November 08, 2016








SUBJECT/S: 18C, Proposed refugee ban, Newspoll


DR ANNE ALY MP: I just want to say that Australians, myself included, are left once again wondering about a Prime Minister, a weak Prime Minister, that has again backflipped – this time on the Racial Discrimination Act.

And I think this latest backflip is particularly extraordinary when you consider that even Tony Abbott, the least likely suspect, back in 2014 recognised the importance of working with communities, recognised the value of not alienating certain sections of the community in the interests of our national security.

So, you know, at least with Tony Abbott we knew who he was, we knew where he stood, we knew what he stood for. But with this Prime Minister and his thought bubbles that impact on national security, that’s a hard thing to peg down.

18C and 18D have served Australians well for many years now, and this latest backflip by the Prime Minister is just another in the series of backflips that have left Australia wondering just exactly who it is that’s governing this country.

JOURNALIST: Given the QUT case, isn’t there scop for a review of this section of the Act?

ALY: Well I think there’s a difference between the Act itself and the way that the Act is administered. I think in this case perhaps there is room to look at how the Act is administered and whether or not every claim needs to be investigated. But the Act itself in terms of 18C and 18D – 18C is there to protect all Australians and 18D is there to protect free speech. The Act itself and reviewing the Act and reviewing the bureaucratic processes around the Act are two different things.

JOURNALIST: How might you see the processes changed?

ALY: Well one thing could be that we could look at how the human rights and equal opportunity commission investigates claims, whether or not there’s a process for eliminating certain vexatious claims or determining vexatious claims – that could be one thing. But I’m not about to pre-empt how that might happen, it’s not my forte, it’s not my area of expertise. But I’m sure that there’s some way that that could be done.

JOURNALIST: The other issue that’s going to come before the Parliament today is the Government’s changes to the Migration Act. Where do you think the Labor caucus will sit on this?

ALY: Well, once again I don’t want to pre-empt what the caucus is going to say about this, but I think it’s very clear and I would reiterate the words of Bill Shorten that at its face value, at least, it seems quite ludicrous. The last 100 days the Government has been telling us about how the last 800 days they haven’t had a boat; that they’ve managed to stop the boats. And the rationale for this seems to be sending a message to the people smugglers. Well the people smugglers aren’t listening because they don’t care about the people that they dumped on our shores and that we’ve dumped consequently in Nauru and Manus. So I’ll wait to see what the caucus is going to say this morning, but all indications are as our Leader Bill Shorten and Tanya Plibersek have said that this is actually quite ludicrous, there doesn’t seem to be any rationale for it at all.

JOURNALIST: And so there probably won’t be any wriggle room to support the Government’s changes?

ALY: Well as I said, I wouldn’t like to pre-empt what comes out of caucus, but at face-value and based on the discussions that have been had and on the comments that have been made, it seems that we simply don’t see any rationale for this at all.

JOURNALIST: If this measure is connected to a resettlement deal to Canada or the US and the people currently languishing on Nauru were able to start a new life in other Western countries, surely that’s a small price to pay not to go on holidays on the Gold Coast?

ALY: Well that offer has already been made by New Zealand and New Zealand came out and said they would not resettle people and have a second-class citizenship. And so, you know, even if there was this deal in place it would be a two-way deal and already another country has indicated that it will not play ball on the basis of that deal.

JOURNALIST: And the polls say 53-47, you must be pretty happy that things seem to be moving in the right direction for Labor?

ALY: I don’t really pay a lot of attention to the polls. I know everybody says that, but I really don’t pay a lot of attention to the polls.

Thank you