Australian values, Muslim clerics, anti-Americanism, Telstra – Interview with Tony Jones, Lateline

2015 | 2014 | 2013 | 2012 | 2011 | 2010 | 2009 | 2008 | 2007 | 2006 | 2005 | 2004 | 2003 | 2002 | 2001 | 2000 | 1999 | 1998
Muslim clerics, Sydney house prices, Telstra – Interview with Mike Carlton, 2UE
August 23, 2005
Small Business Says Abolish State Taxes
August 25, 2005
Muslim clerics, Sydney house prices, Telstra – Interview with Mike Carlton, 2UE
August 23, 2005
Small Business Says Abolish State Taxes
August 25, 2005

Australian values, Muslim clerics, anti-Americanism, Telstra – Interview with Tony Jones, Lateline

Interview with Tony Jones


Tuesday, 23 August 2005

10.40 pm

SUBJECTS: Australian values, Muslim clerics, anti-Americanism, Telstra


Peter Costello thanks for joining us.


Good to be with you, Tony.


Now, over the past 24 hours you’ve been repeating the notion that migrants,

evidently Islamic migrants, who don’t like Australia, or Australian values,

should think of packing up and moving to another country. Is that a fair assessment?


What I’ve said is that this is a country, which is founded on a democracy.

According to our Constitution, we have a secular state. Our laws are made by

the Australian Parliament. If those are not your values, if you want a country

which has Sharia law or a theocratic state, then Australia is not for you. This

is not the kind of country where you would feel comfortable if you were opposed

to democracy, parliamentary law, independent courts and so I would say to people

who don’t feel comfortable with those values there might be other countries

where they’d feel more comfortable with their own values or beliefs.


It sounds like you’re inviting Muslims who don’t want to integrate to go to

another country. Is it as simple as that?


No. I’m saying if you are thinking of coming to Australia, you ought to know

what Australian values are.


But what about if you’re already here and you don’t want to integrate?


Well, I’ll come to that in a moment. But there are some clerics who have been

quoted as saying they recognise two laws. They recognise Australian law and

Sharia law. There’s only one law in Australia, it’s the Australian law. For

those coming to Australia, I think we ought to be very clear about that. We

expect them to recognise only one law and to observe it.

Now, for those who are born in Australia, I’d make the same point. This is a

country which has a Constitution. Under its Constitution, the state is secular.

Under its constitution, the law is made by the parliament. Under its Constitution,

it’s enforced by the judiciary. These are Australian values and they’re not

going to change and we would expect people, when they come to Australia or if

they are born in Australia, to respect those values.


I take it that if you’re a dual citizen and you have the opportunity to leave

and you don’t like Australian values, you’re encouraging them to go away; is

that right?


Well, if you can’t agree with parliamentary law, independent courts, democracy

and would prefer Sharia law and have the opportunity to go to another country

which practises it, perhaps then that’s a better option.


But isn’t this the sort of thing you hear in pubs, the meaningless populism

you hear on talkback radio? Essentially, the argument is if you don’t like it

here, you should go back home.


No. Essentially, the argument is Australia expects its citizens to abide by

core beliefs – democracy, the rule of law, the independent judiciary, independent

liberty. You see, Tony, when you come to Australia and you go to take out Australian

citizenship you either swear on oath or make an affirmation that you respect

Australia’s democracy and its values. That’s what we ask of people that come

to Australia and if they don’t, then it’s very clear that this is not the country

– if they can’t live with them – whose values they can’t share. Well, there

might be another country where their values can be shared.


Who exactly are you aiming this at? Are you aiming it at young Muslims who

don’t want to integrate or are you aiming it at clerics like Sheikh Omran or

Abu Bakr both from Melbourne?


I’d be saying to clerics who are teaching that there are two laws governing

people in Australia, one the Australian law and another the Islamic law, that

that is false. It’s not the situation in Australia. It’s not the situation under

our Constitution. There’s only one law in Australia. It’s the law that’s made

by the Parliament of Australia and enforced by our courts. There’s no second

law. There’s only one law that applies in Australia and Australia expects its

citizens to observe it.


But you’re not moving to the next stage, as they have in Britain, of actively

seeking out clerics who teach what they regard as dangerous philosophy to young

Muslims and forcing them to leave the country?


The only thing I would say – and let me say it again – is we can’t be ambivalent

about this point. Australia has one law, Australia has a secular state and anybody

who teaches to the contrary doesn’t know Australia and anybody who can’t accept

that, can’t accept something that is fundamental to the nature of our society.


All right. But the situation now, as far as you’re concerned, if they are to

leave, it should be completely voluntary.


Well, I’m just saying if they object to a secular state with parliamentary

law, there might be other countries where the system of law is more acceptable

to them.


Alright. Could that situation change? I mean, the voluntary nature of it at

least, could you compel people to leave, including radical preachers, if there

were a terrorist attack in Australia, as there was in London not so long ago?


Well, where a person has dual citizenship, Tony, it might be possible to ask

them to exercise that other citizenship where they could just as easily exercise

a citizenship of another country. That might be a live possibility.


You mean to force them to leave?


Well, you could ask them to exercise another citizenship.


But you would only do that if there were a terrorist attack in the aftermath

of it. You wouldn’t do it, for example, if there were a thwarted terrorist attack

as ASIO has told us there has been in this country?


Well, I am not going into individual circumstances. I just make the point that

where people have dual citizenship and they’re not comfortable with the way

Australia is structured, it may be possible to ask them to exercise their other





Well, as I said, it may be possible to ask them to exercise their other citizenship.


Let’s move on. You made a speech at the weekend in which you warned that Australia

could be hurt by growing anti-Americanism or Australia’s interests at least

could be hurt by growing anti-Americanism in the world. How could that happen?


Well, I think there is a lot of anti-Americanism in Australia. It’s not just

in Australia. It there’s anti-Americanism in Europe and other parts of the world

and to some degree it may be less in Australia than in countries like France

or in parts of the Arab world. But I don’t believe we can be complacent about

it. It is a real strand of public opinion and I think we ought to engage it

and discuss it. The point I’m trying to make is we in Australia have no reason

to be anti-American; that where American power has been exercised, such as in

the World War II, it was exercised in the defence of Australia, not the attack

of Australia. By and large, American power, which is exercised in defence of

democracy and in individual liberty, is supportive of Australia in its interests

and not a threat to it.


You said to Laurie Oakes on Sunday that anti-Americanism can easily

morph into anti-Westernism and effectively that could threaten our interests.

How could that happen?


Well, we’ve seen with some terrorist attacks already that Western places are

targets. Not necessarily because there are Australians present, but because

in the terrorist mind there are Westerners present, whether they be Americans

or Britons or Australians.


This is to do with anti-Americanism?


Well, as I said, anti-Westernism, and terrorists don’t particularly distinguish

when they’re setting off bombs, can hit Australians as much as it can hit Americans

or it can hit Britons.


But this is anti-Americanism morphing into a broader anti-Western feeling which

could affect Australian interests. Is that what you are saying?


Well, there have been occasions when Australians have been hit by terrorist

incidents where people haven’t distinguished between whether it’s Americans

or Britons or Australians. There is a strand of terrorist thinking that says

that anybody who is a Westerner is a legitimate target.


But the core of it is anti-American from what you are saying? The logic of

what you are saying is pretty clear.


In some terrorist minds, if you’re hitting a Westerner, you’re hitting a legitimate

target. The point I want to make is that because we’re Westerners, in the minds

of some terrorists we can be targets. So it’s in our interests to defend the

values of the West and it’s in our interests to explain our policy. It’s in

America’s interests to defend its own image and I would urge it to do so and

I would also say to Australia’s security –


You seem to be suggesting that anti-Americanism is in fact a dangerous thing

for Australians.


Well, it is in a security sense because the US is Australia’s principal defence

partner. When I say there is a danger of anti-Americanism in Australia amongst

Australians, what I’m saying is, particularly amongst younger Australians, if

they don’t understand the events of 1942 when the US was the principal ally

defending Australia and without which we wouldn’t have been able to defend the

islands to our near north, if they don’t understand that, they may not understand

what the importance of the American alliance is to the defence of Australia

and our strategic interests.


I don’t want to keep coming back to this necessarily, but you’ve made the point

quite clearly that anti-Americanism can morph into anti-Westernism and that

threatens our interests. It threatens our interest, does it, because we could,

like Americans, as a result of anti-Americanism become terrorist targets?


We have become terrorist targets because we are perceived to be Western. We’ve

become terrorist targets because we are perceived to stand for a whole lot of

values, which in the terrorist mind they oppose. Australians became terrorists

in Bali not because of anything Australia did, but because in Bali they were

perceived to be Westerners and in a sick terrorist mind that makes you a target.


Right. Given that the US-led invasion and occupation of Iraq is probably the

leading cause of anti-Americanism in the Arab world, does that make us, as an

ally of the Americans, a greater target for terrorists?


I don’t think it’s the principle cause at all. I think if you want to look

for perceived areas of anti-Americanism in the Arab world, it was around a lot

before Iraq. It’s been around for a very long time, Tony, and most of it, I

believe –


I’m talking about what’s happening right now. We’re seeing it even in the lead-up

to the Islamic summit we’ve been having in Canberra. What we are hearing is

young Australian Muslims are particularly angry with the American-led invasion

and occupation of Iraq.


No, I couldn’t disagree with you more profoundly. There was substantial hostility

to the US in the Arab world long before Iraq. Whether it’s over perceived injustices

to Islam, whether it’s over the Palestinian issue, whether it’s over support

for Israel. Most of these things, and I don’t believe justify hostility at all,

but it’s been there long before Iraq. Let me tell you this, Tony – you are profoundly

wrong if you thought hostility to the United States started in 2003. It was

around a long before that.


I don’t believe I said or even suggested that, but let’s move on if we can.


No, no, no. You said the primary cause…


At the present moment.


..of anti-Americanism…


At the present moment.

TREASURER: the Arab world was the war in Iraq…


At the present moment.


..and I explained to you, long before the war in Iraq, the attack on the US

on the World Trade Centre showed there were great causes of disaffection to

America long before Iraq, Tony.


That’s completely understood, but I did say “at the present moment”.

Can we move on from foreign affairs and onto your own portfolio. How much revenue

did the Government get from its dividends on the Telstra shares last year?


I don’t have the precise amount, but very substantial amounts.


Well, Telstra tells us it’s $2.578 billion, would that be right?


I can’t give you the precise amount. From memory, it was something like 24

cents per share, something like that.


$2.5 billion sounds about right, ballpark figure to you? That’s what Telstra

is saying.


I can’t tell you the precise amount.


That’s a lot of money to misplace, isn’t it?


Well, Tony, look, I’ll pull out my Budget papers and give you the precise amount.

It’s no closely guarded secret. Can I just tell you, it’s all reported in the

Budget. It’s no closely guarded secret. Nothing here that is unpredictable.


But if it’s that much money – if it’s $2.5 billion more then, doesn’t that

put in perspective the government’s $3 billion package to encourage the sell-off

of Telstra?


Well, what do you mean by “perspective”?


Well, from Telstra every year you’re getting in your dividends –

$2.5 billion.




I mean, for example, if you’d simply said, “We plan to sell Telstra in

two years’ time. There are real problems with Telstra in the bush and the outer

suburbs and for those two years we’ll simply put aside the dividends that we

get from Telstra.” That would be more than $5 billion that you could have

put in a fund to fix up everything from Telstra just from the dividends that

you have. The point is people in the bush now are wondering why so little money

has been put aside for such a fundamental problem.


The dividends from Telstra aren’t quarantined to telecommunications. The dividends

from Telstra go into government revenue, which pays for pensions and defence

and health and education. We don’t ring-fence these dividends. They are part

of the overall revenue of the Commonwealth.


Not once you sell it. You won’t have any dividends from Telstra once you sell



Precisely, Tony. A critical point, if I may say so. That’s why you wouldn’t

want to sell it and spend the proceeds because then you’ve got neither the shares,

nor the proceeds, nor the dividend. That’s why – and this is a fundamental point

– if you sell off Telstra, the proceeds have to be invested. If you sell off

Telstra and spend them, at the end of the day you’ll be like the Labor Party

was – no shares, no proceeds, no dividends. If you sell off Telstra and you

invest it, at the end of the day you’ll have proceeds, investments and dividends

from your new investment. That’s the absolutely critical point here. It’s the

absolutely critical point as to why you can’t spend the proceeds.


What about this idea – because you may or may not get the legislation through

to sell Telstra, but you might not decide the actually sell the shares because

the market isn’t right, then you’re apparently going to put them into the Future

Fund. If you put them into the Future Fund in perpetuity, the dividends each

year of $2.5 billion or more could actually be the driving force of that Future

Fund, couldn’t they?


Well, Tony, can I make this point. Nobody, if they were investing $30 billion,

would put it in one stock. Why wouldn’t you put it in one stock? Because if

that stock deteriorates, you have a huge loss. Telstra made an announcement

two weeks ago, which knocked the share price down and in the space of 2 minutes,

the Government lost $2 billion. Why? Because it had all of its money in one


I mean, if you were managing the proceeds on behalf of taxpayers, you’d have

a diversified portfolio. Why? Because you’re not subject to the fluctuations

on one stock. Secondly, not only are you spreading the risk, but you’re spreading

the return. This is the whole point I keep on making. You could have $30 billion

of government money invested in one stock or you could have $30 billion invested

for a much greater return with less risk in diversified portfolio.


Peter Costello, we’ll have to leave it there. We thank you very much once again

for taking the time to come and talk to us tonight.


Thanks, Tony.