SUBJECT/S: Terrorism in Australia, Western Australia’s GST share, Community groups and charities round table discussion.

Gareth Parker:  Your Federal leader, did he have to be dragged kicking and screaming to acknowledge that it is in fact extremist Islam that is responsible for terrorism attacks both at home and abroad? 

Tim Hammond, Shadow Minister for Consumer Affairs: I don’t think so. I also think it is important, whilst we spend a lot of time in a gladiatorial environment of Parliament in the pit at Canberra, security really is one of those issues where both sides step up I think to display impressive bipartisanship, quite frankly. They come together, as Bill Shorten and Malcolm Turnbull have, to say that any form of threat to our way of life is unacceptable regardless of where that comes from. Bill is simply making the point here, as many have, at the time and in the past that what we see here is a rise of terrorism which is extremism from an Islamic perspective.

Parker:  Ok, you’re quite open about the choice of words you’ve used there but it did seem to take your Federal leader a couple of days to get there.

Hammond: Look, I don’t think so. I think what Bill concentrates on quite frankly is that any threat to our way of life is unacceptable and it actually doesn’t matter where it comes from it’s the threat itself.

Parker:  But it does matter where it comes from, I think. This is what people are sort of grappling with. If you are going to correctly identify the threat, if you’re going to deal with it, and I think the solutions are very much an open question. I don’t come at it with a preconceived idea but it is a bit like a doctor identifying and diagnosing an illness, if you don’t actually identify what it is you can’t prescribe the treatment, surely?

Hammond: We need to be really, really careful that we define very carefully exactly what it is. I think the big risk if we don’t take the opportunity to really inform ourselves as to the true origin of the extremism is that we make, quite frankly, an impermissible link between a peaceful religion like Islam as opposed to extremism and extremists who like to try and use that as a vehicle for their destructive ways.

This kind of comes back to what Duncan Lewis said in Senate Estimates the other week. Duncan Lewis is a serious heavy hitter, head of ASIO former SAS Commander, former SAS soldier, made it very, very clear that there is no causal connection between any form of faith based immigration and risk to terror. No causal connection at all. So we got to be really careful about how we define the conversation, I think that’s what’s important and what we are focussed on here, quite correctly on both sides of Parliament, is a bipartisan approach to protecting our way of life and that’s the important thing.

Parker: No causal connection yet this latest terrorist attack in Melbourne, Yacqub Khayre, he is another refugee, he’s a Somalian refugee. So that is the last four attacks in this country have all been perpetrated by refugees.

Hammond: I’m happy to be corrected but I also think, on the other side of the same coin, the identified ring leader of those terrible attacks in London was a UK-born citizen. We’ve got to be really careful about how we focus upon protecting our way of life as opposed to isolating any particular section of the community. That’s important.

Parker:  We’ll move on to the GST issue. Bill Shorten was here in WA last week, he was here to meet with Mark McGowan, yourself, and others to try and get somewhere on this GST question. Are we going to get a commitment from Bill Shorten before the next election and what’s it going to look like?

Hammond: Look, there’s no doubt that Bill gets it. He has now been here eight times since the Federal election. We haven’t even come up to 12 months since the election in July last year and he’s been here eight times so you can’t fault the bloke in terms of his commitment to getting over here and listening to what the community has to say. Bill was very keen to get here in the context of a new Labor Government to hear what Mark’s views were as to how dyer the situation is over here and what needs to be done to fix it. So you heard loud and clear from Bill on Friday as we have heard from him time and time again, and Chris Bowen, they hear it, they hear the issue, they are working to address the issue and they are working pretty hard.

Parker:  But we want a solution.

Hammond: We do, and that is not necessarily found by kicking the can down the street by virtue of another review.

Parker:  Alright, have a listen to this.

(Audio of Social Services Minister Christian Porter)

The central question here right, which Tim Hammond should be asked and which he should answer is, does he support a move towards a floor in the GST along the lines of what the Prime Minister has proposed through COAG, does he support that?

Because whenever you get a Federal Member of the Labor Party on the sticky paper, whether it’s Bill shorten or Tim Hammond, you watch them evade an answer to that question as if it were poison. So that is the question he should be answering.

Parker:  That’s obviously Christian Porter, do you support the floor?

Hammond: Fantastic, I love it.

Parker: This is equal opportunity because we played your attack on him at the end of parliament at the end of last week, so we’re giving him the right of reply.

Hammond: Yes, sure. COAG is at the end of this week OK, and again, I am going to be fascinated to see what Malcolm Turnbull actually comes up with in relation to…

Parker: Before we get to that, I’ll let you make that point, do you support the floor in the GST?

Hammond: What I support is West Australians getting a fair deal in relation to the disparity.

Parker: Is the best mechanism for that a floor?

Hammond: I’m not sure that it is just yet. What I’m interested in making sure we do is address the disparity between where the GST apportions is now and where it needs to be. Now, I don’t think there’s a silver bullet to that and I think West Australians are grown up enough and mature enough to acknowledge that, as Scott Morison came onto this show and said, this is an issue that does need to be managed in the national interest and we are federal representatives. But we are focussed on quite frankly…

Parker: But what voters are saying is that you are West Australian representatives first.

Hammond: That’s absolutely right and we are in heated agreement about that. But what I am saying is why should we simply lock out other potential opportunities to address the disparity as opposed to, which I think is disingenuous, that the answer just lies in a floor.

Parker: So is the answer going to lie, and is Bill Shorten going to look at Mark McGowan’s suggestion of a carve-out. That is, you set aside a portion of Western Australia’s mineral wealth, say 25% or 30% whatever the number happens to be. You set that aside and you say the Commonwealth Grant Commission ‘when you are doing your calculation under your ridiculous black-box formula that no one understands, set aside 25% of Western Australia’s mineral wealth and they get to keep that and you can redistribute the rest?’.

Hammond: I think we need to be open to all options because fundamentally what’s at the end of the day is making sure the disparity is addressed. That’s what matters most to people I speak with in the street every day of the week.  

Parker: Andrew Leigh, the Shadow Assistant Treasurer is here in Perth today, he is joining you and your WA Labor colleagues for a round table on not-for profits. What’s that about?

Hammond: Andrew Leigh is a terrific bloke and those over this side of the country might not know him terribly well, he’s from Canberra and he’s what I call a triple threat. He’s got a brain the size of Africa, he’s a terribly nice bloke and he is also incredibly fit. Our nickname for Andrew around the benches is “Men’s Health”, because he looks like he could otherwise appear on a men’s health magazine, not unlike you Gareth, I have to say.

Parker: That’s not right.

Hammond:  I’m not sure about that. Andrew is here to really promote a discussion about not-for-profits in our community in the knowledge that in this day and age when everyone is on a smart phone and many people have computers in their homes we are becoming more isolated from each other in relation to community groups. Where I think government goes astray is thinking that government has the answers in relation to bringing people together. Andrew, to his credit, is getting all of the not-for-profits, the community groups and the charities together to work out from them ways in which we can look at promoting and boosting memberships of these organisations,  ways in which we can make sure they financially stable and ways in which they can continue to contribute to community life. Because unless we actually do that, unless we actually hear from the bottom up the answers are never going to be in this top down analysis.  So Andrew is getting them around the table, hearing what they have to say about how we bring community together.

Parker: It’s definitely something we’ve talked about on the program in terms of volunteerism being in decline, club memberships being in decline, whether they be sporting clubs, Lions clubs, the local bridge club, whatever it happens to be. I think that you’re right, it is such a huge part of the Australian social fabric, or has been to date and I think it would be something that would be very bad if it we continue to see that erode.

Hammond:  And again, to Andrew’s credit he’s a guy that walks the walk as well. He’s prepared to get down into the nitty gritty and work out how to best promote ways in which we can bring the community together and get people out and about so we re-establish that personal connection that we seem to be missing.     

Parker: Tim, thank you for coming in, see you in a couple of weeks. 

Hammond:  Always great to be here.