Subjects: TikTok review, The Voice
PETER STEFANOVIC: Joining us is the Shadow Home Affairs Minister, Karen Andrews. Karen, we’ll start off with the voice, because the government’s constitutional alteration deal is to be introduced to the House of Reps today. It’s another step. There’s a few more to take, but what’s your thoughts on where it’s at today?
KAREN ANDREWS: Well, I think it’s very concerning that we have the government of the day and the Prime Minister in particular, who seems to be going out of his way to avoid answering questions on the detail of the voice. Now, at this point in time, I think that most people would have some significant concerns about the voice. So the actions of this government have really not given the voice the best opportunity of being agreed to at the referendum. Now, I think that’s a pity, but the government has had numerous opportunities to make sure that it provides the detail that during question time in particular the Prime Minister has had opportunity to answer the questions, the very legitimate questions that have been put by the Shadow Attorney General, Julian Leeser asking for more detail, the Prime Minister has refused to answer those questions directly, and it just means that he either doesn’t have the detail or he is not prepared to give the detail to the people of Australia, raised issues in relation to legal advice. All of that information should be made available. There is no reason for it not to be made available to people so that they have the information available to them so that they can make a choice on whether to support or oppose the question being put in the referendum.
PETER STEFANOVIC: Sounds like you’ll oppose it in this current form.
KAREN ANDREWS: There is insufficient detail there, and we are seeing the Prime Minister very clearly refusing to answer questions, being very aggressive in his responses, trying to diminish the shadow attorney general, trying to belittle him, trying to de-legitimize the questions that are being asked of him. That is appalling behaviour by the Prime Minister. If he is so strong that the voice is the appropriate way forward, it, he should be out there advocating for it, providing the details so that Australians have the information to make the decision.
PETER STEFANOVIC: So are you, against it?
KAREN ANDREWS: There’s insufficient detail there. I mean, I’m appalled at the way that the Prime Minister has been handling his responses to any legitimate questions that are being asked. He is trying to just wave it away, trying to belittle the person who has asked the question. I go back to saying, if he is so confident that this is the right thing to do, why is he not there? Advocating, providing all the detail as answering all the questions that have been put to him. Surely he should be an advocate for the voice rather than just trying to diminish anyone who is legitimately asking questions.
PETER STEFANOVIC: Right. As for the opposition’s official position, I mean, are you opposing? It is, is that your inclination to oppose it at this stage, Karen?
KAREN ANDREWS: Our position, clearly from the liberal party is that we need more information. We need more openness, more honesty, more transparency from the government.
PETER STEFANOVIC: There, there is an interesting piece that was written in the Australian today by Human Rights Commissioner, the draft wording goes beyond ensuring Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have a right to participate in decision making that affects them. It inserts race into the Constitution in a way that undermines human rights, principles of equality. That’s from a human rights commissioner. So, I mean, is that something that feeds into your concern about where it’s heading? Do you have those concerns about, about inserting race into the Constitution?
KAREN ANDREWS: Well, it’s certainly one of the things that has been raised with me, not directly in that particular form in terms of race being included into the constitution, but people are concerned that the voice is going to be divisive and it does set up quite separate systems here in Australia for people of Australia. And that is concerning to people out in the communities. And this is where the Prime Minister really needs to come out and clarify the issues that people are concerned about. Not try and belittle them, not try and wave them away. Just come out, be open, honest, and tell people what they need to know.
PETER STEFANOVIC: Okay. A final one here on TikTok. Karen, delays on banning TikTok from government devices could well be down to not offending China. What are your thoughts on that?
KAREN ANDREWS: Yes. Well, I think if that is true, it is disgraceful. I think that there’s probably some other things behind that as well too, which is a tardiness by the minister responsible because we have been calling as the coalition for weeks now, for TikTok to be banned on government devices, the minister responsible had the opportunity to look at the information, to be proactive, to make some decisions, and that hasn’t been happening. And when you actually look at the risks that TikTok poses to people in our community, let alone government officials, I mean, TikTok, can access your contacts, your calendar, facial recognition, voice characteristics, things that are hugely concerning in terms of data collection, you know, keystrokes. I mean, information is being gathered there is just extraordinary. Now, the fact that the government has not acted, I think is appalling.
PETER STEFANOVIC: Oh, well, I mean, I’ve been speaking to you about it for weeks. I’ve been speaking to James Paterson about it for months too.
KAREN ANDREWS: Yeah, absolutely. There’s definitely, absolutely, I mean, what are they doing? And I laugh every time the minister talks about a cyber slumber because that’s very clearly where she is.
PETER STEFANOVIC: Well, and, and just on that, I mean, a few more hacks that have taken place in in recent weeks, your response to the speed with which that’s going?
KAREN ANDREWS: Oh, look, there’s a crazy number of attacks. Some of those are particularly high volume in terms of the number of people whose data has been compromised and the information that has been accessed now. We put in, as a private members bill ransomware legislation. The government refused to deal with that. They haven’t put up any alternate legislation of their own. They just sit there and take pot shots and it’s really just not good enough.
PETER STEFANOVIC: Karen Andrews, we’ll leave it there. Appreciate your time. We’ll talk to you soon.