Standing up for Canberra

Transcript: Interview with Mark Parton

SUBJECTS: Mr Chan and Mr Sukumaran, Intergenerational Report, family violence

MARK PARTON: We’re being joined right now by Gai Brodtmann and Zed Seselja. Gai is the federal Labor member for Canberra. And Zed Seselja is of course the Liberal Senator for the ACT. Hello Gai, hello Zed.

ZED SESELJA, LIBERAL SENATOR FOR THE ACT: Good morning Mark, good morning Gai.


PARTON: Gai you were there at the vigil, tell me about it?

BRODTMANN: It was a very moving vigil Mark. It was held at 6.30am this morning in the forecourt of Parliament House and the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition attended, as did Tanya Plibersek, Julie Bishop and Christine Milne. There were a number of politicians there, MPs and Senators from both sides showing their support and seeking mercy.

PARTON: I’ve just been so pleased how the country, and I think there are detractors I’ve had some call me this morning, but I think by and large the country has stood as one and attempted to look after its own. Zed?

SESELJA: Yeah look I think that’s right and there are differing views in the community and there are some who support the death penalty and support the death penalty in this case. I’m not one of them. I don’t agree with that. I agree that justice should be done and these are serious crimes. But I don’t believe that these men should be put to death and that’s where I differ from a reasonable part of the Australian community. I think that when you commit a serious crime like drug trafficking you should serve a long time in prison, there’s no doubt about that. I just don’t think that execution is the answer, and I think particularly in this case we have seen rehabilitation so that I guess adds weight to the argument that the executions shouldn’t go ahead.

PARTON: The Intergenerational Report is going to be laid on the table today. From where I sit these reports are designed to help Australia understand why they have to take their medicine. Who wants to comment on that?

SESELJA: Well look I’m happy to start Mark. I don’t think that’s exactly how I’d put it but certainly the Intergenerational Report which I think was instigated under Peter Costello in the former Coalition government is about forecasting forward about the challenges and opportunities we have. The challenges and opportunities of the whole population. The challenges and opportunities that come with a population that lives longer and is generally healthier.

But also the challenges we have we less people in the workforce as a proportion of the population and with mounting debt. There is no doubt I think that what we’ll see in this Intergenerational Report is a forecast for if we don’t make reasonable and sensible savings now that we will be in serious trouble as a nation in ten years’ time, 15 years’ time, 20 years’ time. I don’t think there’s any getting around that. The Intergenerational Report is a really important document to focus the mind of politicians and the community as a whole.

PARTON: Your thoughts on it Gai?

BRODTMANN: Well it’s interesting that it’s being released now. I mean it has been released late and so you’ve just got to wonder whether the timing of the report essentially politicises it and I wonder if it’s less about the long-term challenges that face our economy and society and more about blackmailing the Senate to pass the Government’s unfair budget. 

SESELJA: I think that’s quite a petty response frankly. You know, that it’s put out now. The reality is, is we’re talking about a report that casts forward 20 years, 30 years, 40 years into the future. The reality is that whilst our debt situation in comparison to many other countries at the moment may not be bad in comparison, if we keep going down the path we’re going it will be very bad there’s no doubt about that. When you’re running $40, $50 billion deficits which is what we’ve inherited, if you don’t get that down very quickly, that quickly adds up to a massive debt burden. And you know, this is a moral issue Mark and I know that we hear a lot from our opponents about fairness and the like, there is absolutely nothing fair about burdening your kids and grandkids with mounting debt so that our kids have to work harder than we did, they have to pay more tax than we did and they have lower living standards than we did. That’s not an inheritance that I want to give to my kids of grandkids and I don’t think anyone in political life should stand for it.

PARTON: Okay. We’ve had tragedy in Tuggeranong over the last week with the death of a young mother. It’s certainly upped the focus on domestic violence in this country. We’re not winning, are we?

BRODTMANN: No and that’s why I welcome and applaud Bill Shorten for launching this national policy on family violence and calling for action in a number of ways. I mean, the statistics are just horrifying Mark. One in three Australian women has experienced physical violence since the age of 15. 17 per cent of Australian women have experienced violence by a current or previous partner in their lifetime. And only 20 per cent of Australian women who have experienced current partner violence have reported it to police. So women obviously aren’t reporting this issue. It is a significant issue, it’s a blight on our society and we need action and we need action now.

PARTON: Yeah we do, don’t we Zed?

SESELJA: Yeah we do and this death in Calwell is just heartbreaking. This is a young mum, a young mum with three kids and those three kids aren’t going to have their mum anymore. Her family will lose the joy that she brought to their lives. It’s a terrible thing. And I know that our police do their best and there are many, many issues that go to this but I’ve got no doubt that we hear too often that we have serial offenders. People who get out on bail, people who have had apprehended violence orders against them before which have been breached. I think we have to change the way we treat serious offenders particularly the way we treat violent offenders.

PARTON: Doesn’t it also hammer home what a small town this is in that just about everyone you talk to has some sort of connection here.

BRODTMANN: That’s right and I think that everyone in this town has a connection to a woman who is currently experiencing family violence. It is prevalent everywhere. And the incident in Calwell is absolutely horrifying Mark. It’s sent shockwaves through the Canberra community and I’ve been so proud of what the Canberra community has done in terms of a response in providing funding for the children, for their future, and there’s going to be a rally on the 22nd of March as well in support of those children and also against family violence.

PARTON: Zed and Gai, thanks for coming on this morning.