23 February 2015
Transcript - #2015030, 2015

Interview on Network Ten’s “The Project”

PRESENTER:

[Inaudible] The Prime Minister’s announcements today, we're chatting to Treasurer Joe Hockey. Joe, under these new proposals, exactly who would get their passports cancelled? Would it just be foreign fighters or would it also be people recruiting and financing terror here in Australia? 

TREASURER:

Carrie, you're going to see more detail over the next few weeks and months as we go down the path of consulting with the community, but importantly, consulting with other parties in Parliament about the measures we need to take. Now, in the case of people with dual citizenship, if they're fighting overseas, we are looking at withdrawing their Australian citizenship, so they can still use their passport from another country, but it would obviously deny them the right to come back to Australia. In the case of Australian citizens, when they go overseas now to fight for a terrorist group, we are cancelling their welfare if they're on welfare, but in Australia, they might be also engaging in activities that threaten our community or could potentially threaten our community, and we need to have appropriate measures in place to protect our community, including withdrawing their funding if they're on welfare.

PRESENTER:

So, Treasurer, these new regulations, do you think they would have caught the Lindt Cafe siege shooter Man Monis?

TREASURER:

Well, when you read the report, Steve, it's incredible that at various points he was missed by the system, and obviously there might be earlier alerts. The behaviour of some of these potential terrorists in Australia is extraordinary, and it's not normal behaviour. We keep seeing these people who are arrested have neighbours and friends that say, ‘I never knew they were behaving in that way’, and we need to use every tool available to ensure no harm comes to the community.

PRESENTER:

But, Joe, I think the question is whether or not these tools would have prevented that. How does cancelling somebody's passport prevent a situation like the Martin Place siege?

TREASURER:

Well, Waleed, I think the issue is in relation to that particular person. How did he become an Australian citizen in the first place? And how did he receive welfare entitlements? Also importantly, how did he get bail – which is an issue that has been addressed by the New South Wales Government – when arguably he should have been in jail? It is – you know, there's no simple answer to all of those questions, but we are going to need every tool available without compromising the principles that we have all fought so hard for over the years, such as freedom of speech, such as freedom to travel where we choose to go. It's a fine line – it's incremental our response, but it's necessary.

PRESENTER:

I understand the balancing exercise. Just on a different issue, the Prime Minister said something that caught my eye today, have a look at this:

Now, I’ve often heard western leaders describe Islam as a religion of peace. I wish more Muslim leaders would say that more often and mean it.

It's a pretty full on thing to say; it sounds like he’s saying he wishes Muslims would condemn terrorism more, and I did about five minutes of googling today and I came across this, for example, the Australian National Imams Council publicly denounced ISIS, Australia's most senior Muslim Cleric, the Grand Mufti Ibrahim Abu Mohammad. Muslim leader Jamal Rifi described Man Haron Monis as a disgrace. In the case of the Sydney siege, there was a statement from over 40 Australian Muslim groups that condemned the action of Monis, and this was not just small unknown groups, this was cross-sectarian. The Australian Ahmadiyya Muslim Association described the attack as totally contrary to the teachings of Islam. It even drew response from Egypt – Grand Mufti Shawki Allam made the comment condemning the attack. I could literally go on and on and on; I don't have time. What more exactly do you want from the Muslim leadership?

TREASURER:

Waleed, as you know, and I know, the most powerful voice in condemnation of extremism – Islamic extremism, is going to be the voice of moderate Islamists, moderate Muslims condemning these people…

PRESENTER:

I understand the point, but there it is – we just saw, didn't we?

TREASURER:

…And they are coming out… Well, there are, but there can always be more, as there can be more people of that heritage, and in my case, as you know, my Palestinian heritage, I'm not afraid to say to people, hang on, there are good people and there are good members of the Islamic faith and leaders of the Islamic faith who are standing up to extremists. [Inaudible]

PRESENTER:

Sure, but the point is they're being accused of not doing enough. I’m wondering how much more do you want them to do? How much more do you want them to say?

TREASURER:

As much as they possibly can. As we all have a responsibility, Waleed, as we all have a responsibility to point out that this is not about the faith of Islam, this is about extremism acting in the name of Islam. We all have a responsibility – all of us to speak out, but the most powerful voice in the public debate is going to be that of moderate Islamic leaders who speak out against extremists.

PRESENTER:

All right Joe, we’re going to have to leave it there for tonight but we appreciate you coming on the program tonight. Thanks for your time.   

TREASURER: 

Thanks very much Carrie.