Thursday, 10 October 2019

6PR - Mornings with Gareth Parker



Subjects: Climate change protests, Australians released from Iran, Turkey, Religious Discrimination Bill

GARETH PARKER: Attorney-General and Industrial Relations Minister CHRISTIAN PORTER:, good morning.

CHRISTIAN PORTER: Yeah, morning Gareth.

GARETH PARKER: Thank you for your time today. Can I start with the Extinction Rebellion protesters? It has been going on all over the country. It's been a bit of a damp squib here, but in Melbourne they're gluing themselves to the roads, today in Brisbane they've been hanging off bridges. Does this change the Government's mind at all?

CHRISTIAN PORTER: Nah. Well, I mean, we think that we've got a completely responsible target out of Paris, which is 26 per cent. We're going to meet it, which is more than virtually every other country can say who signed onto these targets. We're doing it in an economically responsible way. I mean, even Labor now are admitting that the target that they took to the last election was wrong and they're going to have to reconfigure that. But the idea that this is a sensible contribution to debate on a complicated economic topic is not one that holds any water. And Brisbane and Sydney have been really bad. Brisbane particularly, and I was actually up there a few days ago. They are just shutting down the CBD of a major city. So, all the people who have to get in their cars every day and go to work and pay a mortgage, they're sitting in gridlocked traffic because people are zip- tying themselves the barricades on major streets. And it is a real problem. My own observation is I think that they are actually turning people against their own views, because they are so selfishly disruptive of ordinary people going about their day-to-day business that people just find it a massive turn off.

GARETH PARKER: [Talks over] So you think they're damaging support to their argument?

CHRISTIAN PORTER: I absolutely do. I mean, that's the sort of sense of it that I've had in Sydney and Brisbane, because, you know like, this is a complicated economic issue. The Government, I think, has got the right balance. We took our balanced policy to an election. But do you think that you're actually convincing people to take an alternative view to the view that they endorsed at the last election by forcing them to sit in traffic for two and half hours before they can get into work? You know, ordinary people who live in the suburbs who look at this issue want a balanced approach, and this demonstrates a complete lack of balance, and I think it turns people off.

GARETH PARKER: Okay. We were able to- well, the Government was able to get Jolie King and Mark Firkin home, the Perth travel bloggers who had been detained in Iran. Is that a prisoner swap?

CHRISTIAN PORTER: Well, I've released a statement on this. I mean, you're alluding to the fact that there was also an Iranian national who was subject to extradition, and I exercised my discretion to not extradite that person. That's a very broad discretion. So, I indicated in the press release we put out that we don't go into details about those extradition processes, so people may or may not speculate. But I just can't go into that.

GARETH PARKER: Well, they're clearly linked, aren't they?

CHRISTIAN PORTER: Well, look, that's a view that you've got, you no doubt will put it on your radio show. But as I said, it's in the release about my decision on extradition, the reason that we don't go into detail about individual extraditions is it constrains our capacity going forward to deal with those types of extraditions in Australia's best interest. I'm very happy for the couple. I'm glad they're home. And I know that they're are Perth couple. I would say, as I've said on your show previously, that people who go overseas should not expect that there is some sort of miracle ability of the Commonwealth Government to get them out of trouble if they get into trouble.

Now, this particular instance has worked out well for this couple and they're home, and I'm very, very happy for that. But going to a place like Iran and flying drones is a very, very dangerous thing to do. And people should consult the travel advice that DFAT put out and people should, whether it's Bali or Iran, should understand that they are in a sovereign country, subject to another country's legal system and they need to be very, very mindful of that.

GARETH PARKER: But there's still another Australian who remains detained in Tehran, the academic Dr Kylie Moore-Gilbert. I mean, is there any leverage left? Do we have any capacity to swing a similar arrangement?

CHRISTIAN PORTER: Well again, I'm not entering into the speculation that is embedded in your question, but as the Foreign Minister Marise Payne has said, that is a very, very complicated situation with Dr Kylie Moore-Gilbert. And she's, as we understand it, actually in this sentence. So she's in a prison in Iran serving a sentence. And we will do our level best with every resource at our disposal, as we do with every citizen, to try and ensure their just treatment and bring them home when the treatment is unjust. But there are always limits to this, which is again goes back to the point that people need to be very careful where they travel.

GARETH PARKER: Dehbashi Kivi, the Iranian who you declined to grant extradition to, does that cause any difficulties in our relationship with the United States, who wanted him over there?

CHRISTIAN PORTER: Well, I mean, every extradition has a point at which the Attorney-General - as first Law Officer - has a very, very broad discretion. I exercised that discretion. That has been fully explained to the requesting party in the extradition. It's not the first time that an extradition has been ended, terminated at that point through the Attorney-General's discretion. So this happens from time-to-time. But it's not going to damage our relationships with the United States on a law enforcement front.

GARETH PARKER: I know it's not your portfolio, but is the Australian Government concerned about developments in Turkey and Syria?

CHRISTIAN PORTER: Yes, it's not my portfolio and it’s better left in detail to the Foreign Minister, but I think it's safe to say that the Turkish foray is undesirable and makes a very messy situation potentially even worse. So, we're very concerned about it. But fulsome public comment needs to come from the Foreign Affairs Minister, but it's a very, very dangerous part of the world and it's very difficult to see how this is going to improve the circumstances on the border there.

GARETH PARKER: So has the President of the United States left the Kurds out to dry here?

CHRISTIAN PORTER: Look, these are very complicated matters and we don't comment on American presidential decisions with respect to their foreign policy and their troops. But it is a very difficult situation.

GARETH PARKER: Are you tired of consulting on the Religious Freedom Bill yet?

CHRISTIAN PORTER: Well, I think- physically, it's quite draining, I have to say so. There's a lot of very long meetings, but it's been a really useful process, and I'm at the point now where, based on consulting in all the capital cities over many hours with a range of religious groups and stakeholder groups and LGBTI groups, we're sort of synthesizing all of their suggestions and views, and going through the process of tweaking and refining and amending, and then I'll go back out and speak to some of those key stakeholders again. But yeah, it's been a useful process.

GARETH PARKER: Okay. No doubt we'll follow it. Christian, thank you for your time this morning.

CHRISTIAN PORTER: Thank you very much, Gareth. Cheers.

GARETH PARKER: Christian Porter, the Attorney-General.​​​