SUNDAY, 17 MARCH 2019
SUBJECTS: New Zealand terrorist attack; Fraser Anning; Medicare; Milo Yiannopoulos; hate speech
TIM WATTS, FEDERAL MEMBER FOR GELLIBRAND: Good afternoon. My name is Tim Watts, I'm the federal Member for Gellibrand in Melbourne's west. I'm joined here today by Bill Shorten, the Leader of the Opposition, and Chloe Shorten.
We're here at the Australian Islamic cCentre in Newport for National Open Mosque Day. Today we've seen thousands of residents of Melbourne's west flocking through the doors of this icon of Melbourne's west - an internationall- renowned architectural wonder, designed by one of Australia's great architects, Glenn Murcutt. It's an incredible building for a really important event.
I was talking to one of the elderly gentleman inside the mosque just now and expressing my solidarity and sadness and shock at the atrocity that was committed in Christchurch, and he said to me, everything happens for a reason.
What matters now the most is how we respond to this event. So I’ll was really pleased that Bill Shorten and Chloe came down here today to provide leadership about that response, about how we respond to the atrocity in Christchurch.
On that note, I'll hand over to Bill Shorten, the Leader of the Opposition.
BILL SHORTEN, THE LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION: Thanks, Tim Watts, local Member for Gellibrand.
The reverberations of the massacre in Christchurch are still ricocheting around the world. But I think quite keenly in Australia. Words I never thought I'd utter, "an Australian terrorist." An Australian terrorist who has gone to New Zealand and committed unspeakable evil, in particular singling out New Zealanders of the Muslim faith.
But this event hasn't happened in isolation. Whilst it is without a doubt the single most shocking atrocity that I'm aware of in the western world towards people of the Muslim faith, there are many Muslim Australians who are feeling less secure than they were before Friday. So that is why, not just myself and Chloe, but literally tens of thousands of Australians are visiting mosques this weekend - people who have never set foot in a mosque before, just to express support.
This isn't about religion, it's about humanity. It isn't about an evil act, it's also about an act of hope. I couldn't be prouder of standing in that mosque with so many people, not just Australians of Muslim faith, but Australians of all faiths, and indeed, none. What we see here today, when you look at the sea of faces from all backgrounds, is you actually see the best of Australia, as opposed to what we saw on Friday which is arguably the worst of Australia.
I just want to say to all Australians, not just Australian Muslims, a nation can make a choice. It can respond to a shocking act of evil like this in one of two ways. We can retreat, back into our own tribes. We can retreat behind our own walls, our own faith. We can decide that we will just live our lives with greater fear, greater hate, greater suspicion of people who are different.
Or we can make another choice. We can choose to confront fear with hope, to confront hate with love, to embrace - you can be proud of your own faith whatever it is, you can be proud of your own culture whatever it is - but you should use that as a bridge to understand others, to be positive about the collective of Australian humanity.
I say to those who perpetuate extreme right wing hatred, just as I would say to extremists of all persuasions. I say to you this.
You, by your hate speech, have created a swamp land of hatred, through your ideology of hatred. You, who want to practice in the name of free speech, hate speech, you who hide behind liberty to practice evil - well you have created this swamp of hate. You cannot disown what crawls out of your swamp.
So I say to those extreme right politicians in Australia, those keyboard warriors who hide behind the Internet - you can't hide. You can't disown your stupidity, your ignorance, your foolishness, your hatred, your racism, your intolerance, your un-Australian attitude, and just hide behind hate speech.
The families are still grieving in Christchurch. I cannot imagine the pain, and when you hear the stories of the people in Christchurch, the people who were gunned down at worship - a particularly vulnerable posture. Surgeons, doctors, fathers, kids - just people going about their day. When you hear about that story of one last victim who greeted his attacker with those words, "hello brother" . This is not who we are. Nations make choices.
We've got to learn the lessons. I say to the social media giants, you have a commercial dynamic that you sell as liberty. But there is no liberty to hate. There is no liberty to practice hate speech. I say to those big social media giants, you cannot be distant, an island away from the conduct of your platforms. If a newspaper wrote some of the stuff that you allow on your media platforms, they'd be in court. If individuals at a cafe or a pub spoke in the way that you let people speak online, there'd be a call to the police.
I just say, we've all got to learn the lessons from this. We've got to work together to make sure this can't happen again. But this scene today, which I was privileged to be here, when I witnessed ordinary Australians of all faiths backing each other up, saying this is not who we are. It was a privilege for Chloe and I to be here today, and as Leader of the Labor Party we will help learn the lessons to prevent this evil ever happening again.
Happy to take any questions people might have.
JOURNALIST: What do you think of Fraser Anning's egging yesterday?
SHORTEN: Listen, the young man who egged him, that was a mug thing to do. You don't get your message out by coming up and crunching an egg on someone. That's just stupid. But when I also saw – so I've got no time for that, doesn't matter what rubbish that the politician was spouting, you don't want to give this foolish politician, this hurtful politician, any sense of the moral high ground, because he has none.
But when I also saw the footage, some of those right wing extremist thugs, how many tough extreme right wingers does it take to wrestle with a 17 year old boy? Clearly too many - it's just wrong. So the police will have to do what they've got to do, and in a democracy I'm not going to interfere with what the police do.
JOURNALIST (ON PHONE): Hi Bill, how are you going?
SHORTEN: Good Fi.
JOURNALIST: I've got two questions - two topics to cover (inaudible).
SHORTEN: I'll do the non-Christchurch questions in a moment. Did you have any on that?
SHORTEN: Okay, just on just on Milo Yiannopoulos. You've got to ask the Government, the department said don't let this character in and the Government Ministers overruled the department. Now they've changed their mind after Christchurch. What is it that Milo Yiannopoulos has said after Christchurch that he wasn't saying before Christchurch? He shouldn't have been allowed in, you should've listened to the department, you've got to the right answer now, but it shouldn't take the events in New Zealand for the Government to get the answer right
Let's prevent hate speech. People are entitled to freedom of speech, but they're not entitled to oppress the liberty of others. These extremists perpetuate hate. Not all extreme right wing hate speech ends in extreme violence, but all extreme right wing violence starts in extreme right wing hate speech. He should never have been granted the visa. I'm glad they've overruled it now.
In terms of your question on Medicare, I'm pleased if the Government's putting some money back in, but they took $3 billion out of Medicare through their freeze on patient rebates. They've taken $2.8 billion in cuts to hospitals, $360 million in cutting preventative programs. So it's a drop in the bucket. It's five minutes to midnight and I think it's too little too late. Thanks Fi.
JOURNALIST: Thank you.
JOURNALIST: In terms of Facebook, what responsibility do you think social media giants like that have to stop broadcasting material like this?
SHORTEN: Social media and the Internet's a fantastic development. It allows us to be exposed to ideas, to connect, to break down isolation. It's a fantastic development. But the big media platforms do have an obligation to, I think, better monitor and prevent hate speech. The way that the big media platforms sell themselves to their customers, is they say to their customers who they want to buy advertising on Facebook and whatever else, they say, we know everything about the users of Facebook , we can tell you everything, you can geo-target and you can market. Their whole business model is to tell their customers that they know everything about their social media users. Well if that's your business model, fair enough, but you can't go missing and not know what they're saying when it comes to hate speech.
Why is it that when it comes to making a dollar the big social media giants know everything about the users of social media, when it comes to detecting and preventing and discouraging hate speech, then they become Pontius Pilate and wash their hands of the whole affair. It's not good enough. We've got to work together with them. They have improved their reporting to police. But you can't have a commercial dynamic trading on liberty and then go missing when hate speech perverts it into violence and worse as we've seen.
JOURNALIST: What part does the Government have to play in assisting someone like Facebook then?
SHORTEN: I think this is a collective exercise. This isn't a Liberal, Labor or partisan exercise. It's been two days since Christchurch but - and there's families, people still fighting for their lives, New Zealand is trying to you know, just so much immediate grief and shock to get through - but we've got to learn the lessons. We keep saying we've got to learn the lessons through the radicalisation of people. Well, we're running out of time to learn the lessons. And how many more people have to die before we recognise that we've got to be a lot better?
But let me be very clear. We wouldn't allow television or print media to put some of the filth and rubbish, and violence, and perversion which gets put out in social media, so we can't just have one standard for old technology and give a leave pass new technology. We've got to get the balance right. Social media is a marvellous tool, but it can't be used as a swamp in which wrongdoers can hide and crawl out to do even worse things.
JOURNALIST: And a further question on Fraser Anning please, do more politicians need to rethink the language they use in relation to refugees and migration?
SHORTEN: I think most politicians are not like Fraser Anning. Thank God. There's only a very few like him pop up. But I think the debate needs to be more respectful. And this really goes to that question of what sort of nation do we want to be. Do we want to be a nation who tells the majority to be scared of minorities? Do we want to be a country who says that we need to be nervous and scared of a few hundred people coming here? Do we want to be a nation which says that if someone worships a different God, has a different sexual identity, has a different political view, that somehow we've got to be scared and nervous? We shouldn't be. Australia is a great country. This man, Brenton Tarrant, does not represent Australia but he comes from us. We should be a country who needs to be more confident in ourselves.
Our strength is our diversity. Our strength is that people come here from 100 different lands, they can have whatever views they have so long as they fit in with adhering to our laws and being good people.
As I said in the mosque, what makes a good Australian doesn't depend on how many generations have been here, how much money they have in the bank, your gender, your religion. What makes a good Australian is the way you treat your fellow Australians. Today we're seeing, I think, a little microcosm, a humble microcosm, of the best of Australia.
I got a chance to speak and say the things which I know people are feeling. That's a privileged position. But there's thousands of people who don't give a speech in front of the television, who don't echo the big debates, but they feel it in their hearts. And every individual person who's come here today to say to Muslim Australians that we're standing alongside you, that's very optimistic, very optimistic.