E&OE - PROOF ONLY
JULES SCHILLER: Do you think this is Al Jazeera interfering in an election?
SENATOR PENNY WONG, LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION IN THE SENATE: Oh it’s just ridiculous. I think the interference and the concern is what Pauline Hanson’s disgraced chief of staff is doing. He’s going to another country seeking money from the gun lobby – $20 million or thereabouts – in order to try to water down Australia’s gun laws.
But really the question here is for Mr Morrison. What more does he need to make the right call as leader to put extremists like One Nation last? What more evidence does he need?
SCHILLER: So you have described One Nation as extremist rather than populist?
WONG: I do. I think they are a party whose leader advocates hateful things about certain people and certain groups.
In our history Australia has confronted prejudice best when we have had people from across the political parties, from both parties of government, stand up against prejudice and discrimination. That is how the White Australia Policy was abolished. That is how the Racial Discrimination Act was introduced. That is how we confronted Pauline Hanson the first time round when she called for a discriminatory immigration policy and said Australia was in danger of being swamped by Asians. We need people to come together and stand against this and what we have is a Liberal Party which is refusing to do so and that is very disappointing.
As I said what more do they need? Not only do we know what she preaches about particular groups, the division she preaches, but we also know that they are seeking to get external funding in order to of water down Australia’s gun laws.
SCHILLER: Even though Scott Morrison, on a moral level, might want to put One Nation last, if you look at the politics of the Queensland election it would cost him, not only popular support but also votes, if you put One Nation last on a ballot?
WONG: Well I suppose, occasionally, doing the right thing by the country might be a good thing, the right thing by the country, if you believe in a non-discriminatory immigration policy. If he says he’s against prejudice and racism, how on Earth can he justify continuing to preference a party which preaches racism and prejudice? That is the question.
Now we have said – and that may have some cost to Labor – we have said we will preference the Liberal Party and the National Party ahead of the extremists like One Nation.
SCHILLER: What do you think of covertly virtually filming James Ashby and Steve Dickson?
WONG: That is an issue you should probably put to those who did. I think the more important issue today – and we should not be distracted because One Nation wants to talk about other issues, we should not be distracted from the core revelation – which is they sought foreign donations to water down Australia’s gun laws. That is not an act of patriotism.
SCHILLER: Do you think James Ashby should stand down?
WONG: Again that is a matter for Pauline Hanson. I think he has to answer for his conduct.
SCHILLER: Finally, Senator, on another topic, Barnaby Joyce has called for a review of the Murray-Darling Basin Plan saying the scheme favoured Adelaide and was costing the Nationals support in regional New South Wales. What are your thoughts on his comments?
WONG: More of the same from Barnaby Joyce. This is a bloke who told South Australians to move to where the water is and now he’s saying the Murray-Darling Basin Plan is bad because it favours Adelaide too much. Well one thing you can always count on is Mr Joyce and his colleagues putting upstream mates before South Australia.
My question is to South Australian Liberals: what are you going to do about it? Nicolle Flint, Member for Boothby, are you going to stand up and say Mr Joyce is wrong? Because you should.
SCHILLER: Okay so you don’t think Adelaide gets too much water?
WONG: We have all lived through the Millennium Drought. I think we all live through what it is to be at this end of the river and we know how hard South Australians have had to fight for a fair share and it is disappointing that we have had South Australian Liberals who haven’t been prepared to stand up to Barnaby Joyce.
Authorised by Noah Carroll, ALP, Canberra.