Transcript – Drive with Nick McCallum – 3AW

Topics: Manchester Bombing, public security, Ashby tapes, Advance Australia Fair, school reforms

 

E&OE….

 

NICK MCCALLUM:

Senator Scott Ryan, thanks for your time.

 

SENATOR SCOTT RYAN:

G’day Nick, thanks for having me.

 

MCCALLUM:

Ok, first things first, the Government’s response to Manchester? First of all, have we been able to establish if any Australians have been involved?

 

SENATOR RYAN:

As we know at the moment, there are no Australians involved, but it comes with a caveat that at any given time there could be a million Australians in the UK and there are more than 100,000 who live there. But at the moment, none have. All our embassy staff – about 150 of which are Australian residents over there and the other 150 are locally engaged – have been contacted and they are safe, but as the Foreign Minister and Prime Minister said, given the number of Australians there, there is always the possibility of further tragic news.

 

MCCALLUM:

So what lessons can we learn from Manchester? What lessons can the Government learn from Manchester? And what changes can we expect here?

 

SENATOR RYAN:

I think it’s important we let the investigation takes its course so we know exactly what happened because this is an event and a tragedy to which we can all relate. I have to admit, I’m not familiar with Ariana Grande’s music, my children aren’t quite old enough, but we can all relate to being in a public place.

We recall the tragedy in Melbourne earlier this year as well, where people, going about their daily lives in a space they’re familiar with, were confronted with violence. So I think we need to let that take its course, but as the Prime Minister and the Foreign Minister have outlined, we do have work underway on, what we call, hardening our public spaces to make them safer. This is a matter of ongoing vigilance. If the initial police reports are true and there was potentially a single person with, effectively, a bomb, then that is a reminder that we need to be constantly vigilant and support the work of our police and security forces that have to keep an eye on a lot of people, including some in our community who want to do us harm.

 

MCCALLUM:

96900693, 13 13 32 if you want to speak to Senator Scott Ryan.

Senator, after the horror that was Bourke Street here in Melbourne back in January, I know the Federal Government and State Government have worked together to try and improve security in the centre of Melbourne. Amongst the suggestions have been things like pop-up bollards and things like that. Now many people have ridiculed that, and I think it is because the Andrews Government is always targeted and always ridiculed – and if it were a Liberal Government I’m sure they would have been ridiculed from outsiders as well, but do we just have to learn to accept that those are the type of things we need in our public places?

 

SENATOR RYAN:

Well we have them a bit around Canberra and around Parliament – for those who have visited here. As has been reported, there is also a fence going up around the building because we live in a different environment to 30 years ago, 40 years ago when this building was designed.

In our public spaces it can be done in a very non-obtrusive way. Some people might have noticed large concrete balls in some cities of the world they’ve gone to, and one of the reasons for that is to prevent vehicles from going into a pedestrian space. What it means is that we do need to re-look at our public spaces. We always need to be vigilant. I myself, was at Federation Square having dinner with my young son and wife the night of the Moomba riots. They actually started a lot earlier, they started at a normal dinner time of 6.30 or 7.30 and I remember saying to my wife ‘there is a bad vibe with a lot of people running to and from Federation Square’ and we made moves to leave just as the initial police response was happening, five hours before the nasty riots we saw on the front page of the paper the next morning. So we need to be vigilant and we need to report anything we see that is suspicious and we need to understand that our security agencies have a very difficult job in balancing our freedom and liberty to go about our daily life, but also ensuring we do so securely.

 

MCCALLUM:

Chris has got a question, hello Chris.

 

CALLER:

Yes, good afternoon. I’m just wondering what sort of money we’re looking at in regards to financing bollards and these sort of things? And when is someone going to address their role model, that is, their prophet Mohammad. As we know, this is the Islamic prophet that they have and nobody seems to want to touch this in politics.

 

MCCALLUM:

Senator?

 

SENATOR RYAN:

It is well outside my area of expertise to know the cost of putting bollards in place, that’s just one example that I know has been written about and discussed publically.

With what has happened in Manchester, can I say, today is a day to mourn and to ensure we take every step to ensure Australians haven’t been involved and if they are, to support them. I don’t think it is a day for that sort of debate.
With what happened in Bourke Street, we’ve got to be careful with what we say because it is still in the court, I understand. That’s been reported on, but it doesn’t not seem to be an event anything like the one we have seen in Manchester earlier today.

 

MCCALLUM:

Ok then, let’s get onto another issue as well, which I think has become quite bizarre, which is the secret tape of James Ashby, the One Nation adviser, who, at the very least, sounds very sleazy about trying to raise money, using the Queensland election to raise money. Now Neil Mitchell had One Nation Senator Malcolm Roberts on. He said he has evidence that the Labor Party and the Liberal Party does this all the time. Does the Liberal Party do this?

 

SENATOR RYAN:

I’ve never heard of this. I’ve been in the Liberal Party 27 years and I’ve never heard of this. What I’ve heard from the tape in Queensland is that allegedly receipts were going to be submitted for inflated amounts so that funding would come back for higher than the cost incurred. Federal law doesn’t work that way. At the Commonwealth election, federal elections, parties that reach a threshold get a degree of funding, but it’s based on the number of votes they get, it’s not based on receipts they submit. I’ve never heard of this happening in the Liberal Party or the Labor Party, what James Ashby described on the tape. And I say to people, if they do think something is wrong, by all means, bring it to the authority’s attention.

 

MCCALLUM:

He was quite categorical, One Nation Senator Malcolm Roberts. He told Neil that he had evidence. So you would urge him to bring the evidence forward?

 

SENATOR RYAN:

I can only speak to Commonwealth and Federal elections, what happens in the states is under different law. In the Liberal Party, to give you an example because I did read the transcript of what he said, when you nominate to be a Liberal candidate you do pay a fee – I think it was about $1200 when I did it – to nominate so the Liberal Party can afford to run a convention to decide who the candidate is and that was a fee you paid to the Liberal Party. It had nothing to do with public funding.

 

MCCALLUM:

What did you think when you heard that tape?

 

SENATOR RYAN:

Well the first thing I did was make sure whether it was a matter of federal law. I have spoken to the Electoral Commissioner in the last 24 hours since it became public – and I think more of it has gone online today. He has confirmed that given the public facts we have at the moment, this is not a matter of federal law or claim that federal law has been breached, this is entirely a matter of Queensland law.

 

MCCALLUM:

Ok, so it would be up to the Queensland Government to act. I don’t know whether it’s illegal or not, I presume lawyers would be looking at it, but gee, it’s sleazy isn’t it?

 

SENATOR RYAN:

It’s not something I’ve done, it’s not something I’d encourage, it’s something I’d condemn. As I said, federally it’s pretty simple. Once you reach four per cent of the vote you will get a degree of support for elections that depends on how many votes you get – and One Nation got that after the last election.

 

MCCALLUM:

96900693, 13 13 32. Any questions for Senator Scott Ryan in regard to what is happening in the world today, in regard to Manchester, what’s happening in terms of One Nation, but also, after this, we’ll discuss the national anthem as well.

 

[AD BREAK]

(Inaudible, caller)

 

That’s effectively what happened in Manchester?

 

SENATOR RYAN:

There are some things, to be honest, we don’t talk about publically – and I’m not privy to all of them – because you don’t want to necessarily reveal security strategies. But I think the point that David was highlighting there is that people need to be vigilant and aware. I remember, I think it was a pretty important moment, when the wire chain fence went around the MCG a couple of years ago and you have to go through security. To me, that was a big sign that we’re living in a different world to when I grew up.

When you’re coming out of the MCG, as I did after the Anzac Day game, people just need to keep an eye on what’s going on around them. There is no need to be alarmed, but as John Howard said, being alert is important in this day and age.

 

MCCALLUM:

Nick joins us, hi Nick.

 

CALLER:

Yeah, how are you doing? Did I understand the Senator correct when he said what happened in Bourke Street has nothing to do with Manchester?

 

SENATOR RYAN:

Well Nick …

 

MCCALLUM:

Before we go down that path Nick, please be very careful. There is a legal proceeding taking place so we cannot pre-judge things in Bourke Street. So let’s talk in generalities.

 

SENATOR RYAN:

I was trying to say that today is a day where we ensure that if there are any Australians impacted in Manchester that we care for them and that regardless of the specific event, I think it is fair to say that what we have seen in Manchester, which was kids killed at a concert for kids that parents are taking their kids to, I was trying to say, it is a different  type of event than what is truly a random act of violence that occurred to people as they were going about their shopping. I think they’re slightly different in nature. I am not trying to dismiss one or the other but I think they are different in nature.

 

MCCALLUM:

Thank you very much Nick and we do have to be careful because there are legal proceedings with that particular case.

Now there is a move afoot, and in fact a Victorian Supreme Court judge, who is doing it as a private citizen, wants to rebadge parts of the national anthem. One of the things he wants to say, instead of ‘we are young and free’, he wants to replace those words with ‘in peace and harmony’ to try and placate the Indigenous community who believe it is wrong to say Australia is young. How do you react to that?

 

SENATOR RYAN:

I don’t think we get peace and harmony by constantly trying to change things that people value about Australia. There is nothing wrong with being inclusive and trying to ensure we don’t inadvertently offend anyone, but I think we’ve also got to be careful not to throw away what people value. I think the reaction to it, that I’ve seen, and online, on Twitter, some calls I’ve heard, indicates that people value the national anthem. I don’t think the term ‘young and free’ insults anyone. One can say Australia has been occupied for millennia by our Indigenous peoples, that there was European settlement beginning in 1788, and that Australia, as a nation, as a political entity, was created by popular referendum in the 1890s. I don’t think any of those statements are inconsistent. As a country we are a relatively young nation. That is not to say, in reply, that there have not been people here for millennia.

 

MCCALLUM:

That’s right and when you actually decide you are having a national anthem – and we changed the national anthem in the 1970s and that was a common sense thing, we had a British anthem, of course we wanted an Australian national anthem – but once you make the decision, you can’t let it go around every generation saying ‘we’re going to change the words’, or ‘we’re going to change the national anthem’, can you?

 

SENATOR RYAN:

The American national anthem, Star Spangled Banner, is a poem written about the war of 1814 when a fort was being bombed by the British. The French national anthem is a song written for the war after the French Revolution, when Austria, I think, declared war on them. National anthems don’t have to cover the field and tick every box, they just try and capture a sentiment.

 

MCCALLUM:

Totally agree. 96900693, 13 13 32, what do you think about this move to change the national anthem, and as I understand it Senator, the Prime Minister has allowed this new version of the national anthem to be played as a ‘patriotic song’, but not as the national anthem.

 

SENATOR RYAN:

To be fair, it was an official who received the letter and wrote back as a public servant who said ‘we’re not going to change the national anthem, there is no plan to, but it could be, for example, a patriotic song’, because I’ll tell you, the Government is not in the business of banning songs.

 

MCCALLUM:

And you know what would happen if you did! It’d be all over the place.

 

SENATOR RYAN:

We’ve got better things to do.

 

MCCALLUM:

Bill joins us, hi Bill.

 

CALLER:

How are you going Nick? I’ve just got a question for both of you, do you two believe you have enough confidence in Victoria Police force to protect the public? Let me finish what I’m  going to say and I’ll give you a reason why, I think the Minister of Police and Commissioner of Police should be sacked and stood down because I know for a fact that the rank-and-file’s got no confidence in the Police Minister to run it. What’s happening is that they don’t have the guts or the heart to make a hard decision, and I’ll use Bourke Street as an example, I know it’s still under investigation, but you ask the average punter in the street what happened and they know the police had their hands tied. We’ve got people in Victoria absolutely running riot at the moment, so if we got a terrorist act in Melbourne, I would not be confident at all.

 

MCCALLUM:

Senator?

 

SENATOR RYAN:

Well look, we’re not responsible for Victoria Police, and I don’t want that to be taken as a statement of the lack of confidence. I know we have every confidence because I do do some work with the Justice Minister and the Australian Federal Police, which work for the Commonwealth.

We’ve got to accept in Victoria – and I think Neil Mitchell highlighted this morning – the massive, massive increase of aggravated burglaries and I think Victoria has a crime problem.

I have a lot of confidence in our security agencies right around Australia in dealing with terrorism.

 

MCCALLUM:

I must say Bill, I’m fortunate enough in my job to actually meet a lot of police officers and the officer on the street I have great confidence in. You can complain about the Government’s policies, you can complain about some of the policies of police command – and I agree with you on those – but the actual officers on the street I have great confidence in.

 

Hi Kurt.

 

CALLER:

G’day, how are you guys going?

 

MCCALLUM:

Good thanks.

 

CALLER:

I just called in about the national anthem. Seeing as how other countries have gone with songs about battles and things like that, maybe someone could write a song about the great [inaudible] war of 1932?

 

MCCALLUM:

I was always disappointed because I was young when we had the referendum to go for the national anthem, I was always disappointed that Waltzing Matilda didn’t get the gig.

 

SENATOR RYAN:

It was 40 years ago on Sunday was the anniversary of that vote too.

 

MCCALLUM:

Oh really? That makes me feel very old.

 

SENATOR RYAN:

I couldn’t vote then.

 

MCCALLUM:

No, I couldn’t vote then either, but I would have loved Waltzing Matilda because apart from anything else Waltzing Matilda is played and people from all around the world can hear the words but it might as well be in a foreign language.

 

SENATOR RYAN:

In many ways it is the national song, I’m not sure it has that status, but everyone knows when they hear it that it’s a group of Australians singing it, no matter where you are.

 

MCCALLUM:

Exactly.

Now, on another issue, the education reforms are being introduced into Parliament today. Now you are being subjected to a campaign, and it’s going to get worse I imagine, by the Catholic schools.

 

SENATOR RYAN:

Well some, Nick.

There has been a lot of support for this policy. The author of the schools funding reform plan, David Gonski, under Julia Gillard had endorsed this plan. The independent schools sector has strongly endorsed it, and remember, there is growth for Catholic schools in this plan. I myself am not only a product of Catholic schools, I am a fee-paying parent of Catholic schools. So this does have funding growth for Catholic schools right around Australia in it and we do protect their autonomy to distribute funding to the schools as they see fit. They know better, in my view, than bureaucrats in Canberra.

Labor’s refusal to support this will actually mean state schools get less funding over the coming years, than under our plan. So the political opportunism of Bill Shorten, in desperate need to keep the politics around education, is going to vote that state schools get less money than under the law as it currently stands.

 

MCCALLUM:

Blair joins us now, hi Blair.

Blair’s gone. Ok then, Senator Scott Ryan thank you very much indeed.

 [ENDS]

 

Author: senatorryan

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