MINISTER MORRISON: It is pleasing to see firsthand what the Australian mentors are doing for young people all around the country. One of the challenges that we have in the social services area for the longer term is to help young people make better choices earlier in life. If they make the wrong choices early in life then they not only deny themselves a future but equally they become lifelong dependents on the state through the welfare system. So it is very important through early intervention strategies that we deal with these issues as early in life as we possibly can. All Australians have the opportunity to play a part in that process by acting as mentors in their own community, in their own families and getting around and giving young people the support they need. Times have changed and there are all sorts of new pressures on young people today – things that many of us didn’t have to contend with when we grew up. But what they are looking for is support from others to help them through the difficult times, to help them stick at commitments they have made whether it is in study, whether it is in work or whatever it is they are trying to achieve in life. So we all have a role to play in ensuring our young people make better choices and I commend those here at this forum today – that’s their life’s work and we owe them a great debt.
QUESTION: In regards to young people do you believe that schools should teach Middle Eastern politics to stop young people from becoming radicalised?
MINISTER MORRISON: Well one of the programmes I referred to today was a new programme which is basically investment in young vulnerable migrant youth to help them make better choices rather than become simply the prey of Daesh predators who roam our communities whether it is in Sydney or Melbourne or Brisbane or other places. You need a holistic approach right across the board to address the radicalisation that can occur to these young people. Now if that means ensuring a better understanding of issues in the classroom or a better understand of issues in the community or combating these things online or more practically helping young people understand they have other choices in life like study, like working, like playing a positive role in their community. They are all of the things you need to do.
QUESTION: Do you agree with ASPI that a new strategy is needed to counter the radicalisation of Islamic youth?
MINISTER MORRISON: Well I think what you are seeing is a new strategy from the Government. What you are seeing is a strategy which deals with the national security responses – $1.3 billion in investments in our various agencies to directly combat the threat that exists. But programmes like the one I talked about today, around $22 million being invested to change the fortunes of young vulnerable migrant youth who could fall prey to Daesh predators. Whether it is there, whether it is in the classroom, whether it is in the community, whether it is on border, wherever it is – on the internet we need to be doing everything we can to counter the real threat that exists. These are young Australians – young Australians who are being lured away, being poisoned with this ideology and this dogma and we need to do what we can to protect these young Australians.
QUESTION: You are spending $1.3 billion on you know security agencies but about $40 million over the forward estimates on these types of engagement programmes. Would you like to see more money for that type of effort?
MINISTER MORRISON: Well right across the whole social cohesion and community grants programmes there are hundreds of millions of dollars being spent in this area. The reason Australia is the most successful immigrant country on earth is we have got a very strong track record on social cohesion. We have generations of momentum in countering these sorts of threats. We have leadership structures in our communities, we have I think a firm consciousness of the value of social cohesion. So I think all of this prepares Australia well to deal with these challenges today. We value the cohesion of our community and what I see when I move around the country is people are pretty keen to engage to help Australians not make bad choices. A bad choice is falling prey to a Daesh predator who tells you you can change your life by going and fighting overseas. It is a lie. It is a dangerous and deadly lie. I have sat in the living rooms of parents who have lost children to these fights and that is their worst fear and they need support in their communities to ensure that their young people don’t fall victim to this.
QUESTION: Do you agree with ASPI that the use of the phrase ‘team Australia’ hasn’t resonated with some sections of the community?
MINISTER MORRISON: I will leave them to their comments on that. I think the Prime Minister’s notion here is one that does resonate around – and the whole concept that as Australians we share values, as Australians we share an optimistic future, as Australians we value the diversity of our community but importantly we value the things that bind us together and has made our country so successful and has made it so attractive to so many people from so many nationalities around the world who call it home. I think that is what is embodied in the Prime Minister’s notion and I think that has strong community support.
QUESTION: On Q&A last night Tony Jones said that Zaky Mallah wouldn’t have been allowed on the programme if they were aware of his misogynistic tweets. How do you respond to that?
MINISTER MORRISON: I still don’t think the ABC has got it, when it comes to this issue. I mean the ball is very much in the ABC’s court. They are not strong on fessing up when they have made mistakes. In my previous portfolio I saw it where they still to this day have not apologised to the serving men and women of Border Protection Command for accusing them in a report of having been involved in torturing people at sea. To this day they really need to accept that they have a responsibility that goes with being a public broadcaster, not just a license to do as they see fit from an editorial perspective. They need to take accountability for the mistakes they have made and I think that is very much now – the onus is on them. There will be a report that will be handed I understand to the Government. There will be an opportunity for the ABC to give an appropriate response to what was a big mistake and the ABC needs to confront that mistake and deal with it appropriately. I think the Australian people will be watching to see how they respond. So look I would hope that they would respond appropriately and we will leave it with them to make that judgement.
QUESTION: Are you concerned that the mafia funnelled money to the Liberal Party through donations and does that mean donation laws should be tightened?
MINISTER MORRISON: Well I understand these matters were looked at in 2009 by the Australian Federal Police and there was nothing further to pursue on those issues…
QUESTION: But it made some comment about tightening donation laws?
MINISTER MORRISON: The AFP was obviously the responsible agency looking into these matters and they dealt with it at this time. I mean these matters are constantly reviewed in relation to donations and there are all sorts of proposals that are put forward to the Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters and together with the Special Minister of State, they are the appropriate people who look at these things. It is important that we have a strong system that has the right checks and balances and is transparent. I think transparency has improved significantly over the years in relation to these issues at both a state and federal level and I think that is something that is always welcome.