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 Paul Murray
6PR

Friday, 24 February 2006
8.30 am
(Perth time)

SUBJECTS: Australian citizenship

JOURNALIST:

Good morning Peter.

TREASURER:

Good morning Paul, good to be with you.

JOURNALIST:

Good to have you here. Peter, what is mushy multiculturalism?

TREASURER:

Well mushy multiculturalism is the kind of multiculturalism that says it is important for migrants coming to Australia to retain the love of the country of their origin and their culture and their language, but it makes no demand on such people to show a similar loyalty or a higher loyalty I would argue to Australia and its people. And the point that I have made is that if you are coming to Australia and you want to take out citizenship this is no trivial event, this is a very important event and Australia asks of its citizens first of all loyalty to this country. We ask them to pledge their loyalty to this country and we expect that when they do pledge it they will give it.

JOURNALIST:

Can new migrants shed their cultural upbringing like a snake sheds its skin and adopt ours in a simple movement?

TREASURER:

No, new migrants who come to Australia of course will have affection for the culture and the language and the food of their home and there is nothing at all wrong with that. But when they become Australian citizens we do ask them to pledge their loyalty to Australia, we ask them to pledge their support for democracy, we ask them to pledge their obedience to Australian law and we ask them to pledge to respect the rights and liberties of others. These are Australian values. If we all pledge ourselves to follow these values then we can all be free to enjoy our diversity. But if there are people that won’t pledge themselves or don’t mean the pledge when they give it to respect our law, one law, the Australian law made by the Australian Parliament under the constitutions then that is a threat to the rights and the liberties of others. And I gave an example in my speech of some radical clerics who say there are two laws in Australia, there is Australian law and Sharia law and my point is there isn’t, sorry, there aren’t two laws in Australia. There is one, which is the Australian law which is made by the Australian Parliament and we expect everybody, whatever their religious belief to abide by it.

JOURNALIST:

I have actually had an Imam from the Riverdale Mosque sit in the studio here with me last year saying that there was a push on, agreeing that there was a push on for Sharia law in Australia, he particularly wanted it to solve domestic disputes within Muslim families, is that there, would you outlaw that?

TREASURER:

Well there is no second source of law in Australia. The source available is the law that is made by Parliaments which are elected under our democracy, there is no second source of law, you know, you don’t have the Australian law run to one extent and then the Sharia law take over or supplant or rival it. There is one law and as I said in my speech if you are going to come to Australia we expect you to recognise it. As I said in the speech last night if you want to go into a mosque you are asked as a sign of respect to take off your shoes. If you don’t want to take off your shoes, don’t go into the mosque. If you want to come to Australia there are values we ask you to respect. If you don’t want to respect those values, don’t come to Australia.

JOURNALIST:

Before new migrants get to the stage of even swearing a citizenship oath, it might be several years before they do that, when they arrive here are we doing enough to let them know what we expect of them?

TREASURER:

Well this is one of the reasons why I gave this speech. I think we have got to start speaking very plainly here Paul, we have got to start clearly setting out the values that we want people to respect, these are values that Australia can’t compromise on. We want them to respect our law, we want them to respect our freedoms, we want them to respect our tolerance, we want them to respect our sense of national pride and loyalty. And you know, if you don’t like these things then you are not going to be too happy in Australia.

JOURNALIST:

…that you need now to put these words into action. They are saying you are the government, do something about it.

TREASURER:

…yes well, this is what I am doing. I am emphasising Australian values, I am making it clear that we expect them to be respected and I am saying to people who want to take out Australian citizenship this is what it requires. We don’t just expect lip service, we expect people to mean it and I think if we can get an agreement and a consensus around that we can send a very clear message.

JOURNALIST:

You have talked a lot here about new migrants arriving in the country, there is another problem and maybe an even bigger problem and you addressed it last night. You talked about this second generation of immigrants from the Middle East who you said were living in a bit of a twilight zone. Now, the citizenship test and those sort of things isn’t going to deal with that matter.

TREASURER:

That is right because they are already Australian citizens, they don’t have any other citizenship and I said it will be a big problem for Australia if Australian citizens are living in a twilight zone where they have left the values of the old country but they haven’t embraced the new ones. Now, this is a problem, this is why we need them to embrace these Australian values. We need to tell them what these values are, we need to ask them to show respect for them, we need to engage their leadership in helping explain these values, we want clear statements from their leadership that the leadership recognises these values, clear direction from the leadership that they expect their followers to embrace these values. As I say, at the end of the day they have got to know that these are Australian values and they will be enforced.

JOURNALIST:

I suppose you expected this but the well-known Muslim spokesman Keysar Trad today, accusing you of whipping Islamophobia again he says, completely unnecessarily.

TREASURER:

Well I would say to him that an Australian political leader says that we expect loyalty from our citizens, we expect them to abide by the law, we expect them to recognise the rights and liberties of all Australians which is what I have said, it should be so unexceptional that it shouldn’t provoke these kinds of charges and allegations. In fact what I would like him to say is that he thoroughly endorses these Australian views, I would like to hear him say his first loyalty is to Australia. That Australian law supersedes all other law including Sharia law. That he recognises the rights and the liberties of all Australians. This is what we want to hear the leadership say, not criticism of Australian Government officials who are calling for these values. And it is the reticence to hear the unequivocal endorsement of these values that worries people.

JOURNALIST:

Finally Peter, you talked about dual citizenship last night, do we have to offer dual citizenship to people? Is there a place for it?

TREASURER:

Well, we don’t have to, under Australian law you can take out Australian citizenship and still hold another citizenship as well. And I don’t have a problem with that if those people taking out Australian citizenship are unequivocally loyal to the country and respect its values, I don’t have a problem with that. But if they can’t do that then I would suggest that they keep their original citizenship and not seek Australian citizenship as well.

JOURNALIST:

Thanks for talking to us today.

TREASURER:

Good to be with you Paul, thanks.