The Crest of the Commonwealth of Australia Treasury Portfolio Ministers
Picture of Peter Costello

Peter Costello

Treasurer

11 March 1996 - 3 December 2007

Transcript of 23/08/2005

Interview with Ray Martin,
A Current Affair

Tuesday, 23 August 2005
6.35 pm

SUBJECTS: Muslim extremism, Australian citizenship

MARTIN:

Treasurer Peter Costello joins us now from Melbourne. Thank you for your time again. The very day that the Prime Minister holds a summit with Australian Muslim leaders, you are on the front page as saying that radical clerics should be kicked out. Is that coincidental or a double pronged attack?

TREASURER:

Well the point I am trying to make is this, that there are certain things that are fundamental to Australia. We have a secular state, we have laws made by Parliament that are enforced by courts, we respect equality for women. And, if there are people that want to come into Australia, we expect them to uphold those values. If you want a theocratic state or you want Sharia law maybe Australia is not for you.

MARTIN:

Do you think it is time to get tough with radical Muslim clerics who want to come to Australia?

TREASURER:

Yeah, I think we have got to be absolutely clear that if you come to Australia this is the kind of country it is. There is no point in coming to Australia and saying I am offended by your laws or I am offended by your Parliamentary system of democracy. If you are going to offended by those things, then do not come.

MARTIN:

But everyday it seems we have Muslim clerics in Australia spouting off on radio or television programs like this one saying that Islamic law has precedence over Australian law. How do they get here?

TREASURER:

Yeah, not so. There is one law and it is Australian law and it is made by the Parliament and the people of Australia elect people to that Parliament. And if that is not for you then Australia is not for you.

MARTIN:

But do you think we should be tougher before we allow people to come to Australia and be Australian citizens. Should we ask them to sign a document saying they accept Australian law before Islamic, they accept Australian women have equality.

TREASURER:

I think we have every right to say to people who are coming to live in Australia, if you come to live in Australia you have got to accept some fundamental principles.

MARTIN:

If a Muslim says on this program tonight I am against terrorism but I think that Osama bin Laden is a good bloke should they be allowed to stay?

TREASURER:

Well we still have free speech and I suppose you are entitled to your view. I put that in the class of a distasteful view and a wrong view but one you can still express in a free country.

MARTIN:

But Treasurer, does free speech allow you to endorse, have outspoken support of terrorism?

TREASURER:

It does not. If you are going to incite terrorism or incite violence. If you want to go out there and say that somebody should engage in a terrorist act or engage in violence, that is a crime. That is inciting violence against people and it should be punished as a crime.

MARTIN:

When was the last time we actually punished someone for that?

TREASURER:

Well, it is a fair proposition and maybe nobody has done it or maybe it has been impossible to prove it. But if somebody wants to go and incite a terrorist act or incite violence against an Australian citizen, that is a crime.

MARTIN:

What about if they are Australian citizens, if we have allowed them in and they become citizens, we cannot kick them out, can we?

TREASURER:

No you cannot if they do not have a dual citizenship. If they have a dual citizenship you can, of course. If they are also citizens in another country, you can say to them how about exercising your citizenship in that other country. But, of course, if they only have one citizenship, no, you cannot deport somebody because there is nowhere for them to go.

MARTIN:

You are the Prime Minister in waiting, pretty much acknowledged. Would you change the law, would you toughen the law, would you make it tougher to get in here?

TREASURER:

I certainly think we have to seriously underline this oath of citizenship. We have got to make sure people understand it and I think we have every right to expect them to believe it and if they do not believe it I think we have every right to say citizenship is not for you.

MARTIN:

Peter Costello, thanks again for your time.

TREASURER:

Thanks very much Ray.