDOCK: I have no expectation either positively or negatively in relation to those matters.
There is a job to be done. When you face potential risk, your first obligation is to protect the
Australian community. I make the point - and I've made it time and time again - that the most
important human right in my view is the right to life, personal safety and security, and we have to
have a balanced set of rules in place to ensure that governments are able to fulfil that
responsibility. We've put in place laws that we believe are appropriate and balanced, we've had
general support I think from the Australian community for those measures, we didn't always have
support from the Opposition, they opposed our sedition measures for instance, but we believe the
laws are appropriate, measured and are operating as intended and are there to protect the
Australian community.

TOM ALLARD: Three years ago, when you introduced into law the laws that the AFP used during the
Haneef investigation, you said that three years later you would be instituting a fully independent
review of those very provisions. We're more than three years after those laws were introduced, we
haven't seen any independent review of these specific provisions. When are you going to get on to

PHILIP RUDDOCK: Well, I think the laws were introduced and upgraded in about 2005 and we're not at
the 3-year period, but, you know, when the laws were first introduced in 2002 dealing with the
amendments to the Criminal Code, there was a review established, an independent review, by a
retired justice, Simon Sheller, and the Sheller review is before the Government and there are
issues that were raised in that review that we are giving consideration to. So I think our record
is on the public table. We did initiate a review of the initial measures and all of the commitments
that we have given will be implemented.

DEBORAH KNIGHT: Philip Ruddock, we're out of time as usual. Thanks for joining us this morning here
on Meet the Press.

PHILIP RUDDOCK: It's a pleasure.

DEBORAH KNIGHT: Up next, why those two words, 'housing' and 'affordability' just don't seem to go
together and the latest animation from Nicholson on the the 'Australian' newspaper website has some
melancholy crooning from the PM. JOHN HOWARD: (Sings) # Yesterday, all my troubles seemed so far
away. Now it looks as though they're here to stay, oh I believe in yesterday. Suddenly I'm not half
the man I used to be. There's a shadow hanging over me. Oh yesterday, came suddenly. Why they had
to go I don't know, they would not say. I said, something wrong, now I long for yesterday. I
believe in yesterday. #

DEBORAH KNIGHT: You're on Meet the Press. Euphemistically it's called housing affordability but
really the housing issue is about people who can't afford homes and those who are in homes but
suffering from what's being dubbed severe mortgage stress. And the great Australian dream is
shaping up as a significant hip pocket issue in the coming election. JOHN HOWARD: As far as housing
affordability is concerned, the best thing that we can do as a Government in relation to housing
affordability is to keep interest rates as low as possibility.

DEBORAH KNIGHT: Welcome to the program, Housing Industry Association Executive Director Dr Ron
Silberberg. Thanks for your time.


DEBORAH KNIGHT: Well, is that where the Government's responsibilities begin and end, keeping
interest rates low?

RON SILBERBERG: Obviously that's very important, but we believe the Federal Government can go a lot
further. One of the most important contributions the Federal Government could make to housing
affordability would be to provide some capital funding for necessary infrastructure aligned to new
residential development, and indeed we're calling on the Federal Government to establish a $3
billion residential infrastructure fund.

ALISON CARABINE: And just the Federal Government, or would you like to see support from the States,
maybe institutional investors, superannuation funds, or is it just the Federal Government that
needs to sort out this problem?

RON SILBERBERG: The Federal Government ought to be making special purpose payments to help build
the water, sewerage, the community and social infrastructure that we require for new residential
development. The States and local Government should not get a free kick however. They should come
to the party by cutting infrastructure charges and fees which in Sydney represent about $150,000 on
a 300 square metre block of land. In addition, States should ensure that there are adequate
supplies of residential zoned land and also local Government should be prepared to cut red tape
which is adding significantly to the holding costs on new housing developments.

ALISON CARABINE: But how severe is this housing affordability problem? We've talked about the
500,000 households which are facing mortgage stress, but doesn't that contradict Reserve Bank
figures which found that only about 5.5% of households are in debt? Is this problem being

RON SILBERBERG: Not at all. For the 8,000 people that have lost their homes in the western suburbs
of Sydney over the past 12 months, please tell them that they didn't have a housing affordability
crisis. According to the 2006 Census, there are a million householders in mortgage or rent stress.
There are as many people in the private rental sector in rental stress as there are in the mortgage
sector, and in many ways that is the unsung problem in the housing affordability area.

TOM ALLARD: Of course, over the years, Dr Silberberg, we have seen the Government throw billions of
dollars at housing affordability, in particular with the first home owners grant. Has that scheme
been a complete failure, because it seems to me that any benefit to the householder of that grant
has been very quickly chewed up by price rises because the housing grant is actually fuelling the
housing boom in part?

RON SILBERBERG: It would be difficult to say that a $7,000 grant for the first time home owners
scheme is inflating real estate prices, but we believe there are potentially more effective ways to
encourage people into the first home market. In particular, we need to encourage a culture of
saving and that's why we developed the home supersaver account that would incentivise people to
make additional contributions above their 9% super contributions into a home super saver account
and that would enable people to build up a worthwhile deposit and we don't want people with 100%
home loans. That's dangerous.

ALISON CARABINE: Do you believe that people blame the Government for this problem, or do they blame
market forces, and if it is the former, the Government, will it be an election issue?

RON SILBERBERG: We have no doubt it's an election issue. What people - a lot of people don't
understand the sources of the housing affordability crisis, but they take no comfort when
governments fingerpoint at each other, try to shift blame, try to shift responsibility. People want
answers and there is an opportunity for national leadership. We certainly believe that the Federal
Government has to take the housing affordability crisis seriously, and it's obvious that Kevin Rudd
has decided that housing affordability is an election issue.

TOM ALLARD: You mentioned that these no document loans, these no deposit loans that are being
offered at the moment, how many Australians do you think are getting home loans who really
shouldn't be getting home loans?

RON SILBERBERG: Tom, I don't know the answer to that. But I can tell you that having more red tape
is not a solution. We believe that there is a greater role for financial counselling in the home
lending approval process. And for those people that are currently in mortgage or rent stress, we
consider that the Federal Government should expand its financial literacy services program to
enable people to go to financial planners and consumer agencies to obtain advice so that they might
be able to restructure their budgets. Moving forward in terms of would-be first home purchasers, we
think there is again a further role for financial counselling and that should be mandated within
the home lending process.

DEBORAH KNIGHT: And just finally Dr Silberberg, we've had quite a few builders contact the program
with the issue of home warranty insurance, saying that that type of insurance and the cost to
builders and to householders is actually stemming growth in the industry? What's your view?

RON SILBERBERG: No, I don't think that. Following the collapse of HIH, there was certainly a very
difficult period, but you now have a lot more providers of home warranty and over the past year
home warranty premiums have dropped by about 20% in Sydney, so I think it's receded as an issue.

DEBORAH KNIGHT: Well, Dr Silberberg, thanks for joining us here this morning on Meet the Press.

RON SILBERBERG: Thank you very much.

DEBORAH KNIGHT: Thanks also to our panel, Alison Carabine and Tom Allard. I'm Deborah Knight,
thanks for your company, see you next week.