Pyne and Marles
Pyne and Marles
1 February 2019
SUBJECTS: civilian deaths in Mosul; federal election; MPs retiring; Brexit; eSafety
CHRISTOPHER PYNE: Well welcome back to Pyne and Marles, it’s here on Sky News Live. It’s Friday 1 February at 1 o’clock eastern standard time. Richard and I are back for our fifth season in 2019. We’re obviously very highly paid on this program but still Sky refuses to get rid of us, and big change over the summer – I’ve finally given into my age and vanity and I’m going to wear glasses so I can see Richard at the other end of the screen. Well Richard, welcome back!
RICHARD MARLES: Well nice to be back for season 5, and as things are set up here I can’t actually you but I’m sure you are a picture of the mature and responsible politician, but it is great to be back. You and I both know that politics is a sort of 24/7 existence but I do find between Christmas and Australia Day, there is a little bit of space to get away, to get away from the headspace and spend time with the family, and certainly I was fortunate enough to have a few weeks doing that with my family. Did you manage to get any time clear over the summer?
CHRISTOPHER PYNE: Yes we did. We got down to Robe. We’ve got a beach house down on the south coast here in South Australia, and it’s wonderful actually. A lot of people from Victoria come to Robe, and from Adelaide, but they tend to leave me alone I think. It’s great to have a proper break. Nobody wants to talk to politicians between Christmas and New Year – exactly. And you know, it’s great to have a bit of a break from the political world because we’ve got a big year this year, with an election in May, a budget in April and you’re looking forward to three more years of Opposition, which is going to be depressing for you.
RICHARD MARLES: Well we’ll see how all that plays out, but your year is already started in a big way. I saw that you were in the Middle East, and in East Asia.
CHRISTOPHER PYNE: Yes, after I got back from the beach, I went to the Emirates, Iraq – to visit the troops, which I know you’ve done before, and Lebanon, first visit to Lebanon of a Defence Minister that anybody can remember, and then we went north to Tokyo, Beijing, Guangzhou and Singapore, gave a speech in Singapore which I must say was very fairly reported here by the Australian press. Obviously the issues are important and I feel that’s probably my last chance to get overseas to do any of that work as Defence Minister before the election, and hopefully it was worthwhile. Came back to the unfortunate news, as you saw this morning, that the report on the airstrike in Mosul which it appears have claimed the lives of a number of citizens, and Australians may well have been involved, which is nothing, not something that we want to see happen.
RICHARD MARLES: No, we saw that report as well, of course. Any civilian casualties, any civilian death is deeply regrettable, and it is important that it begins a process of inquiry, which of course happened, and we’re very pleased to see that that occurred. And what we learnt from that inquiry is that all the Australian service personnel acted completely in accordance with their rules of engagement, and with the rules of war. I think the real villains here, of course, Daesh, because they consistently and brutally have put civilians in harm’s way throughout this war, and particularly in Mosul.
CHRISTOPHER PYNE: It’s the wickedness of Daesh. They’re not even using civilians as human shields in order to ward off airstrikes or attacks on the ground, they actually hide the civilians in order for there to be casualties and then be able to say that these casualties have been brought about by Coalition airstrikes, so it’s a great tragedy. We of course never, are never pleased and always regret deaths of civilians, in this case any number of 6-18. We can’t definitively say it was an Australian platform. They were acting as part of a Coalition airstrike, but we’re prepared, of course, to accept that there’s very credible claims and if there are any families that want to seek compensation, of course, they’ll now do so through the global Coalition against Daesh, but it reminds us that these are very serious warzones and we were very successful in Mosul in removing Daesh, especially in support of the Iraqi military forces, but it is a very dangerous part of the world and it’s going to remain dangerous for a long time.
RICHARD MARLES: That’s right, and back in 2017, I actually visited the combined air operation centre in Qatar, which is where decisions are made as to whether or not to engage in any particular airstrike or not. And I watched the Australian red-card holder operate, that’s the person who ultimately makes the decision about whether or not to go, and it was really interesting, and I would say, heartening about the thoroughness of which they review the situation – the cautiousness with which they went about their work, bearing in mind what civilians are present, and certainly I have nothing but admiration for the men and women in our Australian Defence Force who do a really good job.
But we should get on with the show Christopher because already it’s been a busy week to get in politics. This week we’ve had the Prime Minister in Queensland and the Leader of the Opposition in Queensland and it’s clear that the election is underway, and there is a pitch being made in relation to the economy. We’re going to have a talk about that. Over the summer there’s been a number of announcements about retirements of sitting politicians, and indeed a number of announcements of independents running in various seats. We’ll talk about that too. And Brexit has continued to bubble along, a resolution was passed in the House of Commons, but it is such a difficult issue. We’ll be discussing that as well. Our guest this week is the eSafety Commissioner Julie Inman Grant. Of course, students went back to school this week and we’ll be talking with her about child safety online, with the view of kids going back to school, which is an issue I think effects many parents including Christopher and I. But let’s start with the issue of the election underway, the economy being front and centre. Have a look at this:
PRIME MINISTER: The economy is real. We all know that.
BILL SHORTEN: The problem is that this economy is not working in the interests of everyday Australians and their families.
PRIME MINISTER: My goal to get that down, net debt to zero over the next decade.
JIM CHALMERS: We’ve got a Prime Minister who’s claiming that he’ll pay down debt, the same claim that they made in 2013, and 2016, when debt has actually doubled.
PRIME MINISTER: One and a quarter million new jobs created over the next five years.
DAVID SPEERS: Will they be full time or part time jobs?
STUART ROBERTS: Full time jobs.
PRIME MINISTER: It’s a combination of both part time and full time. He misspoke and he corrected it.
RICHARD MARLES: Obviously the economy is where the Government is going to seek to go over the next few months in the lead up to the election in May, but Christopher, if you think it’s a rosy story out there, you’re going to have another think coming, because it is clear that rising costs of living – things like health insurance, energy costs combined with wage stagnation means there’s a lot of pain out there and whatever economic growth we’re experiencing is just not being distributed in a way that’s fair. But ultimately the question I want to ask you is, the Prime Minister talks about reducing debt entirely by 2030. How on earth do you imagine that’s going to happen when all you’ve been doing for the last six years is increasing debt?
CHRISTOPHER PYNE: Well I love being lectured by the Labor Party about debt and deficit, Richard. It’s like being lectured about child protection by the clown from It. Obviously we want the election to be about the economy because the economy is where people are most concerned about themselves and their futures, and the Labor Party wants to put a wrecking ball through the economy. A $200 billion tax hit on the economy, hurting housing prices, hurting renters, taking more purchases out of the housing market, capital gains tax increasing, smashing the incomes of retirees. Labor has painted a big target on their back, which is a $200 billion tax target, and we are very keen to talk about it right through election day. On the other side of the coin, we’ve got jobs growth, we’ve economic growth, we’ve got budget surplus in April, which only, which the Labor can only fantasise about, so bring it on.
RICHARD MARLES: Well we’re happy to have the economic debate when you haven’t made single difficult economic decision since you’ve been in Government, so I don’t exactly know how you imagine that you are going to get debt down, and the truth is that debt has sky-rocketed under your administration. And we’re really happy with the decisions that we’ve taken and taking them to the people and debating them. Negative gearing of course, we took to the last election. Dividend imputation, we’re very happy to take that policy to the next one. I mean this is a situation right now within our tax system which is costing something like $100 million a day, the costs being spent on that is the same that we’re spending on health. This is a huge issue, which we need to be dealing with, and we’ve got a detailed policy out there, which at its heart about actually dealing with difficult issues, like the fact our economy is in structural deficit and we need to do what we can to fix it, but right now –
CHRISTOPHER PYNE: Well Richard –
RICHARD MARLES: Doing nothing here. You’re just acting in a populist way.
CHRISTOPHER PYNE: Well Richard we don’t want to hurt people in order to reduce debt and get back in to surplus budget, and we don’t have to. What we’ve proven in the last five years is that we can increase our economic growth, jobs, go back into surplus without having to hurt people, and you think you need to hurt people in order to provide the infrastructure that’s required. We can do it all without hurting people. But we’ve got move on to the next topic, which is the summer announcements of retirements from some of my colleagues in the hyperventilating in the press. Let’s have a look at how that’s unfolded.
KELLY O’DWYER: I am announcing that I will not be recontesting for the seat of Higgins.
NIGEL SCULLION: If I were to be guaranteed to be Prime Minister after the next election, I’d still be retiring.
MICHAEL KEENAN: I’m just not prepared to continue to be that absent dad.
ZALI STEGGALL: I want to offer the people of Warringah a voice of the sensible centre.
TONY ABBOTT: I’ve got a very good campaign that’s gathering steam.
OLIVER YATES: I intend to stand at the next federal election here in Kooyong as an independent candidate.
JOSH FRYDENBERG: I certainly don’t take anything for granted locally.
JULIA BANKS: If the people of Flinders knew that he was a prime mover together with Peter Dutton in ousting Malcolm Turnbull and Julie Bishop.
GREG HUNT: If you come from a community, that’s how you’re best able to represent that community.
CHRISTOPHER PYNE: Well Richard I’ve seen some beat-ups in my time, but this beat-up about the retirement of members is one of the best. The truth is that there are less people announcing their retirement at this election that in any time in the last thirty years, and there are more Labor MPs who’ve announced their retirements at this election than Coalition MPs, and yet the media would have us believe that there’s somehow an exodus of people from the Parliament. This is so inside the Canberra bubble, it’s hard to imagine. Nobody at their breakfast table is talking about the retirement of MPs. Everybody is talking about budget surpluses, incomes, jobs, growth, Labor Party’s tax policies. I’ve never seen anything more outside the belt-way of issues than this idea that there are all these retirements from politics.
RICHARD MARLES: Do you reckon there’ll be any more?
CHRISTOPHER PYNE: Look, I don’t know. There many well Labor MPs who choose to retire from now until the election. Tim Hammond announced he was going to retire over a year ago, or almost a year ago because of family reasons. MPs and Senators, of course, they’ve got just as many family pressures and work pressures as anybody else in the workforce. If they choose to change their line of work, it’s perfectly normal. The idea that you have a long life sentence because you’re in politics is not born out by the truth, the average turnover is seven and a half years!
RICHARD MARLES: Yeah that’s obviously MPs in marginal seats. You’re right in a sense that people have an absolute right to make their personal decisions and we very much respect them. That being said obviously it’s still a difficult situation for you. I mean, people like Kelly O’Dwyer and Nigel Scullion, we’re talking about members of the Cabinet. It just create a position of instability and now you’ve got a raft of independents running in seats like Warringah and Flinders and Kooyong. What does it all mean?
CHRISTOPHER PYNE: Well there’s always independents running. I’ve seen more stories about how this is the year of independents than I’ve had hot breakfasts over the last 26 years. Very few of them actually ever win. We’ve got to move on, it’s your topic.
RICHARD MARLES: Well this week we’ve also seen the issue of Brexit being grappled with in the UK, and ultimately we did see a resolution pass through the House of Commons. This is a massively difficult issue, have a look at this:
THERESA MAY: The House has also reconfirmed its view that it does not want to leave the EU without a withdrawal agreement and future framework. I agree that we should not leave without a deal, however, simply opposing no deal is not enough to stop it. The Government will now redouble its efforts to get a deal that this House can support.
RICHARD MARLES: Well Christopher, two years ago, the British people made a decision to leave the EU. Of course from an Australian point of view, whatever ultimately transpires, it’s really important that we are ready to deal with Britain on whatever terms because it’s an absolutely fundamental bilateral relationship to our country, but bringing about or executing the decision that the British people have made in that referendum is proving to be, I reckon as difficult a political problem as I think I’ve ever seen. I mean, the thing that I’m struggling to see is, what is the pathway, how do you reconcile a proposition which will get a majority of the House of Commons with a proposition which the European Union will accept. It just seems absolutely impossible to meet those two objectives.
CHRISTOPHER PYNE: Well I was opposed to Brexit from the outset, Richard, because I thought that it weakened the alliance of likeminded countries that support the international rules based order because it makes Europe weaker, and I think it makes Britain weaker. The fact that Russia supported Brexit was enough argument for me for Britain to stay in Europe. So I think the referendum reached the wrong conclusion, and we’ve seen since the referendum how difficult it is to actually implement Britain being part of Europe. So I can’t see it being resolved very easily. I think it’s more likely than not that there will be a no deal exit, and that’s going to be very difficult for Britain, and they will start feeling it economically. I know there are some people who think it will be good for Australia from the point of view of a free trade agreement, but I think the short to medium term means economic pain for Britain.
RICHARD MARLES: Yeah look, I absolutely understand that analysis as well. If there is an opportunity in terms of building a trade relationship with Britain in the aftermath of this, we need to be looking carefully at that. I think your security point is really valid as well. But we should take some heart that Britain’s engagement in NATO continues unabated, and there is very much a strong security situation continuing there, but how Britain actually navigates its way out of this is, you know, I think is a really unfathomable question, and we will all wait with bated breath as to what happens. That brings us to the end of this side of the program. Join us afterwards when we will be talking with the eSafety Commissioner, Julie Inman Grant.
CHRISTOPHER PYNE: Welcome back to Pyne and Marles here on Sky News Live. Our first show for the year in season 5. Our guest today is the eSafety Commissioner. It’s back to school week across Australia, and this is an issue that really does focus the minds of parents, in particular, but mostly because we don’t really know what our capabilities are and what our children are being exposed to. So we’ve got Julie Inman Grant on today as our guest to go through a bit about eSafety in the modern era. Julie, thanks very much for joining us.
JULIE INMAN GRANT: Thank you for having me Christopher and Richard.
JULIE INMAN GRANT: Well Safer Internet Day is actually a day that is celebrated by 140 countries around the world and we have the privilege of kicking it off in Australia. We’ve got about 500 organisations behind us, and the whole idea is that safer internet is a shared responsibility and we can each do our part and have a really collective impact to make the internet a safer and more civil place. So back in our day, we used to talk about the three Rs: reading, writing and arithmetic. What we’re talking to school kids about, and we plan to reach about 60,000 through our virtual classrooms are there are there are four Rs for the digital age: respect, responsibility, and building digital resilience and critical reasoning skills.
RICHARD MARLES: So Julie, one of the things that strikes me as a parent of school age kids with devices is that we try to use the experience we’ve had in life to guide our kids as they grow up, but when you’re talking about online, this is an area where they’re having a childhood which we never had, and our sense of being able to give them advice, I mean I think there’s no other area where I feel less equipped to tell my kids how to conduct themselves. What can be done here to educate parents about how to better parent in this environment?
JULIE INMAN GRANT: Well Richard, you’re not alone. Our research of 3500 Australian parents shows that 95 percent of Australian parents see online safety as the parental challenge of this time, and 95 percent of them want more information about how to deal with that, and that’s precisely why the eSafety Office was set up. If you go to esafety.gov.au, we’ve got an iParent portal, because we believe parents are the frontline of defence here. We know that 81 percent of Australian parents are giving children an internet connected device before the age of 5, so pre-schoolers who aren’t even literate yet. And what we’re saying to parents is this is a challenge but you can overcome it. The minute you hand over a device, talk to your kids about the do’s and don’t’s. Set limitations and parameters as we do in our everyday lives. And so we’re trying to empower parents through our iParents portal. We even have something called the Screen Smart Parent Tour, where it’s an 8 minute directed tour where parents can choose the issues that they’re interested in and get more information.
CHRISTOPHER PYNE: So Julie, the social media giants, Google, Facebook etc. and Twitter, I always felt that they were always unresponsive in the past to the concerns of parents and individual cases that occur in terms of online social media. Do you feel like they are becoming more responsible and more responsive to the concerns of Governments, of parents and others to the bad things that can happen in terms of eSafety?
JULIE INMAN GRANT: Well I think the policy pendulum is definitely swinging against them and the weight of Governments and frankly users and consumers is very targeted on the responsibility of the technology behemoths. Now we are set up as the regulator of the social media sites for image based abuse and cyber bullying, and where youth based cyber bullying is concerned, we’ve worked cooperatively with the social media sites to get more than 1100 pieces of harmful content down or serious cyber bullying content taken down, that wouldn’t have been taken down otherwise. We’ve been set up as a safety net and we have a 100 percent compliance rate. We have about an 80 percent success rate in terms of getting image based abuse or the non-consensually shared and intimate images and videos off more than 140 different platforms online, most of which are based overseas, but I would say a lot of these safety innovations and investments the companies have made have been incremental and are really not meeting the bar. And so what we’re asking companies to do is take what we call safety by design approach. They should be doing risk assessments upfront and building safety protections into their products before they go out to market. They’re creating platforms for interaction. They know a range of things are going to go wrong. To retrofit safety protections after the damage has been done is just not good enough.
RICHARD MARLES: And Julie, just quickly before we go, do you think, how do you get kids to understand that the potential permanence of their online footprint, the fact that they put, post something and it can be there for a very long time indeed.
JULIE INMAN GRANT: Well that is a great question, and this is the challenge and I think a lot of parents have with kids. Kids have the technical mastery and they work their way through user interface much better than we can, but they still don’t have the judgment and maturity and cognitive skills to be able to really comprehend what it means to send an intimate image, or the fact that if you post something online, it’s there forever, and can reappear at any time. So, you can talk to them in their own language, depending on their age. You know, we often say “don’t put anything up online you wouldn’t want your parents or your grandparents to see”, and have those conversations about, you know, just know even if you think Snapchat is ephemeral and the photos disappear, screenshots can be taken, and once an image is out of your control, it’s out of your control forever.
CHRISTOPHER PYNE: Well thanks very much Julie. It’s been great having you on the show today, and thank you all very much for joining us on Pyne and Marles for our first show back for 2019. We look forward to seeing you the same time next week.