10 June 2020

SUBJECT: Australia’s international education exports; Black Lives Matter protests, live cattle exports.



SUBJECT: Australia’s international education exports; Black Lives Matter protests, live cattle exports.

ASHLEIGH GILLON, HOST: Madeleine, appreciate your time, we've seen that your counterpart Simon Birmingham, the Trade Minister, still can't get through to his counterpart in China after we've seen those trade restrictions imposed on barley and beef. Now this morning from China wanting students to reconsider attending Australian universities. Are we seeing the beginnings of a trade war with China here or does China have real concerns, do you think? Is this concern about racism one that we shouldn't just be dismissing lightly?

MADELEINE KING, SHADOW MINISTER FOR TRADE: I just want to reiterate, Ash, I don’t think it's a trade war at all. It’s pretty much one-way traffic in terms of what different ministries across the Chinese government have been saying, whether it's with beef or barley and now international education. International education in Australia is an extraordinary success story as a service export industry. Nonetheless, there have been racist incidents, and not just international students, not just Chinese students. We remember what happened a number of years ago with Indian students in our community in Victoria which was desperately said and not good for the wellbeing of those students or our reputation as a destination of choice for international students. Having said that, I don't support the statements that the Chinese ministry has recently said about our education system. I don't think these incidents are widespread enough to attach that kind of warning that has come out of the ministry. I think Australia's a very safe place for all international students and our response to the COVID pandemic makes it an even safer place for international students to come. The real problem is that the sector itself is suffering because of the restrictions and the Government has failed to do anything to support what is our third largest export industry.

GILLON: Racism is an issue we’re hearing a lot about at the moment. Protests, as we know, for Black Lives Matter are due to get underway this weekend in some places, including in your hometown of Perth on Saturday. Should those protests be allowed to go ahead in your view?

KING: Well, the protests really do reflect the deep frustration of people in this nation that have witnessed more than 400 Aboriginal deaths in custody since that royal commission, and yet no one has been held accountable and seemingly no action has been taken to stop these unacceptable levels of deaths in custody, and I might say any death in custody is unacceptable. But the protests in Perth – Perth is actually not my hometown, my hometown is Rockingham - but it is the capital city of course. And the Premier, he has urged organisers to seek the appropriate exemptions from the Police Commissioner. And that will be a matter for the WA Police Commissioner to grant that and to then manage the protest that does go ahead. Hopefully it won't go ahead if they don't get permission.

GILLON: Well, the WA Labor Health Minister, Roger Cook, has revealed this morning that his wife will be attending the rally so it's going to be very difficult I think for the State Government to send that message that people should be staying away from the protests because of the health reasons and the risks of coronavirus. Would it have been better if your colleagues federally, the four Labor MPs who have now been ordered to leave parliament and get tested for coronavirus, would it have been better if they stayed away?

KING: I think it's a really good thing that the four parliamentarians are getting tested for COVID-19. I have a great deal of sympathy for them attending those rallies, and their reasons for doing it, and especially Warren Snowden and Malarndirri McCarthy who have been fighting for indigenous rights in this country for many years. Again, they reflect the deep frustration in their communities, and of course Senator McCarthy is an indigenous woman herself. And they are with their communities in these protests. I note they practised appropriate social distancing and took out all the precautions that they could. But it is a good thing that they are being tested and out of an abundance of caution, that's exactly what should happen.

GILLON: The Greens senators who attended won't be doing the same thing, they’ve decided to stay there in Parliament, pointing out that the deputy chief medical officer is saying that they don't need to get tested until and if symptoms do arise. Does that make you feel comfortable as a parliamentarian being there in Parliament House where there are a few people in the building who have been attending those rallies?

KING: I think anyone that has attended any kind of mass gathering of any sort, or been in a larger crowd, should do the right thing and go and get tested. Now that we have in this country got on top of that testing regime and tests are available for more than just the frontline workers and so forth, I think as it's an easy enough thing to do to get tested, why wouldn't you?

GILLON: Just finally back onto your trade portfolio issues, we have seen the Government is looking at this decision by the Federal Court when it comes to this ruling that Labour's 2011 live export ban was illegal. Is an appeal of that decision the right way forward in your view? I understand your Labor colleague, Luke Gosling, is siding with the Nationals on this one, they're arguing the government shouldn't be appealing.

KING: It's an ongoing legal action and I respect that, and I won't make any detailed comments on it. But it really is a matter for the Government to decide and the Government has to quite rightly take on the legal advice and make any decision on an appeal in any case, no matter what the background or no matter what pressures internally. These decisions have to be made in the national interest, and I expect the Government to get that advice, that legal advice, and to take whatever steps it needs to in that national interest.

GILLON: Madeleine King, appreciate you joining us on Newsday. Thank you.

KING: Thank you very much, Ash, good to speak.