Subjects: Terrorist attack in London; same-sex marriage plebiscite; reforms to section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act.
Peter Dutton good morning to you.
Good morning Ray.
Nice to hear your voice.
Now, you awoke this morning, as we call did, to the news of yet another terrorist attack, this time in London and it's a timely reminder for us all Minister that there but the grace of God go we all.
Well of course it is Ray and you know the threat is not just here and obviously our agencies do an amazing job every day to keep us safe, but lots of us will have visited the precinct there, people will have family or kids or grandkids that are either planning a visit to the UK or have recently been there, so this always hits home and it just reinforces to us the need to be ever vigilant.
These people are determined to try and kill senselessly. The family that would be grieving of the police officer and others that have been killed, it is just horrific thoughts and we're just pleased that there wasn't more carnage than what there was.
The potential for these people to cause you know mass death is obvious and the police obviously and the agencies have swung into action there, to their great credit and the UK is one of our great enduring partners – always will be. There will always be a strong bond between our two countries and at these sorts of times the UK wants to know that they've got friends and they certainly have got a very good dear and enduring friend in Australia.
Well unfortunately as you're talking I'm watching the live feed on Sky with the Scotland Yard Acting Commissioner Mark Rowley now telling me Minister five people are confirmed dead – so another person has died. So we've got three innocent civilians, we've got a police officer bravely going about trying to protect people, unarmed we believe and the terrorist himself and they've increased the number of people in hospital from 20 to 40 and some of those with catastrophic injuries – so in fact this death toll could rise beyond five as we understand it now – but five people are confirmed dead.
I'm just thinking out loud – this is nothing that you can do anything about – but the New South Wales Government are about to appoint a new commissioner and I've spoken about this time after time after time. We've got one of the applicants, one of the most decorated terrorist experts anywhere in the world, currently working for the United Nations, Nick Kaldas and if ever we needed someone with a hand on terrorism in New South Wales, the most populist state in the Commonwealth, it's right now.
I'd remind Gladys Berejiklian and her Cabinet and anyone else making the decision that we are on high alert when it comes to terrorism – even though we might say it is a moderate alert, I can tell you now that….and I heard the Prime Minister this morning saying Westminster is the mother of Parliaments; an attack on the British Parliament is an attack on Parliaments everywhere, he's right, but then he enunciated Minister how many thwarted attacks we've had in Australia thanks to good work by AFP and various agencies across the country.
I think moments like this Ray, all of us, people who are listening to your programme, all Australians should pause just for a moment to say thank you to the police and the intelligence agencies. We've got people from the Australian Defence Force who are working in the Middle East now, involved in strikes killing terrorists before they come back to countries like ours and the UK. So there's a lot of effort that has gone on.
The National Security Committee meets regularly. The Prime Minister chairs that committee and we get regular updates from the Chiefs of the intelligence and law enforcement and Defence agencies.
As a nation I think sometimes we take for granted the professionalism of those officers. They've got families, they will be worried that people that are on the frontline today, their families will be worried about them that are working to protect us and we shouldn't take it for granted, we should be grateful for the work that they do and it is part of the reason that we live in such a civilised decent and honourable society.
Today I think it is an opportunity to pause; thank them and reflect on the fact that we are indeed a lucky country, but we're lucky in part because we've got I think the best men and women on the frontline of our intel and policing agencies right across every state and at a commonwealth level and for that we should be very grateful.
Now, the Lefties on social media must have been in a state of conniption yesterday when reports on the front page of various newspapers said that all of a sudden Peter Dutton was looking to try and get this same sex marriage debate solved.
So today we pick up the paper and see that in fact what it is, is suggesting a postal plebiscite on same sex marriage, which will cost a lot less than a regular plebiscite, but I notice that Tanya Plibersek and others have said no, no and no, it should be voted on by Parliament.
Well, of course your Government went to the polls with a plebiscite in mind and I notice the Prime Minister will not be moved on this one either?
Ray, we went to the last election with a policy saying that we support the current definition of marriage and that if there was to be a change we would need to go to a plebiscite. The plebiscite was a very clear and deliberate proposal within our election promise and we shouldn't break that promise. We said that we would hold a plebiscite and we put the legislation to the Senate and the Senate has knocked back a plebiscite, which would be a compulsory event around the country on a particular day.
There is this option of a postal plebiscite which doesn't require legislation as I understand. It may achieve in some ways the same outcome to a plebiscite that you would think of in the traditional sense.
So I don't support walking away from our election pledge. I have been very clear about that. Now, somebody who was playing games in the Fairfax press the other day, that's fine, as I said in Cairns last weekend and as I've said all this week; my position is very clear and that is that the Liberal Party went to the last election with a policy for a plebiscite. We should abide by that. That's the position of the Prime Minister and others within the Government and it is a sensitive issue for many people in Parliament, but across the country and we should respect the diversity of views and people who are vilified for their views on one side or the other, it is not the way that any debate should be conducted.
Now just on this, I mean it's difficult, because even people within your own Party, your own side of politics, have an opposing view to say you and Scott Morrison, but even allowing for the cost which would be $39 million as opposed to $160 (million) for a normal plebiscite, as opposed to a postal plebiscite; if you can't get agreement in Parliament, it doesn't happen anyway, does it?
Well as I say Ray, with the postal plebiscite there is no legislation required as I understand it so there are those different aspects, I don't know….
….so you wouldn't need the Labor Party to agree to this, you could go and do it unilaterally, could you?
Look, that's my understanding of it and we've got to deal with the reality of the Senate and the Senate knocked back the plebiscite. So essentially the Labor Party and the Greens were saying that they didn't want the plebiscite, that is they didn't want to hear from Australians on what is a proposal around a significant social change in our country.
There are people listening to your programme all across the country that have very strong views. There are people who are visiting companies now, spending their money with particular companies that would have views for and against (same sex) marriage, which is why I was strongly of the view that CEOs trying to use their position and power was the wrong thing to do.
We need to respect, as I say people on both sides of the debate, as we should in any discussion and those people that are being shouted down because they believe in the current definition of marriage, I think it's unacceptable.
So we do need to have respectful debate that's true in Parliament, it's true in the community and we have a policy that we went to the last election with. My view is that we should abide by it.
See this is where it gets confusing. Those from the Left of politics, the screaming Lefties, they think you should be silenced for daring to have the temerity to suggest to CEOs that they should worry about running their companies and shouldn't be offering support on such issues.
But then, when they find there's a person at IBM who may have an opposing view and we don't know his personal view, we just know that he's a Christian person who may well have an opposing view – he should be sacked and condemned. So you can't have it both ways.
Ray these people are part of this PC push across the country. It's okay it seems for a young kid not to be required to shake the hand of a female teacher; somehow that's okay. Keysar Trad advocating that as a last resort women should be physically assaulted; somehow that's okay...it's a nonsense and it should be called out. If CEOs are using shareholders' money in publicly listed companies to push particular social causes, I don't agree with it. I have no problem at all with CEOs spending their own money; they can spend it on what they want, they can campaign for what they want in their own name. My argument is if you are a CEO of an iconic Australian company and you're campaigning in the name of that company, I think it's wrong. It's not a suppression of freedom of speech or free speech, it's an exercise actually in allowing people that don't have the might of a multi-billion dollar company behind them to be heard on these important issues and people who have Christian values or people who have counter view, I don't care whether they are for or against gay marriage, they shouldn't be entering into debates in this way.
Now, they have a different view. They've put a counter view; somehow they're saying that this would be great for the economy. They're not out their arguing for changes around industrial relations or changes around taxation laws which would make it easier for their companies to deliver a better service. On your programme last week I was critical of Telstra. I thought they should clean up their own backyard before they spend money, their shareholders' money on these sorts of programmes.
It's an issue for them in the end, but I think people, customers, will make their own judgements.
In this debate the Liberal Party's position has been clear. We should abide by that position, but lots of us are working together to find a sensible approach through this Parliament.
I want to thank you for those comments last week. I've now become the telephony ombudsman again. In light of your comments about waiting on the line to speak to someone in the Philippines who couldn't understand you or you couldn't understand them; I got dozens and dozens and dozens of emails from Telstra customers who said exactly the same thing and said 'can you help us' and the answer to that question was no I can't – after I got a guarantee from the former CEO David Thodey that they would never go to call centres offshore – he did that within 12 months of coming into power and it's been that way ever since.
Now to 18C. Not only are the Labor Party not going to support the plan to make it a more reasonable 18C, they want to extend the reach to people offended or insulted because of sexual orientation, disability or age. I mean fair dinkum.
Well this shows you that Bill Shorten is completely and utterly captured by the Greens, by the union movement and by the politically correct brigade of this country Ray.
He is not fit to be leader because he doesn't have the backbone to be leader. This is the problem for Bill Shorten and it is disturbing to see a Leader of the Opposition, somebody who wants to be prime minister of this country, who doesn't have the ability to stare these people down.
What the Prime Minister is proposing in 18C is that uni students at QUT couldn't be prosecuted by the Human Rights Commissioner, that Bill Leak – a cartoonist for goodness sake – that somebody like Bill Leak, the late, great who contributed to public debate and to freedom of speech in this country, that he couldn't, somebody of his ilk, couldn't be called before the Human Rights Commission.
Now, if people are going to use racist terms and if people are going to vilify individuals then they should be captured by the law and they are and the most important point here to Ray, is that there is a reasonable person test that is applied under 18C and the Labor Party say that they don't support that either.
So in all sorts of acts and applications of the law we look at what the reasonable person would do and that is what the Prime Minister is proposing here. What would the reasonable person say in relation to that language or that act? Did it harass or intimidate? And I think it's a fairly fundamental test.
If Bill Shorten is saying 'I don't trust a fair person test' well it says to me that he is captured by a different test, one that wants to be applied by the Greens or by the politically correct who I think have way too much say in this country.
Alright, as always thanks for your time. We'll talk next week.