TRANSCRIPT - Today Show, Friday 19 September 2014

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SUBJECT/S: Anti-Terror Raids; Iraq

BEN FORDHAM, PRESENTER: Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull joins us this morning along with the Deputy Opposition Leader, Tanya Plibersek. Good morning to both of you. I might start with you first of all if I can, Tanya. Yesterday like all of us waking up, watching what we saw and then hearing the detail about this plot, how frightened are you?

TANYA PLIBERSEK, DEPUTY OPPOSITION LEADER: Well, I would not say I am frightened, I would say that I am determined - to ensure that our Australian security and intelligence agencies that have done such a good job of preventing this attack on Australian soil have the resources and the authority to do what they need to keep Australia safe.

FORDHAM: Malcolm, does it scare you? It scares me when I hear about a plot to kidnap someone off the streets, possibly to behead them, to film them, wrap the body in the ISIL flag and send the video back to the Middle East to distribute worldwide, that scares the living you know what out of me.

MALCOLM TURNBULL, COMMUNICATIONS MINISTER: Well this is not a time to be scared, this is a time to be determined as Tanya said, to be determined and united in our resolve to support our police, our security services and all of the instruments of government to protect the community and they are doing a very good job and they will continue to do that job. But the other thing that we have got to do is make it very, very clear that we are not going to be intimidated by terrorists like this. We must- it is absolutely important that all of us go about our work, our normal business, confident in the knowledge that we are a great country, very strong and united country, and we have the security apparatus to protect our citizens.

FORDHAM: Tanya, Malcolm says now is the time to be determined and united. Not everyone is united. There were protests last night in Lakemba, small protests, I should point out, but there are people who are concerned that the terror raids yesterday, they suggested these are some kind of conspiracy here to pick on Muslims in our community. What would you say to those people?

PLIBERSEK: Well this certainly is not any sort of conspiracy. This is based on intelligence work that has been going on over some time. But the other thing I would say is that those protests yesterday were small protests and what we saw that was much larger was the barbecue on the weekend with Australian Muslims rejecting the small number of extremists in their midst. I am not going to make any comment about this most recent investigation but I can tell you David Irvine, the outgoing ASIO chief, has said in the past that most of their good intelligence comes from members of the Muslim community who are talking about family members or associates who are engaging in behaviour that is troubling to them. So you’ve got to remember that this group of people yesterday, nut jobs for sure, but a very small section of the community.

FORDHAM: Fair comment, nut jobs.

TURNBULL: Yeah, absolutely. Absolutely. Can I just make one really important point, and I think Tanya and I are on a unity ticket on this too. Those people who- what do the terrorists want us to do? They want to frighten us obviously. But they want to get the community to demonise the whole Muslim community. They want- those people who want to attack Muslims in general, attack Islam in general, are doing the terrorists work.


TURNBULL: Because the strategy of the terrorists is to enrage the broader community, get the broader community to then demonise, in this case the Muslim community, which will cause more Muslims to support the extremists. So it is really important that we recognise, as David Irvine has said, we are talking about a small number of extremists, nut jobs, fanatics, whatever you want to call them, really bad people, and we must recognise that the vast bulk of the Muslims in Australia are good, patriotic Australians and we have to get our arms around them because they are our best allies in the fight against extremism.

FORDHAM: It is a very good point isn’t it, Tanya, those with evil intentions are trying to wedge greater Australia-

PLIBERSEK: Absolutely.

FORDHAM: And wedge the peace loving Muslim community because if they can try and show to other people ‘look, we’re being picked on here’ then they increase their numbers. What can we do to try and deal with, particularly young men, let’s face it, they seem to be young men freshly out of school, and in many cases they have broken away from their family units and broken away from the friendship groups and they fall into these cells and only hang out with the same people over and over who say the same rubbish in their heads. What can you do to grab those young men away from those thoughts and those groups?

PLIBERSEK: Well I think it is very important- we had a program when we were in Government called countering violent extremism, and the funding for that was cut in the Budget but it has been restored by the Government now, so I give credit to the Government for restoring that funding. Programs like that, you support community leaders to engage with young men, respectable community leaders, community leaders who can provide guidance about how to grow up to be a good, young man, that does not mean engaging in this extremist sort of behaviour, but engaging with the Australian community, finishing school, getting a job, being part of society rather than setting yourself apart from it.

FORDHAM: We saw your boss, Bill Shorten, and also your boss, Tony Abbott, farewelling some of our troops yesterday. There were some who are arguing that our involvement in Iraq is somehow going to add to the terror threat here back home. Malcolm?

TURNBULL: I do not buy that. I think the terror threat is real here now and I do not- what we have to do, ‘we’ being the collective world, the global community and in particular, as Julie Bishop has said, the other Arab countries in the region, in the Middle East, what we have to do is combine to extinguish this ISIL group and demonstrate that they are not the all victorious, concrete army that they are holding themselves out to do it. I mean, the tragedy is that they have been successful because of the collapse of the Iraqi army in Mosul recently and that- they have to be pushed back, they have to be taught a very, very palpable lesson.

PLIBERSEK: And I think the thing to add to that is just as Malcolm has said, we cannot allow the behaviour of terrorists at home to govern our behaviour. We cannot respond- if the threat is that Australia is involved in protecting civilians in Iraq, you will become a target. Well, we cannot allow that to control our behaviour either. Australia needs to make decisions that are in the best interests of Australia as a responsible global citizen and one of those decisions is to do exactly what we are doing, which is to support the democratically elected government of Iraq to protect its citizens.

FORDHAM: I know you are used are arguing a point but clearly this is one where there is no argument, it is fantastic to hear that and great to see you, thank you very much Tanya Plibersek-

PLIBERSEK: Great to be here.

TURNBULL: Thank you very much.

FORDHAM: Tanya Plibersek and Malcolm Turnbull this Friday morning on Today.


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