The Political Donations Arms Race | Q&A

The Political Donations Arms Race | Q&A

(APPLAUSE) Good evening and welcome to Q&A.
I’m Tony Jones. Now, here to answer
your questions tonight, former Labor Senator Sam Dastyari, who was forced out of Parliament
after a Chinese influence scandal, foreign policy
and China expert John Lee, Shadow Trade Minister
Madeleine King, Victorian Senator James Paterson,
and social policy analyst Eva Cox. Please welcome our panel.
(APPLAUSE) Thank you. Q&A is live in Eastern Australia
on ABC TV, iview and NewsRadio. Well, the controversy
surrounding Liberal MP Gladys Liu raises questions about
Chinese influence and dodgy donations. We’ll get to that in just a moment. Our first question tonight takes us
to the tensions in the Gulf after the weekend’s drone strikes. It comes from Fardin Nikjoo. Today, Donald Trump has tweeted
that America is loaded… ..locked and loaded in response
to the weekend attacks on Saudi oil facilities. America seems to be blaming Iran, even though Yemeni rebels
have claimed responsibility. Oil and petrol prices
have already gone up, but how serious
should we in Australia take Donald Trump’s words? If…if serious enough,
what should Australia do? John Lee. Well, first of all, I don’t want to blame Donald Trump
for what…what has occurred. Now, we don’t know for sure
that it was the Iranians, but all the evidence,
the sophistication of the attacks, suggests it was the Iranians. Now, why would the Iranians
want to do that? The Americans and Iranians are
in a battle of wills at the moment. The Americans want to put together a new, tough sanctions regime
against the Iranians, which would include restrictions
on the export of Iranian oil. Obviously, if you disrupt
the supply of oil, there is a shortage
in the short term of oil, and it’s very hard to do that. Now, long-term, or medium-term,
is war a possibility? Well, of course it is. But what is at stake here? Iran, like the North Koreans,
they want to be a nuclear-armed, they want to be a country
with nuclear-armed missiles. That is a distinct possibility. Now, we can make the calculation,
is war worth that? Many foreign policy analysts
would suggest that it is. John, Mike Pompeo,
secretary of state, agrees with you. He says Iran is involved. Then Trump tweeted,
“We’re looking to see… “We think we know who culprit is, “but we’re locked and loaded
and ready to go.” You say war is possible.
Is it desirable? War is never desirable, but when you’re trying
to dissuade a country – in this case, Iran – from taking
even more serious grievous action, you’ve got to leave
the prospect of war on the table. Imagine if the American president,
Trump, or anyone else said, “We’ll never go to war.” What would Iran do?
What would North Korea do? It’s a horrible, nasty world. Unfortunately, if you’re trying to restrain
authoritarian regimes of that ilk, you do have to
leave war on the table. Sam Dastyari, you were born in Iran. Yes. I’m just wondering whether… Your parents escaped
from the Iranian Revolution, and I’m wondering if you think…
Yeah. ..regime change is a good idea.
Yeah. Look, I just want to start by
saying I love the fact that, like… I’ve been away for a couple
of years from this show, but now you come back
and you start the show with, “The President tweeted…” and
everyone is kind of OK with that. You know? Like, that’s the basis of
where our political discourse is at. I went to Iran about
three years ago, 2.5 years ago. I went with the ABC…
Mm. ..for Australian Story. And I’ll tell you the one thing
that just frightened me – I just want to put this
in perspective – you go through the main street
of Tehran, right, and they wouldn’t let us film there. They let me film back in the village
that I was born in, but they wouldn’t let us film
in the main street of Tehran. And up on the giant banners
and posters, right, there is the martyrs
who have killed themselves in the Syrian conflict at the time,
right? In that culture of martyrdom, that culture of death, the fetishisation of kind of death
and destruction and war, I just… I hear what John is saying. I agree with him,
to a certain extent. I just want to make sure people
have an appreciation that this isn’t Afghanistan,
this isn’t Iraq. This is not getting
to be an easy thing. Is it a desirable thing? Look, I believe in freedom
and democracy in Iran. I always have.
My parents fled the regime. How you achieve that
and the best way to achieve that, that’s a different matter. James Paterson, the implications for Australia
was built into that question. What do you say? Well, Tony, it’s sadly
a further escalation of the tensions in the region following the disruption
of the supply of oil through the Strait of Hormuz, which Australia
is obviously participating in an international coalition in an attempt to push back
on that activity. About 6% of the world’s oil
comes from Saudi Arabia, and that supply will be affected, but the International Energy Agency
has said that global stocks of oil will not be threatened by this. Unfortunately, it probably will mean higher prices for consumers
at the petrol bowser, but in terms of our security
of supply of petrol and oil, it’s not a serious…
How do you know that, actually? Because Donald Trump is talking
about using… ..already dipping into
the strategic petroleum supply, the emergency supply
the United States has. We don’t have one in Australia. We’ve got 28 days, effectively,
of petrol supplies before it gets very, very dodgy. And one possibility
is to ask the Americans to give us some of
their strategic supply. We have 28 days’ worth of supply
within our borders, but the Energy Minister has said, on a modern definition
of oil supply, which takes into account the oil that is already on
its way to Australia, being shipped here, that we have much closer
to the 90 days which is recommended. So, we’re relatively confident
about that, although we shouldn’t be
complacent about it. And certainly if there were
a further escalation of tensions, if the worst came to worst that we were talking about
earlier on the panel, that would potentially disrupt it in a more profound
and disturbing way, and we might have to look at options
like going to the United States and trying to access
their strategic oil reserve. And just briefly on the prospect
of further conflict, already a commitment to ships
in the Gulf, or at least one, could this escalate as well? Could Australia be asked – as they
were in previous Gulf conflicts – to contribute a lot more? Well, we certainly don’t want it
to escalate, Tony. And it’s not in our interest
that it escalates. The contribution of… It’s a bit out of your hands, though,
isn’t it? It may well be. Our contribution to the coalition
in the Strait of Hormuz is a very precise, targeted,
time-limited contribution, and a relatively measured
and moderate one. Of course, governments always
consider if events change how we need to respond to that, but we’re certainly not
seeking any escalation. Eva Cox? Well, if you look at it, I must say, I’m slightly appalled to be
sitting on a panel where people are cheerfully saying,
or uncheerfully saying, “We can just go to war again.” I mean, because
I’m the oldest person on this panel, and happen to be able to remember
at least the last Second World War, as a small child, I don’t think you talk about sort of
going to war on things like this. I mean, this is a fight
about petrol, about gas, about their things there. I think we actually should
be looking at ways and means of avoiding war. We also, you know, as Sam said,
you know, they’ve got a culture which doesn’t see death
as anything particularly scary, because you go straight
to heaven or whatever happens in those situations. Get some virgins on the way.
Yeah. (CHUCKLES) But I think we need… You know, we actually need
to start thinking seriously about this business about saying,
“Oh, yes. We’ll just go to war. “After all,
if they get too impertinent “and block us being able to drive,
you know, what else can we do?” I just think that
that’s actually a failure to understand that
we really do need to do that. And Trump is a menace,
because he’s actually acting in ways which is making Iran
and some of the other countries which are very sensitive
about their identity even more anxious about
what’s happening and more likely to go to war. So, I think we’ve got
to keep ourselves clear… He’s interesting, though, isn’t he? Because he threatens war in tweets,
but he usually doesn’t do it. I mean, in fact, he hasn’t done it.
And quite the contrary. He’s actually sought peace
on quite a few occasions. I know, but you can’t rely on that
with the people we’re dealing with. I mean, that’s part of the problem. And I think
it’s a very insecure thing, and I think we need
to set up a very solid way of trying to avoid open conflict, because I don’t think
we can control it, necessarily. Madeleine? Yeah, well,
I would start by agreeing with Eva in that we should always seek
to avoid war in any kind of conflict,
and it has lots of scales. But I thank Fardin for the question
in the first place. And I also would agree with Sam. It is remarkable that we’re here tonight
and we start off with a tweet from a president of the US, and that’s now how
this set-up is made now through a social media platform. But, nonetheless, the priority now
after those drone strikes is to seek to do all we can to
de-escalate tensions in that area, because there will be no prosperity
in that region without peace, and as a mature nation,
we’re obliged, and we should always seek
to help resolve such disputes. But Labor backs the commitment
to the Gulf, does it? We do. The commitment to
the Strait of Hormuz is principally a very important
freedom of navigation exercise. As an island trading nation, it’s of critical importance
to make sure that these trade passageways
are free and open for all nations that seek to trade. I’m just going to quickly go back
to our questioner. Fardin? I address this question
to all panellists, including the Senator and Mr Lee. I’m from Iran too. The Strait of Hormuz, and commercial shipments,
should be secure, and also the downing of
that US drone weeks ago, Trump threatened and didn’t do
anything after that, but this time,
attacking an oil facility and getting more serious, we need to think,
as the Senator suggested, we need to think Australia as
the alliance of the United States, what…what we should do,
or what should we do? OK, I’ll throw that back to John, ’cause I know you wanted to
get in anyway. But we’ll…we’ll… I want to get in because
I can’t speak for the panel, but I don’t think I am happily
talking about war. What I’m saying is that if
you’re trying to avoid a country that itself is threatening war –
that is, Iran – you have to,
as the more powerful nation and as the leader of
various coalitions and allies, put war on the table. If you don’t…
EVA: Why? Because if you don’t,
Iran will keep pushing further. But if you put it on the table,
they might pick it up. Let’s not forget,
this is not an issue just between Iran
and the United States. Iran is threatening Israel,
it’s threatening Saudi Arabia, it’s threatening much of the region.
This is… Global politics is not just an issue
between Donald Trump and the world. The United States makes mistakes. The United States is there
to act as a leader because no-one else will do it. Now, think about this focus
on Donald Trump. While we’re talking
about Donald Trump, we’re talking about Donald Trump, we’re talking about
the United States, because the United States is
the only country conceivably that is capable of resolving many of
these regional and global issues. So, yes, it makes mistakes, but this is essentially what
the Trump administration – it’s not just the President –
is trying to achieve. I don’t work for
the American administration, but if you analyse it from
a foreign policy point of view, we don’t have good options,
but a bad option is to walk away. OK, I’m going to move on.
It’s very scary if you think… OK, a quick point there, Eva.
A very, very quick point. I think the idea of even assuming that America is actually
acting rationally and reasonably at the moment, I think,
is a very big assumption. OK, we’ll leave that and move on
to the next question. It’s from Adrian Schofield.
MAN: Hello. Given that AFP raids on journalists closely followed their exposure
of government infidelities under the hobgoblin of
“homeland security”, when can we expect
to see AFP raids on MPs involved in taking cash
from Chinese developers – a clear and real threat
to homeland security? Sam Dastyari.
Yeah, I agree. I think, well…
First, let’s just start with this. Sooner you do a federal ICAC,
the better. I mean, the fact that there
isn’t one is ridiculous, you know? I mean, you just look at
what happened in New South Wales… (APPLAUSE) Um, the idea that your… ..that some of these things
happen in states and don’t happen at a federal level. I think, beyond that – and I don’t know how much time
we’ve got to talk about this – the entire culture
of donations and fundraising, I think, has become
completely corrupted. And I say this not as
some kind of university academic who’s sat in some ivory tower and never fundraised
or raised money or this, that. I’m saying this as probably one of –
if not THE biggest – fundraisers the Labor Party ever saw. Federal ICAC,
ban political donations, full stop. Full stop. Moved to
a completely public-funded system. And start restoring
as much credibility as you can back in the system,
but you’re right. I mean, I think the journalist thing
is wrong, by the way. And I think you’re kind of using it as a slightly, you know,
tongue-in-cheek point to make a bigger point,
but the system’s broken. I’m a symbol
of the system being broken. Let me ask you this, do you think
Gladys…Gladys Liu’s infractions arise to the same level
as those that you committed that caused you to be effectively
thrown out of Parliament? OK, I want… Look, I want to be careful here
because I don’t want to start playing an equivalency game,
alright? I don’t think this is like… It’s not some competition where
there’s a prize at the end of it. Um, I should have resigned
from Parliament. I did resign from Parliament. That was the right thing
for me to do. Um, I… And I…I take full responsibility,
by the way, for the downfall of my own career. I don’t palm that off
to anyone else. I was young, arrogant, foolish and thought I was smarter
than everyone else. Let me ask you this.
But that’s on me. That’s on me. Do you accept now that you were drawn in
to spruik Chinese propaganda? Yes. No, no. I…
This is what I believe. I believe I was used
by Chinese agents of influence, but – and I want to be clear
about this – that’s on me. I let myself get used. I’m not shirking
that responsibility. You knew that was happening
at the time is what you’re saying? I… Well, no, no, no. I’m saying that
my out-of-control ego, um, arrogance – you can put
a whole list of reasons on it – led me to these decisions. And I want to be very careful here.
So, was I used? Yes. But I’m not… And I’m not… I’ve got to this stage of my life, two years after
a momentous scandal – like, huge, right, like, journalists parked
in front of your house for weeks, your marriage falls apart, your entire life
collapsing in front of you – by being able to accept that I am responsible
for my own downfall. Let me ask you this. Gladys Liu – what sort of pressure
would she be under, from your experience? I can only imagine what Gladys Liu
is going through at the moment. I mean, just on that…
Like, let’s not forget, there are real people
at the end of this, right? Real people. I mean, I can tell you
what I think’s happened with her, but the pressure she will be under, the darkness, the phones,
the people… People doing this. All of us talking behind her back
or about her. No-one talking to her. I’ve actually… The past couple of days, I’ve been
trying repeatedly to call her. I think the best thing
she can do for herself, for her cause that she believes,
for her party, is to actually leave Parliament. That’s my personal view, and I say that as someone who has
been through that kind of… OK, we’ll come back to you
on some of this. Let’s hear from another panellist.
James, you first. I think it’s very important that
we draw a very sharp distinction between what Gladys Liu has done, or is alleged to have done,
and what Sam did. I think they’re two very,
very different things. What’s the difference
when it comes to fundraising? Because that’s the core thing
that’s unresolved here, as far as we know. There hasn’t been an audit
of the funds that Gladys Liu
brought in to the party. Should there be? The very clear difference
is that Gladys Liu was a fundraiser on behalf of the Liberal Party,
and in doing so, all the money that she raised
for the Liberal Party was declared in accordance with
state and federal fundraising laws. No, it wasn’t.
What Sam did… But we know… But that wasn’t.
That’s just not true, James. It is true. What Sam did was… There’s $40,000
that wasn’t declared. Well, I’m glad
you mentioned $40,000, Sam, because what Sam did
was accept money personally from Huang Xiangmo
or companies that he controlled. These were not donations. $40,000 to meet legal fees
that Sam had incurred. $1,600 to meet
a travel bill overspend. And as a result of the relationship
he developed with Huang Xiangmo, he was a lobbyist
for Huang Xiangmo’s citizenship, calling
the Immigration Department twice to personally check on
the progress of that application. He hired out the media centre at the Commonwealth
Parliamentary Offices, stood in front of a crest
of the Australian government, alongside Huang Xiangmo,
and called for an end to the bipartisan
Australian government position on the South China Sea,
and called for the government to adopt
the Chinese government’s position. And it is alleged, when he went to visit Huang Xiangmo
at his private residence, he advised him that he believed he was under the surveillance
of National Security agencies, that they should leave
their phones inside, that they should go outside
and have a conversation. OK, I’ll pause you there.
No, no, no, I get… I’m going to go back to you
to respond. No, no, I get to respond to this. That’s what I’m trying
to give you the chance to do. No, no, no, look… Alright. And I want to be clear – I am not absolving myself
of my responsibility. Some of what you said
is sensationalised. Some of it is quite exaggeration
of things that happened. But, right, you look at
Gladys Liu’s situation. There is her arguing
for changing policy for rich Chinese developers… That’s not true. the Liberal Party. There is quite credible stories
that security agency officials made warnings about her being
a Liberal Party candidate. There is undeclared donations
from her that are being cleared up
as we speak. There is being a member –
a actual member – of the propaganda arm
of the Communist party for perhaps a decade – 10, 12 years. I am not here,
and I didn’t come here tonight, to play this game of,
“Oh, let’s kick Sam.” This, that.
Equivalence – this, that. No, no. I have done what I think
a lot more politicians should do – accept responsibility
for their…for their failures, and sometimes in life… And, you know,
I didn’t want to be doing this. I didn’t want this to be my life. I didn’t want it to be that,
you know… But sometimes in life,
the only course of action you have, the best course of action you have,
is to take responsibility, and in the case of politics,
for me, it meant leaving. OK.
And that crushed me. JOHN: Sam…
Sam, I’m going to… No, no, before I come to you, John, I want to hear from
some of the women on the panel. So, Madeleine.
Thank you. Um, first, I’d just like to remark and thank Sam for his honesty
and his self-awareness. I mean, that’s quite a journey
he’s been through and accepts responsibility for it, and I think
he should be congratulated for that. He was a good colleague
when we worked together. Do you accept the point
that James just made – that Gladys Liu’s infractions
do not add up to the same sort of thing
that caused Sam to leave Parliament? Yeah, as a…as a factual
matter of record, there are different circumstances.
Course there are. And I think… Yeah, Sam’s not disagreeing
with that. Um, there was… And Adrian’s question was about
us being accountable for donations, and there is
a disclosure requirement. We…we do have different rules.
I know I have to… If I have a donation –
anything over $1,000 – we have to declare who it is, so you can always know
who we are receiving donations from. And I think what happened
with Ms Liu is, you know – and a few times,
or at least once anyway – she was incorrect. She didn’t declare one and that’s led to
a few other questions and perhaps she does have,
you know, questions to answer, and it’s a pretty simple thing
to clear up if she wants to. It’s a matter of
coming into Parliament… So, what is it
you’re actually calling for? Is it an audit of all the money
she raised or what? Well, I imagine that… Or is just a lot
of political outrage? (LAUGHS) I’m not… Well, people are outraged,
and that’s not me making that up. Like, there is a… Many of the press gallery
and many other parliamentarians are questioning why she has not
been able to declare such things when there are rules in place,
and we all have to abide by them. But currently you’re not arguing that she should be forced
out of Parliament? I would not argue that, but I would argue that
she should come and explain herself. She should present to the Parliament
and explain exactly what happened. Eva? I’d like to put this
in a broader context, which is one of the things
that’s been bugging me for quite some time, which is,
we know, from the polls, that there’s a huge level of distrust of voters
of political parties, candidates, and everything else. We went through all of the dramas
with section 44 and various people dropping out. We went through the thing with Sam and sort of
all the scandals about this. Now we’re going through it
with Gladys, and we’ve also got it going through
in New South Wales. If we are serious about winning back
some trust from voters – and it is actually important
because democracy won’t survive unless the voters trust
the people… ..they have the capacity
to trust the people they vote for, and at the moment,
if you look at the polls, they go down every time – we need to sort of clear things up. It’s all very well
targeting one person for doing this and one person for doing that
and doing the other, and, yes,
we should be able to do that, but I think we’ve just got
to do some serious thinking about the fact
that actually targeting and finding another scandal is actually going to just contribute
to the general… But this is a very targeted scandal
in the sense that what we’re talking about here
is Chinese influence… Yeah, I know. Australian politics. So, should that
be cleared up separately to the broader outrage
of politicians’ misdeeds? No, I think it’s…I think it’s part
of the same overarching type thing. You know, it might be this
in this case. I’m quite sure we could find some
other countries in other cases. It’s the fact that we… know, we spend a lot of time hunting people down
for misdemeanours, and they are misdemeanours. We need to know why there are
so many of those things happening, but I just think…
I mean, my view would be that I think Gladys
has probably made enough errors to make herself…sins,
you know, with suspicion, and she’s got to work out how she deals with
that particular issue, despite the fact she’s being
defended by the Prime Minister. It doesn’t seem to be working
in that sense. But I do think we need
a broader discussion about how do we sort of try
and get to the point where we actually are
reasonably comfortable about the fact that
we’ve got politicians that people can at least trust? Yeah. John Lee. Look, I don’t know Sam
and I don’t know Gladys, so I don’t presume to know
what the intentions at the time were or what Gladys’s intentions
have been. What you can focus on
and what you can assess is what they’ve done. And the issue is not just donations. It’s what you give
in return to your donor. Now, I have to say, Sam, I think
you are trying to absolve yourself. You have suffered
a heavy personal price. But I think you’re trying
to absolve yourself by equating yourself
with Gladys Liu. Look…look at…look at
the differences. Largesse was received personally
and to the party. What was given in return? As mentioned, a press room at the Commonwealth
Parliamentary Offices was hired. You stood in front of a podium with the engraved
coat…Australian coat of arms. You repeated pretty much
the exact words used by Xi Jinping, Wang Yi on the South China Sea. OK, can I answer? A person of interest to the Australian security
intelligence services, which you knew about, you advised them
how to avoid detection. OK, no, that…that…
Gladys has done no such thing. OK. Alright. John…
John, just let him respond to that. Sorry. Sorry. No, I’m sorry. Because the same accusation’s
been made by James Paterson. Yeah, look, firstly, I don’t…
Look, I’m getting a lecture here from someone who works for
the, you know, US Study Centre, which actually registered
as a foreign agent in this country. It’s a whole separate issue.
Let’s just park that. Honestly and transparently,
unlike some others. No, no, James… Well… Sorry, we’re getting lectured here
by the… the IPA who actually hide every single donation
they receive and make. (APPLAUSE)
Right? I mean, seriously, right? Let’s put some perspective on this. I am not, and I want
to be quite clear about this… Yeah, I should have resigned
from Parliament. I did resign from Parliament. And I think the lesson here,
and the important lesson here, is how does foreign influence and the insidious nature
of foreign influence work? What are the lessons from that? And what comes from that
moving forward? And what I said about Gladys, and my position and opinion
on the Gladys situation, was I think she will be
going through hell right now. And I said, as someone
who has been through that on a personal level,
was giving a personal view on what someone going through that
emotionally should do. But let’s just not
pussyfoot around this. Does anyone here actually believe –
anyone here actually believe – that the Prime Minister
would be defending Gladys Liu if she wasn’t a member
of her political party? I mean, this is politics, right? You get treated one way
by one political party, another by another. And the bigger issue here,
and the more important issue, and I think the lesson here, right, is how does this insidious nature of foreign influence
in our politics work? And I think I’m a cautionary tale.
OK, as a cautionary… As a cautionary tale, I’m going
to put to you once again the allegation made by both
the gentlemen on either side of me, and that is that you went to…
Yeah. No, no, no… You went to a foreign agent and you warned him that his phone
had been tapped. OK. No, what I did was…
And by the way… ..because you had security
information that that was the case. No, no. What I did was,
in my final-ever meeting with Huang Xiangmo,
somewhere around 2016, I went to his house and said to him,
“I can’t talk to you anymore. “I can’t be friends. “All the journos are telling me
that you’re some kind of spy.” And by the way, that was incredibly
stupid, arrogant and wrong. I take full responsibility for that
and I resigned from Parliament. Did you tell him that his phone
was being tapped? No, I told him that he was a spy… Tony…
..or some words to that effect. ..we’re not going to resolve
this today but I say elephants are grey,
Sam says they’re pink. I’ll allow the audience to decide. But we need to look at the facts…
OK, I’m going to… That doesn’t even make sense!
(LAUGHTER) I’m going to leave
the colour of elephants. I mean, what is this, seriously –
primary school? Alright, we’ve got another question
on this subject. It’s from Claudia McDonnell. Hi, Sam, this is for you mostly
as well and it’s along the same vein
as Adrian’s question. You said you let yourself
fall victim. You gave yourself over to
the Chinese donors, essentially, let yourself get used by them.
Yeah. This is something that we’ve seen repeated through
so many politicians – their careers ending
in horrible scandals. It’s something that’s
so characteristic of politics these days and I feel the well is running dry
for politicians and political heroes that we,
as young people, can look up to and aspire to be like. So, do you really think there is any way to create
real cultural change, beyond reactive federal ICACs,
which we do need? Is there any way to create
real cultural change that can remove this chronic
self-interest within our politics? Yeah. I think to start with, probably moving away from
young career politicians like James and myself
is probably a start. PATERSON: Hey.
(SCATTERED LAUGHTER) But, no, no, no, can I tell you
the importance of the donor thing, that I’m really kind of
concerned about, this whole donation thing, right? People who aren’t really involved in
politics may not quite understand. The pressure to raise money
is so incredible, right, it actually changes votes,
right? Raising money in campaigns,
the pressure is so incredible. So, when Gladys Liu or someone
is bragging about raising $1 million for the Liberal Party, in her promotional material
and that, these things matter. And you know what they say
in the US, to new congressmen? A new congressman is told, “You should spend 70% to 80%
of your time raising money.” I think a good start… ..a good start would be
a completely public-funded system. And it is going to mean that’s going
to be more expensive for taxpayers and there are some constitutional
issues that you can get around. You can change the Constitution
if you have to. But, yeah, I think there needs to be
a cultural kind of change. But look, we reward tricky politics.
We reward apparatchiks. We reward people like myself
and James and others who have spent a lifetime
going through career politics. And I think some of that
has led to bad outcomes. So, Sam, does it change
your moral core? Did you lose sight of
what was right and wrong, literally? I think you live… Yes, yes. You live… Unfortunately, right. And I think a lot of pollies
will pretend, “No, I’m perfect, I’m great,
I’m fantastic, “I haven’t changed at all,”
This, that. Yeah, you live in a bubble, right? You live in this bubble of cars
and drivers and people taking… I ride a bicycle now. But you live in this kind of bubble of who you talk to
and who talks to you and you’re the most important person
in most of the rooms you’re in. A lot of people… And hopefully most people can
deal with that better than I can. I couldn’t deal with that, right? My ego was out of control and
I paid an incredibly high price. OK, I want to hear from James first. The idea of having
publicly-funded elections, getting rid of
the whole donations thing, you wouldn’t have a problem
with Gladys Liu if that happened. Is it a good idea to
at least consider this kind of fundamental change, get rid of this pernicious
fundraising? I want to address that, Tony,
but I also want to come back to something that the questioner
opened up with, which I think is
a really important point to make. Yes, lots of politicians
make mistakes. Yes, lots of political careers
end in tears. But let’s not lump in what Sam did with conventional political errors
and misjudgement. Oh, come on! Ridiculous.
No, this is a serious point. This is a serious point.
..Angus Taylor. Sam became associated with someone whose citizenship was rejected
on character grounds and his permanent residency
was cancelled on the advice of security agencies and who we have very good reason
to believe was an agent of influence of the Chinese Communist Party
in Australia. That is not just a routine political
mistake or a routine bad judgement. That is profoundly serious… James, you made that point earlier,
pretty much. So did John. So, let’s move on to this question
of ardent donations, political donations,
the fundraising element of it. Is that a pernicious and
poisonous element of our politics? Not inherently, Tony. Just because some politicians are incapable of acting ethically
around donations, doesn’t mean the whole
political system is broken. And there are some really
downside risks… So, you have no problems at all
with Gladys Liu and what she did? Because the Prime Minister,
for example, at the time, Malcolm Turnbull, on the advice of
his own security agencies, did not go along to one of her
fundraisers because of the people who were donating the money. So you have no problem with that? I think Gladys herself
would acknowledge that, prior to being elected
to Parliament, she should have been more judicious
in some of her associations, particularly with Chinese
community organisations. Didn’t this ring any bells? You’ve got a prime minister who
is being told by his security agency, “Don’t go there, don’t get
photographed with those people,” and yet they are key people
making donations? Well, I’m not privy
to that advice obviously, Tony, but I don’t actually believe
the incident you’re talking about was even a fundraiser. I’m pretty sure it was just
a community meet-and-greet on behalf of the Member for Chisholm
at the time, Julia Banks. I don’t think it was
fundraising related. So I’m not sure you’ve diagnosed
that… The Prime Minister was advised
not to go… That’s what media reports say.
I’m not privy to that advice. ..not to be seen with the people
who were at the core of this. I don’t know if that’s true, Tony.
That’s what the media are reporting. I don’t have any way of
independently verifying that. Alright. Eva Cox. Quickly and… This goes back actually to the point
I was trying to make before, that we need to put trust back. If you look at who’s in Parliament
at the moment, and I agree with the thing
about that. You know, most of the people
in Parliament actually come up
through the political system, they work for political as staffers, they work in the unions or
they work in various other things. They hit Parliament without ever
having a real job. Their views of the wider society are
actually extraordinarily limited. We used to have parliamentarians,
so maybe we should… Are you saying that working in
a think tank is not a real job?! Yes…having done so.
(LAUGHTER) I mean, the point is you’re… That’s part of my point, really.
Yeah. I mean, but it’s that whole thing
about being completely in a world where politics becomes the issue, where you completely lose your sense
of what’s going on, on the outside, you completely lose connections
about that. I’ve been a member of
the Labor Party at one stage. You get caught up with the internal
politics and things there. Loyalty becomes the major thing and
it’s not loyalty to your country, it’s loyalty to your party,
your faction, your fraction, or whatever else it happens to be. You get sort of fed into something like, you know,
the various right-wing think tanks that we have no idea where their
money comes from, in most cases. And you get a sense, you know, that we lose the sense that people
go into Parliament to serve the community. Maybe we should limit the things
there. Maybe everybody should have a…you
should be an older age group. Maybe you should actually have
a limited term in Parliament. I don’t know why, you know,
after a while, things there. And maybe we need to get back
to the idea that being in Parliament
is serving the country. Alright. Madeleine,
I’d like to bring you in and can I… (APPLAUSE) ..can I get you to focus not only on
the disillusion that’s expressed in that question
but on Sam’s point, that the whole political donations
system is corrupting, effectively? Sure. Thanks, Claudia, for
the question. I do, just before… I will go to that, Tony,
but I just want to acknowledge, for everyone else’s sake,
that not all politicians, I don’t even think most, actually
come up through the party systems. Surely a number do, undoubtedly. But there are also ex-policemen,
ex-soldiers, former teachers, obviously several lawyers, a vice-chancellor
in the Liberal Party, broadcasters, nurses, you know,
and they’re Labor members, other than the vice-chancellor,
but… But once you get in,
you’ve got to hang on until you get your super, right? What do you mean?
You get super anyway. You get a much better one
if you’re a politician. Well, that’s not… No, I came
from a university background and I had a much better super
working for a university than I do in this current job, so…
Alright. And the super that politicians get
is 15.4%. So, there are many occupations
that pay a lot more, there are many that pay a lot less. So…the whole pension system
has gone. OK, let’s… I was being facetious.
Were you? Let’s go to the donations question.
Yeah, certainly. There is a lot of pressure on people
to seek donations and to fundraise. Sam mentioned that before
and it’s an extraordinary exercise that happens all the time
to fund our campaigns. And I think if anyone that could
raise a million dollars, like Sam probably did
and Ms Liu has, they are rock stars in their parties because, you know,
that’s a really handy bit of money if you’ve got to pay for
advertising. And if you’re lucky,
you have a prime minister that can donate $1.75 million
of his own money to his party. And if you’re unlucky, like us, you have to put up with
a millionaire tycoon that puts out certainly
anti-Western Australian sentiment, anti-Chinese sentiment, in the form of Clive Palmer’s ads
all throughout the country. That was $50 million worth. So, you have to keep fundraising so you can keep
trying to combat that and put your message out there and it’s an enormous amount of
pressure on all parliamentarians. I think there is something
to be said for public funding. It would be expensive though and that’s something that very
most certainly has to be considered. JOHN: Unions do donate a lot of
money, right, structurally? Yeah, they do.
EVA: So does business. But they don’t donate… Big business donates
a very large amount. OK, I’m going to pause
this conversation ’cause we’ve got another question. It’s from Bill Bowman.
It’s on the same subject. Bill. Indeed, thank you. In reality, countries are not
all good or all bad. In reality, countries are part good
and part bad and that applies to Australia,
as it applies to China. The reality of the situation is that
China over the past several decades has been able to lift
hundreds of millions of their people up out of poverty. That’s what they have achieved. That significant economic growth
has also been of great advantage to Australians through
boosting the Australian economy. Given that sort of reality
and benefit to Australia, how do we bring the discussion
in Australia concerning China back to a basis which is
less hysterical and more rational? Thank you.
John Lee. I don’t think it’s hysterical. I think it’s Australia and it’s both sides of politics,
I think, would agree with this. It’s Australia responding to
certain things that have occurred. Now, at the moment,
the most fractious thing in the Australia-China relationship,
or one of them, is about political interference
and covert influence. Now, look at what the Chinese
have set up and done. They have something called
United Front. The United Front is
a vast bureaucratic apparatus of more than nine bureaus. It hires at least 40,000 people. To give you some context, the Department of Foreign Affairs
and Trade only hires 6,000 people. It’s got billions of dollars
in funding. Now, importantly,
one of its specific objectives and it’s in policy,
is to influence the diaspora of other countries
in ways that favour China and on issues that…where China
will disagree with the diasporas,
host countries of those diasporas – Australia, the United States,
New Zealand, Canada etc. Now, if you think this sounds like
Cold War stuff, it is, because the Chinese
don’t think the Cold War is over. Read their documents and it sounds
extreme but it’s true. Now, if you think I’m exaggerating,
a widely-reported incident, April 2017. Meng, their security tsar – the tsar of the entire
security apparatus in China, which is immense –
comes to Australia. At the time, the Chinese wanted
the Labor Party to support the extradition treaty with China. Meng tells the Labor leadership,
and it’s widely reported, “If you do not support
the extradition treaty, “I will instruct
the Australian Chinese population “that they are against China.” Now, can you imagine
the significance of that? That is saying
that a foreign power will activate, assuming they could, will activate
the diaspora of this country against the policies of, uh,
politicians in this country. So, John, given the gravity
of what you’ve just described, is it fair enough
that the Prime Minister, when having to confront questions
about precisely this issue within his own party, accuses those of doing it of racism? Well, I… It depends on who Prime Minister
Morrison is calling racist. Well, he’s basically saying
the Labor Party, because they pursued these matters
against a Chinese MP. And Andrew Bolt. If…
(SMATTER OF LAUGHTER) Um, look, I generally don’t like
the use of the word ‘racism’ unless it is racist,
and I’m not really sure what Morrison is referring to. What I would say, though…
Well, he was basically saying – I don’t know
if he used the word ‘racism’ – but he, essentially,
what he said is… MADELEINE KING: Yes, he did. are… We’ll come back to you after.
Sorry. Yeah. That, essentially, he was saying
you are dissing, if you like… (LAUGHS) ..the entire 1.2 million Chinese
in Australia by attacking this politician. Well, look, what I would suggest is, if you look at what the problem is, the problem is that
when you have a foreign infiltration of an ethnic group – and, look, clearly the vast majority
of Australian Chinese people are not supporters
of the Chinese Communist Party – but when you have
a foreign infiltration of a diaspora in the country, mere association
with cultural groups, etcetera, will lead to dispersions being cast. Now, those dispersions
can be quite ugly. Um, sometimes they are racist. But my point is
that if you want to fix the problem, you’ve got to call out and get rid
of this foreign interference. OK.
Otherwise society does fracture. Alright.
On the racist comment, look, I really can’t comment, because I don’t know
who it was he was referring to. Madeleine. Well, yeah, the Prime Minister
did accuse us of being racist, uh, for, um, you know,
raising concerns about Ms Liu. And he’s the one himself that has brought up the matter
of someone’s heritage. And that should not have come up. These are just,
they’re questions to be answered by this parliamentarian,
and she should answer them, and it doesn’t really matter
what her race is. The fact is that these are donations
from a certain influential nation, and we have to, you know… They have to be held…she has to be
held to account for that, and I think that’s reasonable. It’s… It’s pretty rich coming
from a Prime Minister that, as a shadow minister, refused to word…to use the word
‘multiculturalism’. I think that is
Scott Morrison’s history. He’s not that much of a fan…
(SMATTER OF APPLAUSE) ..of multiculturalism. He is now, of course, but in the past,
he has, uh, chosen not to be so. Um, but I think there are
important discussions to be had around the Chinese diaspora
in Australia that form a very important part
of our community. And, uh, there are Chinese people that are not necessarily members
of the Chinese Communist Party, and it’s the Chinese Communist Party and their influence
as an authoritarian regime – their influence into this country that we need to be
very clear-eyed about. And I think,
for those of Chinese heritage, uh, you know,
you should know that we know not every Chinese person
living in this country is a member of the Communist Party or would seek
to be influenced by them. Uh, James, what was
the Prime Minister accusing Labor of, if not racism? Tony, the Prime Minister
didn’t use the word ‘racist’. What he said
that the Labor Party was doing was engaging in grubby tactics
when it comes to Gladys Liu, and I think he’s right to do so. And I’ll give you a concrete example
of how they did this. He made a broader point though,
didn’t he? He made a broader point. He extended it out to
the entire Chinese community. He did, and I’ll come to that. But I just want to substantiate
this point about grubby tactics. In Question Time last week
in the House of Representatives, the Labor Party asked question
after question after question, which was ruled out of order
by the Speaker. Now, the questioners in this case
was Mark Dreyfus. He knows how to ask a question
that is in order if he wants to, he also knows how to ask a question
that’s out of order. And in asking questions that
cast aspersions about Gladys Liu that were out of order, he knew
that the Speaker, Tony Smith, would, rightly,
prevent the Prime Minister from answering those questions. So the smear was raised, but there was no possibility
to respond to that smear. And that’s why the PM has said that there are grubby tactics
being engaged in here. To the wider point – Australia was
dangerously complacent, particularly big sections
of our media and political class, a few years ago, about the risks
of foreign interference. And I actually think, by and large,
it’s a good thing that we are now living in a much more hypersensitive
environment to those things. We should be alert to those risks for all the reasons
that John outlines. However, in doing so,
we have to be really, really careful that we don’t inadvertently,
or otherwise, cast aspersions about good Australians
who love this country, who love freedom and democracy
as much as any countr… ..any other one –
any other person in this country who happen to be Chinese. There’s 1.2 million of them, and they deserve respect
like any other Australian. Alright, Sam, I’ll give you
the final word. Keep it brief. Um, I just… I’m impressed that… I don’t know if James memorises
the talking points of the morning or just eats the document.
(LAUGHTER) Um, unbelievable. You did that from rote.
That’s amazing. Um, no, no. But, look, you’re right. You’re completely right,
you’ve got to be… There is good, and there is bad.
It’s not all black and white. 1.2 million Chinese Australians –
who identify with Chinese heritage – amazing people. Our largest trading partner.
A huge success story. And there is a legitimate,
real problem – and I think John was
actually quite eloquent about it – around foreign interference. And let’s please,
please not correlate the two. OK. You’re watching…
We’ll move on. You’re watching Q&A. It’s been a fascinating discussion
on the Chinese issue, but it’s time to move on
to other topics. The next question
comes from Jessica Gray. Jessica.
Hi. Um, this week, both of our
major parties opposed the motion to declare a climate emergency amidst the New South Wales
and Queensland bushfires. As a young Australian, I’m truly
terrified of what lies ahead. Seemingly, the government
is not listening to the majority of Australians who want more action taken
on climate change. So what can this majority
possibly do to make our governments listen? Eva Cox, start with you.
Here, here, to the question. It’s a really hard one,
because they’re just trying to ignore the whole fact
that it’s there. You know, we’ve been sliding
around it in the various things. It’s been part of knocking off
particularly governments. We’ve had all of these different
things about the environment. But nobody is really prepared
to address it, because you’ve got
a very solid group of people who, for all sorts of reasons,
don’t want to acknowledge it. You know,
we have an environmental problem. They always pop up
in appropriate moments with another study that they found that said, you know,
this was happening 40,000 years ago, whatever it is. And it’s very difficult. But I think part of the problem – and I’ll go back briefly
to what I was talking about before – is that we actually need
to get people behind us. And I think what’s happening
with the environmental movement and some of this stuff is that if people get too scared,
they switch off. And if people don’t trust
other people, they’re not prepared to,
sort of, give up things in order to improve the environment. So I think we’ve got to get
to the point where people don’t feel
as disillusioned with the system as they do now. Because, until we do that, we’re not going to get the serious
movements of being able to say, “Yes, we do need to do something
about the climate.” But to do that we actually have to trust other people want to do it
as well, and we have to trust our government. So it’s part of that whole process, because I think far too many people
at the moment are switching off. “It’s too hard!” They do the doona thing –
crawl back into bed, pull the doona over their head,
and hope it will be gone away when they get back up afterwards. OK, I’m going to go to Madeleine. I’d like to put the question to you
like this – if Labor does
what it’s now debating, and that’s to lower
its carbon emissions targets, what do you think will happen
to your core support, particularly young voters
like our questioner? I don’t think young voters were
necessarily our core support. I wish more of them were,
that’s for sure. Um, I… Don’t need to worry about them, then?
No, I do need to worry… Of course I need to worry
about everyone. That’s being facetious again, Tony.
But, uh… Making a point, really.
Yeah, no, I get it. Um, the action on climate change
is critically important. I mean, I, um, I can’t believe there aren’t
more people marching on the streets, quite frankly, to try and prompt the government to do more on this. And I have a lot of respect,
actually, for the people that do go and participate
in some of these protests. And when schoolchildren
go and do that, I don’t have any objection to that. They’re young people,
they will inherit this Earth, this country,
and they’ve got every right to go and protest,
um, you know, peacefully, about things of great concern. So what will happen? Those people,
will they disrespect the Labor Party if you lower
your carbon emissions targets, therefore breaking a promise
that you gave before, and, actually, a long-term promise? Mm, yeah. Our policies are under review,
and we are going to look at them, and we have to because the suite of
policies we had, including that one, uh, didn’t work out for us
in the election. And this is just, I think,
and my caucus colleagues think, it’s a rational response
to an election loss – we have to review everything. So an election loss, um, a perception that climate change
didn’t work for you… Not at all. Not at all. ..means you chuck the principles
out the window? No, no. I think we’ve got to
put them into a narrative in a much better fashion
that we did. And how climate change
and action on that and our emissions reduction targets
works into that has to figure into it. And we’re not going
to jump into this too quickly because of, uh,
pressure from outside. We as a Labor Caucus and a movement
have to think about this deeply, respecting the wishes
of people like Jessica and know the future
they want to inherit should be better
than what it is now. And I appreciate that sentiment. Let’s hear from someone
who’s, sort of, left the scene now. You can look at it
with some dispassion. No, look, you’re right. I mean, without being part
of a kind of a broken record here, the place you’d start with is
where the donations are coming from. Like, a mining magnate, right, Clive Palmer spent $56 million
to shit on Bill Shorten… Can I say that on the ABC?
You just did, Sam. (LAUGHTER) ..and, in part, cost an election. Right? You know… And you look at where the money
comes from, and the lobbying, and the influence,
and this and that. I think we would have very different
climate policies in this country if you actually started
from the premise of removing a lot of that money
from politics. So just quickly on the question
that I asked Madeleine, how do you feel about the prospect of Labor changing
its carbon emissions targets… Uh, look… ..because it worked for them
in the last election? I think the review process is right. I think the outcome that they should
move to at the end of the review, my personal view,
it’s always right to review things. You lost an election.
We shouldn’t have lost. We lost. Ask yourself why? My personal view is that
we didn’t lose the election – or Labor – Labor didn’t lose the election
because people didn’t think that they were, you know, that they believed too much
in their policies. I actually think
it was the right policy, and I think they should
stick with it. OK, James…
(APPLAUSE)’s obviously aimed
at both sides of politics, and, clearly, there’s a sense you’re
getting from our young questioner. And we’ll go to her. By the way,
let me just put it to you, do you see both sides of politics
as lacking in this area? Oh, 100% I do. I’m not going to hide it.
Love Labor. Always have. And I’m more leaning towards Greens. I do think what you’re saying, Sam,
about the election, I don’t think it’s Labor’s policy
that lost the election, I think Liberal actually had
a short and sharp campaign and it got through
to so many people. But I’m telling you,
I was devastated on election day. And all of my friends as well, who were all…you know,
want something good to come of the climate one day. So, what do you…? These guys won government.
What do you want to hear from them? From Liberal?
Yep. Um… MADELEINE KING: Anything.
Resign! Nothing, to be honest.
(LAUGHTER AND APPLAUSE) OK. Alright, alright. James, I’m not going to… ..I’m not going to ask you nothing. So, let’s start with this thing
of the bushfires, because it’s absolute…
it was at the core of the question, and people are terrified
this summer is going to be one of the worst we’ve ever seen. And the bushfires are being driven, in the belief of many,
by climate change. What do you say? Well, I fear I’m not going to please
you, I’m afraid, with that lead-up. But I understand why
the environmental movement attaches a lot of importance to
motions like this in the Parliament. But the truth is that they are
symbolic motions. And had that motion passed the
House of Representatives this week, what would have been
different about the climate? Nothing at all. What would have been different
about the bushfires in Queensland and New South Wales?
Nothing at all. Um, I think…you asked it
in your question what should you do to get through to policymakers
to have change? I think you should focus
on the substantive issues, on the policy questions, on the big
challenges that we face, because… Can I just say this – if half the
country is on fire during summer, that’s going to be
a substantive issue. (LAUGHTER)
Do you accept…? Do you accept that…? Just a fraction of hyperbole there,
Tony, but… Well… SAM DASTYARI: This question
is not on the talking points. Well, not half the country,
but a lot of the country is on fire. Um, and places that haven’t been
on fire for a long time. Do you accept that climate change
has a role in that? Of course, Tony, and you’ve
asked me that question on this panel many times before and I accept
the science of climate change, just to do the tick
disclaimer for you. Um, but if Australia shut down
all their industry tomorrow, it wouldn’t make any difference
at all to the global temperatures. The reality is that this is
a global challenge. And if the course that we are on,
particularly from large emitters, countries like China, which is the world’s
largest emitter, almost by a factor of two
to the next larger emitter, and under the Paris Agreement promised to increase
their emissions by 2030, well, then, anything Australia does is not going to make
a big difference. The reason why I’m optimistic and why I hope you not
too discouraged by tonight is that no matter what happens
on an intergovernmental level, no what happens with Paris or Kyoto,
or any of those agreements, there’s actually technological
changes that are happening right now that are really positive. Like the advances in efficiency
in photovoltaic solar cells have been way more than
anybody forecast that they would be. And, ultimately, I put my trust
and faith in human ingenuity and technological evolution
to solve these things, more than any government policy can.
(APPLAUSE) Um, John, quickly on that. Look, I mean, any issue
with climate change, the shame, for me,
is that it should be about reducing carbon emissions,
right? That is…that is
what you’re trying to get to. But it’s become – do you like
renewables, do you like… you want to focus on more
efficient use of fossil fuels, et cetera, et cetera? I think you do whatever the science tells you
and the economics tells you works best on lowering
carbon emissions. Unfortunately, it’s become
a political debate of do you support fossil fuels
or do you support…? Well, you just heard
another argument there, which is it doesn’t matter
what Australia does because China’s
going to ruin it anyway. Well, I think…from a scientific,
technical point of view, or if you measure global carbon
emissions, that’s…that’s correct. I think there’s an issue of how you
want to position your economy. But once again, I think
it’s got to be a decision made about science and technology
and economics as to the best energy mix to position yourself
in the future economy. And when I hear comments about,
“Let’s get rid of all fossil fuels,” not only is that realistic…
unrealistic, but it pretty much cuts out
any realistic policy response that will help you position
and transition into the future. OK. It’s time for one last question.
It’s from Katherine Minns. Katherine.
Hi. Pushing an agenda to drug-test
and income-manage welfare recipients further enforces stereotypes and creates further hardships
for those already suffering. In New Zealand, where drug-testing
of welfare recipients occurs, only 0.3% of those people
tested positive. Why does the government have
such a strong agenda to push drug-testing
welfare recipients? I’ll start with Eva Cox on this,
your special area. I think the government
is very busy trying to prove that the only reason
that people are unemployed is because they’re not
working hard enough, they’re not…you know,
they’re not having a go. Completely ignores
all the structural problems that we have about unemployment, completely ignores the fact that we’ve got far more…
you know, people who are on unemployment benefits than we have actually
people for jobs. Ignores the fact, also –
I keep insisting on this – that half the people on Newstart,
nearly half the people on Newstart, are not actually job-seekers
officially because they happen to be cancer
patients and other people like that. But, still, the government
is obsessed with the idea that if they can prove that,
you know, that the people are lazy, that they don’t want to have jobs and they’re drug, uh, bearers, that they’re bad parents,
they’re doing all of those things… They want to stigmatise the poor
and the disadvantaged. We know it doesn’t work. The cashless debit card is useless.
It doesn’t work. Drug-testing doesn’t work
because if you find somebody’s got, you know, on to drugs, everybody… They’ve done it in New Zealand
and they’ve done it in other places. It doesn’t work. They just want to
spend a lot of money trying to prove that the reason
people are unemployed is that they’re sort of hopeless
and it’s all their fault and it’s got nothing to do with
the rest of the country. Eva, the questioner has her hand up.
Katherine, um… (APPLAUSE) So, one thing I find really
disheartening about the conversation is they always talk about
people on welfare as being, you know, these people that just don’t want jobs
and all that. My father was a carer for my mum
for 13 years after she had a stroke. And she recently passed away
from cancer, only 61. Hasn’t worked in 13 years
and he’s forced onto Newstart, which is barely enough money
to support him, and he has to go through
all these job-searching things, applying for all of these jobs that no-one’s going to give
an interview for. And he just has to feel like
com…like, you know, that he’s doing everything wrong. And all he’s done for the past
13 years was support my mum. How do you feel about the prospect
of him being drug-tested? It’s… It really upsets me because
he hasn’t done anything wrong. EVA COX: No! And also, I also receive welfare
as well. I work two casual jobs, which definitely
don’t give me enough money, I study full-time at university. And the fact I feel like I could be
drug-tested, it’s degrading. You don’t want to feel… It makes us feel like
we’re doing something wrong when all we’re trying to do
is just make a living and try and get through life. And I’m trying to get a degree to
get myself a good job in the future and I can’t work a full-time job
at the moment while doing that. OK. Can I…? Sorry, Eva. I’m going to throw that
to James because… Can I have one sentence
onto the thing? Yep. Drug-testing is just
another form of stigma, being on the cashless welfare card
is stigma. Everything is stigmatising. And what stigmatising is,
it removes your sense of agency, so you don’t go and look for a job
because you feel so lousy about it. (APPLAUSE)
OK, James. OK. How…? First off, just can you
talk to Katherine and try and justify your policy
or potential policy to someone in her situation
and her father’s situation? Absolutely. And in doing so, I want
to just respond to the final comment that Eva made there. Why on earth would the government want to discourage people
from seeking work? That would be totally
counterproductive. In what universe
would that be our objective? I have no interest at all
in demonising or stigmatising people who are on welfare, none at all. They are our fellow Australians, they deserve to be treated
with dignity and respect, like everyone else. But what we do know
is if you’re on welfare and you are also abusing drugs, you’re going to find it
really difficult to get a job. EVA: Duh! Now, I completely accept
Eva’s point about the fact that creating jobs
for these people is a burden that falls on
the government. It’s one of our number-one
priorities we focus on all the time. I think, the 1.4 million jobs
we created since we won office in 2013
is a good start. But we have to keep doing it
every day. Because if there aren’t jobs
for people to go to, then they’re not going to get them,
obviously. So, do you think it’s fair enough
for her father to be drug-tested? I don’t accept that it’s inherently
degrading to be drug tested. (AUDIENCE GROANS) People in the mining industry
are drug-tested all the time. EVA COX: They have a job. Exactly! They do have a job. They have a job which involves them
having to not be on drugs. Indeed, indeed. In fact, I think all jobs,
you should not be on drugs in order to be employed, Eva,
not just in the mining industry. I think it’s an impediment
to working in any job. What about a universal drug testing
program for everybody who works? Yes!
(LAUGHTER) Um, I mean, I think that would
probably be quite expensive and excessive
’cause I think that’s… Would it be a good idea, though,
based on the logic you put forth? No, I think we should target people
where we know there’s a problem, we know that drugs are preventing
them from getting a job. SAM: Tony! I just want to say one
thing to you. I assure you there are a lot
more politicians on drugs than the people who are on Newstart. (APPLAUSE) Ugh…
Madeleine. So…
Thanks, Sam. Sam, Sam, I will…I will take
your drug test right now. If you’ve got one,
I’ll take it right now. I just want to know
what you think about the question. Uh, well, I think the policy
is horrid. Uh, it’s designed to humiliate,
it’s Orwellian in nature. Um, I hope it can be gone. Uh, it’s, uh… People are unemployed and find
themselves in this situation for so many reasons and it is, quite frankly,
humiliating to be drug-tested, uh, especially you’re not… People that go into mining, it’s a condition of their employment
and they’re very well paid. It is a different circum… They know that when they go in. When you become unemployed
and unemployed for a long time, you didn’t want to do that. Like, you’re not going out
to be unemployed. You want to get a job. And what it’ll do is just drive… People won’t go and get Newstart
’cause it will be humiliating. Uh, I mean… ..yeah, it’s an awful policy. The sooner it’s gone, the better. John Lee? Look… Um… When any government sets a policy
for a lot of people and any bureaucracy in Canberra and
elsewhere implements that policy, there’s going to be situations
where it’s unjust, it’s inappropriate
for the individual. So I don’t really have
an answer for you. But the issue then becomes
do you do away with the policy? Yes.
Yes. Look, I’m…
That’s… I don’t know whether the policy
has been effective or not. I think we’ve got to go by the data
as to whether it has achieved what it’s trying to achieve.
It hasn’t. I’ve got the data. If it has, then we try to make it
more targeted. (LAUGHTER) If it hasn’t,
then we do away with it. OK, that’s all we have time for
tonight, I’m sorry to say. We’re just running over time.
Please thank our panel – Sam Dastyari, John Lee,
Madeleine King, James Paterson and Eva Cox. (APPLAUSE) Thank you very much. Thank you. You can continue the discussion
on Facebook and Twitter. And next week on Q&A, the Minister for Communications and
Arts and Cyber Safety Paul Fletcher, legendary broadcaster Kerry O’Brien, TV presenter Jan Fran, journalist-turned-councillor Dai Le and Shadow Health Minister
Chris Bowen. Until next Monday, goodnight. Captions by Red Bee Media Copyright Australian
Broadcasting Corporation (APPLAUSE)

Author: Kennedi Daugherty

36 thoughts on “The Political Donations Arms Race | Q&A

  1. Man Made Global Warming (Oh yeah that's right they changed it to Climate Change to hedge all bets) Is possibly the biggest scam thrust upon mankind since religion. Don't be suckers and wake up kids!

  2. The thing that Australians possibly don't fully get, is that Gladys Liu was or is a member of a United Front Organisation… this is a massive problem for us going forward. Sam Dastyari suggest that she's been at it for maybe ten years…. that's outrageous. These are Xi's "Magic Weapons". This is the CCP's propaganda arm..

  3. The disruption in the region started with Trump withdrawing from the 5 Nations agreement and imposing crippling sanctions on IRAN… while selling arms to Saudi 9/11 Arabia ..who were attacking Yemen ..who have taken responsibility for the drone strikes.. CONSERVATIVES AT WORK…

  4. Ridiculous. The US is the menace and all the world knows it now. The MSM is controlled, the finance sector is controlled, and their Arms industry needs war. They create the circumstance for this to happen. I thought the ABC would at least have someone with this view on the panel. The panel has no clue on the real situation, unfortunately.

  5. They are not Chinese Australian, they are Australian. Saying otherwise is RACIST. I was born in Australia, my parents were originally from Germany, doesn’t make me German Australian. Hated people calling me that, it’s exclusionary, racist.

  6. Tony’s comment “places haven’t been on fire for a long time “ shows clearly total ignorance on fire danger issue. The longer fire hasn’t occurred more dry debris undergrowth = more fuel for fire, cause more intense fire. Fire is and always will be a part of Australian ecology. Look at your history and it’s all there, floods and fire.

  7. Issues raised about foreign interference make me laugh. It is an historical fact the US (and Britain) removed Whitlam from power in 1975 because of Whitlam's push for a Sovereign Australia. Yes, the butcher of Indonesia and then the US-Australian ambassador Marshall Green was commissioned to eject the elected leader of Australia from power and replace him with someone more amenable to US interests. And when the job was over, Marshall slunk back to his homeland (1975) resigning his post (US Ambassador) on completion of his treachery against the Australian people. Anyone who questions history and seeks the facts must realize this is the modus operandi of the US in controlling all its vassal states in the Western World. Most of the conflicts in the world involving the US are just examples of independent countries fighting back against the Anglo-American Empire. Have you ever questioned the synchronicity of US interests, impending conflicts, and the timing of the propaganda of western media with US aggression? With the aid of a corrupt and propagandizing western media, Washington is able to get many of their Useful Idiots of Empire, both home and abroad, to give consensus to, and go along with their mafia tactics.

    So you have to laugh when they include such foreign interests as the “US Study Center” (John Lee) at the University of Sydney on the panel. It’s not bad enough the US has pumped soft power into Australia since WW2, it now gets to directly program the Australian people through such propaganda outlets as “Planet America”. And there are a number of US think tanks and institutions submerged in Australian politics to keep control of those fifth-column puppets in Canberra should they stray too far from the Washington (Consensus) narrative. Once you realize Australia is just a vassal state of the US, the world will make a lot more sense. You will understand why ANZUS is only consultative and any belief of US protection is illusionary; you will understand why Australia is in lock-step with US foreign policy and why we now have an ex-Prime Minister who is an international a war criminal. You will understand why both plutocratic parties, LNP and the ALP (Another Liberal Party), dare not to contradict the orders coming from Washington otherwise Australia could easily become another Venezuela.

    The infiltration of the US into Australian politics doesn’t stop there; the US plutocrats directly influence Australian political parties. Take for example the Institute of Public Affairs (James Paterson); no wonder they keep their donors secret. When you hear an Australian politician (James Paterson) push the Bush line with the same type of crafted nationalist rhetoric and programming, 43:48 “Love Australia”, “Freedom and Democracy”, you have to ask some serious questions. These IPA controllers of puppet Australian politicians are in turn controlled by US plutocratic organizations such as “The Atlas Network”. “The Atlas Network” is registered in Virginia (US) and is funded by such interests as the Kochs (Koch Industries). Yes, this is the same Koch Industries in the “One Nation” scandal exposed by Al Jazeera. Have a look at this video and you will see James Ashby and Steve Dickson of One Nation selling the Australian democracy to the highest bidder. Steve Dickson made the offer that One Nation would alter the electoral process if Koch Industries gives them money. His exact words were, “We can change the voting system in our country; the way the people operate, if we’ve got the money to do it”. Later Dickson goes on to explain the Kochs’ Dark Money distribution mechanism and how it is distributed to their interested parties undetected. The whole circle closes on this deception once you understand the same Kochs are the major funders of “The Atlas Network”.

    If you want to learn more about the strategies of US Empire, may I suggest two books, The first is the early history of the emergence of the US Empire (“War is a Racket” by Smedley Butler) and the second contemporary work (“Confessions of an Economic Hitman” by John Perkins) illuminates the US’s plutocratic strategy and how it uses institutions and mercenaries like the IMF and the US military to control much of the Western World. If you want to know which countries are vassal states of the US Empire, just look for corrupt US puppet politicians and/or US military bases. So the next time you hear someone attempting to sell you on the lie the US is bringing “Freedom and Democracy” to the world, might I suggest you think again.

  8. There is some dirty washing being hung out here, and the link is that these politicians were not Aussie born! where do their loyalties lie?

  9. Yes a disgraced denator who illegally took donations is now going to give lessons on how it's bad to illegally take donations eye roll

  10. Let's be honest: Dastyari isn't really sorry about what he did. He is just saying that because he got caught. He would have continued doing what that Chinese MP did if he was not exposed by the journalists.

  11. Clearly Sam’s ego hasn’t reduced in size since his self confessed ego driven collision with a Chinese agent of influence.

  12. The science may be right about human made warming but it is idiotic to state that droughts and bushfires are the direct result of this. Bushfires have happened in September previously and droughts have likewise plagued people in Australia as long as the Aborigines have lived here. In any case why should Australia commit economic suicide to pursue costly and ineffective implementation of unreliable renewables while China emits about a third or more of all earth's emmissions. Those who want to demonstrate against climate inaction should all walk and paddle to China and demonstrate their displeasure in Beijing.

  13. I'm sure most people support democracy in Iran but what guarantee is there that America would not intervene to overthrow the elected leader if they didn't like their political ideology? They did that last time Iran held free democratic elections in 1953.

  14. Huh, well will you look at that. An ex-australian politician who was forced to resign by siding with an authoritarian regime gets another shot with this appearance. I doubt you could say this about China, Iran or even Russia. Who said democracy is not alive and well down under?

  15. Mr. Li you are exaggerating. It is the West doesn't let the cold war go. The so called united front organization is a propaganda machine, mainly domestically directed.

  16. Timestamps of the questions from the audience

    Immediately topical question (Saudi oil attack)
    01:07 What should Australia do with respect to the attack on Saudi oil facilities, Trump's "locked and loaded" tweet?
    05:24 Will Australia need to access America's strategic petroleum reserve?

    Main topic of the episode (political corruption and Chinese political interference)
    12:22 AFP (Australian Federal Police) raids journalists closely followed their exposure of government infidelities under the hobgoblin of "homeland security", when can we expect to see AFP raids on MPs involved in taking cash from Chinese developers a clear and real threat to homeland security?
    26:57 After repeated [donation] scandals, is there any way to create real cultural change, beyond reactive federal ICACs (Independent Commission Against Corruption)?
    36:17 In reality, countries are part good and part bad and that applies to Australia, as it applies to China. Given that sort of reality and benefit to Australia, how do we bring the discussion in Australia concerning China back to a basis which is less hysterical and more rational?

    Climate Change
    44:46 What can the majority of Australians who want more action taken on climate change do to make governments listen?

    Drug testing welfare recipients
    55:06 In New Zealand, where drug-testing of welfare recipients occurs, only 0.3% of those people tested positive. Why does the government have such a strong agenda to push drug-testing welfare recipients?

  17. Oh dear, John Lee, the USA is certainly not the only country capable of resolving potentially dangerous international disagreements. That is a very ignorant assertion.
    On a different note, Eva Cox speaks wisely and experientially. Many of her points are valid, not least of which is that politicians should firstly have extensive workplace experience in non-political roles and only sit in Parliament for a limited period. James Paterson, for instance, speaks as he does because his life experience is so obviously inadequate to address nationally influential crises.
    Post script – James, the government does not create jobs; industry does! Your mistake is one that Sam spoke of: Arrogance.

  18. The reason Scumophobe is protecting Glads Screwed is because she holds a marginal seat & he is fearful that they would lose the seat in a by-election.

  19. Sam Dastyari comes across as if he's overly jittery and hyped up. dunno what that is attributed to. drugs, uneasy conscience, anxiety, trying to come across relevant, trying too hard…

  20. Whataboutism is not an appropriate response to valid accusations, James.
    The libs will just not admit wrongdoing, their campaigns are all about sh!t slinging, finger pointing and lies.. they are a perfect example of why we need ICAC. They need to go, they do not have the integrity or character to be in any position of power. Anyone who defends Liu should have their motives questioned and be thoroughly investigated. Dave Sharma should be next, he doesn't work for Australia, he works for Israel and is here pushing their agenda.
    FFS we have a foreign agent in our government! She needs to be jailed or deported, not defended. In times past she would be shot.

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