Citizenship – Interview with Ross Stevenson & John Burns, 3AW

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Citizenship – Interview with Ross Stevenson & John Burns, 3AW

Interview with Ross Stevenson & John



Friday, 24 February 2006
7.40 am

SUBJECTS: Citizenship


Good morning Treasurer.


Good morning Ross. Good to be with you.


Does it reflect badly on me as an individual that I read something more into

all of this, that I perhaps see Peter Costello subtly repositioning himself?


Oh no. These are views that I hold very strongly and I have been talking about

them for some time. My point is this, that Australia is a wonderful country

for migrants. We welcome people from all over the world but we have to have

an agreement on the rules which will protect the rights and freedoms of everybody

and the rules that I laid down are loyalty to Australia; tolerance for other

views; respect for the rights and liberties of others and a belief in democracy.

Now if you have agreement on those rules then everybody will be free to express

their differences of opinion. But if there are people that don’t accept

those rules, that is a big problem for all of us.


But what does it mean, I mean this is pretty much motherhood and apple pie

though, what does it mean in practical terms if you get someone who comes out

and says, who has taken Australian citizenship after having given the pledge

of allegiance and says something that in your view is not consistent with it,

what do you practically do about it?


Well I gave an example in my speech last night of one of the radical clerics

who said that he didn’t accept Australian law, he believed that there

were two laws in Australia – Australian law and sharia law – and

I said that if somebody like that is a dual citizen then we ought to invite

them to exercise their other citizenship not their Australian citizenship.


What does that mean practically? Does that mean boot him out?


Well what is means is, if they don’t accept the pledge to be an Australian

citizen then they would forfeit Australian citizenship, they would still have

citizenship in another country where they would be free to practise that view.


But sorry, just paraphrase that for me, put it as simply as you can –

does that mean boot him out?


What it means is that person would no longer be a citizen of Australia but

would continue to be a citizen of the country from where they had come.


But could stay in Australia?


Well you can for a temporary period but you couldn’t long term.


Righto. What if that cleric has got children who are born in the country?


Well this is a more difficult situation where you have somebody who only has

Australian citizenship then of course they have got nowhere else to go.


Righto. So you boot their father out and leave the kids here?


What I would say in relation to those kids is that they are Australian citizens,

this is their country, they don’t have any other country but we would

have to make an effort to explain the importance of these core Australian values

and we would have to make it clear what they are and ask them to respect them.

They are Australian citizens.


Let’s talk about multiculturalism, Treasurer. Do you accept as a good

principle, that is, that we have all been told multiculturalism is ipso facto

good? Do you accept that? And secondly what do you call this “mushy misguided



Well what I called “mushy misguided multiculturalism” was the kind

of multiculturalism that says there is nothing important about being an Australian,

it doesn’t really mean much, the important thing in Australia is to retain

your love of other countries and to retain your love of their culture.


But lots of Italians do that, lots of Irish do that don’t they?


Absolutely. Absolutely. I wan to say there is nothing wrong with love of your

country of origin, there is nothing wrong with your culture but when you become

an Australian citizen something actually happens – you pledge loyalty

to Australia. This is the country to which you pledge allegiance and my point

is that means something. If you don’t want to be loyal to Australia, you

don’t want to pledge allegiance; then there is no point in trying to become

an Australian citizen. If what you want to do is to be loyal to another country,

well stay a citizen of that country.


Treasurer you know that when you make a speech like this last night and when

you make it in Sydney that unfortunate persons such as myself are going to suggest

to you that this is all part of a game plan – you are then going to say

to me, oh no these, as you already have, I have had these views for a long time.

Can you pinpoint me to the last time you expressed these views prior to last



Well I think on A Current Affair last year in about October or November

– a very widely publicised interview, I made precisely this point. And they

in fact had a phone-in of public response. I made these comments in response

really the first time to an interview which the radical cleric who I name in

this speech gave on The 7.30 Report which was in about August of last



Is this a problem specific to Muslims as far as you are concerned?


Well it could apply to anybody. Anybody who believes that they can come to

Australia and retain allegiance to another system of law, a system of law other

than Australian law, this is a problem.


Does that go for aboriginal communities?


Well aboriginal communities are already in Australia obviously and regional

communities like anybody else are governed by Australian law. One of the things

we ask citizens, and this is an important thing, when you become a citizen you

pledge to respect Australia and its laws. This is a point I am making…


I understand the point you are making, it is not exactly, it is a no-brainer

for you though isn’t it. I mean you are not exactly going out on a limb



The thing that interests me actually, I do think it is quite obvious and I

do think you know it shouldn’t be a matter of controversy but the very

fact that I am on your programme and you are asking the questions you are does

indicate there is some controversy about it doesn’t it?


I am more, I think it is a totally uncontroversial point of view to hold given

that you know that you will have 98 per cent of the meeting firmly behind you,

I am just wondering whether…


(inaudible) controversial view to hold because it is right and that is why

it ought to be stated. And there are people Ross, and you must understand this

point, that will criticise this view, have already because there are people

that do believe that when you become an Australian citizen you are entitled

in some way or another to retain loyalty to some other system of law.


There are three people Treasurer quoted in The Age report who are critical

of you this morning – they are as follows – Ikebal Patel, Keysar Trad

and the President of the Islamic Council of Victoria.




You know, once again not exactly out there on a limb and I guess you may well

have the people who are critical of you, but just reassure me that it is not

part of a repackaging of Peter Costello to make him a little bit more Sydney



Oh no. As it turned out I was invited to give a speech to the Sydney Institute

and I thought things that needed to be said and I said them. And Ross as you

know, as a proud Victorian, if I get the chance to give a speech to a Melbourne

Institute I will do precisely the same thing.


And you have a function tonight in which drinks with umbrellas in them will

be served?




I hope.


…as always we enjoy the company of good friends in Melbourne.


What is it all about tonight? I mean I am going, John’s going, we have

been invited. Andrew Bolt is going.


I will be there – how is the catering?


Very good, I told them that you were coming and they have pulled in a few extra

kegs John.


What is it all about tonight?


Well it is all about honouring you guys and getting together some friends and

just saying thank you and getting ready for the Commonwealth Games basically.

I think it is going to be a great period for Melbourne and we have got to get

people in the swing.


Treasurer thanks for your time.


Great to be with you. Thanks Ross, thanks John.