Hunting, Housing and Homeland Security

Transcript of the ABC Q&A episode that Mark Seymour appeared on in 2017.

Author: ABC Q&A.

Date: 27 March 2017.

Original URL: http://www.abc.net.au/tv/qanda/txt/s4624232.htm

 

Article Text

Share of Discussion:
Bridget McKenzie – 19%
Lydia Khalil – 18%
Peter Holmes A Court – 17%
Kerry Chikarovski – 17%
Mark Seymour – 16%
Amanda Rishworth – 13%
TONY JONES
Good evening, and welcome to Q&A, I’m Tony Jones, and here to answer your questions tonight – businessman Peter Holmes a Court, Nationals Senator Bridget McKenzie, musician and former Hunters & Collectors frontman Mark Seymour, international security expert Lydia Khalil, Labor frontbencher Amanda Rishworth and former leader of the NSW Liberal Party Kerry Chikarovski. Please welcome our panel.

(APPLAUSE)

TONY JONES
Thank you. Now, Q&A is live on ABC TV in New South Wales, Victoria and Tasmania. It’s live everywhere else on News 24 at 9:35 Eastern Daylight Time and you can watch and listen live on iview, YouTube, Facebook, ABC News Radio and Periscope. First question tonight comes from Eliza Gay.

SYDNEY -ACCEPTING THE INEVITABLE00:01:09

ELIZA GAY
In the wake of the London terror attacks in Westminster, the Mayor of London, Mr Sadiq Khan, stated that terror attacks are now part and parcel of living in a big city. Sydney is a booming metropolitan capital with a population of 5 million Australians with diverse backgrounds and cultures. Is Mr Khan right? And do Sydneysiders and residents of other major Australian cities need to accept terrorism as an inevitable part of modern life?

TONY JONES
Lydia Khalil, start with you.

LYDIA KHALIL, SECURITY & RISK CONSULTANT
Look, I don’t really agree with that premise, that we just need to accept terrorism, just like I don’t think we need to accept any form of violence, whether it’s domestic violence or any type of assault or human trafficking. You know, I’m not being naive, I know that there is violence and risk and everything out there but just to say we should accept it and carry on, I don’t think that that’s the right approach to it.

That being said, I think our response to it, um, is really the key thing. We can have more of an impact than the actual terrorist attack itself. So, if we have a disproportionate response to what’s going on, if we have, you know, overzealous policies, overzealous security, then it’s gonna do far more harm than the actual violent attack. But if we have a more measured response and we keep that social cohesion, then we’ll go a long way, I think, to stopping terrorism.

TONY JONES
Kerry Chikarovski, I think you were in London in 2005 for the extremely violent and big terrorist attack then?

KERRY CHIKAROVSKI, FORMER NSW LIBERAL LEADER
Yeah, I was actually in the parliament building, um, and sitting there, catching up with a friend of mine and one of the staff came in and said, “There’s been explosions in the Underground and on a bus.” And his immediate reaction was, “Oh, you mean we’ve had a terrorist attack.” And not long after, Tony Blair went into the House and confirmed it was a terrorist attack.
And you know, it was really interesting, Tony, ‘cause the thing that struck me about it, apart from the fact, obviously there was no Tubes and no buses, the number of people who actually went on to the street. Now, part of that was because they had no choice, they couldn’t get anywhere else, but the thing which I found extraordinary over that next couple of days was what you’re talking about, that reaction which said, “We are not going to overreact. We are not going to be hysterical. We’re basically English and we’re going to stay calm and carry on.”
And that was the feeling in the city for, you know… even though everyone was shocked and horrified about what had happened. But people were very determined that these terrorists were not going to ruin their lives. I mean, I… Look, two weeks later, I went to go on the Tube and I couldn’t bring myself to go down the stairs to get on the Tube, I was so traumatised by what had happened, but that wasn’t the average Londoner’s reaction.

TONY JONES
Kerry, the questioner is asking should everyone now living in big cities, including in Australia, simply accept that this is a fact of life?

KERRY CHIKAROVSKI
Well, look, I think we have to acknowledge that terrorism is around us, but I don’t think we should be complacent about it and I don’t think we should, in any way, detract from the fact that we have incredibly good security services in this country who have been pretty good at making sure that we haven’t been subject to the sort of attack… Yes, we have had the lone wolves attack here, but they haven’t had the same sort of impact that they’ve had in places overseas.
So, I think, you know, we joke about, you know, “Be alert, don’t be afraid,” well, I think that is actually quite a good slogan to live by in a big city these days. Yes, be conscious of what’s around you, but if we are all going to lock ourselves in our apartments or in our houses, then we may as well give up and give in to the terrorists, and I don’t think that’s our culture.

TONY JONES
Peter Holmes a Court? You’ve just come back from Europe.

PETER HOLMES A COURT, BUSINESSMAN
Um, first thing, he didn’t say that, right? So, um… So, first thing is to get over the messages that get out so quickly and that one got out really quick, that he said that. He said that in New York, September 20 last year, when the bomb went off on 23rd Street. What he was saying is we have to be prepared for terror all the time, we have to be on guard all the time. And…I still don’t even think that’s cool to say. Like, I don’t think that we should normalise terror and accept it should be part of our lives and we should accept a guy walking down the street with a giant machine gun on our side or pass through security to buy an ice-cream.
I’m not sure that it’s cool what he said. I’m not sure that we should really be accepting and normalising terror and shouldn’t be saying, “We’ve got to stop this.” I mean… We don’t… To me, we don’t take this thing very seriously. We have not demanded the leader of every country in the world go and have a summit and do something about it, as we did about the Second World War. We haven’t said we really want to stop this terror thing. Uh, you know…

TONY JONES
Donald Trump has. We just don’t quite know what he plans to do yet.

PETER HOLMES A COURT
Right, he’s one of the first Western leaders who’s actually gone out and said that. So, maybe we’re starting to get serious about dealing with something, which I think, Kerry… I think it has changed us. I think our societies are fundamentally different because of terror. I think our approach to refugees, I think our…people being afraid of refugees comes a lot from their fear about the society we live in today.

TONY JONES
We’re gonna come to more of that. I just want to quickly hear from all the panellists on this and finish with the non-politicians. Mark Seymour, do you think that Australians should have this at the back of their mind – accept, in fact, that terrorism is part of modern life?

MARK SEYMOUR, MUSICIAN
Well, I think that there’s a low level of anxiety that is with us…pretty constantly. It’s pretty hard to pretend that it’s not there. And it definitely affects the public’s perception of what their governments should be providing them with, which is stability. And I think it affects the public’s perception of how effective governments are at formulating policy… which is why we’ve got this shift to the minor parties. I think that’s partly…being driven by a crisis of confidence that people have with the credibility of government. But I also think that the media has lot to answer for in terms of the way they…
In a way, they glamorise the events by overly concentrating on the perception of various passers-by and I was particularly appalled by, um…the Daily Mail’s exposure of that woman wearing the hijab who happened to go past someone who was lying prone on the ground and she had a mobile phone in her hand, I just happened to stumble on this yesterday, and there was this sort of… you know, “Of course.” You know…

TONY JONES
Pile on.

MARK SEYMOUR
..piles of outrage about the fact she was a Muslim and looking at her phone. But no explanation given as to whether or not she was actually feeling incredible anxiety and fear. And I just thought that was right down in the gutter, to be honest. And I think, you know… That’s kind of symptomatic of how the media uses these kinds of events to…quite maliciously and cynically.

TONY JONES
Bridget McKenzie, what do you think?

BRIDGET McKENZIE, NATIONAL PARTY SENATOR FOR VICTORIA
Yeah, I think we’re all appalled and our best wishes and sympathies obviously go to those whose families were killed and the 40 injured. But I do think, um, when Khan said London won’t be cowered, that really goes to how, I think, a modern city and its citizens should address the threat of terror. We, today, have a probable risk assessment of whether there’ll be a domestic terror incident on our shores. Now, that’s right smack-bang in the middle of the risk assessment range and I think, not being cowered, like Kerry said, going out, like Paris did after their event, like London has done over a long period of time, when they’ve had terrorist attacks in their city, to actually get up and keep going about our business, celebrating our democracy, celebrating our freedoms, freedom of speech, freedom of religion, in our own spaces I think that’s the best antidote to terrorism.
I think… But some of the people have commented that we’re not having international summits, etc., and I’d have to disagree with that, Peter. We are actually working with our allies, we are working on programs specifically in our communities with key community members and their leadership and families around the radicalisation of, particularly in Australia, our younger people. But I do note that this particular perpetrator was an older gentleman that had been radicalised in jail. So, if we want to look at domestic terrorism and how we actually address it, it’s about addressing radicalisation of our own citizenship, not who’s coming and going from our shores.

TONY JONES
More on him later. Amanda Rishworth?

AMANDA RISHWORTH, SHADOW MINISTER FOR VETERANS AFFAIRS
Look, I would agree with the panellists in general, I think our response isn’t the threat per se, it’s how we respond to that threat. And how we respond is, as the other panellists have said, about not doing what the terrorists want, that is being fearful and cowering to them. But I do want to pick up on what Bridget and also Lydia said, is that we can’t just rely now necessarily on our law enforcement, while they’re absolutely trained to the best of our ability. What we’ve seen in some of these attacks have been ones that haven’t had planning, have been individuals and people that necessarily haven’t come on to the radar of our security agencies.
So, getting in and preventing this radicalisation from actually happening in the families is really important. And you have mothers – and it’s predominantly mothers, but family members as well – who might notice these signs. They need someone to go to, someone for support, to actually prevent this from happening, just…with other crime prevention aspects that we have in society.

TONY JONES
I should say we’ve actually got a question that picks up on Mark’s point about the media. We’ll come to that in a minute. We’ve got another question from John McNamara. Same subject.

LONE WOLF ATTACKS00:10:56

JOHN McNAMARA
Recalling the events of the Lindt Cafe siege in Sydney, the murder of Curtis Cheng at the New South Wales Police Headquarters, and just recently, the horrible events of London, does the panel believe that the gains on the ground in Syria and Iraq increase or decrease the threats of localised terrorist attacks within Western nations, particularly the coalition partners?

TONY JONES
Lydia Khalil?

LYDIA KHALIL
Yeah. It’s a really interesting question and one that I’ve actually done a lot of research on with a colleague of mine, Rodger Shanahan, to see what the impact that we’re having in Syria and Iraq with what’s going on in Western capitals. So, we are definitely seeing a strong correlation between losses in Iraq and Syria by the Islamic State, and an up-tick in external attacks in the West particularly. For a long time, you had Islamic State telling people, “Come to the caliphate, come fight for the jihad in Iraq and Syria.” But as they’ve been losing, they say the complete opposite message – “No, stay at home. Carry out attacks at home.”
Now, some of these people are lone wolf, self-radicalised attackers, like they’re commonly described in the media, but we’re seeing a really interesting thing as we go deeper into the investigations of some of these attacks. They’re not just lone wolf attackers. They actually have some sort of connection with Islamic State back in Iraq and Syria. And the term that some security services are using are remote-controlled operations. So, we saw that with Paris, with Brussels. There has been emerging a greater connection with the Islamic State.

TONY JONES
Well, direct connection in the fact that some of them actually had been fighters in Syria for Islamic State, for example.

LYDIA KHALIL
Yeah. There’s that. So, there’s the issue of foreign fighters returning and then there’s the issue of people who haven’t been to Iraq and Syria but are in communication online and through secure communications with the Islamic State. And there’s also another, less popularly known attack in India, that was recently thwarted, where you had people in Iraq and Syria coordinating the purchase of weapons and telling them where to pick it up. So, you have people with local knowledge, connected with experts back in the Islamic State and that’s becoming a particular problem for the security services to pick up because on their surface, they do seem like these lone wolf attacks but as we dig deeper, there is that greater connection and that’s worrisome for security authorities.

TONY JONES
Just briefly, you’ve written about Islamic State with your co-writer as being an enterprise in decline. Is their military defeat inevitable now in Iraq and Syria?

LYDIA KHALIL
Look, I think so. I think it’s gonna take a lot longer than we anticipated, or maybe not, but we’re seeing very difficult fighting, particularly in Mosul, with high civilian casualties and it’s just gonna drag that fight right out. So, it is not gonna be a pretty end, but I think it will be an end eventually. And unfortunately, the blowback of that, we’re seeing it throughout the international system. We see a clogging of foreign fighters returning back to their home countries and to other third countries…

TONY JONES
So, we should be preparing for things to get worse, in, for example, the cities of the coalition partners, as the questioner asked?

LYDIA KHALIL
Well, we should definitely be vigilant to this threat. We can’t be complacent and say, “Oh, well, Islamic State is losing in Iraq and Syria, therefore the threat is completely eliminated.” We need to be smart about it and realise that, actually, the threat is going to change, the dimensions of this problem are constantly shifting.

TONY JONES
Peter Holmes a Court?

PETER HOLMES A COURT
Nothing to add to that very good answer.

TONY JONES
I know you’re just back from Europe. And one view that you’ve put out on your blog is that terrorists are actually winning, in the sense that they’re… in the sense of creating terror. They’ve turned half of Europe into what you describe as a kind of police state and there are many other flow-on effects, some of which you described in your first answer.

PETER HOLMES A COURT
Yeah, I mean, I think they are winning. I think they have shaped the debate and shaped the politics. I think they shape our society, I think they shape how we relate to other people and that’s what we’re here for. And I think they’re winning and I think we’ve let them win for a very long period of time. You were talking about… I started a run-down of how many bombs, you know, that I’ve been through in my lifetime, and how much it’s impacted me to be around, um…this terror. And I think that we are not… We’re just not taking into account how much the society that we grew up and loved has been taken away from us, and we haven’t responded enough to deal with that.

TONY JONES
OK, we’ve got another question before we bring in the other panellists. It’s from Marianne O’Connell.

WORLDWIDE CALIPHATE00:15:17

MARIANNE O’CONNELL
How should the Western nations respond to the threat of Muslims worldwide to establish a worldwide caliphate, which seeks to destroy the sovereignty of these nations?

TONY JONES
Bridget McKenzie?

BRIDGET McKENZIE
Mm. I think it’s an incredible challenge and I take your point on board, Peter. I think we grew up in a world where, you know, we had world wars or we had very defined nation state against nation state. But this is an incredibly complex world we find ourselves in. And add to that digital disruption and the use of telecommunications, it is a very, very difficult space to actually ascertain who is doing what, where to whom. In terms of the question you ask, I think we have to all…
Those liberal democracies and those who are passionate about freedom, irrespective of your religion, need to band together to work together against anything that actually seeks to disrupt our freedoms and our liberal democracies. We see, as the Middle East issue sort of winds down, to an effect, you know, in our own region, there’s an increase in activity amongst radicalised Islamic people and we really need to be vigilant to that.

That’s why alliances, such as we have with the US, the Five Eyes that we have with the UK, Canada, New Zealand and the US, where we share intelligence and knowledge, sharing that information and making sure we have the right, I guess, for us, in government, having the right safeguards for our own citizenry around that legislative framework is where the real challenge for us, lies.

TONY JONES
I’d just like to go back to our questioner. Marianne, you identified yourself as a supporter of One Nation. And I’m just… What is it about their view of how to deal with this issue that you agree with?

MARIANNE O’CONNELL
I think Pauline Hanson identifies that… clearly, that there is a problem and that it must be addressed. And I think that’s very important. That’s something that other politicians haven’t done. So, I think that that’s a key point and that’s what Australians are responding to, because they also can see the threat.
And that doesn’t mean that we hate all Muslims, but there is a threat behind the ideology of Islam against the Western nations. And there is a threat to dominate and take away our freedoms. You can see them on the internet, holding up placards – “Islam will dominate the West,” “Behead those who insult the Prophet.” There’s very clear lines being drawn of warfare against the West and the freedoms that we hold dear.

TONY JONES
Alright, I’ll…let’s hear from the politicians briefly on this, if I can. Bridget McKenzie, this is out there. Pauline Hanson’s obviously using that kind of message. She’s even referred to Islam as a disease that you should be vaccinated against. When you hear things like that, what do you say?

BRIDGET McKENZIE
Look, I won’t be vaccinating against a safe, stable, liberal democracy. It’s freedom of speech, freedom of religion and freedom of association. Now, the greatest protection against domestic terrorism is a strong and cohesive Australia. I do recognise the issues that you are talking about and that is why our intelligence and security agencies are working incredibly hard – behind the scenes, obviously. We’re increasing resources so that they can actually get on with doing the job that we need them to do, which is to keep the Australian people safe.

TONY JONES
Are you losing the political battle with a certain cross-section of the population here in Australia? Because Pauline Hanson’s view on this is far stronger than any mainstream political party, and she’s still gaining support.

BRIDGET McKENZIE
Look, I’d rather be a victim of our own success if it means keeping Australians safe. If we have to articulate in detail how our intelligence agencies are working, how they’re working with our state police forces, etc., then that’s a price I guess we’re going to have to pay. Because once we disclose that level of engagement, our international connections that we’re working with, partners overseas, to gather the intelligence, to make sure, when we’re saying, yes, 12,000 Syrians and persecuted minorities from that region can come in, when we knock back 500, that’s because they didn’t get through the very strict and stringent criteria that we’ve set about who can actually come in and out of this country…

TONY JONES
Are you saying you’ve knocked back 500?

BRIDGET McKENZIE
..in order to keep people safe. But to go into the intricacies of that…

TONY JONES
Sorry, was that… We don’t hear much about this, so was that, “Yes, we’ve knocked back 500?”

BRIDGET McKENZIE
My understanding is yes. So, what I wanted to say about Senator Hanson was this is an incredibly complex issue and nobody is rejecting the complexity of it, but nor should Senator Hanson try and simplify it to the point where we actually do more harm than good within our communities.

TONY JONES
So, we’ll go to both the politicians. Amanda Rishworth?

AMANDA RISHWORTH
Well, look, I really think this is the situation where Peter described, where there is fear in the community, but it’s when leaders have to stand up and be really clear about their values. And the caliphate’s existence in Iraq and Syria is indeed… just its own existence, going to your question, is actually inspiring some of these terrorists.
But they are hurting Muslim people in their own country. They are terrorising Muslim people in their own country. And so I think we’ve got to be very, very careful that what we seek to protect here in this country, freedom of religion, is not denigrated in any way. The other point I’d make is that the Muslim community is our biggest ally in our fight against terrorism. It is the Muslim community, as I said, migrants that have come here, that watch their families and can identify radicalisation. And I think if we just start alienating the Muslim community, what we will do is make them feel very much on the outer and they won’t feel they can trust the country which they are often citizens of.

TONY JONES
OK, well, Marianne has her hand back up. Go ahead.

MARIANNE O’CONNELL
I would like to say I have Muslim friends. I’m not scapegoating all Muslims. But I have heard statements coming out of Lakemba Mosque saying that they’re going to destroy Australia, Australia will have to submit to Islam. That’s coming out of Lakemba Mosque.

LYDIA KHALIL
Tony, can I…?

TONY JONES
Yeah.

MARIANNE O’CONNELL
I’m watching what’s happening in Europe – the same sort of thing. So, we have to be very vigilant here because we do have Muslims in this country who are out here to destroy us, and they make no secret of it.

TONY JONES
OK, well, we want to hear from an expert on the subject. Lydia?

LYDIA KHALIL
Yeah, so, I just… I wanted to jump in, because I think you’re pointing out a really interesting debate that we’ve basically been having since 9/11 – what role does Islam play in all of this exactly? And we can’t shy away from all of that. I’m not gonna answer you as a politician. I’m gonna talk to you as someone who’s been working on terrorism for 15 years.
The fact is, it does…we can’t say that it has nothing to do with it. Right? These people who are committing these acts are saying that they’re committing it in the name of an ideology. They’re saying they’re committing it in the name of Islam. We take a look at the Westminster attack, this person… we can’t ignore the fact that he spent time in Saudi Arabia before he committed these attacks. We can’t ignore the fact that he was radicalised in prison, a known incubator of this type of ideology.

TONY JONES
And I guess we can’t ignore the fact either that he was brought up, um, as… I think his name was Adrian Elms.

LYDIA KHALIL
That’s right, yeah.

TONY JONES
He was born in Britain. He had an Anglo mother and an Afro-Caribbean father.

LYDIA KHALIL
We can’t ignore the fact that he was a convert, as you rightly say, which is a key… one of the, actually, very few kind of key indicators of someone who might become radicalised. At the same time, if you take it away from all of this political rhetoric that we’re seeing and take a look at it case by case basis, like a lot of security practitioners do, there are very specific and idiosyncratic reasons why individuals commit acts of violence that have nothing to do with religion.
These people are marginalised, they’re on the fringes of society, and their actions are more nihilistic, rather than through some type of religious compulsion, but at the same time, they marry that ideology. So, I’d just…I’d just ask you to shy away from people who are trying to give you easy answers. I wouldn’t trust pundits, politicians or experts on it, ‘cause it’s a really difficult and complicated issue.

TONY JONES
Mark, you’ve been listening to this carefully. What’s your view? I mean, obviously, we see what a heated debate this can become very quickly and what it can actually do to create divisions.

MARK SEYMOUR
I think the…right across the spectrum of politics in Australia, all the parties are aware of the role of Islamist terror and its relationship with Islam generally. But when one particular politician stands up and deliberately cultivates hatred in the Australian community, what they’re doing – what she’s doing – is deflecting your attention away from what she’s really offering politically. It’s what’s on the rest of her policy agenda you should be looking at. No other politician would… Well, you know, now I’ve got myself really…

(LAUGHTER)

MARK SEYMOUR
I think…I just think One Nation is, uh…is completely bogus. I just think it doesn’t really have a meaningful political agenda. It is not a party that is capable of governing this country. And she’s using Islam as a means of deflecting your attention away from all the other policies that she’s got on offer, like a 2%…a 2% flat tax and abolishing the GST. I mean, really?! I mean…she seriously thinks that’s going to work?

LYDIA KHALIL
I don’t know where she’d get the money to fund security services to do that, so…

(LAUGHTER)

TONY JONES
Um, Peter, just a quick response on this, because we’ve got another question on this subject we’ll come to. You’ve been out of the country for a little while, but you’ve obviously paid attention to the debate. And you’ve seen in Europe what’s happening, because, right across Europe, as a result of this or the influx of refugees, you see a tremendous move towards extremist parties.

PETER HOLMES A COURT
I’m…I’m sorry for pausing there, because it’s such a big issue. How do we put Islam into the conversation without Islam becoming the conversation?

BRIDGET McKENZIE
Mm. That’s right.

PETER HOLMES A COURT
Right? We want to have that conversation with our moderate friends. Even, by the way, with our extreme friends. I’ve got some friends who are quite out there on the Muslim side and I want to know why they think that and I want to know why they feel hurt by our foreign policy, and I want to know why they don’t stand up and speak more about that. We need them in the conversation.
So, all I’m trying to say is I reckon it’s a great question. I’m glad you asked it. I want us to be having this conversation. I want Islam to be in the mix of all the reasons this is happening – social dislocation, lack of opportunity for people from certain areas, our foreign policy, our immigration policy. Let’s put all the issues in and talk about all of those issues.

TONY JONES
Kerry, I’ll just bring you in again – briefly if we can, because we’ve got quite a few things to get through. But do you think the mainstream parties might be losing ground here?

KERRY CHIKAROVSKI
Oh, I absolutely I think they’re losing ground here, because… I mean, I do not agree with the premise of your question. I don’t think we’re going to end up with a worldwide caliphate. I think that the democracies in which we live will sufficiently, you know, repel all that and it’s not going to happen. But the reality is that the view that you were expressing is a view which a lot of Australians are actually thinking. And if you look at the people who have actually… who have said those things, every single time they say them… and I don’t agree with them – to make it perfectly clear, I don’t agree with them – but every time they say them, they start to get attacked.
They’ve said that…they’re told… You know, they’re kind of like the “Deplorables” that were referred to in the States. And the problem is those people have genuine concerns. And I don’t have to worry anymore ‘cause I’m not there, but the problem for the mainstream parties is they have to take a question like that and say, “Well, what is the solution?”
It’s all well and good to talk about it, and I agree with you that there’s not a lot of solutions on the table from One Nation, but unless the mainstream parties start listening to your sort of concern and then decide there is an approach which they can collectively… And it’s not a Liberal, Labor, National Party thing. It’s a collective approach, which the political leadership in this country need to say, “I know you’re concerned. I know you’re worried. Let’s find a solution that is acceptable to all of us.”

TONY JONES
OK, before we move to the next question, Marianne’s patiently had her hand up for a little while there. Brief comment from you?

MARIANNE O’CONNELL
I’d just like to say that ISIS follow the Koran. Terrorists follow the Koran. They are the people who read the Koran and follow it. Moderates don’t necessarily read the Koran. But…

LYDIA KHALIL
Well, that’s questionable.

TONY JONES
Right. OK.

MARIANNE O’CONNELL
..the terrorists and the extremists and ISIS…

TONY JONES
I’m just…I’m sorry, Marianne, I’m just…

MARIANNE O’CONNELL
..follow the Koran.

TONY JONES
Fair enough. I’m going to just quickly give Lydia a chance to answer that, because I think it’s a much more complicated situation than that.

LYDIA KHALIL
Yeah, I don’t think that that’s necessarily true. If you actually take a look at a lot of the people who are committing these acts and you take a look at their case files, they haven’t read the Koran – they barely have gone to mosque. They, in fact, may never have gone to mosque. These are people that are on the margins of the Muslim community itself. They get their information from God knows what website on the internet. So that’s not accurate to say that, and I think that’s an important point.
And Islam, like any religion, any ideology, has its spectrum. What Pauline Hanson is trying to do, she’s trying to make this a structural issue about Islam, about politics. It’s not. It’s not a structural issue with the religion itself. It is about people who are on the fringe. If it was a structural issue, we would have masses of Muslims committing violence. And we don’t. We don’t see it. We have a serious problem with a fringe community.

TONY JONES
OK, let’s move on to our next question. We’ll deal with this briefly. It’s a similar question, in some respects, from Stephanie Raileqe.

ISLAMIST PROBLEM00:29:12

STEPHANIE RAILEQE
This question is for Amanda. Lydia, you might have a stance on this as well. But how many terror attacks do you think we need to go through before we realise that a European-based immigration and refugee policy – for example, Germany – might not actually work for us in Australia?

TONY JONES
Amanda?

AMANDA RISHWORTH
Well, I think Australia is very, very different to Europe. I think Europe has had people crossing borders, haven’t had a pathway, often, to permanent citizenship. So I think, in Australia, we’ve had, for a long time, a very broad migration system. There’s roughly between 200,000 and 300,000 migrants any one year. Now, they’re a range of people. They’re skilled migrants, they’re refugees. Refugees themselves make up a small proportion.
And I think our migration system, as a whole, doesn’t actually reflect at all the European experience. And I think, over many, many years, what we’ve been able to do with our migration system is build a very strong multicultural community, a community that actually is very cohesive, and that has underpinned our community. So, I don’t think you can actually make the comparison with Europe, that has had a different flow of migrants, it hasn’t had the same system, but it hasn’t also necessarily had pathways to citizenship to become part of a country.

TONY JONES
Um, Stephanie, do you want to respond to that? Because I’m actually interested – what is it about the German situation that you don’t like?

STEPHANIE RAILEQE
Well… With their open-field policy, I’d say, their influx… they’ve had an influx of population, and with that, it has led to terror and crimes that have risen, sorry, so I’m just like… That’s what I don’t like about it, if that makes sense. Am I making myself clear?

TONY JONES
Yeah. And let’s go to Peter Holmes a Court, because he spent time recently in Germany.

PETER HOLMES A COURT
I’ve spent most of my time in Germany and in refugee communities in Germany and the pathways to get to Germany. And there’s a bit of a disconnect there. Open field policy… You said a large influx of numbers has led to an increase of terror and crime. I’m just not seeing where there’s evidence to back that up. I mean, we have attacks taking place in France from second- and third-generation people who have been there for a long time. We’re seeing it in England, we’re seeing it in the Netherlands, we’re seeing it all across Europe. The German attacks – a Tunisian who came through Italy was arrested… We’re not seeing… And it was an economic migrant who, you know, found his way to sneak in. I don’t think there is any evidence that their policies – and the Germans have led the humanitarian effort to relocate Syrians – have led to any change in their society that’s an increase in crime and terrorism.

TONY JONES
I think you’ve made the case that Merkel has been smart in the choices that they have made. How do you back that up? Because her political consequences for her have been pretty profound.

PETER HOLMES A COURT
Look, I was being a little bit naughty when I said that that, you know, Angela was pretty smart to take the wave of refugees she did. Because Syrians are incredibly hardworking, industrious, smart people who have worked their way up, have had educations and then had their country decimated and have come to Europe to rebuild themselves. So it’s kind of a bit of karma. She let them in and it turns out she got some fantastic workers in her country. By the way, I think they’ve got some problems. The welfare that they are providing is providing a disincentive for them to work. They’re being too generous in a way, extraordinarily. But I think Germany… A lot of German ministers have asked for more refugees. They desperately need it. They have an ageing population, they have lower productivity and they want new workers to come into their country.

TONY JONES
While I’ve got you here, I know you’ve been visiting refugee camps, internment camps of different types as well. You’ve actually tried to visit the Australian camp in Manus Island. You’re canvassing with the Government to get in there. Why should you get the opportunity when journalists and many others can’t?

PETER HOLMES A COURT
It’s a fair question. I mean, the Government obviously has reasons for having the camps being closed here. But I think myself – I went with my wife Alissa – I think we’ve been in and out of a lot of refugee camps. Things are not going to shock us. We’ve seen some really bad stuff around the world. And we’ve seen some programs that we think are working. We’re attempting to get a global view of what’s happening with refugees and migrants and I would like the opportunity to visit the Australian camp. I’m going to Manus on the weekend. I’m meeting a number of people up there to interview them. If we get access to the camp, we’ll probably learn more.

TONY JONES
Are you seeking permission from the Government?

PETER HOLMES A COURT
We’ve asked permission and we’re going to Canberra on Thursday and we’ll keep going until we get it, hopefully.

TONY JONES
Well, that will be interesting. Mark Seymour, just a quick one here. We’ve obviously gone from terrorism to migration pretty quickly. How does that feel?

MARK SEYMOUR
(CHUCKLES) I’ll just make one point about Australia’s immigration policy. We’ve been able to maintain this very methodical and strict system of controlling the influx of refugees because we’re surrounded by water. And people seem, you know… Geography has a lot to do with the way we’ve been able to manage it. But it also has meant that we’ve been able to politically exploit the lies of a very small number of people who’ve come the wrong way and ended up in those camps. You know, they are invisible. They have no voice. And they’ve been punished severely because they had the courage to get on boats. And I really want to see those places closed down. I think that they are a stain on the political reputation of our leaders.

(APPLAUSE)

MARK SEYMOUR
I’m not sure what the outcome for this so-called swap deal, they’re not calling it that, but this arrangement we’ve got now with the United States which seems to be the end result of having a treaty with that country. I don’t know what the outcome for that’s going to be.

TONY JONES
I don’t think President Trump does, as a matter of fact, judging by his comments on it. We’ve actually got a Muslim questioner. Ali Raza has been patiently sitting waiting to ask his question. He’s up there. Go ahead.

18C CHANGES COULD MAKE IT WORSE00:36:05

ALI RAZA
First, my thoughts and prayers for those who died in the London attack and I strongly condemn this atrocity. I, as a proud Australian and a Muslim…I always advocate Western values and they really inspire me. Does the panel think people like Pauline Hanson should get less time on mainstream media because they have no real policy other than hatred? On the Section 18C, I would like to ask, we’re all debating on the racial discrimination against Australian minorities, but we’re missing the fact we’re giving a reason so the people who are racially offended, they can actually get the situation worse. And just saying we’re going in the defence and there will be extra pressure on police to tackle the riots, fights and just, you know, different sort of divisive society. I’d like to ask what you think on that?

TONY JONES
Stay with us, Ali. Lydia Khalil?

LYDIA KHALIL
Well, first of all, I just want to point out that I’m sorry that you feel, as a private citizen, that you have to come on camera and say these things as a Muslim. Because obviously that just seems ridiculous to me that you have to do that. So I’m sorry that you have to do that. But on your particular question of 18C, for me it really comes down to what we value as a society. Do we value free speech so much that we are able to say anything and everything without consequence? Or do we value some sort of restraint for the sake of social cohesion? And in my mind I value some sort of restraint for social cohesion. I don’t really…

TONY JONES
So the word ‘harass’, which is going to replace “insult, offend and humiliate”, the word ‘harass’ is not enough of a protection, in your view?

LYDIA KHALIL
I think that people are getting hung up on this word ‘harass’. When you actually take a look at the legislation, free speech is already protected under 18D. And the threshold for bringing a case forward by 18C is already very high. I think it’s something like less than 3% of cases are put forward under 18C. So I don’t really see what the problem is exactly with the current legislation other than politicians are trying to use this as a wedge issue.

TONY JONES
Amanda Rishworth.

AMANDA RISHWORTH
Well, look, thank you very much for that question. And I value your contribution. I mean, I have to say that with 18C, as Lydia said, there has not been a cohesive argument about why we need to change the laws. Why do we need to change a law that has served our country well for the last 21 years? And in terms of the words, Tony, there is not just the words in the legislation that have an impact, it’s the 21 years of case law that has gone to establish this. So I think there’s real concerns about the watering down of it, real actual legal concerns. But I think the concerns are much bigger than that and they’re the ones you’ve pointed out. What is the message that we’re sending to our community? That we think there’s something that people can’t say now that they should be able to say? Something hateful and hurtful for people of different races? And I am worried about what that message sends to a multicultural community that we do have a very strong one, here in Australia.

TONY JONES
A very quick follow-up question to you, then. If Labor came back to government, would you reinstate all of those sections of 18C? Is that a commitment that you’ve made?

AMANDA RISHWORTH
No. No. That’s not. I think there’s been some misreporting around this issue.

TONY JONES
So, hang on, you disagree with them being taken out, these words, but you wouldn’t put them back in? Is that what you’re saying?

AMANDA RISHWORTH
No, they haven’t been taken out.

TONY JONES
Not yet.

AMANDA RISHWORTH
You mean in terms of the Racial Discrimination Act?

TONY JONES
Correct.

AMANDA RISHWORTH
We are fighting absolutely to protect it.

TONY JONES
So the question is, if those words are taken out – “insult, humiliate and offend” – would Labor put them back?

AMANDA RISHWORTH
Well, we are absolutely fighting for this protection and we think we can win this.

TONY JONES
Would you put them back?

AMANDA RISHWORTH
Absolutely, we will look at…

TONY JONES
That’s a commitment from the Labor Party?

AMANDA RISHWORTH
No, no.

TONY JONES
To return 18C to what it was?

AMANDA RISHWORTH
I’m not going to make policy on the run here. What I’m saying is I believe we can win this fight.

TONY JONES
Is it policy or a matter of principle?

AMANDA RISHWORTH
Well, it’s a matter of principle. But I think we can win this fight.

TONY JONES
OK. But if you don’t?

AMANDA RISHWORTH
If we don’t, we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it. Now, we’ve said in this there can be process change, absolutely. But in terms of 18C, we believe we can win this fight. And we will stand up for multicultural communities and the case law that sits behind it.

TONY JONES
OK, I’m going to bring in the other panellists on this subject. We have another questioner who wants to get in on it. Rabbi Feldman.

RABBI OFFENDED IN STREET00:40:52

OSHER FELDMAN
Hi. I’m an Orthodox Jew.
I have been humiliated on the street for being a Jew, as other religions who feel part of it. So why, as the Prime Minister puts it, we live in the most successful multicultural society in the world, are we changing the law and making it OK to humiliate someone? So my question is for the Honourable Bridget McKenzie. Why does the Prime Minister and the rest of the Government want to make it harder for people like me to walk the streets without fearing abuse, which is now you want to make it legal, this type of abuse?

TONY JONES
Bridget McKenzie.

BRIDGET McKENZIE
Not at all, Rabbi. And to all the guests that have that concern, that is absolutely not the intent. And you being yelled abuse in the street, on the tram, at the footy would be captured by the changes that we’re absolutely suggesting. There is a disconnect out in punter street, out in Bourke Street, if you like, between how regular Australians define…

TONY JONES
It might be Bourke Street on which rabbis are being offended.

BRIDGET McKENZIE
Well, precisely, Tony. But my point is that the ordinary punter out there, when they think about definitions of “insult, offend, humiliate”, that we shouldn’t be…you know, that we’ve got a Racial Discrimination Act that actually prevents that, that then impedes on their decisions to have the types of conversations we’re having tonight in a free and open manner. But it is not OK to incite violence, it’s not OK to denigrate.

TONY JONES
Can I just make the point that we are actually having this conversation now and yet the law hasn’t changed. So, in fact, we’re still able to have that conversation.

BRIDGET McKENZIE
Tony, my point is we are now using ‘harass’ and making those hateful crimes, the racial vilification, et cetera, that can occur, that’s where the focus of the law is rather than the law as it stands captures, like the QUT students, it captures these types of cases that shouldn’t be coming before the commission at all. And, in fact, even the ABC chairman of the board, in his previous role as the NSW Chief Justice, said we do have international treaty obligations to ensure Australians have a freedom of speech. However, there is no subsequent treaty obligation…

TONY JONES
Just briefly to pick up the points of both the questioners, and I think it’s quite rare that you’ll have unanimity here between Jews and Muslims on the subject. The rabbi’s got his hand up. I’ll come back to you in a moment.

BRIDGET McKENZIE
Sure.

TONY JONES
Does it actually mean that it will be considered legal and in fact acceptable to insult, to humiliate and to offend someone provided you do it with a smile?

BRIDGET McKENZIE
Well, right now even using 18D, you can insult, offend and humiliate under artistic protections.

TONY JONES
So why would you need to change it?

BRIDGET McKENZIE
So what I’m saying is how we’re strengthening… We’re strengthening this law, Tony, so that it captures the type of behaviour, as Lydia said, the restrictions that we do want to see in this society.

TONY JONES
Yes, Mark? You want to jump in.

MARK SEYMOUR
The thing that… There’s this flawed logic in all of this. If you change it to define harassment, what point does the offence and the insult have to escalate to before it then becomes harassment and then you can go to the Human Rights Commission? So, in other words, how many times do you… I’m agreeing with you. How many times do you have to be someone who is concerned about being racially abused on the street? How many times do they need to be abused before it then reaches a point where it can be defined as harassment and then the guy’s got a case?

TONY JONES
You want to jump in, I know, Bridget. But I just want to go back to Rabbi Feldman because he had his hand up. Quickly.

OSHER FELDMAN
I have no doubt that you don’t think it’s OK, the legislators don’t think it’s OK, to do what people do. My question is why are you legalising a certain thing that wasn’t legal before? Now…what message are you sending?

BRIDGET McKENZIE
Yep. See, I don’t agree, Rabbi, that we are legalising behaviour that was legal before. To answer Mark’s question, which I think will go to you, you don’t have to be repeatedly abused to define harassment. It’s been very clearly articulated in how this bill’s been drafted, that one particular incident of that type of behaviour will constitute harassment under these changes. The other issue is we’ve gone to processes which even Commissioner Triggs…

MARK SEYMOUR
Then why change it?

BRIDGET McKENZIE
..has actually called for. As I said, Mark, it’s about how regular Joe defines “insult and offend.”

MARK SEYMOUR
He’s not regular Joe.

BRIDGET McKENZIE
They think they’re breaking the law.

MARK SEYMOUR
He’s a Jew living in Caulfield. There are specific circumstances that his life embraces. He’s a religious man. He walks around on Saturday, you know, dressed up and people drive by in utes and yell at him.

BRIDGET McKENZIE
And that’s unacceptable and will be captured by these changes. That won’t change.

TONY JONES
Go back to our original questioner. Ali, listening to this… Just get a microphone to you, if we can. Ali. There we go. Thank you. How does this argument sound to you listening to it? And the interesting coalition of people who are now saying this is not a good idea?

ALI RAZA
Let me tell you, I have never been racially discriminated in this country once, since six or seven years here. But I’m afraid the situation is taking direction so the people are worried. So, I’m just…

TONY JONES
You’re afraid… To pick up from your question earlier, you’re afraid that people are going to become angry as a result of this change?

ALI RAZA
Yeah. And there will be more hatred, divisive society, which I’ve never seen. I’ve been quite successful in this country. And I want to see people coming into this country the same way I’ve been here, so there’s no discrimination. But, you know… But now I see people just making hate speeches. I’m just afraid to see that. I mean, it’s going to be worse than that if we don’t control that.

TONY JONES
OK. Let’s hear from our other panellists. Peter Holmes a Court?

PETER HOLMES A COURT
Look, I’m not living in Australia at the moment and I think it’s a bit rough when people who are not living in Australia come back and lecture on specific bits of legislation. I’ll tell you that where I went to college in America, where the first conversations about political correctness began, today, professors who come with ideas that people find insulting aren’t able to speak on campuses. So free speech has been shut down in the US in universities where they should be happening right now, where our free speech should be exposing students in our world to new ideas. So I have to say, I come back to this debate, I’m a little bit strange about “offend, insult, harass”. The whole nation’s talking about that when I see larger issues happening in the world. So a little bit strange that that’s all going on. But I wouldn’t underestimate how much free speech is under attack around the world and that we lose a lot when we lose the right to speak freely.

MARK SEYMOUR
Look, we’re drowning in a river of free speech. There’s so much free speech. I mean, it’s not stopping Pauline, you know?

BRIDGET McKENZIE
But, Mark, that’s my point. There’s free speech at the extremes, but for good, tolerant Australians, they do feel they cannot speak openly around regular issues.

LYDIA KHALIL
But you can’t compare it to what’s happening in the US. I mean, that’s just a societal issue. They’re not proposing to change the legislation in the United States. I mean, freedom of speech is protected under the Constitution. Here we’re talking about changes to legislation. And in my mind, if it’s not broke, why fix it?

TONY JONES
Kerry Chikarovski, give us a political perspective if you can. I mean, is Malcolm Turnbull here, who has proposed these changes, simply shoring up his right flank?

KERRY CHIKAROVSKI
Look, I think these changes are not being much discussed in the greater community, with the greatest respect to this audience here. I’m sure they’re of great interest to you. I know that they are of great interest to a certain part of the Liberal Party in particular. They are obviously a matter of concern to certain ethnic groups. And Rabbi and my friend up the back, I absolutely acknowledge that. But for the vast majority of Australians out there…and I use the example that I walk the streets, and I’m no longer a politician, right, but people assume that I’m a spokesperson for the Liberal Party, so I get stopped in the street all the time. You know, “What are you doing about climate change? “What are you doing about same-sex marriage?” I have never had a single person say to me, “What are you doing about 18C?” Because, for them, it’s a very particular issue for a very particular group. I actually think that the… And I say this with my good friend Bridget on the panel, I do actually think that this has been driven by a particular group within the Liberal Party who have a particular concern, and they’ve got a section of the media onside who have… And, you know, the very unfortunate passing of Bill Leak made people more and more concerned about this. You know, the suggestion that the stress that Bill Leak was under because of the action of the Human Rights Commission may have contributed to his heart attack. All of that stuff has really enraged people. But at the end of the day, I actually think two things need to be said. First of all, I don’t think the changes are going to get through because I don’t think they’re going to get through the Senate. So, you know, it’s a debate we can have, but I think the situation… You don’t have to worry about making a policy on it because it’s not going to change, it’s just going to stay the same.

AMANDA RISHWORTH
Absolutely.

KERRY CHIKAROVSKI
And secondly, I think that even if it were to get through, I think that we need to look at the consequences and how it is then enforced by the Human Rights Commission. And the sort of action that you’re talking about, absolutely I would encourage you, and I’d be with you as you went to the Human Rights Commission to say that this is not acceptable and you need do something about it.

TONY JONES
OK, we’re running out of time. Let’s go to a question about something that a lot of young people in particular are very concerned about. The question is from Sarah Avery.

YOUNG HOMELESS AND FOREIGN BUYERS00:51:14

SARAH AVERY
Thanks, Tony. The latest statistics from Homelessness Australia and the ABS point towards the fact that almost half of the people experiencing homelessness in Australia are under the age of 25. Do the panel perceive a correlation between a rise in overseas buyers and investors in our property and young people being locked out of our rental markets and ending up on the streets?

TONY JONES
Mark Seymour.

MARK SEYMOUR
Um, housing affordability. Well, housing affordability will be the touchstone issue of the next federal election. There’s no question about it. You know…

TONY JONES
It’s already a sleeper, isn’t it, in a way?

MARK SEYMOUR
Well, it’s like a Trojan horse. It’s just sitting there, and the bulk…you know, most Australians are really concerned about it. And, you know, whichever party wins on this issue is the one that is presenting policy that appears to be practically tackling with the way the industry actually operates. And, uh…that’s all I can really say on it. I mean, there’s negative gearing and there’s the, um…

TONY JONES
Capital gains.

MARK SEYMOUR
..the capital gains tax discount. And the notion that by tampering with these things the market will just disintegrate… I mean, it was even said the entire economy will collapse. People are concerned about the idea that the value of their own…the equity they have in their own homes would be affected by those changes for a period of time, that they would drop. But my argument against that is that, well, if your house up the road’s dropping in value, mine’s dropping in value, they’re all dropping at the same time, so, you know, we’re all sharing the load. So I can’t see… I would like to see the government really tackle this problem of the price…the cost of real estate in a meaningful, structural way, and those options should be on the table.

TONY JONES
Do you see among the young people you talk to a whole swathe of people who have basically given up on the idea of ever owning their own home?

MARK SEYMOUR
Well, I can’t see how my daughters are going to do it. That does worry me, yeah. I mean, they’re in their early 20s, and I can’t see how they’re going to do it.

TONY JONES
Wait till you pass away – that’s one option.

MARK SEYMOUR
Well, that’s right, yeah. And it isn’t long – I’m sort of on the edge.

BRIDGET McKENZIE
There’s a lot of assumptions in that, too.

TONY JONES
I’ll go to the politicians in a minute. I want to hear from the non-politicians. Peter, one of the things you’ve been looking at is the elites in Europe and the United States essentially being out of touch. Is it possible that the elites in Australia are out of touch on this issue?

PETER HOLMES A COURT
You’re asking me again to jump into Australian politics and walk into that door again. You had a very articulate young lady up there who made this case. And I agree with Mark. Everywhere around the world where divide grows because one part of the population is kept out of the benefits leads to a bad electoral outcome. So, it’s inclusiveness. Whether it’s England and it’s areas that voted against Brexit, even knowing it was gonna have an economic cost, because they were in the divide. The middle of America, where you’ve had people not participate. Whether it’s housing or employment or transfer payment, whatever it is, to include people, have a more inclusive society, seems to get a better result in elections and for the country going forward.

TONY JONES
Kerry, before I go to the current politicians, do you think this is, as Mark suggested, a big sleeper issue that’s going to resurface come the next election?

KERRY CHIKAROVSKI
Well, I think both political parties are talking about it now, and about how they’re trying to, you know, get an affordable housing policy that works. And it’s not just at federal level – we’re seeing it at state level. The new premier of New South Wales, Gladys Berejiklian, it was one of her number one priorities when she became the premier. She said, “We have to make housing affordability a number one priority.”

TONY JONES
People have been saying that for decades, and it just keeps getting harder and harder.

KERRY CHIKAROVSKI
And one of the issues which… Because it’s not just about tax. I mean, the problem we have both particularly in Sydney and Melbourne is the number of people who are moving into those cities who are looking to buy a house is outpacing the amount of development that we’ve got available, so…

TONY JONES
What about this…? The questioner mentioned this, so I’ll raise it. But the idea that international investors are actually…particularly Chinese investors, are coming into the market because it’s a hell of lot cheaper to buy an investment property here than, say, Shanghai. And there’s now figures out from Credit Suisse suggesting that 25% of new housing in New South Wales is being bought by overseas investors.

KERRY CHIKAROVSKI
And I wouldn’t have a problem with that if we could guarantee that those investors were then making those properties available for the rental market. And I think that is the issue. I mean, we’re building thousands and thousands of apartments, and if people are buying them as investments because it’s cheaper to buy one here than it is in China, but then they’re not actually renting them out, that’s when you’re creating the drama. I mean, you know, if we’ve got an oversupply of apartments, which they’re talking about, for example, in places like Brisbane, if that is because the investors have decided they’ll sit on them and do nothing with them, then that is a problem. And that’s what we need to do in terms of…

TONY JONES
Sorry to interrupt you. We’re running out of time and I do need to hear brief answers from Bridget and from Amanda, so go ahead.

BRIDGET McKENZIE
Well, I absolutely agree, it is a huge issue. Being able to own your own home is a great Australian dream, and I would hate to think that I’m the last generation that gets to experience that. I know that, at a federal level, we’re looking at a suite of policy initiatives going forward, and I’m sure Amanda’s team is doing the same. But I think, Kerry, your point too – state governments allowing more supply to actually be released. But, also, I went to an interesting lecture today about the different densities. So, there’s a lot of planning initiatives we could take within local councils and suburbs of how we could actually get more from the stock we’ve already got. And, as a regional Australian, I’d just like to say, head out to the regions – you get a house at $350,000 per annum instead of your $700,000, $800,000, and there’s smashed avocado, too.

TONY JONES
OK, Amanda Rishworth.

AMANDA RISHWORTH
Well, look, thank you for that question, because I do think this is on the minds of so many people. And I think it’s not just owning your own home, it is about the affordability of rent, and indeed how we prevent homelessness from occurring. So, we actually need to address all those elements. Of course, it does come down to states and territories, as well as the Commonwealth. The Commonwealth does have levers. And even though Kerry mentioned that it’s not just about tax, there is a big element about tax, and that is why Labor has put on the table changes to negative gearing and capital gains tax. Because we don’t think that the tax benefits should necessarily sit with those owning their fourth, fifth, sixth home. We do think it’s an issue. It’s not the only way we tackle this problem, but those two parts are a critical part of a lever that federal government has.

TONY JONES
OK, we’re nearly out of time. There’s time for one quick last question – not many answers – from Amanda Voets.

HUNTERS AND COLLECTORS00:58:24

AMANDA VOETS
Good evening, everyone. According to animal liberationist group PETA, the Protection of Ethical Treatment of Animals, they’re demanding that Hunters & Collectors change their name because it promotes the killing of animals. Now, in the past we’ve referred to as Aboriginal people as hunters and gatherers. Are they meant to change their anthropological name because ‘hunters and gatherers’, you know, promote killing? Also, from the 1960s, my mother collected Avon bottles. She loved the pretty bottles. She loved being a collector. Are we to assume that the words ‘hunters’ and ‘collectors’ have murderous intent and should we strike them from the English language?

(MARK SEYMOUR LAUGHS)

TONY JONES
OK, obviously a question for you…

BRIDGET McKENZIE
Don’t do it, Mark.

TONY JONES
..former frontman of Hunters & Collectors. Why did PETA focus in on you guys?

MARK SEYMOUR
Well, I just…

TONY JONES
Was it a bit of publicity?

MARK SEYMOUR
We’re still talking about it. When was it? The start of the duck season. Is it 18 March? I just should say, OK, there’s this duck shooting in Victoria, right? Goes for three months. And you go out into the wetlands in your rubber waders and your dog and your shotgun, and you shoot ducks. And there’s all sorts of implications with that. I mean, you know, you’ve got to get the shot right. It’s not easy to do – I’ve been told, I’ve never done it myself. But I should just make you aware of the fact that what they were doing was drawing attention to the fact that this activity takes place in Victoria for three months and it starts in the middle of March. And it appears that they’ve been quite successful in drawing attention to that fact because you’re all still talking…well, the media’s still talking about it.

TONY JONES
You’re not planning to go back and change the title of all those old albums in the archive?

MARK SEYMOUR
And I won’t be shooting ducks either.

TONY JONES
OK, a quick one for Bridget. You’re a hunter, not a collector, as far as I know. What do you think of PETA’s idea of getting rid of this…well, phrase?

BRIDGET McKENZIE
Yeah, look, I did have a toy with some suggestions – ‘catch, kiss and release’ was one of my personal favourites – but I think it’s another example of political correctness gone mad. I don’t agree with PETA, and I want to assure Mark that I’m not a hunter…

PETER HOLMES A COURT
Peter?

BRIDGET McKENZIE
Oh, sorry, Mark.
..because I was a Hunters & Collectors fan as a youth, but I don’t like the way PETA pursues their calling. They harass farmers, they’re abusing people who don’t agree with their view of the world, and they’re breaking the law in many instances in an attempt to raise their issues. So, I don’t agree with what they’re doing and I don’t think Hunters & Collectors should change their name.

TONY JONES
Last word to Mark.

BRIDGET McKENZIE
But happy hunting to the duck shooters.

TONY JONES
Sounds like you’ve got a certain amount of sympathy for your tormentors.

(LAUGHTER)

MARK SEYMOUR
Yeah, I’m a real victim.

(LAUGHTER)

MARK SEYMOUR
Yeah, look, I… Alright, look, let’s not carry on with this, but duck shooting is banned in Western Australia, Queensland and New South Wales, and we should ban it in Victoria.

TONY JONES
OK, that’s all we have time for. We are out of time.

BRIDGET McKENZIE
Mark!

TONY JONES
Please thank our panel – Peter Holmes a Court, Bridget McKenzie, Mark Seymour, Lydia Khalil, Amanda Rishworth and Kerry Chikarovski.

(APPLAUSE)

TONY JONES
Now, Mark, that’s your cue. Now, remember…remember, you can continue the discussion on Q&A Extra. Join Tracey Holmes and her guest Alex McKinnon from The Saturday Paper, on ABC NewsRadio. That’s on right now on Facebook Live. They’re taking talkback and they’re discussing your social media comments and questions as soon as we finish. Next Monday on Q&A, The Big Picture with the first female prime minister of Denmark, who’s been likened to the PM in the TV series Borgen – Helle Thorning-Schmidt, who now heads the Save the Children International – and a Nobel Prize winner and pioneer of microloans to combat poverty in the world’s poorest nations – Muhammad Yunus – and more big names to come, we can guarantee you that. We’ll end tonight with Mark Seymour and his band, the Undertow, with Mark’s daughter, Eva, performing Master of Spin, which could be a bit of a prophecy on the coming of President Trump. Until next week, goodnight.

(APPLAUSE)

MARK SEYMOUR: (SINGS)
# There came out of nowhere a god-fearing man
# Who dreamed of a world he was born to command
# The love of the people he was yearning to win
# And they came to call him the master of spin
# He was born in a time full of darkness and fear
# And the thunder of cannons was distant but clear
# Well, his mother leaned down and she whispered to him
# “Don’t you ever say sorry and never give in”

# O Lord, let the bells ring
# For the hard little man who was hollow within
# Power without glory is a heartbreaking thing
# On the road to nowhere with the master of spin

# Well, the people believed in the stories he told
# Of glory and conquest and hunger for gold
# He built an army and vowed it would win
# Well, they marched into history with the master of spin
# Well, they struggled bravely through rivers of blood
# And the corpses grew higher and the fire and the flood
# Oh, how they suffered for following him
# Oh, how they worshipped the master of spin

# O Lord, let the bells ring
# For the hard little man who was hollow within
# Power without glory is a heartbreaking thing
# On the road to nowhere with the master of spin

# Well, it didn’t take much to bring him undone
# A small indiscretion, a slip of the tongue
# Well, the fool and the mistress and the monster within
# They all blew the whistle on the master of spin
# O Lord, let the bells ring
# For the hard little man who was hollow within
# Power without glory is a heartbreaking thing
# On the road to nowhere with the master of spin. #

(APPLAUSE)

 

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