Wednesday, 8 May 2013
Q & A only highlighted items here!
DARIA QASEM: Australia has always pushed for a just peace between the Israeli and Palestinian people, although the attitude by the Government has seemed to be biased towards Israel. For example, why are you ready to impose sanctions on Iran due to their nuclear weapon program although nothing has been mentioned about Israel's existing nuclear weapons or their violation of the past in peoples' rights?
JULIA GILLARD: Well, thank you for that questions. In terms of Iran, I take the view and I think it is being taken broadly by nations like Australia around the world, that the regime in Iran should not have access to nuclear weapons, given the war-like statements that come from that regime, including statements that Israel should be, you know, sort of bombed into oblivion, that the Israeli state should be brought to an end by violent means. So I don't think people who preach war should have the most destructive weapons the world knows. I don't believe that. Nuclear weapons are around the world in the hands of democracies. Would we be a better world if no-one ever invented nuclear weapons? Well, yes, we probably would be a better world and if there was...
TONY JONES: So a brief question there. I mean are you saying that Australia is actually just comfortable with the idea that Israel has nuclear weapons?
JULIA GILLARD: Well, I think it would be a better world if no-one had nuclear weapons but...
TONY JONES: But in the case of Israel?
JULIA GILLARD: But at least when nuclear weapons are in the hands of democracies that are not preaching violence, that is aggression, they are not looking to go to war, that is more reassuring than what we have heard from Iran and its aim to get a nuclear weapon and the war-like rhetoric that we heard.
TONY JONES: A few hands have gone up. We’ll take the hand just in front of our questioner.
JULIA GILLARD: Okay. Sure.
TONY JONES: Go ahead.
AUDIENCE MEMBER: Does Australia have much to say with nuclear warfare considering we don't have nukes of our own?
JULIA GILLARD: Yes, we do get a say. We have actually had a proud tradition of being leaders around the world on addressing nuclear non-proliferation and bringing countries together to work on nuclear non-proliferation. Now, you might well say, well, how can we even get a seat at the table when we don't have nuclear weapons? But given the interests of countries around the world in not seeing nuclear warfare is broader than those who have got the nuclear weapons we do lead on many of these issues in international forums.
TONY JONES: Okay. I’m going to keep these answers brief because quite a few people have got their hands up.
JULIA GILLARD: Sure.
TONY JONES: There’s a young guy there. Go ahead.
AUDIENCE MEMBER: You were saying Iran is the aggressor. For almost a decade now Israel has been murdering thousands, tens of thousands of Palestinians. Now, let me ask you a question, is Israel the murderer and the aggressor or is Iran the aggressor because Iran is feeding the Palestinian people. Today the Palestinians have food in their bellies because of Iran and not Israel.
TONY JONES: Okay. All right. It is turning into a comment but we’ll take the question.
JULIA GILLARD: Well, in part, Palestinians have humanitarian supplies because of what Australia provides. We do a lot of aid work with the Palestinian people and I am proud that we do. We should. It is the right thing to do. But I don't think you can, you know, stack these things up and say therefore it is right for Iran to get nuclear weapons. What I would like to see in the Middle East is I would like to see a two-state solution where Israel and the Palestinian people have their own countries with defined and secure borders and they live in peace. I actually think...
TONY JONES: Okay. All right.
JULIA GILLARD: ...the prospect of that is not in any way advanced by Iran getting a nuclear weapon. In fact, I think the reverse is true.
TONY JONES: All right. We’ll just take one more hand. Sorry, we’ve got so many of you have got your hands up but that young lady down in the corner there.
AUDIENCE MEMBER: Surely it is important to acknowledge the fact that the only country to have dropped nuclear bombs on another country has been America, who prides itself as one of the leading democracies in the world? So surely it’s important to consider that fact that it is not necessarily a good indicator that democracy is right to hold nuclear weapons or that they will use them wisely. It’s a subjective opinion but something to consider.
JULIA GILLARD: Yeah. I think this could be a whole Q&A in itself.
TONY JONES: And we can't let it be. So a very brief answer and we’ll move on.
JULIA GILLARD: No, a very brief answer. The United States of America was not the aggressor in that war. That is my point. So, you know, history of World War II, the US has not the aggressor in that war. People will, until the end of time, theorise the circumstances in which a nuclear weapon should or shouldn't be used. My point though is that I don't want to see nuclear weapons in the hands of people who are speaking violently and aggressively towards other countries in the region in which they live.
TONY JONES: Okay. Our next question is from Joshua Kirsh of Moriah College in Sydney.
JOSHUA KIRSH: Yom Kippur is the holiest day on the Jewish calendar. The vast majority of the Jewish community will be in synagogue fasting and praying for repentance for the coming year. The rest of the Australian population will be at the polling booths deciding who takes either your position or whether you retain it. How can you consider that voting between each citizen is equal if the election date itself discriminates against one group of people?
JULIA GILLARD: Well, I can assure you that I understood this would be an issue when we set the election date, I most certainly did and, you know, I speak to Jewish community representatives very frequently, in fact today we had an event to honour a man called Raoul Wallenberg who is one of the absolute heroes of World War II helping Jewish people escape from terror and certain death. And when we set the election date, what we knew is particularly with such a long lead time that through the Australian Electoral Commission we would be able to make all of the appropriate arrangements so that people who can't vote on that Saturday can vote beforehand and know where in their local community to go and vote beforehand. So there is no reason why anyone should miss out on their vote. There will be plenty of opportunities, very well publicised opportunities, as to how people can vote before that Saturday.
Posted by Geoff Seidner at 12:54 pm