Interview with Kieran Gilbert – Sky News AM Agenda – Wednesday 24 September 2014






SUBJECT/S: National security

KIERAN GILBERT: This is AM Agenda, thanks for your company, with me now the Labor frontbencher Jason Clare, a former Home Affairs Minister. You worked very closely with the Federal Police over a number of years, what’s your reaction to this incident in Melbourne last night?

JASON CLARE, SHADOW MINISTER FOR COMMUNICATIONS: I think the events of the last few days have shown that ISIL can be a lightning rod. That what’s happening overseas, on the other side of the world, the mess in Mesopotamia, has the potential to poison the minds of people here in Australia to do the most terrible things. It also shows us how dangerous the work our police do is. Importantly it also shows us they are up to the job. And the work our federal police, state police and national security agencies have done over the last few days and weeks should fill the community with confidence that they’ve got the skills and capability to do the job.

GILBERT: And of course our thoughts go out to both of the officers recovering.

CLARE: And their families who would be huddled around them in hospital now, very worried about their safety but also their condition.

GILBERT: What do you say to the suggestion that some critics of the military deployment like the Greens for example who believe that this deployment of our troops has made us a bigger target?

CLARE: Well if you follow that argument you do nothing, and that means the people on Mount Sinjar die. That means they are all slaughtered by ISIL. It means that the Kurds trying to flee Iraq or Syria into Turkey that don’t make it are slaughtered. You follow that argument more people die, but it also means that ISIL become a stronger, bigger organisation that becomes a bigger threat to the countries of the region and a bigger threat to the whole world and that’s the flaw in that argument.

GILBERT: You’re a Member of Parliament that represents an electorate with one of the biggest Islamic populations. What’s the reaction been to the raids of the last week or so and the greater security, the terror upgrade? I know one of the prime suspects, the one that has been charged was in your electorate.

CLARE: In Guildford. I think first there is a feeling of relief that this alleged plot has been nipped in the bud, but there is also a feeling of isolation. People are angry that their religion has been hijacked by extremists overseas. There is a sense of frustration that people have to keep telling everybody that they are loyal to Australia and there is a worry that they will be targeted because of the actions of a few.

I’ve got a good mate of mine called Amer, his son came home from school the other day, on Friday. Now this is a young boy, eleven years old, his biggest issue up until now has been whether he cheers on the Eels or the Bulldogs. He came home Friday and said to his dad, “dad why does everybody hate us?” Now I worry about that because if people feel like they don’t belong, if they feel isolated then that’s when organisations like ISIL and their rancid ideology have the potential to poison the minds of people in Australia to do terrible things.

GILBERT: So what needs to be done by government, by representatives in this parliament?

CLARE: I think the key point here is that it’s bigger than just government. It’s bigger than just laws and what our law enforcement agencies do. It needs the help of community leaders and religious leaders but it’s more than that. It’s parents, it’s teachers, it’s doctors, it’s youth workers and it’s the whole community creating an environment where everybody feels like they belong.

GILBERT: How widespread, I know it’s a very difficult thing to respond to, but I guess a question that many Australians would be wondering now is how widespread is the sympathy for the group Islamic State within the Australian community?

CLARE: You are talking about a tiny, tiny group of people. But a small group of people that can do terrible harm to the Australian community and that’s why the work that our law enforcement agencies do is so important. Why it’s important they’ve got the right powers and the right resources to do their job. The overwhelming majority of the Muslim community in Australia are good, honest, hardworking people that are as horrified with what they are reading in the newspapers and seeing on their TV’s as you and I are, and they want to make sure that action is taken by our government, by our community leaders, by all of us to make sure that our communities are safe.

GILBERT: Do you think there is enough communication and consultation happening in terms of the greater security powers, the counter-terrorism legislation to ensure that the community leaders are comfortable with it so that they then can come with the government ton it?

CLARE: Some has happened. More needs to be done. Mark Dreyfus made the point today that there needs to be proper consultation on this legislation, I think that’s right. There’s been some done already but not enough and that needs to be consultation not just with the Muslim community but with the whole Australian community to make sure that whatever laws we put in place are the right laws and that they work.

GILBERT: Jason Clare, appreciate your time.

CLARE: Thanks Kieran.