Prime Minister of Australia

10/22/2021 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 10/21/2021 20:21

Interview with Ray Hadley, 2GB

RAY HADLEY: Turning our attention to other matters. On the line. Prime Minister, good morning to you.

PRIME MINISTER: G'day Ray, good to be with you.

HADLEY: Nice to chat again. Look, this announcement has been made about the National Strategy for the Prevention of Child Sexual Abuse. I think it's one of the most important initiatives we've had since, of course, with the help of Tony Abbott, when Julia Gillard called for the Royal Commission into the abuse of children. As you know, I've been part of Bravehearts for two decades trying to get a better deal for children who are survivors of these sorts of assaults. So just outline what we're going to do as we launch into National Children's Week next week.

PRIME MINISTER: Well Ray, first, I do want to acknowledge this has been a long term campaign for you over pretty much most of your broadcasting career, and that has helped drive, I think, many initiatives, including the ones we're talking about now. Today indeed is the third anniversary of that national apology to the victims of institutional child sexual abuse. And it is always a very difficult day. And I know, for many of those who are the victims because it does bring things back, and our first task is to help as much as we can with the healing and in many cases, that may prove too much. But for many, I think we're making progress there and the National Redress Scheme, which is making those payments now over half a billion dollars has been paid out under that scheme. We've been able to name and shame those organisations into participating in that scheme. And so that's making progress so that the restoration and healing is as best as we possibly can, given just the unspeakable things that happened to Australians over the course of many, many years. And the Royal Commission, as you said, that Julia Gillard initiated was a very important process in helping a lot of people along that along that very difficult journey.

But the other thing we have to do is we've got to go after these people with everything we've got. Those who are perpetrating these crimes, those who groom and wherever they're doing it, and the package of measures that we've had in place already through our national strategy to prevent and respond to child sexual abuse, which is attacking it at every single point. Additional funding for the AFP. Additional funding for AUSTRAC. Working through the Department of Home Affairs. Working with those overseas to track these people down. More relationships with sporting organisations. Giving greater resources to the Attorney-General's Department to both go after those to prosecute, as well as legal assistance to those who are victims as well. So the E-Safety Commissioner and I got to say, Ray, this is probably one that enlists most Australians in the fight. And that is, you know, when I was a kid, as you know, my dad, my father was a policeman and he was pretty aware of what would occur in society all those years ago, and he'd be very careful about where I was physically as a kid. But today, you know, with our kids, your grandkids, where they go is online. That's the unsafe place. And that's where we're putting so much of our effort now as well. I was over in Western Australia a little while back when I could go to Western Australia and I visited the centre that we have there, which is working online, tracking down these criminals and seeing the work they were doing with detector dogs. We've put money into these new detector dogs that can actually sniff out those chips. It's amazing. They can find them in a house. They, you know, because these grubs will go on, you know, conceal these images, these awful images and all sorts of places which they peddle. And the AFP and the technology that has been developed is simply remarkable. So mate, we are just at this every place we can with every resource we can provide.

HADLEY: You see, you hit on a very good point and I've declared this before. My late mother was a victim of child sexual abuse and it impacted her for her entire life, and that's probably why I got involved in this issue. And what happened through the early part of last century and into this century was children should be seen, not heard. How dare you say that about Uncle John or Father Brown or whoever else you're talking about. Don't you dare suggest something like that happened and these kids were just absolutely ignored in many cases because of, you know, the accusations are made against adults. And that's changed. But the point you make about the internet now you and I both know with your girls and with my grandchildren and my children, I wouldn't just let them get out of the pool, lock the gate and go inside. And, you know, have a feed.


HADLEY: You'd watch them, you'd watch them, you'd keep an eye on them. You'd make sure they were safe in that pool. Well, now we're talking about a pool of low life animals that are out there on the internet. So if you wouldn't let your kids swim, you know the little ones without keeping an eye on them with their floaties on and the rest of it, so you shouldn't let your kids get on the internet without some form of supervision.

PRIME MINISTER: Well, that's right. We need to understand the risks as parents as well, and look, the truth is, most parents do. I mean, the work we've done on online education programmes, 94 per cent of parents think their child's online safety is important. We all do practical things. I mean, with my kids, I won't go too much about what happens on our house. But you know, we make sure the kids don't have their devices in their rooms at night or and things like this, they don't play online games and things like that. But because my kids are quite young, you know, they're 12 and 14. And so parents have and I mean, I wish I knew more about this so I could keep my kids safer and endeavour to do so. And so does Jen. But as parents, this is a place where we can take action to keep our kids safety, safer. The E-Safety Commissioner, which we established one of the first things we did actually in government that is world leading in in the powers it has and the ability not just to deal with this area of protecting children, but as you're aware about Erin Molan's law and that sort of stuff that we've done there, which take down material and be able to prosecute people who troll others and destroy their lives. I mean, the online world, you know, the laws that apply in the physical world. So a grub can't do this at a local swimming pool or down in the change rooms at the beach. They can't do that and they they can be pursued there. The same rules have to apply in the online world. And that's where we have to continue to get even stronger and our laws have to be updated so we can catch these grubs.

HADLEY: OK, now I think you'd agree with me, the AFP and the Queensland coppers and New South Wales coppers and I don't know as much about other jurisdictions. They do an amazing job and particularly Queensland. They have this arrangement with authorities in the United States of America, and they share information and they track down people. And many of the things I've reported recently have been on the back of someone in the United States contacting New South Wales or Queensland Police and saying you need to target this person, you need to go to their house now, they're doing this. However, however, and I don't know what federal government could do as opposed to state governments. There's a sad inadequacy when it comes to sentencing these people. Now I'll give you the prime example. There were two blokes who adopted a little child in Queensland, and they sold that little boy for sex to other like minded people. Had they been caught in Queensland, they might have got, you know, five, six or seven years. Thankfully, they went to the United States of America, and the Queensland authorities advised those in America. One is now serving 45 years. The other one's about 35 years. There's a complete disconnect between the work you're talking about and the money your government is spending on these authorities and the judiciary. Now you'll remember that the man in charge of the Royal Commission, a Supreme Court Justice said, and I paraphrase what he said. He dealt with many of these cases before, but he'd never been so impacted by all the stories he gathered. And I think that changed his attitude in relation to maybe how he would have dealt with paedophiles prior to the Royal Commission. If you understand what I mean, there needs to be a more awareness from the judiciary about the damage done for the life of the victim.

PRIME MINISTER: Well, and I think that's what all of this process does as well, Ray. And that's why we keep bringing our attention and focus back onto these things constantly. You make a very good point about the police. Operation Arkstone, which you'd be familiar with. That's AFP, New South Wales, Queensland, WA, has so far removed 55 children from direct harm and charged 21 people with 1,300 offences. So those prosecutions, those investigations, as you say, linking up with those overseas, and we're doing that, particularly with other countries throughout the Indo-Pacific and across Asia. But also, you know, you've got to have the follow through on the penalties and the sentencing and that has to flow through to the judiciary who have to put these grubs away and for a very, very long time and there can't be tolerance on that. And look, I think, you know, we've all got a role to play here. And look, I think this is something that everybody shares a view about and there's always great support to go and do these things. What I'm, what I'm, I suppose, encouraged by it, because when you look at all this, it's not it's not hard to get depressed about it and particularly with the hideous nature of these things. But I got to tell you when I went and spent time with the AFP and just how they're doing this and the sophistication of the tools they've now got, which with enabled them to have and the relationships they have, you know, we're beginning to win this, but we've got a long way to go.

HADLEY: I want to just qualify. The Royal Commissioner I refer to is Supreme Court Justice Peter McClellan. And he did an outstanding job, an outstanding job. But the point I wanted to make was even allowing for his previous history as a Justice of the Supreme Court. It took the Royal Commission to take him to a position that he got to finally, saying I've got to rethink this matter, as opposed to his role simply as a Judge in the Supreme Court previously. But he's done, I don't want in any way, I don't detract from his great work.

PRIME MINISTER: Sure, I'd agree.

HADLEY: Now, did you get, did you get a smile out of Alan Joyce this morning? Did he crack up for a smile, Alan, because he's a good little mate of mine, but he's been, he's been a bit cranky for a while, Alan, because he hasn't been able to get these planes off the ground and now they will be off the ground.

PRIME MINISTER: They will be off the ground, 11,000 people, staff coming back to work. This is just awesome. And look from the Member for Cook, Southern Sydney, the Shire and St George. A lot of them work out of my electorate. They work for Qantas, they work at the airport. I know what they've been doing. They've been working different jobs. They've been working at bottle-os, they've been working in call centres. They've been, you know, they've been making their way through. But we put a lot of resource into helping Qantas and Virgin through this. I mean, so many other countries lost their airlines. We've kept both of them through the pandemic and one went through administration and they're back. They'll be flying in. And from the 1st of November, Australia, we're doing Australians first. So Australian residents, citizens and this now includes their direct family, which I've just signed off just this week, which will include parents as well. So, you know, particularly there's a lot of people out of India, in the UK, the US who want to come home and be here for Christmas and be with their family here at Christmas. So that will enable that. That will start in November. We got to get that right first. And I know there's a lot of Australians who want to get home, so I want them to get the seats on these planes first. And then we'll see how the recognition of the international vaccination certificates from other countries goes, that we can see how that plays out over November. And then I can just see us moving into other groups as well. And I said this morning that I think it's achievable, that we'd be able to begin having international visitation through Sydney and the other, I mean, I mean, you would've seen reports about Victoria looking to go in a similar direction as New South Wales. That's fantastic. Love to see it happen in Queensland, up in Queensland, those Queensland listeners, we've got to get those vaccination rates up. That's what's going to open those borders. It's 59.37 in Queensland today second dose, 74.1 [first]. So come on Queensland, let's go.

HADLEY: Yeah, well, they're pushing it hard after they weren't pushing it so hard, the Queensland Premier. But I can't criticise her though, because she's allowed me to go back to Queensland on December 17, I hope, even allowing for this bloke who's gone up there from Melbourne on Wednesday. Just on that issue …

PRIME MINISTER: I remember, some months ago, people go, oh, they say they weren't going to do it. I was very confident that as we got to where we've got where the vaccination rates get to, where we get to that, you know, the natural order of things would get these outcomes. So it's good it's opening up, but there is a lot of Queenslanders, that are still about 8,000 that can't get home. I think we've got to get them home. We've got to get quarantine working for them so they can get home.

HADLEY: Just one final question, and I know I sound like a broken record. We want to get to 95. Although Professor Graeme Stewart, the clinical immunologist Westmead, tells me no Ray, 97-98. We want to get 95 per cent fully vaxxed. Do the anti-vaxxers drive you as mad as they do me?

PRIMEMINISTER: Well, we all respect everybody's right to have their view, it's a free country. But what you don't have a right to do in this country is hurt someone else and do things that disrespect others, and we all should respect each other. But that, I mean, I'm very frustrated by this case up in Queensland, and you've made some remarks on it. I probably won't be as colourful as you, Ray. But I get your point. And you know, you know, it's all right for people to have a view about whether they should be vaccinated or not. But you've got to cooperate. You've got to do the right thing, you've got to follow the rules. Why? Because that's just doing the right thing by other Australians. And to not do that, well, that's disrespecting other Australians. And that's just not the way we do things in this country and you're putting other people at risk and other people's businesses, other people's livelihoods. And that's just selfish.

HADLEY: You're right.

PRIME MINISTER: So there's a difference between sticking up for your rights and having freedom of speech and just being selfish.

HADLEY: Well, you're right. You're not as colourful as me, so I'll get back to it. I'll see you later. Have a good weekend.

PRIME MINISTER: Thanks a lot, Ray. Cheers.