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Transcript of interview with Laura Jayes: Sky News: 15 August 2018: Senator Anning; online image abuse; Jacinta Allan and Sky News

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Guy Creighton | 0438 815 302 |

Authorised by Senator Mitch Fifield, Liberal Party of Australia, Parliament House, Canberra

Sky News Live with Laura Jayes

Sky News

15 August 2018

12.08 pm

E & OE

JAYES: Let’s go live to Canberra now. Joining me now is the Communications Minister Mitch Fifield. Senator, thanks so much for your time. Fraser Anning was elected on 19 votes. How does he represent a state, let alone his own family?

FIFIELD: He came into the Parliament in an unusual set of circumstances. As you know, we had a range of colleagues who left the Senate because of citizenship issues. So this isn’t the usual manner that someone comes into the place. But you’re quite right, Laura, the voters will be able to exercise their verdict at the next election. But I join with all my colleagues in condemning what he said. We are a big-hearted, an open and a generous nation. We welcome people through our immigration program. We welcome people through our humanitarian program. And all we ask is that people sign up to our values and contribute. We don’t judge them by anything other than their character and their contribution. And it was terrific that today, in the Senate, we had a cross-party motion that reiterated our commitment to a non-discriminatory migration policy.

JAYES: Well, Tim Watts has blamed this on Malcolm Turnbull in part for calling that double dissolution, as you just referenced there. Richard Di Natale says these

Subject: Senator Anning, Online Image Abuse, Jacinta Allan and Sky News

comments from Fraser Anning were made more possible because of the comments Malcolm Turnbull has made in relation to gang violence in your state. What do you say to that?

FIFIELD: No. I think you can’t draw a line between those. For those who live in Victoria we know that gang violence is an issue. That’s not something that’s manufactured. That’s a real and a serious law and order issue. But what happened in the Senate last night is something that’s completely unrelated. It’s something that I had thought was behind us. That we wouldn’t hear those sorts of contributions in the Senate, but I doubt we’ll be hearing them in the near future.

JAYES: Did you vote to censure him?

FIFIELD: Laura, we wanted to restate the bipartisan commitment that there is to a non-discriminatory immigration policy. The Greens put on a stunt to try and up-end that process with their own motion. But we, with the Labor Party, supported the motion to just make very clear that this is an area of bipartisanship. Since Holt started to dismantle - the White Australia policy - there has been bipartisan support for having a completely non-discriminatory immigration policy.

JAYES: But you say it was a stunt from the Greens, why didn’t you vote to censure him?

FIFIELD: We wanted to focus on the positive. The things that unite us as a parliament. And that is that we open our arms to the world. We’re one of the great migrant nations. We’re the most successful multicultural democracy in the world. And that’s what we wanted to focus on and emphasise.

JAYES: But censuring a senator, or indeed any member of parliament, is the strongest signal that a parliament can send. I’m just wondering why you didn’t do that and what are the repercussions for Fraser Anning? Is it just the way our democracy works? He was elected on 19 votes. He’s allowed to go in, make a maiden speech, have the whole parliament condemn him and there’s no repercussions?


People, elected members of parliament, in whatever fashion they’ve found themselves in the Parliament, can say stupid things. And when people say stupid things, it’s the right of the rest of us to call that out and to say so. But ultimately it’s the voters at the ballot box who will have their say.

JAYES: Okay. Well, we’ll leave it there because he probably doesn’t deserve more air time than we’ve given him this morning. But I think we’ve seen the best and worst of our parliament on display in the last 24 hours, which is a good thing in many ways.

FIFIELD: I think that’s right.

JAYES: Let’s get to some areas in your portfolio now. You want to bring in legislation that would put a seven-year prison term on revenge porn. What are the worst examples of revenge porn that you’ve seen and why is this legislation necessary?

FIFIELD: Technology has given us a whole range of new opportunities. But sadly it also means that people who want to cause harm to others have new opportunities and new ways of doing that. And sadly the research, the survey work, that the Office of the eSafety Commissioner has undertaken has found that one in five of those surveyed have been subject to some sort of non-consensual sharing of intimate images. And that can be of a part of themselves. It can be of them undertaking a private activity. And obviously that can cause immense damage to an individual. Immense distress. It can wreck lives. What we’re doing is introducing into the Parliament two things. One is a range of civil penalties so that perpetrators can be fined $105,000 and social media platforms $525,000. But we’re also introducing a new category of criminal offence, an aggravated offence, in addition to the current criminal provisions that we have. And that will mean that someone can be jailed for five years. And, for repeat offenders, jailed for up to seven years. Because we want to send the message to creeps online that the law is going to come after you, that this is not acceptable.

JAYES: Yeah, there certainly are creeps online. It struck me that under this legislation there would be fines for individuals and corporations. Now, for individuals around $100,000, for corporations around $500,000. Have corporations seriously engaged in revenge porn? How have they been able to do that?


Well, it’s more a case where an individual seeks to put this material, and to share it, by way of an online platform. Now the eSafety Commissioner has had very good success in having social media organisations voluntarily take this material down. But it’s not necessarily the case that all organisations at all times will do the right thing. So where a social media organisation or a platform doesn’t take material down at the request of the e-Safety Commissioner, then they will have the capacity to seek to levy fines of more than $500,000.

JAYES: Can I ask you, finally, about your state and the Transport Minister Jacinta Allan, she’s sought to control what is shown at Victorian train stations, can she do that? Can you stop her from doing that as Communications Minister?


I think what the state government can do on its own property, with their own contracts is a matter within their control. But I mean, look, Laura, I’m someone who has been known on occasion to make complaints, but it’s never entered my head to seek to ban a media organisation. I mean, my goal as Communications Minister is to seek to enhance the viability of Australian media organisations. Because although we mightn’t always like what they broadcast or blog or post or publish, Australian media organisations are one of the important underpinnings of our democracy. They’re an important accountability mechanism. And for an elected government to seek to ban a media organisation is deeply, deeply concerning.


What’s the difference between what Jacinta Allan’s done with Sky News at train stations and what you’re doing with your complaints to the ABC?


There’s every world of difference. The ABC has legislated independence, and I as a member of parliament, as a minister, am entitled as any member of the community, if there’s something that I think isn’t right or if I think the organisation should seek to be its best self, to raise that and point that out. Now, the ABC can take note of that or not. It’s entirely up to them. And if the ABC decide not to, there are absolutely no consequences. A world of difference between expressing a view and seeking to shutdown and ban a media organisation.

JAYES: Mitch Fifield, appreciate your time today.


Good to be with you, Laura