Transcript - Interview with Michael Rowland on ABC News 24 Breakfast

June 19, 2015
Transcripts

TRANSCRIPT OF THE MINISTER FOR COMMUNICATIONS
THE HON MALCOLM TURNBULL MP
INTERVIEW WITH MICHAEL ROWLAND
ABC NEWS BREAKFAST

 

Subjects: St Vincent de Paul CEO Sleepout, the Pope’s encyclical, citizenship.

E&OE………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

PRESENTER:

And Malcolm Turnbull joins us now from Luna Park in Sydney. How was your night?

MALCOLM TURNBULL:

It was pretty good. I got a few hours’ sleep. I suspect more hours sleep than many of the homeless Australians who were sleeping rough tonight.

PRESENTER:

It's not so long ago that Kevin Rudd put homelessness very firmly on the national agenda saying he wanted to halve homelessness by 2020. As we know homelessness rates have crept up, are you worried it has slipped somewhat off the national political agenda?

MALCOLM TURNBULL:

The answer is yes. It is a very real concern, it should be a big priority and it is a big priority. But it's a multi-faceted problem, there are issues, aspects about employment, training, mental health, affordable housing, and I think this event, this Vinnie's CEO sleepout is an outstanding event because it raises awareness of the issue and also it raises a lot of money. Many millions of dollars for St Vincent's work in supporting and helping homeless people.

PRESENTER:

Now you’ve slept rough overnight, it's been a rather chilly night in Sydney. While we're talking climate as you’re probably aware, Pope Francis has released that encyclical calling on countries to take greater efforts to cut greenhouse gas emissions. Do you think the Australian Government should take the lead and put up more aggressive greenhouse gas reduction targets ahead of the Paris summit later in the year?

MALCOLM TURNBULL:

Australia has always been prepared to play a part, a responsible part, proportionate to our size, with other countries. It has to be a global effort. I really would commend everyone to read the Pope's encyclical by the way, in the very early hours of this morning I read about two-thirds of it. And it's a very, very interesting and eloquent document. There's a lot more in it than just discussion of climate change. The Pope speaks in a very thoughtful way about cities, about the environment of cities, about the importance of ensuring that poor people have access to all of the good things in cities and that of course means better transport, better public transport, he cites. It is a very wide ranging document. And really goes well beyond what you would normally expect from a Pope, I guess.

PRESENTER:

I am glad you had such weighty bed side reading overnight Malcolm Turnbull but…

MALCOLM TURNBULL:

It's very readable Michael. It's very readable. It is very readable. I am not kidding. It is worth reading.

PRESENTER:

I too have read a fair bit of it as well. Now going back to what the Pope says about climate change he talks about it being a moral imperative. You’re a Catholic, the Prime Minister of course as we all know is a Catholic. Should therefore you and Mr Abbott give really great weight to what the Pope says about tackling climate change?

MALCOLM TURNBULL:

I think everyone will give great weight to it and the Pope of course is one of the great - it's one of the positions of great moral leadership, a position of global moral leadership in the world and drawing attention to these environmental issues – climate change, reducing greenhouse gas emissions is one of them, he also - and I say this as a former Water Minister - discusses very thoughtfully the depletion of fresh water supplies and the pollution of fresh water supplies around the world. It is a very, very wide ranging document. I might say that what the Pope points out in it is that young people have become estranged from, not just from the church, but also from governments and people in positions of power because they feel that their elders are not taking these environmental issues seriously. And I think this is a very, very significant move by the Pope, to make the church and the leadership of the church much more relevant to young people. This is - Pope Francis is a very, very transformative and thoughtful leader.

PRESENTER:

Talking about stuff you've been reading about going back to another political issue. You met with the Prime Minister, Mr Abbott, yesterday to discuss that legislation, stripping dual national terrorists of their Australian citizenship. You have expressed various concerns about that certainly regarding its legality. Did that meeting with the Prime Minister address your concerns on that bill?

MALCOLM TURNBULL:

Can I say, Michael, I am amazed how often I am misrepresented in the media, even in this morning's Australian, my position is misrepresented in the first couple of paragraphs. Let me just be very clear about this. I support the move to modernise section 35 of the Citizenship Act so that people, dual nationals who go to fight for Daesh in Syria and Iraq would lose their Australian citizenship as a consequence of doing so. Now currently the law says that if an Australian citizen with dual nationality, as a citizen of another country, fights in the armed forces of a country at war with Australia, then his Australian citizenship ceases. So you don't have to make a lot of amendments to section 35 to include fighting for Daesh. It is pretty much the same, a very similar situation, let's face it. And so I was - I said this, I made this position very clear on the 3rd of June, at a door stop on the 16th of June with David Speers, on the 17th of June with the ABC's Fran Kelly, and I am amazed that I still read people saying that I'm at odds with the Prime Minister over that point. It's completely and utterly untrue and I hope that taking the opportunity to restate something I've already said three times, now a fourth time, will clear it up. But it's amazing how little attention is paid to what you actually say. Canberra is full of spin, not much substance.

PRESENTER:

So you are comfortable the law will pass any potential High Court test?

MALCOLM TURNBULL:

Yeah, look, the High Court issue, Michael, the constitutional issue is very simply this; our Constitution, chapter III, says the judicial power of the Commonwealth is reserved - is vested in the courts. And judicial power is defined to mean the resolution of disputes between citizens and the resolution of disputes between citizens and the state. That is how the courts have understood it. So clearly if you have a Minister making a decision that somebody has been guilty of some criminal offence, and then cancelling their citizenship without any court conviction or court decision, then there is going to be a constitutional issue. There is no question about that and there is no point pretending there won’t be one.

PRESENTER:

Excuse me for interrupting, isn't that what the bill is all about, giving the Minister that discretion?

MALCOLM TURNBULL:

Well, Michael, the point, though, if I just go back to what I said about the virtue of section 35 as it is currently framed, is that there is no ministerial discretion. The cessation of Australian citizenship happens automatically and that is no doubt one of the reasons why it was drafted that way in 1948. As far as ministerial discretion to remove citizenship, if there is a court conviction, which is currently for, say, immigration fraud, which is currently the way section 34 of the Citizenship Act is drafted, then that very likely avoids this constitutional problem. But, look, clearly the Government – and I am working very hard with the Immigration Minister and the Attorney-General and the Prime Minister providing a lot of input and assistance to ensure that the bill that is presented conforms to the Constitution. Again I am surprised that my observation that our laws should conform with the Constitution is somehow or other a remarkable one. What is the point of passing a law if it's going to get knocked out in the High Court? Our country is under the rule of law, and the most important law is the Constitution and it applies both to the governed, the people, and the government. So we have to make sure to the best of our ability that whatever laws we pass are consistent with the Constitution. That is just doing the job of government in a competent and effective manner.

PRESENTER:

We will see how that plays out next week. We are just about out of time, Minister. It was a fairly robust final question time of the sitting week but I just want to play you a bit of what happened in question time yesterday.

[Clip of the Prime Minister] They never did a turnback Madame Speaker, they never did a single Turnbull. They promised to do them. They promised to do turnbacks. They promised to do turnbacks.

Malcolm Turnbull what does it feel like to be so prominently in the front of the Prime Minister's mind?

MALCOLM TURNBULL:

It's good to know that I am always in his thoughts. It's good. He cares about his ministers and he's always thinking about each and every one of us.

PRESENTER:

Malcolm Turnbull, we will leave it there. Thank you for joining us and congratulations on the sleepout.

MALCOLM TURNBULL:

Thanks very much.

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