Sky News Live with
15 August 2018
go live to Canberra now. Joining me now is the Communications Minister Mitch
Fifield. Senator, thanks so much for your time. Fraser Anning was elected on 19
votes. How does he represent a state, let alone his own family?
came into the Parliament in an unusual set of circumstances. As you know, we
had a range of colleagues who left the Senate because of citizenship issues. So
this isn’t the usual manner that someone comes into the place. But you’re quite
right, Laura, the voters will be able to exercise their verdict at the next
election. But I join with all my colleagues in condemning what he said. We are
a big-hearted, an open and a generous nation. We welcome people through our
immigration program. We welcome people through our humanitarian program. And
all we ask is that people sign up to our values and contribute. We don’t judge
them by anything other than their character and their contribution. And it was
terrific that today, in the Senate, we had a cross-party motion that reiterated
our commitment to a non-discriminatory migration policy.
Tim Watts has blamed this on Malcolm Turnbull in part for calling that double
dissolution, as you just referenced there. Richard Di Natale says these
comments from Fraser Anning were made more possible because of the comments
Malcolm Turnbull has made in relation to gang violence in your state. What do
you say to that?
I think you can’t draw a line between those. For those who live in Victoria we
know that gang violence is an issue. That’s not something that’s manufactured.
That’s a real and a serious law and order issue. But what happened in the
Senate last night is something that’s completely unrelated. It’s something that
I had thought was behind us. That we wouldn’t hear those sorts of contributions
in the Senate, but I doubt we’ll be hearing them in the near future.
you vote to censure him?
we wanted to restate the bipartisan commitment that there is to a
non-discriminatory immigration policy. The Greens put on a stunt to try and
up-end that process with their own motion. But we, with the Labor Party,
supported the motion to just make very clear that this is an area of
bipartisanship. Since Holt started to dismantle – the White Australia policy –
there has been bipartisan support for having a completely non-discriminatory
you say it was a stunt from the Greens, why didn’t you vote to censure him?
wanted to focus on the positive. The things that unite us as a parliament. And
that is that we open our arms to the world. We’re one of the great migrant
nations. We’re the most successful multicultural democracy in the world. And
that’s what we wanted to focus on and emphasise.
censuring a senator, or indeed any member of parliament, is the strongest
signal that a parliament can send. I’m just wondering why you didn’t do that
and what are the repercussions for Fraser Anning? Is it just the way our
democracy works? He was elected on 19 votes. He’s allowed to go in, make a
maiden speech, have the whole parliament condemn him and there’s no
elected members of parliament, in whatever fashion they’ve found themselves in
the Parliament, can say stupid things. And when people say stupid things, it’s
the right of the rest of us to call that out and to say so. But ultimately it’s
the voters at the ballot box who will have their say.
Well, we’ll leave it there because he probably doesn’t deserve more air time
than we’ve given him this morning. But I think we’ve seen the best and worst of
our parliament on display in the last 24 hours, which is a good thing in many
think that’s right.
get to some areas in your portfolio now. You want to bring in legislation that
would put a seven-year prison term on revenge porn. What are the worst examples
of revenge porn that you’ve seen and why is this legislation necessary?
has given us a whole range of new opportunities. But sadly it also means that
people who want to cause harm to others have new opportunities and new ways of
doing that. And sadly the research, the survey work, that the Office of the
eSafety Commissioner has undertaken has found that one in five of those
surveyed have been subject to some sort of non-consensual sharing of intimate
images. And that can be of a part of themselves. It can be of them undertaking
a private activity. And obviously that can cause immense damage to an
individual. Immense distress. It can wreck lives. What we’re doing is
introducing into the Parliament two things. One is a range of civil penalties
so that perpetrators can be fined $105,000 and social media platforms $525,000.
But we’re also introducing a new category of criminal offence, an aggravated
offence, in addition to the current criminal provisions that we have. And that
will mean that someone can be jailed for five years. And, for repeat offenders,
jailed for up to seven years. Because we want to send the message to creeps
online that the law is going to come after you, that this is not acceptable.
there certainly are creeps online. It struck me that under this legislation
there would be fines for individuals and corporations. Now, for individuals
around $100,000, for corporations around $500,000. Have corporations seriously
engaged in revenge porn? How have they been able to do that?
it’s more a case where an individual seeks to put this material, and to share
it, by way of an online platform. Now the eSafety Commissioner has had very
good success in having social media organisations voluntarily take this
material down. But it’s not necessarily the case that all organisations at all
times will do the right thing. So where a social media organisation or a
platform doesn’t take material down at the request of the e-Safety Commissioner,
then they will have the capacity to seek to levy fines of more than $500,000.
Can I ask you,
finally, about your state and the Transport Minister Jacinta Allan, she’s
sought to control what is shown at Victorian train stations, can she do that?
Can you stop her from doing that as Communications Minister?
I think what the
state government can do on its own property, with their own contracts is a
matter within their control. But I mean, look, Laura, I’m someone who has been
known on occasion to make complaints, but it’s never entered my head to seek to
ban a media organisation. I mean, my goal as Communications Minister is to seek
to enhance the viability of Australian media organisations. Because although we
mightn’t always like what they broadcast or blog or post or publish, Australian
media organisations are one of the important underpinnings of our democracy.
They’re an important accountability mechanism. And for an elected government to
seek to ban a media organisation is deeply, deeply concerning.
difference between what Jacinta Allan’s done with Sky News at train stations
and what you’re doing with your complaints to the ABC?
world of difference. The ABC has legislated independence, and I as a member of
parliament, as a minister, am entitled as any member of the community, if
there’s something that I think isn’t right or if I think the organisation
should seek to be its best self, to raise that and point that out. Now, the ABC
can take note of that or not. It’s entirely up to them. And if the ABC decide
not to, there are absolutely no consequences. A world of difference between
expressing a view and seeking to shutdown and ban a media
appreciate your time today.
Good to be with
Authorised by Senator the Hon Mitch Fifield, Liberal Party of Australia, Parliament House, Canberra.