Transcript - Sky News Senator Stoker & Joel Fitzgibbon

Subjects: National plan for Covid-19, Darebin Council, and national security


Welcome Back. Well more cracks are emerging in Labor over Covid-19, after Bill Shorten broke ranks
with Anthony Albanese on the Astra Zeneca vaccine and Richard Marles slapped down Annastacia
Palaszczuk over her comments about the effects of the virus in Children. Joel Fitzgibbon, well he’s
got in on the act.
[Cut to clip of Joel Fitzgibbon]
“It’s time they ask not so much what more they can do for their state, but what their state can do for
the country.”
[End clip]

For more on this I’m joined from Cessnock by the man himself, Joel Fitzgibbon, Labor MP, and from
Brisbane, Assistant Minister to the Attorney General, Senator Amanda Stoker.
You’ve gone full JFK there, Joel, which recalcitrant Premier are you talking about?

Well Peta, the conversation was mainly about what’s happening in Western Australia. I think that
once the Premiers agreed to the national plan they needed to be committed to it as well. We are
one country, we are a federation. And look, I know that Mark McGowan has done an amazing job
keeping his people both free within their state and safe from Covid. But we are a national economy,
and to work to our full potential we need all of the states participating. And it’s a little bit frustrating
now that the premiers are talking about 90 per cent vaccinations before opening up, when the
agreement is 80 per cent. I think that we need to be sending a very clear and collective message to
the business community, in particular, so it has some certainty.

You’re spot on, spot on. And it promotes people getting vaccinations obviously too.
I want to move now to Victoria, if I can. An extraordinary advertisement from one of Melbourne’s
most woke local councils, Darebin Council is hiring a new street sweeper, the only catch though is
that you have to be a non-male identified person to be allowed to apply. Amanda, you’re in the AG’s
area, is this legal?

It’s a legal thing to do; Section 12 of that Act provides that you are entitled to put in place special
measures if you think there’s a need to balance up the number of people of different attributes who
are doing particular jobs. But the real question we should be asking is whether or not we should,
because, really, what we need to be doing in this country – a country of opportunity, a country
where anyone can make a go of it – is to remove all barriers and obstacles to people getting ahead,
but not guaranteeing any particular outcome. That’s how we make sure that the initiative, and hard
work, and the talents and the skills of every individual are allowed to rise to the top. So we should
have the best street sweeper for the job – that that council can get – whatever their sex, colour, or
creed is. And we should do that with every other job in the country too.

Something that’s becoming a bit of a pattern here, former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair has again
spoken some sense. After slamming the Biden administration’s withdrawal from Afghanistan as
imbecilic, Blair has issued a stark warning about the threat posed to the west by radical Islam.
According to Blair, Islamism is a first order political threat which could also lead to bio-terror attacks
in the future. Joel, you’re a former defence minister, he’s spot on, isn’t he?

Yeah, I think the former Prime Minster has made some very valuable contributions to the public
debate in recent months. He spoke, of course, about the state of the Labor party in the UK and the
march of what I call the excessive progressives, I think he called them the radical progressives.
I’m not sure he’s on the mark on this one. Certainly the success of the Taliban in Afghanistan is going
to embolden a whole range of terrorist groups. And we’re going to have to put in some additional
resourcing, and of course seek extended global cooperation on this issue. But it’s not a state-on�state threat. And on the other side of the equation, Russia, China, and the Western nations – and I’ll
add Pakistan and even Iran to that equation, too – all have risk to them as a result of the
reinstallation of the Taliban. China, for example, has that large western province dominated by a
different Muslim ethnicity, and all the problems that brings for that country. And now they have a
border with the Muslim Taliban. So there are threats to all of us in this, and there’s no doubt the
terrorists are going to be emboldened. So he’s not wrong, but he’s not right either – I don’t think its
our primary concern when you look at the geo-political situation or strategic situation for most most
Western countries, in particular.

I don’t know if I agree there. Amanda, in Australia we have eight individuals who are currently
subject to so-called control orders – this is under anti-terror legislation. The Auckland terrorist, he
injured seven people, he was subject to similar supervision. He still got a knife in a supermarket, and
away he went. Does the government have to have another look at how we monitor these people?

The government has, with the help of the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and
Security, been carefully working through – over a number of years now – a range of different powers
and techniques that can be used by our intelligence and law enforcement agencies to keep a lid on,
and to monitor this kind of problematic behaviour in our community.
But Australians can take great comfort in knowing that we have extremely well resourced
intelligence agencies, that received an extra $1.2 billion in the last Budget. And the Morrison
government is investing a further $2 billion in this budget to make sure this country is as well�prepared and as resilient as it can be to be on the ball, to threats of this nature, and able to adapt as
a people, as institutions, as an economy, to what is a changing and uncertain world. I think we can
have great confidence that Australia is more prepared now than it has been in a very long time to
cope with this changing landscape.

OK, thank you both for your time

Can I just say

Please Joel, Joel. Yes, quickly.

Well Blair’s thesis is that the precipitous withdrawal has launched this big new global risk. Now while
that is not untrue, we couldn’t stay in Afghanistan forever, and as Biden – dare I quote him – said,
it’s pretty hard to stick around to fight for a mob that aren’t prepared to fight for themselves. Now
Afghanistan was taking enormous resources, resources away from the very matters that Tony Blair
has expressed concern over.

Yeah, I appreciate that. But it’s how you leave, not when you leave. It’s how you leave.
Amanda Stoker, Joel Fitzgibbon, thank you for your time.