Interview with Laura Jayes
Sky News Australia
Topic: National Anti-Gang Laws
DAVID LIPSON: I want to look at Western Sydney first, where the Prime Minister is again focusing on gang violence. She’s asking the states to give up some of their powers so that a national approach can be taken. Our reporter Laura Jayes is covering the battleground blitz in western Sydney, and she spoke to the Home Affairs Minister Jason Clare a short time ago.
JASON CLARE: Let me clear this up straight away – we definitely need stronger unexplained wealth laws so we can seize the assets of criminals. But it’s not my intention here for the money to all go back to the Commonwealth Government, we’ve got to share that money with the states.
If we get this right it means more assets, more cash and homes and cars seized off criminals, more money back to the state governments around the country, and more money that we can inject into crime prevention programmes like CCTV and the sorts of programmes that help to make sure young kids don’t go off the rails and into gangs in the first place.
LAURA JAYES: As I understand it, this was a key recommendation out of a parliamentary task force, but you put this plan to the Attorneys General six months ago. Has anything changed in this plan, and what makes you think that the Premiers are going to agree this time around?
JASON CLARE: Yes, it’s a good point. We’ve got the police calling for these new laws, and we’ve also got the Labor Party and the Liberal Party in Canberra calling for these greater powers to seize assets. Unfortunately, when we got the Attorneys General around the country together they said no. I think elevating it to the top table, getting the Premiers of the country and the Prime Minister together gives us a chance to fix this roadblock and get these new laws in place.
By giving state governments the assurance that they’re going to get a good share of the money out of this, I think that’ll give state governments an incentive – more powers for their police and more money for them to spend on the things that matter in their local communities like education, health and crime prevention.
LAURA JAYES: What are the states telling you is the biggest roadblock here, and is there any room for negotiation?
JASON CLARE: Well some states have already got anti-gang laws, some don’t. Some states are thinking about getting rid of their laws, so that’s the problem. When you’ve got criminals that move from state to state you need one set of laws for the country so that there are no safe-havens. So we’ve got work to do there with the states to set up the right system, and then as I said some states have been concerned about where the money would go, I think that’s an easy thing to…
LAURA JAYES: [interrupts]
But as you understand it, that’s the only issue.
JASON CLARE: On the unexplained wealth laws, that’s been the big concern that states have had. I think the message has got to be sent loud and clear – I want to make sure the police have got the powers, and we can then distribute the money to where it’s needed.
LAURA JAYES: Just finally on Julia Gillard’s week in Western Sydney, do you think it has been a success? And has there been a bit of criticism levelled at her – we saw a bit of a heckler here in the media conference just before, has that been a regular occurrence, or do you think that’s, I guess, not the norm?
JASON CLARE: Well first, welcome to my neck of the woods, welcome to what I often say is the best part of the country. I think it’s great to have the PM here – she’s here a lot, but she’s here for an extended period of time this week, and getting a really good idea of the issues that matter.
The talk that we had with local members of the community today was key because they made the point that we need to do two things here. We’ve got to tackle the serious end of crime, but we’ve also got to make sure we’ve put the things in place that stop young people getting involved in gangs in the first place. Now the more time the PM spends talking to people like that, the better our policies will be.
When John Howard was Prime Minister for, what, 11 years, he didn’t visit my local electorate once, and not many people know that. You need the Prime Minister of the country to get around, talk to people from coast to coast, and having the PM here in our neck of the woods in southwest Sydney means we’re better represented and we’ll get the sorts of things that help to make our streets safer.
LAURA JAYES: Jason Clare thanks so much.
JASON CLARE: Thanks Laura.
DAVID LIPSON: Laura Jayes there with the Home Affairs Minister.