Bill's Transcripts

Radio Interview - 3AW - National security

3AW MORNINGS with Nick McCallum

SUBJECT/S: National security.  


NICK McCALLUM: The Opposition, the Federal Opposition has promised support for air strikes and the anti-terrorism measures but there are conditions. Bill Shorten the Opposition Leader joins us now, Mr Shorten, thanks for your time.


McCALLUM: So first of all, your reaction to what you’ve heard of that statement from Islamic State.

SHORTEN: It is shocking, these people are dangerous idiots who would seek to bring their particular brand of craziness to Australia. The only thing is thought that for these people their bark is bigger than their bite when it comes to Australia. Our police and security agencies are, I’m privileged in my position to be able to get briefings periodically from the security agencies, our security agencies are pretty formidable, I’d back our guys against their guys.

McCALLUM: I mean it does, and no doubt you’ve either read or heard large chunks of it, it does smack of desperation and its almost monty pythonesque at times isn’t it, this rant?

SHORTEN: It’s not a view of Islam and I would just say to listeners this isn’t Muslim Australians, this is a few extreme people who’ve got a twisted ideology, who’ve, you’ve used the word medieval, I used the same world yesterday in Parliament. This is a throwback to a period of time where people want to kill each other over religion which is just a thing of history in Australia and that’s why it may seem incomprehensible that people feel that strongly they want to commit violence and crime in the name of religion. But it’s got no part of modern Australia and I’m confident that our security agencies, that police, the intelligence agencies are more than a match for these crazies.

McCALLUM: Okay so you have a party meeting today, do you, let’s talk first of all about the airstrikes. Are you confident that your party will support the airstrikes and what sort of conditions do you want to impose?

SHORTEN: Yes I am confident. I had the privilege along with the Prime Minister Tony Abbott to farewell our air troops, our air force who are leaving from Williamtown and Amberley RAAF base’s last week. They are the best of the best, they’re highly professional. For a lot of Australians they don’t come into contact with our military but I can assure again listeners, when you saw the professional faces in the aircraft hangers, people who’ll go and do this job, our people are trained for this and they know what to do and they’ll do it very well I believe.

McCALLUM: But in Parliament yesterday you laid out some conditions, didn’t you?

SHORTEN: Yes and our positions are consistent with the Government’s position too I might add. We have been asked to, by the Iraqi Government to support them stabilise the situation in Iraq. To prevent the mass murder of civilians in Iraq. We believe very clearly that it is not an indefinite commitment and it should be only until the Iraq Government is in a position to take full responsibility for the security of their people and their nation.


McCALLUM: Now the Anti-Terrorism measures we believe will be introduced in Parliament tomorrow, will the Labor Party support them holus-bolus?


SHORTEN:  We haven’t seen them, the principle though of deterring Australian foreign fighters is absolutely a Labor principle, and we want to see the detail. In the Legislation currently before the Parliament, we got a committee to review them – There were 17 amendments made by experts, by Labor, by others which the Government accepted. This will be a constructive process. This is not a usual day at the Parliamentary office where there’s arguments about the economy or the Budget. This national security debate is above that. Again, it doesn’t always make the headlines Nick but for Australians and Melbournians listening to this, they should feel some degree of confidences that when it comes to National Security and defeating those crazy ranting people who we were talking about earlier, everyone is on the same page.


McCALLUM: Do you have any concerns on what you have heard so far about this new raft Anti-terrorism measures?




McCALLUM: So the no go zone has been controversial but you are happy to cop that?


SHORTEN: We will see how it works in practice but the principle that we want to deter people from going to these conflict zones, people who don’t have a reason to go there, well, I think that is a sound principle. We need to discourage, there might be young men and women in Australia who feel alienated from their families or have taken up listening to extreme craziness on the Social Media or the internet, who may have some twisted view of religion or excitement, but that doesn’t mean just because they have those views, they should be able to go and carry them out in another country.


McCALLUM: It is a difficult job as Opposition leader in this time, because as you say, you primarily, you agree with the Government, but then you read in the paper today the opinion polls are improving for the Government because they seem to be strong. It is a difficult time because you have to be an opposition but you don’t want to voice too much opposition to this because it will work against you.


SHORTEN: No, our calculations here are based on what is in the National interest and what right in good conscience. Australians should never give in to fear and we aren’t going to start now. I believe that when it comes to fighting Terrorism, we are all in this together. I care to believe that if Labor was in Government, Tony Abbott if he was the Opposition Leader, would take the same approach. So for me, it is a no brainer. It is about peace and well-being for your family, mine and our country that we love. Obviously, we want to make sure it is done properly, that the troops are properly resourced, that we have a clear sense of what the mission is, that we know what the end looks like as well as the start, but the principle of working with the Government on National security, I don’t need a focus group or to think twice, when it comes to this, there is no alternative.


McCALLUM: Bill Shorten, Opposition Leader, thanks very much for your time.


SHORTEN:  Thanks Nick, have a nice day.