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TRANSCRIPT - ABC Radio 702 with Fran Kelly
PAUL FLETCHER MP
Shadow Minister for Science and the Arts
Shadow Minister for Government Services and the Digital Economy
Manager of Opposition Business in the House
ABC Radio 702
30 OCTOBER 2023
FRAN KELLY:Time now for the Drive Political Forum and I'm joined this afternoon here in the Sydney studio with me by Jason Yat-Sen Li, who's the New South Wales MP for Strathfield. Hello, Jason.
And Paul Fletcher is the Liberal Member for Bradfield. Paul Fletcher, hello there.
PAUL FLETCHER: Hi, Fran. Good to be with you.
FRAN KELLY:Okay, there's a fair bit going on. So, Australia abstained in a vote at the UN General Assembly. The vote was calling for an immediate humanitarian truce. We're just speaking to John Lyons there from his in southern Israel at the moment. The opposition leader, Peter Dutton, has called it shameful, saying we should have voted no in support of Israel. The Greens and others say we should have voted yes in support of the Palestinian civilians. Paul Fletcher, how should Australia have voted?
PAUL FLETCHER: Well, we absolutely should have voted no. This was a motion that was supported by countries like Russia, Syria and Iran. It was a motion which completely failed to condemn Hamas for the appalling terrorist attack, which saw more than 1,400 Israeli civilians slaughtered. And that was even though an amendment was moved by Canada proposing that there should be a condemnation of the terrorist attacks by Hamas and demanding an immediate release of the hostages taken by Hamas. But the UN failed to support that amendment. So we absolutely should have supported Israel and we should have voted against this motion.
FRAN KELLY: Jason, what do you think?
FRAN KELLY: Paul Fletcher, you've heard what your leaders said. Do you think Tony Burke had a right to represent and reflect the views of his electorate and he talks there about competitive grief?
PAUL FLETCHER: Well, let's be clear how this all began. The murderous terrorist thugs of Hamas murdered 1400 or more innocent Israeli men, women and children. Babies decapitated, sexual violence, more than 200 Israeli civilians currently being held captive unless they've already been killed. So I can tell you that the Jewish Australians, including in my electorate of Bradfield, feel very unsure of their own physical safety, as well they might, when we saw the disgraceful scenes of the demonstration by Hamas sympathisers, the Monday immediately following that disgraceful attack, celebrating, calling out, gas the Jews and worse. And you know, Australia has a record as a place of peaceful multicultural, multiethnic, tolerant communities. It is very important that we maintain that tolerance. Now frankly -
FRAN KELLY:Is there a way to maintain that tolerance though to allow both sides, to accept that both sides are grieving? I mean, Tony Burke made a line in that interview, I remember he talked about Hamas is not Palestinians.
PAUL FLETCHER: Let me just make this point. If that relevant council had issued a statement condemning the appalling attacks on civilian life, on Israeli civilians, on Jewish civilians, by Hamas, then the situation might admit a different analysis, but we've seen none of that. We've seen this false moral equivalence, which must absolutely be rejected, there can be no comparison between this murderous terrorist organisation attacking and killing innocent men, women and children, and then the legitimate right of the State of Israel to defend itself.
FRAN KELLY:Okay, Jason Yat-sen Li, what does this do to multicultural Australia? Because it's true, we have communities here who are experiencing this war from different perspectives.
Look, on another issue, the tragic murder of a Sydney school teacher last week has raised the inevitable and shocking statistic that more than one woman is murdered in Australia every week by a domestic or former partner. We have federal anti-violence strategies. This stubborn statistic just remains there. We don't seem to be able to bring it down. This violence goes on in homes and in streets and local communities. Is that the level we should be focusing at more and are there local campaigns? What's going on in your electorate, Jason?
Paul Fletcher, Bradfield's a different electorate, what's going on in your electorate and are you focused on this in your electorate?
PAUL FLETCHER: Well certainly, and you know, Bradfield is actually just as multicultural, I'd argue, as both Dai's seat and Jason's seat, over 24% of people in the most recent census in Bradfield reported being of Chinese background, 4% Indian, 3% Korean, significant populations of Nepalese and a whole range of people from all around the world, so it reflects modern Australia and certainly the issue of people of non-English speaking background coming forward about this is an issue. Of course another issue is the assumption that can erroneously be made, that people who are in more affluent circumstances, as many of my constituents are, don't face the threat of domestic violence, that is certainly not true. A bit over 10 years ago the Hornsby Ku-Ring-Gai Women's Shelter was established to address that specific issue. I visited there just a few months ago and they do great work. I've had the experience, I can think of several constituents who have come to see me in the constituent work we all do as MPs, women talking about their personal experiences of physical violence, emotional violence and these issues. So these issues are very real, regardless of where you live, which community you're a part of.
FRAN KELLY: And how much money you earn, I think that's exactly right and if this discussion has brought up anything for you and you need support, 1800RESPECT is the number, it's the National Domestic and Family Violence Helpline, it's open 24 hours, 7 days a week, 1800 737 732.
In the short time we've got left, I want to talk about back home here in Australia, we don't have enough houses for the people that live here, yet we've got record high numbers of immigration. At the moment in August, 34,260 people arrived, that's the highest monthly migrant number in 15 years. Rental vacancies we know, an historic low. Jason, are we getting this wrong? We've got a lot of immigration at the moment to try and kickstart the economy, bring back the overseas students, get the school migration going, but we don't have the houses.
Paul Fletcher, what do you think of that? Because sometimes it's said that people on the North Shore and the eastern suburbs are the ones saying, no, we don't want medium density thanks, it's where the NIMBYism lives. Is it fair? And what do you think about the immigration intake?
PAUL FLETCHER: Well, the first thing is that immigration is a good thing for Australia, but there needs to be immigration with a plan. We've got 1.5 million people coming in over five years, and the present government, federal government, has turned off the tap on infrastructure. This last budget was the first time there were no major infrastructure announcements. Catherine King, the Minister, announced a 90-day review of new infrastructure projects. That's at 180 days now and counting and nothing's happening. What we did in government was city deals, Western Sydney city deal, $5.3 billion for the airport, $11 billion across two levels of government for the new 23 kilometre long rail line.
FRAN KELLY:All that's happening isn't the point that it takes a long time to roll out and we've got a sort of a ceiling on our capacity. Isn't that what the Infrastructure Council found?
PAUL FLETCHER: So what you've got to do is plan for the land use planning, for the housing, including medium and high density around the stations along that 23 kilometre long rail line, and critically you've got to have the jobs. Airports are proven job generators, that's why we're committed to Western Sydney Airport, it's why the Commonwealth Government, Liberal Government, worked with the state Liberal Government on the Western Sydney city deal as well as state local councils. That's a plan to generate jobs, housing and you need a plan, the present government doesn't have a plan.
FRAN KELLY: OK, we've got to leave it there but thank you all of you for joining us on the Political Forum. Jason Yat-sen Li is the NSW Labor Member for Strathfield, Paul Fletcher is the Federal Liberal Member for Bradfield and Dai Le is the Federal Independent MP for Fowler. That's our Political Forum on this Monday night.