Interview with David Lipson – Sky News AM Agenda – Wednesday 5 November 2014






SUBJECT/S: Australian Special Forces in Iraq; ISIL; data retention

DAVID LIPSON: Thanks for your company here on AM Agenda. Well it’s well over a month since Australian Special Forces soldiers were pre-deployed to the United Arab Emirates but they have been waiting for final visas arrangements to allow them to go into Iraq to assist and aid the Iraq National Army in its fight against Islamic State. We understand at Sky News that the visa approval has now been granted for our Special Forces soldiers to actually carry weapons in Iraq. Up until now they were given diplomatic visas but they did not allow our soldiers to carry weapons, which wouldn’t have been much good obviously in Iraq.

Joining me now to discuss this and other stories around today is Labor frontbencher Jason Clare. Thanks very much for your time today.


LIPSON: It seems that we are getting pretty close to the full deployment of Australian Special Forces in Iraq.

CLARE: Well it seems that way. Whilst this hasn’t been confirmed it seems intuitively right that if we have Special Forces on the ground in Iraq providing training and support for the Iraqi military that they will need this sort of visa to protect themselves. Even though they are not providing a frontline role, when you are training and supporting soldiers that are on the frontline in the fight against ISIL there’s always a risk that you’ll end up in harm’s way and that’s why having access to weapons is so important.

LIPSON: We should have more information on this. The Australian Defence Force will hold a briefing later this morning in Canberra. We’ll bring you the details as they come to us. Jason Clare I also want to ask you about the fight against Islamic State here in Australia, actually not too far from your neck of the woods in Western Sydney, because earlier this week we saw that forty-seven year old man who was shot in the face. Although police said they couldn’t see any obvious motive at this point, yesterday the Prime Minister said that it seemed that this attack had been influenced by Islamic State. What’s your view of this and how concerning is it?

CLARE: We are hearing different news. Yesterday it was suggested that it was linked to ISIL. There were reports, as you say yesterday afternoon that this might have been the result of an internal dispute between individuals at the mosque, so we just don’t know.

What we do know is this, there are people in our community that are preying on young men, inciting them or encouraging them to go overseas. Let’s be very frank about it, there is the risk that this could break out on our streets and that’s why the work that our law enforcement agencies do is very important and why the work that community leaders, parents, teachers do is important to try and immunise our community against this poison.

LIPSON: We see in The Australian newspaper today that Australian authorities cracking down on Australian’s leaving this country to go and fight overseas have actually cancelled seventy three passports at the border. They have screened some sixteen thousand passengers, interviewed about sixteen hundred of them and fifty have been offloaded from their planes on security grounds, yet the flow overseas continues.

CLARE: That’s right and most people hearing that news would find it extraordinary, that somebody would want to go to the other side of the world and fight in another war for a terrorist organisation, knowing almost certain death and knowing full well that they will never get to return to Australia, the best country in the world but it’s happening and we do have a responsibility to stop the flow of money, stop the flow of people and do more work here in Australia to stop people from being interested in doing such a stupid, crazy thing in the first place.

LIPSON: It’s about a week now since the third round of anti-terrorism legislation was introduced into the Parliament, this is the legislation that concerns metadata and the forced collection of huge amounts of data by telecommunications companies and internet service providers. Now that you have had a bit of time to look at this legislation, what’s Labor’s position on it? Will you offer the bi-partisan support that has been offered up until now?

CLARE: We don’t have a predetermined position. We’ve got time now to go through the legislation in detail and hold proper hearings and talk to ASIO, the Federal Police and other law enforcement agencies about why they need this powers, to look at the experience of countries overseas, to talk to internet service providers about what they think of this as well.

It’s national security legislation, but it’s more than that David, it’s about privacy as well. It affects everybody that has a mobile phone, everyone that uses the internet. There are real potential costs for everybody that has a phone contract or an ISP contract as well. So we are going to step through this, slowly but surely.

The Government has announced a working group made up of law enforcement agencies and the telco sector to look at how much this will cost and what sort of data they want to retain. We want to look at the outcome of that working group, have a look at that with the Parliamentary Committee and then make recommendations to the Government and the Parliament about what changes, maybe, should be made to this legislation.

LIPSON: Jason Clare we will have to leave it there, thanks very much for your time.

CLARE: Thanks David.