Transcript – Drive with Tom Elliott – 3AW

Topics: ministerial standards of conduct, terrorism, violent crime

 

E&OE…

 

TOM ELLIOTT:

Senator, good afternoon.

 

SENATOR SCOTT RYAN:

Good afternoon Tom.

 

ELLIOTT:

Now I don’t know whether you ever contemplate your life post-politics, but do you see yourself getting a highly remunerated lobbying position, perhaps related to something you’ve done in your ministerial career?

 

SENATOR RYAN:

I don’t give much thought to life post-politics, I’m busy doing my current job on a day-to-day basis.

There is a statement on ministerial standards and it actually says that former ministers can’t lobby, advocate or have business meetings with members of the government or the public service on any matters with which they had dealings as a minister in the last 18 months. This matter has come up before and I have not seen any claim that this rule is being breached.

 

ELLIOTT:

I looked at these media reports about Andrew Robb, and he rang us up and he wasn’t happy about what I had to say. But he is being paid a lot of money, which I guess is fine, it’s reported at $880,000 a year, to lobby and advise a Chinese billionaire called Cheng Ye. And of course, perhaps, Mr Robb’s signature achievement as trade minister was to negotiate the China-Australia Free Trade Agreement. Is that too close?

 

SENATOR RYAN:

As long as he is not breaching the rule about taking advantage of information he had or dealing with matters he dealt with as a minister for 18 months – being the rule that has been longstanding.

I saw the coverage last night and it is a lot of money, but I haven’t seen a claim that the rule is being breached.

 

ELLIOT:

But is the rule correct? For example, in Britain, where they’ve had a lot of similar things happening, they’ve now proposed to have a two year gap from leaving your job as a minister to be able to take any type of job in the industry that was linked to when you were minister. Should we do something like that?

 

SENATOR RYAN:

It’s hard, I think in this case, if you’re minister for trade, what is and isn’t linked to that particular portfolio? That’s why the rule was drafted the way it is.

 

ELLIOT:

A Chinese billionaire looking to invest in Australia, I would have thought a definition of trade.

 

SENATOR RYAN:

I haven’t seen any claim that he is lobbying. I think I’ve spoken to Andrew once since he left Parliament and it wasn’t about anything to do with this, anything to do with his outside job. I think we’ve also got to be careful that people need to work after they leave Parliament. There aren’t parliamentary pensions in place, nor should there be, for people elected after 2004, so as long as he is not taking advantage of information or lobbying with respect to his ministerial job he was doing, I appreciate that it can be portrayed a certain way, but at the same time, he is obeying the rules and I think it is always a balance between letting people work – because Andrew was a senior businessman before he came into politics in corporate advisory. If someone said ‘the rules are being breached’, by all means let people know, but I haven’t seen any claims of the rules being breached.

 

ELLIOT:

Ok, but is the rule correct? That’s more my point.

 

SENATOR RYAN:

I don’t know how you’d draft it differently. I don’t think you can say to someone, let’s say for example a former businessperson, who comes into politics, you touch so many areas of business in any portfolio as a minister, that you can’t go back to a business you were involved in beforehand. I don’t know if that would further discourage people with serious corporate and community backgrounds coming into public life.

 

ELLIOT:

All right, does this pass the pub test? 96900693, 13 13 32. But you do make a good point, those super generous parliamentary pensions don’t get paid to people who were elected after October 2004 and Andrew Robb was elected in October of 2004.

 

Now another issue Senator, while I’ve got you. The Prime Minister came out swinging, I think this morning, and said ‘how did the gunman who terrorised people in Brighton last night, how was he let out on parole?’ I speak of course of Yacqub Khayre. I mean it’s not, strictly speaking, a Federal Government issue, is it something you might look into?

 

SENATOR RYAN:

Well the Prime Minister said he is going to raise it with the premiers this week at COAG, the Council of Australian Governments meeting. We saw with the tragedy last night, and let me say, Victoria Police seem to do extraordinary work and we really hope those who were wounded and the survivors and their families will recover quickly, but there are so many possible interactions here between state and federal law that from all the reports that we’ve read, this appears to be someone who was in and out of the state prison system for breaching state criminal law, but by hitting the streets was subject to radicalisation.

 

ELLIOT:

What about you look at this from a federal perspective and say ‘right-oh, we don’t control parole or state criminal law’, but one thing you do control is immigration? Peter Dutton has indicated he will take a harder line on visas. But, I mean Yacqub Khayre came here as a refugee and was granted asylum in Australia and then he has proceeded to have a 10 year list of crimes, all sorts of things, assault, burglary etc culminating in what happened last night. How about we just deport people like this?

 

SENATOR RYAN:

No one can accuse this Government and Peter Dutton of not trying. There has been a lot of coverage in the Herald Sun in Melbourne lately where he has, not only sent people back to a country when they’re here on a visa and not citizens, but also he has occasionally been frustrated in that.

 

ELLIOT:

Sure, and I get the Administrative Appeals Tribunal is appalling in my view, but if someone comes here as a refugee, you’d think they’d be grateful. If they commit crime after crime after crime, how about we say, ‘well bad luck. You’re going back to where you’re from’?

 

SENATOR RYAN:

I understand, not being a lawyer, it gets very legally difficult to remove citizenship from someone, but I think Peter Dutton has set the record for the number of people on visas who have been deported after they’ve served a sentence or after they’re found to not be a fit and proper person to be in Australia. I think he has actually set the record.

 

ELLIOT:

[Inaudible] … This is being experienced in the UK on a weekly basis over in the UK, how about we think creatively and say ‘rather than worry about the rights of those who will do us harm, let’s worry mainly about the rights of potential victims’, which is all the normal people who live in Australia?

 

SENATOR RYAN:

And in Victoria, people are hiding behind their front doors in certain suburbs because of what is happening with home raids, people stealing cars and carjackings on our freeways.

In this case, we seem to have a person who had breached a great deal of criminal laws and been in the system, as an adult, for more time than he’d been out, but he then has been subject to this radicalisation and, of course, committed the awful crimes and abominations of last night, shooting at police officers and murdering people. That’s exactly what the Government is on about and it is why the Prime Minister raised it this morning because we can’t pretend there are state and federal laws here and they operate separately.

 

ELLIOT:

Do you have much hope in deradicalisation programs? Do you think they can work?

 

SENATOR RYAN:

I’m not an expert in them. I think it is an evolving area. I’ve read reports on some of them being successful but I think it is something that all the western world is going to learn a lot about in coming years.

 

ELLIOT:

Senator Scott Ryan, Special Minister of State, thank you for your time.

 

 [ENDS]

 

Author: senatorryan

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