Sky News AM Agenda Interview with Kieran Gilbert

Release Date: 
1 June 2015
Transcript
E&OE

KIERAN GILBERT:
Alan Tudge on the same sex marriage issue, do you feel that there is a group within your party, momentum within your party towards marriage equality?

ALAN TUDGE:
I think some people have shifted but I don't know where the numbers sit. I think if a vote was taken it would be very close. But at the moment we're absolutely focused on getting the budget measures through the parliament. That's our unashamed focus at the moment.

The budget was just handed down only seven sitting days ago. It's got some important measures which we want to introduce into the parliament, particularly the small business tax cuts and the instant asset right offs for small businesses which will turbo boost that sector and the economy.

KIERAN GILBERT:
Are you cynical about the opposition leader's timing?

ALAN TUDGE:
I am a bit cynical because I think that Bill Shorten is under pressure as a leader. He doesn't want to
discuss our small business package; he doesn't want to discuss jobs and he doesn't want to discuss national security measures.

I think he is a leader who is under pressure and wants to talk about anything else other than those issues and hence he's putting forward this same sex bill right now.

KIERAN GILBERT:
Andrew, your response to that?

ANDREW LEIGH:
We've said we will back the small business package, that's just up to the government to bring it to the parliament. But at the same time as the parliament is putting through bipartisan budget measures, it can also extend marriage equality.

I've had a constituent write to me saying she wants to be able to tie the knot with her same sex partner before her grandmother passes away. Another constituent has written to me to say that he's been in a committed relationship with his partner for 40 years. He doesn't see why he has to wait  any longer.

It's been nearly three years since Stephen Jones' motion was defeated on the floor of the House of Representatives and its appropriate the parliament again looks at this given we're now the only advanced English speaking country not to support same sex marriage.

KIERAN GILBERT:
Are you worried though that you have preempted what could have been a bipartisan effort. Warren
Entsch and others who have been agitating within the coalition feel they've been [inaudible] here a bit.

ANDREW LEIGH:
I don't know what agitation has been taking place within the coalition party room but what I do know is that Tanya Plibersek's private members motion has been looking for a coalition sponsor for 14 months now. No coalition member has put their hand up to co-sponsor and so it's appropriate that we push a little further.

KIERAN GILBERT:
Alan Tudge, your view on same sex marriage? Which way would you vote if there was a conscience vote?

ALAN TUDGE:
Listen, that's a decision for the party room whether or not we have a conscience vote. Traditionally we haven't but the party room itself will decide. I just emphasize this point Kieran in that we are only seven sitting days since the budget was handed down. We've got a huge agenda which we need to focus on.

The small business community wants us to get these measures through the parliament so they can immediately go and purchase up to $20,000 worth of assets and immediately write them off this financial year. This is the importance of that measure.

We're going to talk, I imagine, about national security issues and that again is an urgent matter for us to deal with in this parliament.

KIERAN GILBERT:
So would you support same sex marriage if there was a conscience vote though? Have you reached a decision on that or not?

ALAN TUDGE:
I've traditionally held the view that marriage is between a man and a woman but the bill is not before the parliament for us to consider. We'll have plenty of time for us to discuss with our communities.

KIERAN GILBERT:
Let's look at the issue of citizenship and stripping citizenship off those engaged in terrorism. Does Labor support the principle of stripping citizenship off a dual-national who is engaged in terrorism?

ANDREW LEIGH:
Kieran first of all we don't know what the government's proposal is. We have a seven page
discussion paper and it's been over a year since the government first raised the issue. When we have a clear proposal from the government we will give a considered Labor response but at the moment all we have is back-biting and leaks from the coalition cabinet.

Australia signed up to a convention against statelessness in 1973 and if you want to make sure there is less instability in the world increasing statelessness is not the right way to do it.

KIERAN GILBERT:
So in principle you don't support this idea?

ANDREW LEIGH:
I'm not sure what the idea is Kieran. We do not have a concrete proposal from the government. Certainly Labor is willing to look at sensible proposals around dual-citizens. The question as I understand it turns on people who only have Australian citizenship and the extent to which they might have access to another countries citizenship.

But as Julie Bishop apparently asked in cabinet, if Australia was to take away the citizenship of someone, why would any other country take them?

ALAN TUDGE:
Andrew the proposal is very clear. The proposal is that if you are dual citizen and you are undertaking terrorism activities then you can have your citizenship revoked because in essence it is modern day treason.

We won't render a person stateless. These are for dual nationals which is the proposal on the ground. Now there is no reason why the Labor party can't in principle support that. At the moment, we're getting all of this wishy-washy language from the Labor party and no clear statement from them.

This goes back to the former debate. Labor do not want to discuss this. Why aren't we discussing national security? Why isn't Labor supporting, in principle at least, revoking citizenship for dual nationals those who are committing terrorism activities abroad against Australia's national interest?

KIERAN GILBERT:
That's pretty clear that description of what the government's doing. Your response to that component beyond the sole citizens, on the dual nationals?

ANDREW LEIGH:
Certainly Alan is going to the less controversial part of the proposal which has to do with dual citizens.

ALAN TUDGE:
Where are you standing on that?

ANDREW LEIGH:
At the moment if you fight for a foreign power against Australia you automatically lose your citizenship and the question that's raised in the discussion paper is should that fighting for a foreign power be extended to fighting for a group like Daesh.

I think it's certainly reasonable in the current age of terrorism to look at expanding that category of foreign power but the conflict in cabinet was over a different issue. It was over the sole citizenship issue and there we really need to see some precise proposals.

I can understand why six coalition ministers were arcing up in cabinet [interruption]

ALAN TUDGE:
The decision of the cabinet which was overwhelmingly supported by the party room was if you're a dual national and you commit a terrorism activity abroad you are acting against Australia's interests [interruption]

KIERAN GILBERT:
But Andrew said you seem to indicate that Labor would back that [interruption]

ALAN TUDGE:
This seems like a new policy from the Labor party and that's good if they are going to back in principle that particular measure because that's the concrete measure which is on the table and I'm pleased if that is the case Andrew because Shadow Minister Dreyfus did not seem to support that view.

KIERAN GILBERT:
But you put out a discussion paper which has still got a fair bit of ambiguity around it because there is this other point that Andrew referred to that six cabinet ministers, in his words, arced up about it.

ALAN TUDGE:
So there's two proposals. The concrete proposal which the cabinet and the party room have decided upon is for dual nationals and if you're a dual national committing terrorist activities then you can have your citizenship revoked.

KIERAN GILBERT:
It sounds like Labor is going to agree with that.

ALAN TUDGE:
The second proposal which is put in a discussion paper for a broad consultation with the community is that if you're an Australian citizen but you are nevertheless able to avail yourself of citizenship elsewhere and are conducting terrorism activities or supporting terrorism then you could also lose your citizenship.

Now that would be consistent with the model in the UK which has been in place since 2006. We are absolutely serious about cracking down on terrorism and this is in essence modern day treason.

KIERAN GILBERT:
Let's get Andrew's response to that given it is based on the UK model and I guess the overwhelming number of the Prime Minister's backbench at least supporting this tougher line as well. I guess if you polled the electorate on this you'd get a fair bit of sympathy towards this sort of approach as well you'd think.

ANDREW LEIGH:
Kieran you need to start from the bedrock that Australia in 1973 signed a convention against statelessness so whatever we do needs to be consistent with that. We're happy to look at carefully considered proposals but I don't think that you ought be surprised that Labor wants to move methodically on questions of national security to see precise, considered reforms.

KIERAN GILBERT:
You worried you're going to be painted as wishy-washy as the government is trying to do?

ANDREW LEIGH:
Not in the least Kieran. If we're talking about sensible ideas such as extending the notion of fighting for a foreign power against Australia to fighting for a terrorist group against Australia then certainly we can have a conversation about that.

But if it's thought bubbles based on hastily cobbled together discussion papers which could breach our international obligations we'll be as concerned as, let's face it, even Barnaby Joyce was in cabinet.

ALAN TUDGE:
With respect Andrew, this is not a thought bubble. This is based on the model which has been introduced by the United Kingdom. It has been in place since 2006. They have exercised this on 27 occasions. It appears to be working so the proposals in the discussion paper are based on what is already in place.

It is not a thought bubble but what it is, is an absolute determination and very clear message to those people who want to support terrorism against Australia's interests that you can lose your citizenship if you do that.

KIERAN GILBERT:
We're out of time. Andrew Leigh, Alan Tudge, thank you.

[ENDS]