RN Drive

SUBJECT/S: Batman by-election, Cambridge Analytica, Human Rights abuses in Myanmar











SUBJECT/S: Batman by-election, Cambridge Analytica, Human Rights abuses in Myanmar


PATRICIA KARVELAS, HOST: Mark Dreyfus is the Shadow Attorney-General and joins us tonight. Welcome.




KARVELAS: The Attorney-General Christian Porter says Aung San Suu Kyi has immunity in this case being brought by a group of Australian Lawyer. Do you agree with that?


DREYFUS: She’s a visiting head of state, there are Vienna Convention obligations that we have as a country around visiting heads of state.


KARVELAS: Their case relies on the principle of universal jurisdiction that if a crime is serious enough under international law, like genocide or war crimes or crimes against humanity, then that should supersede the immunity usually given to an international leader – could universal jurisdiction apply here or be used?


DREYFUS: I actually think that this is a matter to be dealt with through diplomatic channels and I’ve been concerned that the Australian Government hasn’t said enough. I was very pleased the Leader of the Opposition, Bill Shorten, met with Aung San Suu Kyi this morning, for the third time actually. Senator Wong was also present at the meeting and they certainly did raise, as I understand it, the human rights violations that have been occurring in Myanmar.


KARVELAS: What can you tell me about what they raised and how strongly the tone and the raising of this was? Because the UN says that the persecution of the Rohingya has the hallmarks of genocide. This is very serious issue.


DREYFUS: I wasn’t present at the meeting I’ve been in Melbourne today, they were in Canberra, but I think you can take the tone and the substance of the meeting from comments that our Foreign Affairs spokesperson, Penny Wong, has made very, very forthrightly talking about the gross human rights violations that have occurred in Myanmar over recent months.


KARVELAS: Let’s just go to this issue we’ve been discussing it all night. I’m quite convinced that many of our listeners are big Facebook users because if you look at the statistics from around the world a lot of people are on Facebook as you know. Election data analysis firm Cambridge Analytica has been suspended by Facebook over allegations it used the data of 50 million users without consent. I know that the Labor Party today in the Senate has been asking questions of the government about this. What do you want them to do? What sort of reform are you proposing to try and deal with this kind of problem?


DREYFUS: This might be a topic when you’ve got more time. All of these digital platforms have gradually had to be brought into a regulatory environment. There was a myth for a while that they were somehow existing in a free space and shouldn’t be subject to ordinary laws, in particular, ordinary laws about privacy that we’ve had in Australia for many years. One thing that is crystal clear from the revelation today that some 50 million Facebook users apparently in the United States. I want to hear from Facebook whether it’s anyone in Australia who has had their data removed in this way.    


KARVELAS: You’re concerned that Australian’s may have been a victim of this?


DREYFUS: Of course and when one read after the Trump Victory in 2016, Cambridge Analytica boasting that it had thousands of data points, that was the way they put it, on millions and millions of Americans. We now learn that one of the reasons they had thousands of data points was because they had harvested all of these Facebook details from people’s Facebook accounts and that’s got to be a concern. We need to make sure as far as possible, that privacy constraints that we all rely on in the digital world that we now increasing operate in are to continue, and that Australia Privacy Laws which are there to protect our privacy, many of them I can say are Labor initiatives.


KARVELAS: So what the laws are there, they are just being violated?


DREYFUS: I don’t know what’s happening in Australia, I don’t whether Cambridge Analytica has gained access to the Facebook accounts of Australians. I would want to hear from Facebook what they can tell us about that.


KARVELAS: Just on the seat of Batman where Labor was successful over the weekend, your candidate Ged Kearney was actually on this show Friday last week before the vote. She has won the seat. The Government’s making the point that what are you boasting about, this has always been a Labor seat. Don’t they have point that this is hardly an amazing victory is it? This is a Labor seat and that you’ve just held onto your own furniture?   


DREYFUS: The government, in a cowardly fashion, didn’t even run a candidate in their effort to see the seat apparently go to the Greens Political Party and it didn’t. There’s been a swing of something over three percent to Labor as against the last election. It’s a tribute to the fantastic campaign that was run by Ged Kearney and the way in which she has run a Labor campaign in the inner city based on Labor values and has won the seat.


And it might just be that we are seeing peak Green because here the Greens were saying they were certain that they could win the seat. I heard Ged on the radio again this morning, she’s been doing a lot of media and as she rightly said, she did a campaign that was based on listening to people. The Greens Political Party had campaign that was based on telling people and there’s a pretty big difference. Ged listened. We’ve campaigned very hard in Batman on local issues, and we’ve got now a fantastic member in Batman.  


KARVELAS: It’s been not just local issues actually and I’m a Melburnian and I’ve been watching this campaign. We’ve hear a lot about refugee policy, Adani. Let’s get to refugee policy because I’ve spoken to Ged Kearney a couple of times and she’s basically said she’s going to Canberra and try and change the policy. So now you have another MP in your Caucus who wants to change your policy, who wants to shut down offshore detention.


DREYFUS: Ged Kearney is a team player. 


KARVELAS: So what she said one thing to her electorate and she’s going to do something else?


DREYFUS: Not at all. There’s a range of views in the Labor party. We’ve seen that range of views on display at National Conferences, at State Conferences. We see it on display in Canberra. We are a big party. We cover the whole country and within that we have a range of views. Ged has worked in the Labor party and in its processes all of her adult life and she will continue to do so and I’m sure she’ll continue to put her own personal views very firmly.   


KARVELAS: You say this might be peak Greens, does that mean you think that Labor should spend resources, because there was a view for while that Labor should move on from some of these inner city seats in terms of putting resources and funding into keeping them sandbagged, do you think Labor should stay committed to holding onto those seats? Do you think the demographic change is not inevitable?


DREYFUS: We are committed to running seats everywhere in Australia because we think we’ve got a message.


KARVELAS: But you always prioritise. You’re going to prioritise it more than in Liberal heartland.


DREYFUS: Every political party prioritises including the Greens Political Party prioritises but we believe we’ve got a message, we’ve got values and we’ve got policies that speak to and look after all Australians. So of course we are going to keep running candidates and of course we are going to engage in contests with whoever wants to contest with us. In some seats it’s going to continue to be the Greens Political Party, in other seat it’s going to be the Liberal Party and yet in other seats it’s going to be the Nationals party. We’re prepared to take them all on and we’ve been working hard on our policies since 2013 and we are going to continue to do so.