25 February 2020


SUBJECTS: ASIO Director General’s Annual Threat Assessment; the rising threat of right-wing extremism; national security legislation; Scott Morrison’s lack of a plan to address climate change; Gladys Berejiklian; Bettina Arndt Senate motion being voted on this afternoon.
KRISTINA KENEALLY, DEPUTY LABOR LEADER IN THE SENATE AND SHADOW MINISTER FOR HOME AFFAIRS: Well the first priority of a government and this Parliament is to keep Australians safe and in Australia we do that in a bipartisan fashion. I think it's quite remarkable and commendable that the new Director General of ASIO, Mike Burgess, last night issued his first Annual Threat Assessment. In a democracy, it's important that our national security agencies share as much information as possible with the Australian community because it is working with the Australian community that will help our agencies and this Parliament keep all of us safe. Last night, the Director General spoke about the rising threat of right-wing extremism. He made clear that right-wing extremism is a growing threat in Australia – that there are cells of right-wing terrorists operating here in this country – and I commend him for doing this. When we want to address, incur, the rise of violent extremism, whether it's coming from Islamic fundamentalism or from the far-right, we need to be working with the community. We need to be helping people recognise what's going on in their families and in their neighbourhoods and we need to help them, help our agencies, keep us all safe. I also note that the Director General spoke in quite positive terms about the laws that have been passed in the past few years here in the Parliament to help our national security agencies, detect and to stop violent attacks, as well as detect and disrupt foreign interference and espionage. I note that those laws have been passed with bipartisan support and Labor, while we will always look for ways to improve those laws, will work in a bipartisan fashion through the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security here in the Parliament to support our national security agencies.
I'd like to talk as well about the question which dominated Question Time in lower house yesterday and that is, of course, our changing climate and the lack of a plan from this Government to address it. Australians are frustrated with Scott Morrison. At the last election, they put their hope in Scott Morrison, at the last election Australians put their faith in Scott Morrison and now Australians are increasingly disappointed in Scott Morrison. This is a man who said he would ""burn for Australia"" but yet while Australia was burning, he didn't turn up. Scott Morrison isn't turning up now and the country desperately needs a plan for the future, to drive down emissions, to tackle climate change, as well as to keep power prices low and grow our economy. Australians watching Question Time yesterday – and the Prime Minister's failure to outline his Government's energy plan, his Government's plan to lower emissions – would be shaking their heads in frustration and disappointment. And while the Prime Minister thinks he's on a winner here, he's in fact the outlier. I mean we've got the Business Council of Australia, we've got 73 countries around the globe, Boris Johnson leading a conservative government in the United Kingdom, we have the biggest companies in Australia, Qantas, Telstra, the big energy providers, BHP, all signing up for net zero emissions by 2050. These companies aren't doing this because they want to go broke; they're doing it because it makes good economic sense. And I want to take my hat off to all the states and territories around Australia who've already committed to zero net emissions by 2050. You might not expect a former Labor Premier of New South Wales to say this but let me just reflect, how good is Gladys Berejiklian? I mean, here is a Liberal leader in New South Wales, who's being quite clear with the community. Net zero emissions by 2050 is a New South Wales target, Gladys Berejiklian says, and it's because it is right in line with the Paris Agreement. But Gladys Berejiklian is leading, Steven Marshall in South Australia is leading, right around the country, the business community is leading. Our farmers even know they have had, here in Australia, our farmers have had some $1 billion wiped off the crop production across the last two decades because the climate is changing and what are our farmers doing? They're changing. Our farmers are aspiring to net zero emissions, not by 2050 but by 2030. So we've got farmers, we've got the business community, we've got state and territory governments, we have 73 government across the world leading in this and we've got Scott Morrison – an ad man with no plan failing to show up. No wonder Australians are frustrated and disappointed in their Prime Minister. Do you have any questions? No? Can I say one more thing then.
Today in the Senate, we will have a vote on a motion put forward by Senator Penny Wong and myself, calling on the Senate to agree that the comments by Bettina Arndt in relation to family violence do not underpin the values of the Order of Australia and I encourage all Senators to stand firm, to reject the abhorrent and reckless comments of Bettina Arndt and to make clear that there is no excuse for family violence. There is no excuse for what happened to Hannah Clarke and her three children, it was a murder plain and simple, but there is nothing plain and simple about the tragedy that is domestic violence. And there is nothing plain and simple about using your position with an Order of Australia to spread comments that could be seen to be inciting violence, that seem to be condoning violence. And I note that Liberal Senators such as Sarah Henderson and Hollie Hughes have been speaking out on this and I welcome their comments. I look forward to the Senate later today voting on this motion and I encourage all Senators to reflect upon it and vote to recognise, and to endorse, that Bettina Arndt's comments are not reflective of the values that underpin the Order of Australia. Thank you.