Interview with Kieran Gilbert – Sky News AM Agenda – Wednesday 20 August 2014





SUBJECT/S: James Foley; Clive Palmer; ASADA investigation.

KIERAN GILBERT: This is AM Agenda, thanks for your company. With me now Labor frontbencher Jason Clare. Jason Clare obviously the news dominating our attention this morning, the horrific latest outrage from Iraq, the purported beheading of an American journalist who had been captured back in Syria, in 2012, James Foley is his name. The authenticity of this video yet to be confirmed by the US intelligence agencies but this does appear to be just the latest outrage from the Islamic State.

JASON CLARE, SHADOW MINISTER FOR COMMUNICATIONS: Kieran I can’t think of any other word to describe this than evil. We are dealing with an evil organisation and we have seen repeated evidence of that over the course of the last few weeks. If this proves to be correct than that is just more evidence of the same.

Our thoughts I’m sure are with James Foley’s family at this time. There are reports also that there may be another journalist being held hostage, whose life is at risk and our thoughts must be with him at this time. This is also another terrible reminder, if we need any, about the dangers that journalists face at the moment in this part of the world.

GILBERT: The US president is going to be chairing a UN Security Council meeting. It’s only the second time in history that a president has done that relating to this conflict and specifically the issue of returning jihadi’s. It is an issue obviously horrific as we see on our screens but it’s not just something that is happening afar, it’s an issue, a security problem that our intelligence agencies are very much focused on here as well and Jason Clare as you know from your dealings as a Minister with these agencies this would obviously be dominated a lot of their resources, time and attention.

CLARE: Yes that is right. This is not a new issue but it’s an issue that is getting more and more serious. When I was Minister for Home Affairs I organised a meeting with the United States, the UK, Canada and New Zealand homeland security ministers to discuss this issue, amongst others, last year. This is a problem though, not just for western countries, it’s a problem for other countries in our region like Indonesia, like Malaysia, like the Philippines where people from those countries are also going to Syria and to Iraq to fight in these wars and it’s a problem when they come back.

The JI individuals that were responsible for the Bali bombing were trained in Afghanistan and the same risk is emerging now with people that are fighting overseas and coming back to countries, not just Australia but countries in our region that have been affected by those wars and pose a risk to our country and our region.

GILBERT: Now to the comments by Clive Palmer and Jacqui Lambie over the last couple of days. They’ve received condemnation from all quarters it seems. In China at the moment some sympathetic reporting of the Australian Government response – that’s good news but clearly it’s not great to have a Member of Parliament making such comments, certainly the Lambie comments warning of an invasion.

CLARE: That’s right Kieran. I think the point that I would make on this is that by the end of the decade we expect that there will be about 1.7 billion middle class people in Asia and by the end of 2030 there will be about 3 billion middle class people in Asia. Now the big question for everyone in politics, the big question for Australia is how do we make the most of this? How do we make sure we set Australia up to take advantage of this enormous opportunity? Comments like this are counterproductive. They’re a distraction. They are wrong and they mean that we are not focusing on the main game, which is how do we set up Australia to take advantage of this enormous opportunity and work more closely with China and the other countries of our region.

GILBERT: Now I’ve got to ask you about the ASADA situation. The investigations haven’t resulted in any great punishments, certainly when it comes to the NRL. Given the events of the last couple of days what is your response to the criticism that has been levelled at you and the former Government’s handling of this?

CLARE: I’ve said before Kieran and happy to say it again that the things that I said on that day were accurate. There was a 12 month investigation by the Australian Crime Commission and they provided a report to me and I released that report.

Drugs in sport is a problem. No one wants drugs in sport. We haven’t done enough in the past to tackle this issue when we do need to do more to get drugs out of sport because no one wants people cheating when they are playing sport.

GILBERT: What about the links to the bikie gangs, criminal underworld and so on. You’ve been criticised for besmirching sports people, what do you say to that criticism?

CLARE: I think anybody that’s received a briefing from the Australian Crime Commission, and there a number of people across the country who have received that private briefing, wouldn’t doubt the seriousness of this issue or the links to organised crime.

GILBERT: And the ferocity of the criticism you have received, what do you say to those individuals? I know on social media you have coped a fair bit of flack but also some pretty prominent broadcasters as well have had you in their sights for what they say is besmirching sports people as you well know.

CLARE: My responsibility as Minister for Home Affairs was to release the reports into the investigations by the Australian Crime Commission and that’s what I did. Anybody that reads that report will know how serious this issue is.

For example in 2012 an individual died in the London marathon from using one of the drugs that’s involved in this investigation. By way of another example Kieran, I think it was 2012 ASADA did random testing of individuals in a Queensland rugby league match and they did a random test and found that everybody that they tested, tested positive for substances that they shouldn’t have been using. So it’s a serious problem. We want to get drugs out of sport and that’s what this investigation is about.

GILBERT: I guess just finally on this the people refer to that line ‘this is the blackest day in sport’, how do you reflect on that? Do you have any regrets of the handling of it by the then Government?

CLARE: Kieran as you know and as most journalists know I never said those words. Those words were said by another commentator on the day and I wouldn’t describe it like that. I’d say that this is a serious issue, we want to get drugs out of sport and that’s what this investigation by the Crime Commission is all about.

GILBERT: Yes I did know that but they’ve been attributed to you so I thought I’d get you to respond. That’s all we’ve got time for.

CLARE: Thanks mate. Thank you.

GILBERT: Jason Clare thank you very much for your time, appreciate it.