Interview with Kieran Gilbert – Sky News AM Agenda – Wednesday 25 June 2014






SUBJECT/S: Peter Greste; ABC; honour killings; National Security

KIERAN GILBERT: This is AM Agenda – with me now is Shadow Communications Minister, Jason Clare. As the Shadow Communications Minister, of course I want to ask you about the Greste matter. We’ve heard from the Egyptian President, he’s not going to intervene in the judicial process that’s obviously added to the concern that’s already there.

JASON CLARE, SHADOW MINISTER FOR COMMUNICATIONS: It’s a great worry. I think we’re all still reeling, still shocked at the decision. It just doesn’t make sense that somebody like Peter Greste who was just doing his job has been arrested and now told he is going to spend seven years in prison. He should be on a plane on the way home to Brisbane and into the arms of his parents, instead he’s rotting away in a cell in Cairo.

The statements of the Egyptian leader are worrying but the work that the Prime Minister is doing, I think is the right approach. He needs to take the advice of experts of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade on the best way to bring Peter home and I’m certain that he’s doing that.

GILBERT: I guess it’s a reminder, a very stark reminder of the fact that freedom of the press is not universal. What do you say to suggestions from the Greens and in fact one of the other journalists convicted in absentia who is arguing that we should be tougher on Egypt and we should introduce sanctions and boycotts.

CLARE: We have got to be very careful. It behoves all of us to make sure we don’t do anything that would prejudice or risk the chances of Peter being released. That’s why I say it’s important people in positions of power like the Prime Minister and Foreign Minister take the advice of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade about the best way to do that. I think that they are doing that and that’s why the Prime Minister and Foreign Minister have our full support.

GILBERT: I want to change tack now and look at some local issues, the ABC review, apparently one of the suggestions is that there should be paid content of some sort after initial free broadcast. What do you make of those reports today?

CLARE: There are a couple of points here. First you’ll remember this is a broken promise. The night before the election the Prime Minister said he wouldn’t cut the ABC. They cut the ABC’s budget in the budget, by about $200 million. This looks like it’s a broken promise that now just going to keep getting bigger and bigger like an ugly boil. They are now promising to cut more money out of the ABC. There’s a report, which is still secret, which apparently explains where money should be cut from the ABC but we haven’t seen it yet. I asked the Minister in Parliament to release this report and he’s refused to release this report in full. He should do that so we know what we are talking about here.

On the issue of paywalls, we should know that catch up TV, whether it’s iView or whether it’s catch up TV on Channel Seven, or Channel Nine or Channel Ten doesn’t have paywalls, it doesn’t make sense to put paywalls there. The Free TV people are about to launch Freeview Plus which will mean that you flick on your TV and not only can you watch what’s happening right now but you can watch catch up TV, what’s been on those channels in the past. I think that’s a good thing, that’s what consumers want, they want more content. Putting up a wall there means you have less access to the content you want.

GILBERT: This is obviously a review and it’s obviously preliminary at this stage, it’s not even finalised so what about the general notion that public broadcasters can be more efficient and can pay their way even more, say for example more advertising on the SBS, which is another thing being proposed?

CLARE: I’ve always said the ABC and SBS can be more efficient. Any organisation, whether public or private can be more efficient but to meet the commitment the Prime Minister made the night before the election what he should do, what I argue he must do, is wherever he finds savings inside the ABC and SBS he should reinvest that in those organisations to provide more services and more shows and more productions for the people of Australia. More services just like iView.

GILBERT: I want to ask you about the Hizb ut-Tahrir controversy. This spokesperson that was meant to give a speech as part of the Dangerous Ideas Festival at Sydney Opera House, that’s been cancelled now by the organisers, by the Sydney Opera House. What do you say to this initial plan for this gentleman to give the speech? Essentially the title was why honour killings are justified.

CLARE: We should explain what an honour killing is – this is a father killing a daughter, a brother killing a sister, because she chooses not to agree to an arranged marriage, or marries outside the faith, or in some circumstances killing their daughter because she was a victim of rape. This is something that doesn’t have a place in any society. In Australia we call it murder and I think it was a good decision, all be it a late decision, to remove this person and this speech from the festival.

GILBERT: Do you think that, well the Prime Minister was asked about the issue of extremism generally last night on the Richo and Jones program and he said that there is a place for religious leaders to speak out more than they do currently against extremism. Not in the context of this, it was actually in the context of the suspected 150 militants fighting in Iraq and Syria, Australian militants that is.

CLARE: I think he’s right. To be fair I think many religious leaders already do but more need to send that message loud and clear because as you rightly say you’ve got 150 people who have already chosen to go overseas with the risk of them coming back radicalised and posing risk to all of us, so what the Prime Minister says is right.

The only point of difference I’d make here is that the Government is now choosing to abolish the Independent National Security Legislation Monitor. This is Bret Walker who has recommended some of the extra powers for ASIO and the removal of passports for dual nationals. It provides an important service in protecting Australians and there’s a Bill in the upper house to abolish that position. I think that that is a terrible mistake. The Government is calling it red tape, it’s not, it protects Australians and it should stay.

GILBERT: From what you’ve seen so far about those expanded ASIO, ASIS powers and also as you referred there the cancelation of passports where someone is a dual passport holder. Do you like what you’ve seen in terms of those recommendations? Are they appropriate?

CLARE: The recommendations that have come from Bret Walker, I think other committees have also made those recommendations as well. We support necessary powers to our law enforcement agencies and our security agencies to protect the Australian public. The key point that we’ve made is that there must be full transparency and accountability for the use of those powers.

GILBERT: Do you expect a fight in terms of the Labor Party when it comes to this? Those on the Left a traditionally more conservative or cautious about those sorts of measures.

CLARE: This should be and I’m sure it will be above politics. It’s the major parties, the Liberal Party and Labor Party, working together to make sure we protect Australian citizens and take the necessary action to stop more Australians becoming radicalised and posing a risk to other Australians.

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

CLARE: Thanks Kieran.