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 24/02/2006

Interview with Jessica Rowe
Today Show

Friday, 24 February 2006
7.15 am

SUBJECTS: Australian citizenship, ten year anniversary

ROWE:

Good morning, Treasurer.

TREASURER:

Good to be here Jessica.

ROWE:

Thanks for coming in. Do you think our new arrivals take Australian citizenship for granted?

TREASURER:

Well, I think we ought to be very clear what we expect from Australian citizens, we are a wonderful country, we have got people coming here from all over the world and we can absorb people from all over the world as long as we have agreement on certain rules. Rules like loyalty to our country, respect for democracy, respect for the rights and liberty of others and respect for the laws. And if we all observe those rules then everybody can have their freedoms respected but if there are people that don’t accept those rules, their refusal to accept those rules could compromise the rights and liberties of other people, that is my point.

ROWE:

You have said that some second-generation Australians might have some problems embracing Australian values, are you specifically targeting Muslim youth there?

TREASURER:

Well, any second generation. If we had…

ROWE:

But are you targeting Muslim youths?

TREASURER:

…no, no, any second generation. If we have a situation where they lost contact with the values of their parents but don’t embrace the values of Australia you enter a kind of a twilight zone.

ROWE:

But those allegations have been made about young Muslim people in Australia.

TREASURER:

Well, I would apply it to anybody – Muslim, non-Muslim – anybody who enters that twilight zone that doesn’t have values that they can fall back on and rely on. That is a problem. And I want to say that we have to explain Australian values to that generation and ask them to accept them. It is not enough just to explain them, we want people to observe them and these values of tolerance for other people, to respect the rights and liberties of other people and that means obeying by the laws.

ROWE:

So who is not doing that then?

TREASURER:

Well, I think that we have got to a stage where we have allowed Australian citizenship to become un-demanding.

ROWE:

Give me an example of some one abusing Australia’s…?

TREASURER:

I talked in my speech last night about citizenship ceremonies where new arrivals are told, you don’t have to give up anything, you don’t have to give up love of other countries, we don’t ask anything of you, we will confer Australian citizenship on you. And I say, no, that is not right actually. Australian citizenship is a great privilege and to take it out we do demand things. We demand the love of this country and a loyalty to it. We demand a respect for its values and I think by emphasising the obligations of citizenship, making it a more demanding thing then we will develop more respect for it.

ROWE:

In your speech you did mention, you compared it to well, when people enter a Mosque they are expected to remove their shoes so then people should be expected to respect Australian values. Aren’t you really pointing then the finger at Muslim Australians?

TREASURER:

Well, I made the point last night, if you want to go into a Mosque, you will be asked to take your shoes off as a respect for the mosque and if you don’t want to take your shoes off don’t go into a Mosque. If you want to come into Australia you will be asked to show respect for its values. If you don’t have respect for those values, don’t ask to come into Australia. And this is what we ask of people. We have to preserve a way of life which makes us the greatest country in the world.

ROWE:

Islamic leaders say that your statements are inflammatory and that they are just reinforcing incorrect stereotypes.

TREASURER:

Well, I would actually hope that Islamic leaders would endorse these statements and say, yes, we too have respect for Australian values, the values of tolerance, respect for the rights and liberties of others, loyalty to Australia. And I would ask them to reinforce as leaders with their community just as I would ask other community leaders to reinforce with their own communities those values. This is the way we preserve Australia and make it what it is.

ROWE:

Moving now onto ten years of Howard leadership, what do you think the highlight has been?

TREASURER:

I think over the last ten years the way in which the economy has grown and people have been able to get jobs, look after their mortgages and raise their families in security, I think as we look back this will be the great achievement of the last ten years.

ROWE:

So would you like ten years in the top job?

TREASURER:

Well, would you like ten years on the Today Show.

ROWE:

Of course, but would you like ten years in the top job?

TREASURER:

Well, we will see how things develop.

ROWE:

No seriously, are you, would you like to be the next Prime Minister?

TREASURER:

Well, I have been the Treasurer for ten years, I have made the greatest contribution that I can and I will continue making that contribution while I can and if opportunities come down the way we will look at those as they arise.

ROWE:

Treasurer, thank you for joining us this morning.

TREASURER:

Great to be with you, thanks Jessica.