Bill's Transcripts

Press Conference: Parliament House -Anti-terror raids; Iraq;



SUBJECT/S: Anti-terror raids; Iraq; Senator Bernardi; Tony Abbott’s Royal Commission into trade unions.

Good afternoon everybody. I'm about to catch a plane to farewell ADF personnel at Williamtown and Amberley. But given the significance of today's events, I did want to make some brief comments. The raids will no doubt have come as a shock to many Australians. It does remind us that the threat of terrorism can actually occur on our shores. The reports of what the people were allegedly preparing are truly shocking. Like every Australian, it makes me sick to the stomach to think that some of the images that we associate with other parts of the world could possibly occur in own streets of our suburbs and towns.


But Australians should be reassured by the capability of our security agencies. People should be reassured that our intelligence agencies and police forces are able to do their job before bad things happen to people. Indeed, before today, there have been four major terrorist attacks on Australian soil that have been disrupted after 2003 - with the participants convicted and jailed. Whilst the news is shocking, it is also a cause, I believe, for some confidence. The people entrusted with keeping us safe and the police and security agencies, are doing their job. Labor has every confidence in the ability of our security agencies to help keep us safe.

Before I take a couple of questions, I will just briefly also turn to the comments from the rogue Senator Bernardi. I have no time for these stupid comments. Today I’ll be farewelling, along with the Prime Minister, Defence personnel who, in part, in the humanitarian mission, will be standing up for the values which we hold dear in Australia. So why on earth is this out-of-touch, out-of-line Senator on a rampage with his ignorant and stupid comments? What we are arguing for here is multicultural harmony and peace and this Senator's comments should have no part to play in public life, fuelling fear and suspicion as opposed to tolerance and understanding. Happy to take a couple of questions but as I say I’ve got to catch a plane.


JOURNALIST: Given your satisfaction and your response today by authorities, is it fair to say you don't believe there is any need to revisit anti-terror laws?


SHORTEN: No. I’ve had the privilege of having various briefings about measures to make sure that we are safe. What I say to Australians today is it will come as a shock. We tend to associate, because we are so far away from the rest of the world, that some of the images on the nightly news could never happen here. I think our security agencies are certainly monitoring to the absolute best of their ability and on days like today, they’ve moved in a speedy and efficient fashion. Labor will also work with the Government in an informed evidence-based way to see what upgrades there need to be made to our security laws. We will do so on the principle of national security, with informed evidence and always making sure that we maintain the rights of Australians.


JOURNALIST: The Greens say that it is inevitable we will see mission creep in Iraq. Isn't that an accurate description given that if we force ISIL out of Iraq and into Syria, we'd inevitably have to go into Syria as well?


SHORTEN: I haven't seen the full text of what the Greens have said. This is a humanitarian mission. We have seen in northern Iraq civilian population murdered, acts of criminal violence committed against them and I believe that our policy is aimed towards restoring order and peace and security in that country. We have done so at the request of the Iraqi Government. This is quite distinct from the 2003 Gulf War. We are very conscious that it's a complex area of the world. Syria is a struggle and tragedy which has been unfolding for years, not months. But Labor's made its principles very clear here and we don't believe that mission creep is the inevitable outcome which some believe it is.


JOURNALIST: Senator David Leyonhjelm says he is concerned the next tranche of anti-terror laws could allow ASIO (inaudible) have too much power over Australian citizens. Acknowledging what you said about the need to have powers to keep Australia safe, where should the balance lie and how concerned are, or are you concerned that the next tranche might go too far?


SHORTEN: They are pretty inflammatory words. I said in answer to an earlier question Labor knows we have to get the balance right, we have to make sure our citizens are safe and that's what Australians expect of their Parliament to do. They also want to make sure that in the process of making sure Australians are safe, that we don't in some fashion undermine the Australian way of life. That's why I was so frustrated and angry at those ignorant comments by Senator Bernardi.


When you have a Senator making some of those comments that you have just made, I am not sure that's totally helpful. What the Opposition will do is we will calmly and methodically assess the evidence, weigh up the points of view and the Parliament will do what the Parliament should do, which is make sure that we act in the best interests of Australia. I'm not about to start scaring people about a debate about ‘big brother’ or some of the other words that Senator Leyonhjelm used. On the other hand we want to make sure that the laws respect the rights of citizens too.


JOURNALIST: Mr Shorten, just on a separate issue. The Royal Commission into unions has heard some evidence about the AWU and a mushroom company which paid $4000 a month to the AWU. Do you expect to find yourself before the Royal Commission? Have you been asked to give evidence there? What's your response to that situation?


SHORTEN: No, I haven't been asked. But my response is the same as on other occasions when people have asked about me about various matters before that Royal Commission. It is Tony Abbott's Royal Commission into trade unions. It is an opportunity for people to say things, to settle scores, to run agendas. I have not and I am not going to provide a running commentary on all of those matters. Thanks for asking.