KIERAN GILBERT: And with me on First Edition now the Manager of Opposition Business and the Shadow Finance Minister Tony Burke. Mr Burke thanks for your time. Obviously the Government standing ready if the US does make that request for a broader campaign in the Middle East.

SHADOW FINANCE MINISTER AND MANAGER OF OPPOSITION BUSINESS TONY BURKE: The actions so far have been humanitarian actions and they have had our 100 per cent support. That’s the only issue so far that the Government’s been confirming with us. We’ve asked for a further briefing, it’s important that briefing happen urgently. We also think it’s very important that this issue is one that should be cooperative with the Opposition, it’s something where we want to make sure that it’s an issue that’s kept beyond politics.

GILBERT: What about the response of the Border Force, the Prime Minister confirmed this in Parliament yesterday; this expanded presence in Sydney and Melbourne and to go further across other airports. One individual had been picked up leaving earlier in the week leaving for Lebanon, what do you think of the Government’s broader response on that, on the counter terrorism efforts?

BURKE: There’s no doubt that there was a complete breakdown in the systems that Scott Morrison’s meant to be in charge of, when people who were on the Watch List were getting out. Some of the people who we’ve seen horrific images of overseas, are people who were never meant to be able to leave Australia. So there had been a very serious breakdown. I certainly hope that the changes they’ve put in place make sure that doesn’t happen again because it certainly never should have occurred in the first place.

GILBERT: I’m interested in your view – your local electorate has, I think, if not the largest one of the largest percentages of Muslims as your constituents. What do you think of the broader challenge here of the Islamic Community? A number of moderate leaders very strong in criticising and calling for support for them in trying to stop radicalisation in the first place. But this overall challenge the nation faces, what are your reflections on that as we see dozens of Australians fighting in that conflict.

BURKE: The first thing is to describe the challenge accurately I think; That is the worst terrorist groups in the world are targeting young Islamic men for radicalisation. So that’s what’s happening. We have extraordinary support and always have had, from the leadership of the Islamic community. What we need to make sure is we don’t through fumbling relationships end up wrecking that. So, I think initially there were some clumsy interactions from the Government. I want it to work. I want the relationship between the Government and the community to not completely break down. I want it to be very constructive, there is good will that should not be wrecked. The community leaders more than anyone are spending day after day trying to make sure young men are not radicalised.

GILBERT: How are they being radicalised? Is it through the digital forum? Where are they having the discussions? I know it’s a very complex question to ask very early on a Parliamentary sitting day but obviously it’s something your engaged with as a member of your area.

BURKE: The truth is, if we knew the complete answer to that question then people would be in a stronger situation. The relevant Government agencies have very strong relationships here. The police have very strong relationships here as well. It’s rare to go to a major community function without the police being formally represented and welcomed there at the head table as community leaders to be respected. These sorts of things have been happening for more than a decade now to build strong relationships. Exactly what the pathways are to radicalisation are something that constantly changes obviously because of the nature of the international networks that you’re dealing with.

GILBERT: Before we look at the parliament this week I just want to conclude where we began really and ask you: Do you think the current conflict and the nature of the Islamic State or ISIL, whatever you call them, is different to that ‘Coalition of the Willing’ that John Howard was involved in that obviously your party was so critical of? Is this a different conflict that we’re talking about that you’re probably more inclined to support a broader role for Australia?

BURKE: It’s really important that we don’t get ahead of ourselves. That’s why I’ve said the briefing should happen urgently, that we’ve sought. Clearly from the comments from the Defence Minister last night, there are new issues for us to be briefed on and we want that to happen urgently.

GILGERT: On Parliament this week your focus has been Joe Hockey. Did the Opposition overplay it’s hand yesterday in continuing your focus on him because he did seem to get his mojo back?

BURKE: Let’s not forget, this isn’t just ‘does Joe Hockey look confident on television or not’. There’s lots of times when in parliament in Question Time you ask someone, here’s something some junior colleague said do you agree or disagree as a point of embarrassment. I can’t remember any other occasion where the quotes that you’re putting back to someone as senior as the Treasurer are all his own work. I can’t remember that ever occurring before. It’s not like we’re asking Joe Hockey ‘oh here’s something some backbencher said, isn’t that embarrassing for you?’. These are comments that Joe said. Yesterday we had a question to Joe that was about his comment the day before and he still wouldn’t agree with that. The problems that they’ve had in changing every few days, when they get to the new reboot, what their story is about the Budget and what their reason is for it, is all found within the language of Joe Hockey. The problems they’ve had with this Budget come back to a Treasurer who says something different every day and then wants to deny when you put his own words back to him that that’s what he said.

GILBERT: This week we saw the book released by Paul Kelly, again a focus on Labor’s problems in recent times. You must be looking forward to a time when you don’t have to focus on those matters and the internal divisions. Is Labor really beyond it because Some of the people you’ve been critical of, like Kim Carr, are still on the frontbench with you?

BURKE: I don’t feel that we’ve focused on it this week at all. Paul Kelly and people have had a bit of a look at it, I’m told I’m in the Index, at some point I’ll probably grab a copy of it. I’ve got to say, you look at the unity we have across our party and you look at the leaks that are coming straight away now out of the Coalition Party room and I think it’s pretty clear that under Bill Shorten we’re the untied team and what we’re looking across is a Government in shambles.

GILBERT: Mr Burke, thanks for your time.



Tony Burke