The Federal Attorney General, Senator George Brandis fronted up to invited members of the Muslim Community on ABC TV Q&A program hosted by Tony Jones, aired live on Monday night 3 November from Bryan Brown Theatre located in the western Sydney suburb of Bankstown.
Unlike the usual Q&A episodes where several panellists sit on the stage, Senator Brandis was the sole panellist in this episode where Muslim academic, lawyers and community leaders as well as AFP Assistant Commissioner were relegated to sit with the audience.
Senator Brandis insisted that there was a problem within the Muslim community. “There is a problem, and the problem is that there are people, a small handful of very wicked people, who target young Muslim men and try to ensnare them into going to the Middle East and lead them on a path of self destruction”.
Dr Abdalla, an Imam and academic commented that radicalisation was not a Muslim problem, but a complex human problem and needed strategic solutions.
Regarding double standards on foreign fighters legislation, he asked “Will the new legislation apply to Australian citizens joining foreign armies? In particular will Jewish Australians who go overseas to fight with the Israeli Defence Forces be subjected to the same penalties as Muslim youth fighting in Syria or Iraq?”
Senator Brandis replied that if you are a dual citizen and join the army of your second citizenship, then you will not be prosecuted under this bill. When someone commented that what if it was the Russian army, then Senator Brandis added it has to be the army of a “friendly” country. Tony Jones asked if Russia was not a friendly country, but Senator Brandis skipped the question.
In trying to justify the Tony Abbott’s divisive term of “Team Australia” he said, “Team Australia, from the mouth of Tony Abbott is a word on inclusion. “It’s his favourite collective noun, to address the word as team, which is certainly what he meant in that press conference.” He simply received laughs from the audience on his comments.
In answer to Bilal Rauf, a lawyer, comments on the unprecedented Sydney raids, the Australian Federal Police assistance commissioner and national manager for counter terrorism Mr Gaughan “made no apologies” for the 800 police used in the raids on more than a dozen Sydney homes terrorising a large number of Muslim men, women and children very early in the morning for the sole purpose of finally arresting only one person. He confirmed a sword seized during the raids was a “legitimate weapon” and not plastic, as reported widely by the media.
On a question from Lydia Shelly, a lawyer regarding the need for legislation on metadata retention, Senator Brandis clarified that it will only be used to prosecute serious crimes such as terrorism, paedophilia and drug dealing and not for illegally downloading movies and songs by individuals.