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Transcript of interview with David Penberthy, Will Goodings: Radio 5AA Adelaide: 18 November 2015: Paris attacks; Senator Xenophon Grand Mufti comments; ISIL

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THE HON CHRISTOPHER PYNE MP Minister for Industry, Innovation and Science Leader of the House



Interview - 5AA David Penberthy & Will Goodings with Anthony Albanese

Wednesday 18 November 2015

SUBJECTS: Paris Attacks, Senator Xenophon Grand Mufti comments, ISIL

JOURNALIST: The member for Sturt, Christopher Pyne who is of course the Leader of Government Business in the House and also the Minister for Industry and his opponent Anthony Albanese who is a former deputy Prime Minister of Australia, Labor member for Grayndler in Sydney going head to head every Wednesday only here on 5AA. Guys’ thank you for joining us again now as you would expect, today’s segment is going to be dominated to a large degree by the events in France over the last couple of days. I’ll kick off with you if I can Chris, in principle do you support any increase in Australia’s military commitment to the war in Syria and Iraq?

CHRISTOPHER PYNE: Well good morning David and Will and Anthony and it’s good to be joining you again. Obviously the Cabinet and the NSC need to continuously monitor our involvement in the middle east, we are making a significant contribution and per capita is one of the most significant contributions of any country, but if we decided to do more we would obviously need to seriously consider the ramifications, the response form the Australian public and what we could conceivably militarily do that could assist. Obviously the entire world is uniting against ISIL and the Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has been at the G20 in Turkey and now APEC in Manilla where they’ve been talking about a united front bringing in soviet, well Russia and the United States and other countries working together. And I think that’s the right way to develop our response to ISIL’s threat.

JOURNALIST: What about you Anthony, what’s Labor’s sense of this? Because there’s been a very fierce and understandable response from the French in reaction to

what happened on the streets of Paris on Friday night, is the Labor party comfortable with the idea of Australia upping their involvement?

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Well this is a bipartisan issue, this is a threat to our democratic way of life, and these people want to destroy our values and what we stand for. The attack on Paris, the city of liberty, is an attempt to, by people who want essentially barbarism they want to wind back the clock to an uncivilised age. We certainly stand ready to work with the government in a bipartisan way and I think the whole of Australia feels like that. We want this to be an issue that totally unites us and the Government has given appropriate briefings when they’ve been required and we’d expect that to occur in the future. But I would certainly be hopeful that this is an issue that we spoke on as a nation rather than the Liberal party or the Labor Party.

CHRISTOPHER PYNE: Effectively we are united against the threat to our way of life against ISIL and we have to win both militarily, diplomatically and in a humanitarian sense after the war is completed.

ANTHONY ALBANESE: I think also there are some lessons that have been learnt perhaps by recent history. The truth is that our engagement in Iraq, and there was a bit of a view by the western powers that the introduction of democracy would be a good thing, the so called Arab spring in Egypt and Libya and other nations in that region it’s pretty hard to argue there have been improvements in reality and Assad is obviously someone we would have fundamental disagreements with but the idea of supporting his overthrow without knowing what would replace it I think has meant that that country has descended into chaos. And I note John Howard’s comments overnight. John Howard has put some views out there about the way forward and I think it is a really good thing that the United States and Russia are working together now rather than having a proxy power struggle in the region.

JOURNALIST: Just in terms of some of the discussion about it domestically, in the last hour or so the Grand Mufti of Australia has issued a statement where he has now unequivocally condemned the terror attacks in France and removed all of the many caveats on it the other day.

I noticed that this morning, Chris Pyne, you had a crack at the Independent South Australian Senator Nick Xenophon for making some remarks when you appeared on with him on Q and A on Monday when he appeared to be saying that you could link what happened on Saturday to the Iraq War.

CHRISTOPHER PYNE: Well I’m glad the Grand Mufti’s done that (inaud If I was to comment on the Grand Mufti’s statements I’d very studiously avoid any criticism because I think now is not the time to be engaging in domestic tit for tat politics - quite the opposite - we are in a very serious and grave situation and there’s been another bomb scare in Hanover, this time today. Well Senator Xenophon did say on QandA on Monday night that ISIL didn’t exist before the second Iraq War, leaving the inference

hanging that somehow the United States and the West were responsible for ISIL. Of course ISIL existed in Syria as a response to the Assad Regime and if Senator Xenophon meant that, I think it’s a very muddle-held view of Middle Eastern politics. If he didn’t mean that, I think he needs to clarify that statement because it certainly leaves the wrong impression with people and it’s one the arguments of course that people use against the West to say that somehow we brought this upon ourselves. That is a very wrong view and Senator Xenophon needs to clarify that I think today otherwise people will have the wrong impression of what he meant.

JOURNALIST: Anthony Albanese, in the wake of what took place in Paris over the weekend, there’s been a couple of really strong sentiments that have come through from our listeners. One has obviously been sympathy, there’s been a deal of frustration too about how we might solve this problem and deal with the issues that come out of the Middle East, but another has been with regard to the 13,000 Syrian refugees that we’re accepting into the country certainly in light of the identification of a Syrian passport on one of those terrorists in France, there is real fear amongst our listeners that in doing the right thing and opening our arms to some of these 13,000 there might be a handful of people who are entering the country with a view to doing the wrong thing. Do you share those concerns at all?

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Look, I’m very confident that the Australian Government will have the appropriate screenings in place. We support the Government’s decision to do our bit to assist in those people who are after all - these are the victims of the Islamic State not it’s proponents and it’s important to remember as well that just one week ago that the attack in Beirut was the worst attack since the Lebanese Civil War ended more than two decades ago, resulted in multiple fatalities and that the Islamic State’s main victims have been people of Islamic faith. These are people who attack people who happen to disagree with them and their barbaric view of the world and it is appropriate that we do our bit. Australian security checks will be in place and these are people who are not, of course, randomly entering our nation. These are people who are being selected and screened and I’d be very confident in the Australian Government’s processes.

JOURNALIST: Well it makes you, I might give Christopher Pyne an opportunity to respond to that as well, the concerns of our listeners, do you share any of those concerns?

CHRISTOPHER PYNE: Well what happened in Paris on the weekend and in Hanover today reminds us that we have to be very vigilant, very vigilant. It also reminds us that I think, and I’m glad that Anthony raised it, that when there is an atrocity committed against Christians and Muslims in the Middle East like the one in Beirut, like the ones recently in Peshawar in Pakistan, or whether they occur in Afghanistan we have to equally condemn those acts of terrorism when they happen against our own western way of life in Europe because we need the entire moderate world whether its Muslim or Christian working together against extremists. In terms of the screening of the Syrian refuges we have very sophisticated methods of screening people coming to

Australia, you can’t assume that absolutely everybody who comes to Australia will turn out to be a perfect citizen, and we’ve seen examples of that in the last year or so, the Lindt Café is obviously an example of that. You can’t assume that everybody will always be a perfect citizen whether they’re Muslims, whether they’re Christians or whether they have no religion. But in terms of the 12 000 Syrian refugees that are coming here I am very confident that we have the best screening methods in the world and that we are a model of how to do that.

JOURNALIST: Yeah I think that’s one issue particularly after that passport was found on the Syrian chap who had taken part in the attacks on the weekend, and it emerged he’d established his refugee credentials fraudulently that’s something that a lot of people have picked up on it’s a…

CHRISTOPHER PYNE: And you also have to think about the scale of the issue in the Europe. The number of people seeking refuge or coming to Europe as economic refugees is numbering in the hundreds of thousands. And it’s very much easier to get to Europe of course than it is to get to Australia because there’s a land bridge and only the Mediterranean separating the Middle East from Europe. So it’s a very different situation that they face than to what we face here.

JOURNALIST: Well look it was a lot more serious this segment than it has been to date but that’s the nature of the times to Christopher Pyne,

CHRISTOPHER PYNE: serious times.

JOURNALIST: Absolutely, and Anthony Albanese thanks very much for joining us this morning.

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Peace be with you, and hopefully next week we’ll be in a better mood I think it has really darkened the whole world

CHRISTOPHER PYNE: You’ll be back to your usual self, Anthony.

ANTHONY ALBANESE: He always has to go the low road. I didn’t even mention the

police raids about James Ashby…

JOURNALIST: We’ll save that for next Wednesday! That’s good, there’s question one for next time.

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