How Good is Democracy? | Q&A
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How Good is Democracy? | Q&A


(CHEERING, APPLAUSE) Hello, and welcome to Q&A.
I’m Tony Jones. And joining us in Melbourne –
as you can hear – tonight, People’s Panellist Li Shee Su,
a former IT executive who’s concerned that Australian
democracy is letting us down, the Shadow Minister for
Environment and Water, Terri Butler, British philosopher AC Grayling, whose latest books
trace the history of philosophy and the crises in modern democracy. Now, La Trobe University
historian Clare Wright, who chronicled the campaign
to win the vote for women, and the Minister For Population
And Urban Infrastructure, Alan Tudge. Please welcome our panel. Thank you. Q&A is coming to you live across
eastern Australia on ABC TV and across the nation
on iview and NewsRadio. Well, there’s a lot of great
questions in the audience tonight. Let’s go to our very first one. It comes from Brisbane, via Skype,
and it’s from Drew Pavlou. (BREAKING UP) Hey, Tony.
My name is Drew Pavlou. I’m a philosophy student
at the University of Queensland. On 24 July, I helped
to organise a pro-Hong Kong, pro-democracy rally on campus, and I was one of at least
five students assaulted by a coordinated group of masked pro-Chinese Communist Party,
nationalist thugs. Later, I received dozens
of death threats online. This was reported in the Australian
and the international press, but no Australian parliamentarian
directly commented on it. And the UQ went so far as
to implicitly threaten my future enrolment as a student for holding a peaceful protest
against the Chinese government. My question is, is this response a product of the fact
that the Chinese Communist Party has systematically bought
the loyalty of key government and non-government institutions
in this country? OK. Well, some of that broke up,
obviously. And, uh… Li Shee, I’ve got
to start with you but the point was there was
a demonstration at UQ. They were pro-democracy
demonstrators. There was a certain amount
of violence and a lot of disputes with pro-Chinese Communist Party
supporters. So, first of all, what’s your view
of the nature of the protest movement in Australia and in Hong Kong? Let’s cover things in perspective. There’s a lot of coverage about
what’s happening in Hong Kong and I think one thing we need
to look at, really, is to get a balanced view. News media everywhere always has
a slight bias in its reporting. Even the ABC, the BBC and all that. They’ll be biased to their
ownership, their organisation, their country and their values. So when we actually report it
from our side, we tend to pick on the democratic
side to show their views more often than the other side. And you can tell that from
the reporting that we actually see. Now…
Are you saying the reporting is somehow biased against China?
Is that what you’re saying? Well, reporting from China
will be biased towards China. Reporting from the West
will be biased towards the West. And it’s a given, really. And there’s nothing much
you can do about that. Alright? But that’s why we need to think
out of the box, be very clear and objective in our views
of what’s happening. And what’s happening in China,
really, you need to look at a view of, say, the Chinese government. How are they looking at it
versus how we look at it? Because we see it all the time. And we have this blinkered view. What we see on the news media
can be selective. It can be very biased
in some aspects. And I’ll give you
a very quick example. In Australia, when we catch people with bombs in their garages
and homes, what do we call them? AUDIENCE MEMBER: Terrorists.
Terrorists. Correct. In Hong Kong, when you catch them
with bombs and bomb-making material,
what do we call them? Pro-democracy protesters. So, there is a slant
in the reporting bias in that. But let’s get back to the question in terms of what’s happening
in Hong Kong. I believe that what’s happening
in Hong Kong, in my view, stems from, basically, two areas. One, the frustration
of the young Hong Kong people who appear to have been left behind as Hong Kong actually declines. Since post-1997,
Hong Kong has actually lost quite a bit of its
former stature and status. When you look at a rise
of mainland China, that’s what’s happened to Hong Kong. So, the young,
although they’re educated, they may have a job,
but their jobs don’t pay them enough to have housing. If anyone wanted
to buy a home in Hong Kong, have you seen the kind of money
you’ve got to pay, even for a small little cubbyhole? It’s amazing. Li Shee, what I might do is
get you to come back to some of those points in a minute. I just want to hear from the rest
of the panellists what they think about
the demonstration in Brisbane and the intimidation that went on
to some degree on both sides. Terri? You come from Brisbane. Well, yeah.
I’m a member of parliament who represents
an electorate in Brisbane, but I’ve always been
a Queenslander, Tony, and I… It’s interesting. I ran into
the mother of a friend of mine at a Catholic church yesterday and
it reminded me of my friend’s story. Her earliest memory was marching – well, she wasn’t marching,
she was in a pram – against the Bjelke-Petersen
government and her parents chanting, “What do we want?
The right to march.” We have a recent history
in Queensland of oppression against protesters and many people,
including many people in my party, fought for freedom
of peaceful assembly. And protesters,
whichever side they’re on, in Queensland have a right
to freedom of peaceful assembly. When violence is brought
to bear against protesters, or by protesters, that erodes and undermines the right
to freedom of peaceful assembly. So people engaging in violence
should think very carefully. It is, of course, a crime
to assault someone. It’s of course a crime
to threaten to assault someone. But when it’s done
in a political context, that can actually have
broader ramifications. People should think carefully. And I would say, in relation
to the protests in Hong Kong, we should, as Australians,
unashamedly stand up for Australian values. And those values include
freedom of peaceful assembly. And I…I do hope… Does it disturb you…?
Well, I do…I want to say this. Alright, go ahead. I do hope that restraint
is exercised. There have been
some very distressing scenes coming out of Hong Kong
in the course of those protests. What about in Queensland,
first of all? Does it disturb you
that there are reports of pro-Hong Kong democracy
demonstrators in Australia being intimidated? I think – and I think
all Queenslanders of goodwill would agree with me – that we should
stand firm for people’s right to protest, and against violence, no matter who it’s being
brought by, or against. Anthony, what do you think? I mean, we’re getting now
a wave of protest movements supporting the pro-Hong Kong
democracy movement. But we’re also seeing the Chinese
operating to, to some degree, suppress those demonstrations
in other countries. Yeah. So, I’m very sympathetic
towards the Hong Kong demonstrators. I mean, I hope that they will
behave with restraint because the precedents
are very, very bad about what mainland China’s
government might do when it loses patience. We’ve seen it in Tiananmen Square
in 1989, and that was dreadful. So I do hope the demonstrators
in Hong Kong will be sensible a bit, but I’m very, very sympathetic
to their cause. I think they’re courageous. I mean, after all, if we demonstrate in the streets of London
or in Sydney, we don’t face the kind of threat
that they do in Hong Kong. Therefore, you have to
take your hats off to them. One thing that’s very worrying about what we’ve seen
in the Brisbane case is that when very large numbers of
Chinese students go abroad to study, in amongst them will be people
who are there to watch them. These are people who are,
in effect… This is not a conspiracy theory –
it’s…it’s pretty widely known that there are people there
who are planted among them to keep an eye on them
and watch them. And these will be people
who will be countering them in these demonstrations. And that’s a kind of signal,
it’s a symptom of the fact that there is limited patience on
the part of the Chinese authorities. Yeah. Li Shee, just going back
to you briefly. Yes. Does it worry you that Chinese agents
may be among the students, watching what the other students
are doing… Yes. ..particularly when they are
demonstrating? Yes, I do. And, also, I… Anthony is right, I mean,
it’s not new to anybody, really. I mean, even the Americans watch
their citizens abroad to see whether or not they are
actually doing acts which are against
the national interest. So, it’s not different. And I agree also with the sentiment that, hey, if you are
going to demonstrate, you have a right
to peaceful protest. But once it gets violent,
that’s really bad. Because, if you can’t get
your argument across in a civilised manner,
you’ve lost the plot. Immediately. And when students resort
to violence, especially when it goes
to a point of destruction, throwing bricks at the police,
at the authorities that you’re supposed to respect
and all that, that shows me that
there is some organisation that’s involved in that. And we know
there are hardcore students who are involved
in all of those things. And these hardcore students
are not really spontaneous. They are organised. You’ve seen the tactics
deployed in the demonstrations. And it seems to me odd that people
still think these students are just working by themselves. I would say, look, there’s
another player behind all of this. Are you referring
to intelligence agencies? Yes. I believe so. Because, obviously, the Chinese would
accuse the CIA of being involved in some of these events. Oh, I think that is
a natural response, because think about this – when our government databases
get hacked, what do we do? Our knee-jerk reaction is to point
fingers at Russia and China. When something happens to them,
it’s the same thing. They point it back to us,
to the US, to the UK. And the thing is that,
as I said, when you look at the sequence
of events and the pattern of things
happening, from China’s point of view,
they would say, “Look, all these things are
happening right now “at a time of geopolitical tension. “Who stands to gain the most? “What’s the motivation?” If you did a crime investigation, that’s one of the things you look
for – what’s the motivation? Who gets maximum advantage
out of it? And they would actually look
at the US. OK. AC Grayling
was wanting to jump in there. Just one very, very quick point, and that is that we’ve heard
from people in Hong Kong who have been witnessing
the demonstrations there that some of the Hong Kong police
have been speaking to one another in Mandarin. Now, you can work out
the consequences of that, or the implications of that,
anyway – that the extra police drafted in
are not Hong Kong police, they are mainland police. And this is
a really, really bad sign. So, you know, it’s a dangerous…
it’s a volatile situation. And one can only hope…the best. I’m just going to quickly see if we
can go back to our Skype questioner. Drew Pavlou, we missed
some of your earlier question. But you were talking about
there being violence within the demonstration that
you were part of? Is that right? DREW: (BREAKING UP)
Yeah, that’s right, Tony. Look, I’m just very disappointed
in the comments made by our People’s Panellist. I don’t know who this nobody Li is, but the type of equivocating
I’m hearing from him, claiming that there is violence
on the part of Hong Kong students, claiming that one person’s terrorist
is another person’s freedom fighter, and then thus implying that the
Hong Kong students are terrorists, I think it’s absolutely sick. I’m not sure if he’s actually
talked to anyone from Hong Kong, seen what they’re going through… Drew, Drew, can I just interrupt you
for a second? We’re… You are breaking up a little bit, so I don’t know what’s happening
with your microphone. But, to be clear, there have been reports
that you also were sending some pretty inflammatory social media
postings to the pro-Chinese students. So did the situation in the case of
your demonstration become inflamed because both sides
were behaving intolerantly? Look, that’s a really, really
embarrassing question, I think, Tony. Um… I went into the protest
completely peacefully. Look, I may have responded to death
threats by being a bit immature and responding with insults, but the fact that I went in
as a peaceful protester and was assaulted by
a coordinated group of masked thugs, and I’m being called
a violent protester, and you’re saying that there is
violence on both sides, it reminds me a bit of Trump – “There’s fine people
on both sides” – in the whole Charlottesville
debacle. You know how it is. OK. Well, you’ve made your point.
Thank you, Drew. Alan Tudge, what do you think
about protests happening on Australian soil,
but turning violent and dangerous partly because of Chinese influence? Well, we don’t know the latter. I mean, certainly,
I don’t like to see any violent protests in Australia. We have a very strong
and fine tradition of being able
to protest peacefully. And people are able to say
whatever they like at those… ..at those rallies, as long as they’re not inciting
violence themselves as such, in their language. But we condone violence of any type, and whether or not that’s violence
from Australians there or from international
students participating, if they commit violent acts,
then the police should take action and stop the violence. What about the intelligence services
if, indeed the suggestion that
Chinese agents may be involved? Well, I know that there are
some suggestions of that. But we don’t… I’m not aware
of the evidence of that. And I’m very reticent
to come to that conclusion based off media articles. But certainly, we don’t want to see
any foreign interference in our democratic processes at all. And we’ve introduced already
some foreign interference bills into the parliament
and had those passed. We’re a robust democracy.
We… We… People can protest
freely and peacefully. People can say what they like
peacefully and freely. But when it resorts to violence,
or when it resorts to any sort of foreign interference,
that’s when we say no. Clare Wright, what do you think? Well, I’m surprised
to find myself agreeing with both of the politicians
on the panel. I think that peaceful protest
is essential to our democracy. And the right to assembly
is absolutely germane to who we are. And students have always protested
on university campuses. Universities have always been places
where ideas are tested and boundaries are pushed. And, you know,
I’m located on a university. I work in a university. What I see among many students
is a kind of activism nostalgia, a sense there is not enough robust
discussion on universities anymore. You know, a sense that there was
this kind of potentially mythical past
where our parents were active in the Vietnam moratoriums, or against the Springbok tours,
or anti-apartheid rallies. We actually don’t see
very much protest at all on our university campuses
anymore. And I’m really pleased to see
a student like Drew, who is so articulate,
so up-to-date with the issues. I’m really sorry that he’s had
the experience that he has, and again, I wouldn’t
condone violence on campuses or anywhere else either. But I think
that universities are places, university campuses,
and particularly young people and students
are the ones who really are, kind of, the cutting edge
of the activism. And as we know with Hong Kong, the extradition bill isn’t really
the source of the conflict, whether…whether
that goes through or not. I mean, studying the history
of democratic protests in Australia and elsewhere, really shows you
that usually… ..the extradition bill might be… ..you know, it’s the tipping point,
but it’s not the cause. And it’s like, you know,
in the Boston Tea Party, tea wasn’t the issue. In the Corn Laws,
corn wasn’t the issue. On the Eureka Stockade, the licence tax
wasn’t really the issue. It was about the power relations
that underlay that particular set of grievances. And so it’s actually about,
in Hong Kong, what the government is going to do
in order to listen to the people, and as I think Su has said, what
they really are struggling against. What is the real core
of the disappointment, of the grievance, of the anger,
of the sense of disempowerment? And it’s not until
governments grapple with that that, actually,
the issues can be resolved, and hopefully, as Anthony says,
in a peaceful manner. OK, let’s move on. We’ve got another
question on the topic of China. It’s from Jackie Patterson. Last week, Andrew Hastie was widely
chastised for his comments regarding China’s rising power. It’s quite apparent, though, that China is gaining power
on an international scale in an unprecedented way. Due to our economic relationship
with China, is Australia turning a blind eye
to China’s actions and increasing power,
both here and abroad? Alan Tudge. I mean, the questioner didn’t define
precisely what she’s concerned about in terms of China’s actions. Andrew Hastie wrote that column,
and essentially what he was saying is that we need to be very
clear-eyed in relation to China and its ambitions and its strength. And in some respects, we are
clear-eyed in relation to them. I mean, we have a good relationship
with China. We have benefited immensely
from their economic rise over time. Chinese people
have benefited immensely with hundreds of millions
of people coming out of poverty as a result
of their economic growth. And, obviously, it’s underpinned
a lot of our wealth over the last couple of decades. But we also have good
people-to-people linkages into China, we have a good
strategic relationship too. But we are clear-eyed in the fact that they’re not a democratic
liberal society like we are. They are still
an authoritarian regime. And that means that we have
different values on some issues. And we need to understand that. We need to recognise
that from time to time we will disagree with them. But we, as a government, tend to focus on the things
that we do agree on, and supporting that economic
relationship, and the stronger
people-to-people linkages, while also recognising
that we don’t always agree on every single aspect
of what they’re doing. Did Andrew Hastie
make an error of judgement when he made the comparison
between prewar – that is pre-Second World War –
Europe, talking about the Maginot Line
being an imaginary defence that the French had
against the Nazi invasion, and suggesting
that the Maginot Line is a way of thinking about
what’s happening with China now? He was careful
in some of his language there. I know many commentators have said that he made a direct comparison
with Germany at the time, and I’m not sure if
he did that in his article. What do you think he meant
by the Maginot Line? I think that his overall message
in his article, from my reading of it
and my speaking to him, is that we need to be very clear
in terms of what’s… ..their objectives are,
what their ambitions are, what their strengths are, and to respond appropriately,
understanding that. In some respects, understanding
from their perspective, as Su was saying previously as well, in terms of what their overall
ambitions are as a nation, both this year and in the
decades ahead. And they do have a very
long-term view as to their future. That’s what I think
he was getting at. I mean, the main political analogy
that he made in that piece was actually to…
to the Soviet era and saying that there’s
similarities there. And of course, they’re both driven
by Marxist ideologies, although there’s obviously
differences there as well. But the main message from us
as government representatives – and he’s a backbencher,
entitled to put his view through as a government minister – is that we have a strong
relationship with China still, and its…China’s growth has
absolutely been in our interests, both economically…
particularly economically, and we want to see the continued
peaceful rise of China. OK, Terri Butler. Well, obviously, you’re right to say that we have an important
economic relationship with China. I mean, they’re our largest
trading partner – Almost $200 billion worth
of trade each year compared to the next largest,
which is Japan at 77. So this is a material consideration,
I think, for our nation in terms of our relationship
with China. But that doesn’t mean that we need
to be in any way reluctant to speak up where we see problems in the way that China
conducts its affairs. In an appropriate way. From… You know, obviously,
in an appropriate way. Was Andrew Hastie appropriate
in the way that he described it? Can I just say this, though? Because he got slapped down by
several of his cabinet colleagues. Before I talk about that,
can I just say, I think we have a tradition in our
country of being internationalist and outward-looking
and never being shy to speak out against human rights abuses. And that goes back to Doc Evatt. And I think that we have
a tradition of standing up. And we would expect to do that
in respect of any trading partner. And at the same time,
I think Australians would expect our trading partners and allies
to speak out if they think that Australia is doing
something that is not right. And I think that is a mature
trading and diplomatic relationship. And that one of the problems,
I think, that we all have in discussing Andrew Hastie’s
article, or other commentary, is that you entirely
lose the nuance. We can’t lose the nuance
in discussing our relationship with big powers across the world, or with smaller nations
across the world. We’ve got to be able to find
a way, in the public square, to have a conversation
about these important issues that doesn’t devolve into kind of sloganeering and point-scoring. On Andrew’s article,
I haven’t read Andrew’s article, so I’m not going to try to talk
about what I think he might have been saying
or might not have been saying. I think, though,
that it is incumbent on all of us in public life to be very careful
about the analogies that we use and the metaphors that we use. But probably most importantly,
the real question for me is, where’s the Prime Minister
on this? We’ve had a kind of cavalcade
of Liberals out talking about… I mean, they even had Stuart Robert
out talking about China, which I thought was a very big call
from Minister Robert. He has said – the Prime Minister –
it’s a very complicated issue. And there’s no doubt that it is.
He obviously doesn’t… He needs to be showing leadership.
You don’t outsource leadership on our relationship with our biggest
trading partner to a backbencher. You just don’t do that.
Well, he’s not doing that, Terri. Well, he needs to be
stronger on it, Alan. The Prime Minister needs to be
leading on this, not having a cavalcade
of his ministers out there raising different positions,
taking aim at each other. You have got Simon Birmingham
criticising Andrew Hastie. You’ve got Peter Dutton
out there defending Andrew Hastie. Why is the Prime Minister not
stepping up and dealing with this? Because this is
an important relationship and it needs
to be treated carefully. A very quick response to that,
if you wish. Well, the Prime Minister
did address his view on the very first day
that it was published. The first press conference that the
Prime Minister participated in, he was asked the question
about Andrew Hastie’s article, and he quite rightly pointed out
that Andrew Hastie’s, in some respects, entitled
to his view as a backbencher and it didn’t necessarily reflect
government policy. The Trade Minister
has been out since and the Trade Minister has made
some particular comments, as has the Finance Minister,
another very senior minister. Mm-hm. And the
Home Affairs Minister… Alright, OK.
..and the Minister for the NDIS… We could go through the list
of ministers forever. Anthony… But everybody’s gone through
the same message, in saying that the relationship with China
is very important for Australia. But it’s been really disunified,
and it’s been a problem. I’m gonna interrupt so I can
hear from the other panellists. Anthony.
Thank you, Tony. Well, I’ve got to say, I’ve got
a love-hate relationship with China. I lived there, I’ve written a couple
of books about it with colleagues, including a book about
the Chinese Communist Party. I’ve written about the philosophical
tradition in China, which is incredibly rich
and wonderful. But at the same time,
you just have to look at some facts. China is very irredentist. Every little bit of territory
that it’s ever had in its past, it wants back. It’s a military threat to Taiwan. Eventually, there will be
a serious problem there. It’s building military bases
in the South China Sea… By the way, is it wrong
to want Hong Kong back when it was actually stolen
from them during the Opium Wars? Well, I don’t know. You guys can work this out
when you try and get Darwin back from the Chinese
in a few years’ time, you know. (LAUGHTER) But, you know, you…you look at… ..you look at how they use
economic colonisation. In Africa, there are tens
of thousands of…of Chinese workers and experts, and so on,
in parts of South Asia and…and in…and in Africa. Um, this expansion into the…
into the Spratlys, and the building
of military bases there, is not a great sign. You know, China’s self-perception
of itself is of Zhongguo, which is the central kingdom. And they…they have a lot
of historical resentment of what happened at the end
of the Qing dynasty and the, um,
foreign colonisation there. They are already a regional hegemon and they want to be
a world superpower. You might say,
“Fair enough. That’s OK.” But look at their record. Look at Xinjiang. Look at Tibet. They are incredibly oppressive
in those regions. Their human rights record
is appalling. And, you know, if you’re
in this very difficult position that your wonderful country is in… You have a great dependency on the economic relationship
with them, but they are one of the worst human
rights violators in the world today. And this is something which cannot
just be, you know, passed over in saying, “Well, um, “we have an important relationship
with them. “We…we have to stand up
and say we don’t like “what they are doing.”
But frankly, that’s not enough. It’s not enough just to say it.
Li Shee? (APPLAUSE) I find myself agreeing
with what comments have been made regarding this particular question. Yes, Andrew Hastie has…
is entitled to his opinion. Every one of us are. I think the important thing,
as I said before, is to be able to discuss differences
of opinion in a civilised manner, without having to resort to violence
and all that. Terri is right, also,
because he is in…in government and he needs to, basically,
coach his language. Because, at some point in time, if he becomes the future
prime minister of Australia, what’s going to happen
when he actually meets up with his counterparts in China, and them knowing
what he is thinking about them? Now, given the military background
that Andrew Hastie has, and his close association
with the US military and all that, I can understand his sentiment. His heart is in the right place. He’s concerned about Australia
and Australia only, which is good. And I would support that as well,
wholeheartedly, even if, for instance,
he says things like, “Hey, you know, that we’ve got to
actually draw boundaries “between this and that,
and make it clear that…to China “that, look, this is not on –
this is OK,” and all that. I would support that. So, ba… So, as I said,
on this part of the question, the relationship with China
is a delicate one. It is hard to balance what we have
with China and with the US, ’cause the two are fighting
right over there. Do we just stand back? I would prefer
that Australia treads its own path and be like a little Switzerland
in the Asia-Pacific. And that might do us good. So, we’ve got to think
around those lines and maintain that balance. Perhaps be the broker for peace
between the two superpowers. Why get pulled into it?
Because we already know that we went into the wars
in the past decades, with the US,
based on a pack of lies. We went into Iraq on a base…
on a pack of lies. What else are we going for? Vietnam was a pack of lies. So, these are the…
So, from a security point of view, you’re going with the US,
and all that, you’ve got to…open your mind up,
like a parachute – it works best when it’s open, yeah? Alright.
And think about what it is… What kind of relationship
are we having with the US? Are they taking us
down the garden path again to another Vietnam, to another Iraq,
another Afghanistan? So, we…so, we have to be
careful about that. China, of course, you’ve still got
to treat with caution as well. It’s still a big mystery
to a lot of people who cannot think of the mindset
that China’s going through. But if you look
at the history of China, you can understand why it’s doing
what they’re doing. Li Shee, it is a very long history.
Yes. Um, and we might not have time
for all of it tonight. True.
(LAUGHTER) We have to move on to other questions
because we’ve got a whole bunch of questions
about the nature of democracy. The first one comes
from Saurabh Kamtikar. How has society found itself
in a position where the lack of knowledge
and experience in our leaders is seen as a virtue, where short-termism and soundbites
have replaced careful, methodical and well-reasoned thinking, and where we have lost
the ability to compromise? How do we extricate ourselves from this hole
that we find ourselves in, and restore what our ancestors
fought so hard to preserve? Clare Wright, we’ll start with you. Well, that’s a really
interesting question of what our ancestors fought
to preserve – what rights they actually were
preserving, which ancestors we are
actually talking about there. I mean, Australia did lead the world
in democratic practice in the first decade
of the 20th century. We are the world leader
in suffrage, we were the first nation
in the world to give women the right to vote and the right to stand
for parliament. New Zealand gave women
the right to vote, but not the right to stand
for parliament until 1919. Our nation was founded on,
essentially, a progressive basis. We were the first country
in the world where we had an elected
socialist government. We pioneered all sorts
of rights and freedoms that we now consider, today, to be inherent to what it means
to be an Australian. And yet, the people who we consider
to be the, um, the precursors of our…our legacy
are the Anzac soldiers. And I’m not saying that we shouldn’t
hold that legacy dear, but I think it’s really important
to remember that when we did step
onto the international stage, when we did start
to consider our ourselves as a nation that was worth
taking heed of, we were a nation of leaders. And we have forgotten that. And…and Terri, you say,
you know, we have a tradition of being outward-looking. Well, at the same time,
we actually closed down so many of our doors. That Franchise Act that gave women
the right to vote, also disenfranchised
Indigenous people, and it was also the second act
of parliament, the first being
the Immigration Restriction Act. So, we have to think
really carefully about what our democratic
heritage and legacy is. So, can I put this to you,
because…? Just to go back to the question.
Mm. Was methodical
and well-reasoned thinking ever really a critical part
of the democracy here? I think that it absolutely was.
I think… And have we lost it? Because
that’s what the questioner says. Yeah, you’re right. Thank you for drawing me
back to the question, Tony. Good job! I think…
(LAUGHTER) LI SHEE SU: I forgot the question. I think that there was a time
where debate was conducted in a more civilised manner. I mean, we’ve just seen,
tonight, with respect, what happens, um,
when two politicians, on a tiny little matter,
can just blow things up… They were pretty respectful, I think.
Oh, no, I think… I don’t think it’s
a tiny matter either, to be honest. I’ve seen a lot worse on this panel.
I think it’s pretty significant. I think you were respectful
of each other… And it’s a pretty big issue, too. ..but it turned partisan
pretty quickly. Yeah, tiny is not
the right description. It turned partisan pretty quickly. And I think that that’s
what puts a lot of voters off. I think it puts, uh… It’s what breaks faith
with people and democracy because they want their leaders
to be leading, to be seen to be leading,
to not be squabbling, to not using our parliament
as a place of incivility. And so, we’re worried
about the social media sphere, the Twittersphere, Facebook,
being a place of incivility, but I think we have to start
in our parliament. And I think that there are…
there is leadership to be shown, and there’s a heritage and a legacy
to draw on in Australian history to say that we can be
independent thinkers, and we can think things through, and we can lead by policy,
and we can lead by legislation. OK. And I suppose that’s where I was
coming from in that first example. Fair enough. Anthony Grayling, this is,
you know, a global issue, the loss of faith in democracy. Yeah.
Why is it happening? Oh, well, I mean,
have we got breakfast organised? (LAUGHS)
We could discuss it properly. But just to focus down
on one little thing. And everybody in this audience,
last night, in bed, was reading The Federalist Papers
by Madison and Hamilton, you know? So, they will remember
Federalist Paper Number 10, in which Madison says, “The greatest danger
to our political process “is factionalism, is partisanship.” And Clare has put her finger
on something, or in the immortal words
of a former pupil of mine at Oxford, she put her foot
on something important here, which is the fact
that party political imperatives too often distort the debate
that a society needs to be having, with itself, about what matters
and where it’s going to go. And one of the things
that’s happened, um, as franchises have extended, as party discipline
and whipping systems have become more, um, you know, important
in…in political life, so the sense that politics
is a service, rather than a career, has been lost sight of. It’s become more of a career. Now, with present company
completely excepted – these are perfect examples
of politicians who have great ideals and the interests
of the public at heart – but there are others
among their colleagues who…who think that, um, the choice
between toeing the party line and judging…using their conscience
and judgement to decide what to do, that one…that has become
blurred, if not, indeed, lost. I can…I can remember, Anthony,
watching Yes, Minister, maybe 35, 40 years ago, where precisely the same problems,
um, appeared to be at the centre of politics. Really, has it changed that much? Well, you and I are thinking
in two different timescales here. I’m thinking of
the last century or so. You’re thinking about now. Yeah, I was, I guess, because…
because of what our questioner said. It’s… They’re posing
the question about now, as if something’s different. Well, there is something different,
actually, which is interesting. I mean, I do think the change in the…in the ethos of
political culture has been gradual. It’s been happening for
a long enough time, as you say. But some things are different now,
for example, social media, for example, the…the completely
unregulated agora, which it should be, I think,
of, uh, cyberspace – criticism, trolling, arguments,
good ideas being put forward, people saying terrible things. You know, the great lavatory wall
of the internet, um, where there is more bad
than good, but some good. And I think that’s changed
the nature of debate, too, because it’s sharpened things,
it’s given an edge to things, which is sometimes uncomfortable
and unproductive. Whether our political orders
in Australia, in the UK, in the United States of America,
are responding in the right way, well, you only have to look
at today’s UK, or today’s US, to think absolutely not. Li Shee, we advertised you
at the beginning as being someone who thinks there is a problem
with, uh, democracy as we…as we think about it
here in Australia. Uh, what is wrong, in your view? First of all, there is
no pure democracy in any country, including Australia. I…I don’t see it that way. And democracy itself
really is a concept, and it’s really a means to an end. And we are thinking of it
as the endgame, which it’s not. When you say,
“Look, I fight for democracy,” you’re fighting for democracy
for what? At the end of the day,
what is it that you want? You want a good life.
You want safety and security. You want freedom.
You want prosperity. That’s what you’re fighting for. So, democracy is a means
to get there. But the institutions we put in place
to implement that democracy are flawed because it’s man-made. And it is flawed
from the way it started. The people who got involved in it
and set up the institutions had vested interests in making sure that they benefited the most
from that. Look at the way we do elections. If democracy was perfect,
Trump wouldn’t be in power. It’s very simple.
But you have to draw a distinction between the American democracy
and ours. We have compulsory voting.
I understand. And the thing is,
even with compulsory voting, you still have people like former
senator, um…Fraser Anning… Yes, but sen…
..he got in. ..senators are not
majoritarian electorates. I understand.
In the House, they are. Yes, I understand that. I’m just going to interrupt you both
to go to our next questioner, because, in a way,
you’ve almost anticipated it. It comes from Samuel Tshisekedi. Yeah, my question is in relation to what has been mentioned
by the panellists. Mentioning especially
the United States of America, the election of Donald Trump. Now, of course,
there’s no pure democracy. My question is,
Donald Trump’s election was such that he won more states
than his opponent, and he succeeded
to get more electoral college by just the simple democratic system
of the United States as it has existed till now by convincing the voters
that he was the best candidate. So, why would that be considered
a crisis of democracy, instead of actually looking at it
as democracy in practice because people voted for him? Or is it because
there is a group of elites that disagree with the vote
of the regular people, therefore, democracy is in crisis? (SEVERAL SPEAK AT ONCE)
Uh, Terri…Terri… I know everyone wants
to speak at once! I’m going to start
with Terri Butler, and, uh… Terri, go ahead.
I was going to say… My point… Trump is proof that democracy works,
I think that’s the core. I heard the question, but the point I was making
about compulsory voting and about majoritarian
compulsory voting is simply this – in the US, where
you don’t have compulsory voting, half the people vote, and half of them vote
for the successful candidate. So, the president is elected
on a slightly larger plural… I can never say ‘plurality’. ..minority than
the losing candidate. In Australia,
because we have compulsory voting, and because we have compulsory
voting in the lower house, where, to win a seat, you have to
win a majority of the preference… ..preferences of the population
voting for you, and then you form the government
from the lower house, our system is more democratic,
in my opinion. Which is not to mean any disrespect,
of course, to the United States, or to nations where
they have first-past-the-post instead of
the much more civilised process of compulsory preferential voting. But we have a…I think… Our democracy has survived, I think,
a little better. Yes, we have some extreme voices
in the Senate, which is the house
in which people are elected on minorities of the vote rather than majorities
of the vote, but, ultimately, if you look
at our…our lower house, where governments are formed,
it is, I think, a much more moderate form
of representative democracy. It’s a form of
representative democracy where the people
who have a vote in the House have been able to attract not just the largest minority
of votes in their electorate, but they’re…they’re the person
who has actually been able to attract the majority after
the people have got past 50%. OK. I’m going to just pass on
to Anthony, who wants to jump in, and then to this side of the panel.
GRAYLING: I just… Please address
the issue about Trump… Yes, absolutely. ..rather than why we’ve got a better
voting system in Australia. No, quite right.
I mean, Trump… Hillary Clinton got more than three
million votes more than Trump got. He got the votes
in the right place in order to get
the Electoral College. The Electoral College was set up
to ensure that no idiot, tweeter, sexual harasser, ignoramus
would get into the White House. You see, it works perfectly
in the United States. (LAUGHTER) So, in two different ways,
you’ve got… ..you’ve got a perfect example
of how a democracy isn’t working, because if it…if it were, you just wouldn’t have somebody
like Trump being there. You wouldn’t even get
some of the other people who stood for the, um, uh…
party candidatures putting themselves forward and getting as far as they did
in the process. Samuel, you want to jump in, and I’m going to go to the other side
of the panel once you do. I probably would think that
the very comment that Anthony makes, makes it totally opposite…
makes my point. And here’s what I’ll say. That… And I’ll ask you
and see what you see through it. I don’t… I think that the problem
is not addressing Trump, it is basically now addressing the Founding Fathers
of the United States. They set their Electoral College to make sure that there were
smaller states and bigger states… If you had to go
by the majority vote, the candidate would have
just simply to… to…to do their campaign
in New York and somewhere in… ..let’s say, you know, in Florida,
and that’s it. So, smaller states,
like Utah, and so and so forth, would not even have a voice. The American Founding Fathers
made it so that every candidate would have to go across
all the states, and so Trump knew that. He played by the rules,
and we might… ..you might disagree
with his ways… Yeah.
..but he achieved it democratically. 30 states that he won. Why would we, therefore…
it seems like the dislike of Trump is now starting to get us to question
the very democratic system that has worked for so long. What would you say to that? Yeah, well, just before
I throw back to Anthony, I want to hear from
the other side of the panel. So, Alan Tudge, you first. I completely agree with Samuel.
I think he’s spot-on there. I mean, Donald Trump got elected
to be president under the system
which elected previously Obama and Ronald Reagan and Clinton
and everybody else. The system was exactly the same. He got elected fairly and squarely
under that system. Now, you might not like him,
Anthony, and many people maybe
in this audience may not like him, but that’s…that’s the system,
and he got elected under it. I mean, we’ve had…
we’ve had elections in the past here where the government of the day
didn’t get the majority… ..didn’t get the majority vote
across the nation, but nevertheless still became
the government of the day, because we won the most seats
in the lower house, and that’s our system. It’s our democratic system
which works pretty well. Now, you know, Winston Churchill said that democracy
is the worst form of government apart from any other one
that’s been tried from time to time, and maybe he’s right. Democracy, you know, it’s…it’s… It’s sometimes uneasy,
as we work through it. It’s sometimes messy. But, jeez, I am so glad
that Australia is a democracy. America is one of the great
democracies in the world as well. And we’ve constantly got to defend
our democracy, because it fundamentally underpins the freedoms that we enjoy
in this country. OK. Clare? Well, without wanting
to raise the… ..fly the flag for America or imply that Trump
is anything other than an nitwit, I just agree that
the system did work. And…and there’s two points. One – not all democracies
are created equal. You’re right, Terri. We have a very strong
and robust democracy in Australia, because we have certain institutions
of our democracy that other countries don’t have.
BUTLER: Yes. We have compulsory voting.
We have majority voices. We have compulsory registration… We also have ways
to avoid minority oppression. ..which is another thing. And at the last election… We can say democracy’s in crisis,
but at the last election, we had the highest voter
registration that we’ve ever had. That’s right.
We have our… We have our…
an independent electoral commission, which other countries don’t have. And we have our voting on Saturday. Now, that is a huge difference
as well. I think Britain has
the voting on Thursdays, and America on Tuesdays. And that makes a difference.
Can I just actually…? Anthony, um, it’s… From either side of you,
you’re hearing the argument that, “If only you had
the Australian system…” ‘Cause Australians are great! “..things would be much better
in America. “In Britain, you probably
wouldn’t have had Brexit.” Well, we only usually…
(LAUGHTER) Can I just say, we only usually
pat ourselves on the back for our sporting…
for our sporting victories. I’ll just throw it to Anthony. We’re going to hear what he says.
Go ahead. Well, as a matter of fact, you have some things in
the Australian system here which are very desirable, and I would…I would like
to see them generalised, in fact, to other democracies. But this discussion
is missing a point. The point is not that Trump
was elected fairly and squarely on the basis of the American system. The point is that what’s wrong
with the American system that it’s given rise to Trump –
that’s the real point here. And I don’t think that democracy
is working well in the United States if the product is Trump. There’s a perfectly clear argument
to be given about that. How can it be… You know,
leave aside the…the point that a distinction needs to be drawn
between, on the one hand, having a Senate
which is a states house, so the representation in the government of
the United States of America does cover the whole of
the United States of America, because every state,
no matter what the population is, will send two senators
to the Senate. The Electoral College
has got nothing to do with that. The Electoral College does not serve
the interests of the states. The Electoral College was a body
that was put forward by Hamilton to be a kind of final stopgap
and assessment about whether or not the person who was going to occupy
this very, very high office of state would be fit for the purpose. And that’s a…
that’s a different matter. Now, in a situation like the one
that we’ve had in the United States, if a candidate has
over three million votes more than another candidate, and yet… And, by the way, whatever else
you think about Hillary Clinton, she’s probably the most experienced
and qualified person ever to run for the White House,
and Trump, the exact opposite. You have to ask yourself
the question, is this really working? Is the system producing people
whom you might – whatever else you think about them – nevertheless be fit
for the office that they occupy? But didn’t Hillary Clinton
make a fatal flaw in calling Trump supporters
a basket of deplorables for exactly that reason, that it appears that the electors, the very people who
want Trump there, who got him there, are the sort of people
who you’re suggesting shouldn’t, under the current situation, either their…they shouldn’t have
that power in their vote, or they got it wrong? No. I’m not suggesting that at all. I’m not saying
they shouldn’t have a vote. Of course they should have a vote. Did she make a mistake
in saying that about them? Of course she did. That was
a very clay-footed thing to do. That’s not the point
that I’m making. The point I’m making
is that if a democratic system was such that the two sides of it, both the institutions
of the democracy, the electoral system and the way that…the powers
and the limits of powers of people who occupy those offices
are clear and transparent and very well thought through, and on the other hand that…
that people are well informed, that they have access
to good information, that they’re not manipulated without knowing that
they’re being manipulated, and where their votes count. I mean, the United States of America
has one representative house – the House of Representatives,
the lower house of Congress. It’s elected on
a first-past-the-post system, which is terribly undemocratic. And because of the states’ control
of the Congressional districts, and a huge amount
of gerrymandering that goes on, seats in
the House of Representatives in the United States of America, 90% of them, or nearly,
never change hands because of the control
that the parties have. OK. Alright.
So, this is not… The United States of American
is not a democracy. OK.
It’s a sort of partial democracy. (LAUGHTER) TUDGE: How can you say that,
Anthony?! “The United States
is not a democracy”? It’s one of great democracies
of the world. Just because you don’t like
the outcome of the last election, you can’t say it’s not a democracy. (ALL TALK OVER EACH OTHER)
No, hang on. Hang on. The outcome of the last election
is a symptom of the problem. OK.
There’s no point… Alright, alright, alright!
Just, please, everyone, stop, because you’re actually
not politicians, remember? (LAUGHTER) Now, if you hear
any doubtful claims on Q&A, let us know on Twitter, and keep an eye on
the RMIT ABC Fact Check and The Conversation website
for the results. The next question is from someone who doesn’t think the Australian
democracy is working so well. It’s from Mona Vale, via Skype.
It’s from Rebecca Clarke. Good evening, panel,
and thank you. Can a country which has
no bill of rights or anti-corruption commission, where the Federal Police
raid media offices and a journalist’s home, and the government prosecutes
whistleblowers, where public servants cannot even anonymously
criticise government policy, where Freedom of Information
requests are expensive, often delayed, denied or redacted, and with minimal parliamentary
sitting days, be considered
a modern liberal democracy, or would it be better described
as an authoritarian state where the government is against
transparency, accountability,
and individual rights? If this is so,
how concerned should we be, and should we be protesting en masse
before we have nothing left to lose? Alan Tudge? (APPLAUSE) I mean, to be honest, and
with due respect for the questioner, I thought, you know,
it’s a ridiculous question. To suggest…
(AUDIENCE MURMURS IN DISAGREEMENT) To suggest that Australia is
an authoritarian state is just frankly wrong. And I would encourage her
to speak to some people who have come from
authoritarian states, and escaped those places
and come to Australia and been able to have
all the freedom and prosperity that you get in Australia –
the freedom to vote, the freedom to speak your mind,
to praise who you wish, to peacefully assemble. Um… We…we’ve got to… We’ve got to put things
in perspective here, honestly, um…because Australia is still
a magnificent democracy, and there is a damn good reason why millions of people want to come
to our shores every single year, and it’s because we are free…
(APPLAUSE) ..because we accept people
from around the world, because we’re wealthy, and that is all underpinned
by our liberal democracy. Terri Butler. I’m sorry to ask Alan
a question, but… No, you can’t ask him a question.
You can say your comment. I will say my comment,
and my comment is this. Um…I understand
why you would respond to that part of the question and not the substantive parts
about incursions on liberties. Well, there was about
five or six points that she made beforehand, and we could debate
every single one of those. They were all made
in terms of assertions, so I didn’t want to go through
every single one. But you must accept… The key point that she was making was that we’re, all of a sudden,
becoming an authoritarian state, which we are not. I mean, the fact that we can have
this debate live on ABC TV… OK, let’s let Terri Butler
answer the question as to whether… Do you…do you think
the questioner has a point? One must… I…I don’t think that you could
properly describe Australia as an authoritarian state,
but you must accept that, hand in hand with concerns
about democratic legitimacy are concerns about
incursions of civil liberties. And you must accept that
based on the reaction from, I think,
across the Australian community to the police raids
on Annika Smethurst’s house, and I think
you probably have to accept that from the comments that
were made about the difficulties in obtaining access to documents
through freedom of information, and I think that dism… Kind of… The questioner kind of
let you off the hook a little bit by giving you something
to respond to that was a little bit of hyperbole, but the underpinning issues,
I think, do need a response
from your government. WRIGHT: Alan,
can I ask you whether you’ve…? Can I ask a question? Actually, I’d prefer
if you just made comments and let him respond to them. (LAUGHTER)
Alright. Can I suggest… (LAUGHTER)
That I respond to your comment? ..that you read
Gillian Triggs’s book Speaking Up… Right, yeah. ..um, if you haven’t already –
the former…? I know Gillian.
You know Gillian. Um, and… Because Gillian outlines, in…in stark
and evidence-based terms, the number of our civil liberties that have been eroded
over the last 10 years, particularly in relation
to the anti-terrorism laws. Now, I agree we are not living
in an authoritarian state, but it is a frightening list
of the, um… ..the…the contraction
of our rights and liberties that we have fought hard for
in the past. I mean, this is a… You’ve raised
a really complex matter in terms of the…the balance
which is to be struck when you’re…when you’re dealing
with national security. Um, and you’re balancing that out – that…that safety
of the community – um, with some of those matters. And, you know, we take national
security very, very seriously. We’ve had, um…
What is it now? ..I think a dozen serious attempts,
um, of mass killings in Australia, which have been averted because of the strength
of our national security settings and our national security agencies. Um, I think we can have
robust debates around that balance which you are describing, but I think we’ve actually got
the balance pretty right. I mean, generally, in relation to, you know, a couple of other points,
which, um… I think Australian citizens
would be terrified if they actually realised
how many of their rights have been eroded
in the name of our freedom. I think our Skype questioner’s trying
to get back to make a point. Let’s just see if she’s there. Hello?
Go ahead. Yeah. I did want to respond to Alan Tudge
and say I have travelled widely. I have family –
Eastern European Jews – who come to Australia, and I have visited
other authoritarian states. I suppose my point wasn’t that
we are an authoritarian state now, but I am concerned a bit
about the apathy, and that maybe we are just
creeping slowly towards that. OK. Alan,
would a bill of rights help? Um, I personally don’t support
a bill of rights and… Because it basically means it puts power into the hands
of the courts and away from the parliament. Um, and we’ve seen that…
(LAUGHTER) We’ve seen that in the…um,
in the United States – speaking of a great democracy
which has a bill of rights. I think we’ve actually done
very well in Australia. Our system is inherited
from the United Kingdom, of course, and we’ve generally been a country
which has very robust rights, very strong freedoms, and I think
that’s underpinned us well in terms of today
and into the future. Of course we’ll continue
to bate…to debate these things, as we should, but I…I just think
we should all be keeping perspective about how great this country is, the freedoms and the prosperity
that we do have, and…and acknowledge that, if you’re talking about
authoritarian regimes, there are serious
authoritarian regimes in the world at the moment,
and you don’t see millions of people clamouring to get in
to those countries. OK.
No, no, but you can’t equate questioning and having concerns
about incursions into civil rights with somehow not being
a proud and patriotic Australian because that’s really dangerous. No, I wasn’t…I wasn’t
questioning that, Terri. I was just saying,
“Let’s keep some perspective.” But we can be proud… I actually said we can legitimately
debate some of those matters. Yes. We could spend a good session
debating, for example, in relation to the media laws
and the AFP’s decision, um…which they made lawfully
and at arm’s length from government, to go and acquire
some certain documents. Um, we could have that discussion
on that. We could have a discussion
about freedom of information laws and how liberal they should be. But surely the question should be how can we restore confidence
in institutions? And that’s really the heart of this.
Yeah. Let me just ask our other panellist. Li Shee, you spent a lot of time
living in Singapore, which is a much more authoritarian
democracy than Australia. Do you think that would be
a good way to go? Singapore is what I call
a guided democracy, alright? A lot of people think
it’s very authoritarian. Actually, it’s not. When I first went there,
I thought it was really bad. I lived there and worked there, and after a few years, I realised,
“Hey, it actually works.” Sure, there is
a very strong party system, which was almost
a one-party government for a long, long time, and still is. It holds the majority, but… It sort of works
if you don’t make a fuss. (LAUGHTER)
Well, that is true. But, you see, the thing is, when you
want to understand a country, like when you want to understand
Australia, the way it is now, you want to understand,
say, Singapore, the way it is now, or China, the way it is, you need to look at the history
and the culture and the mindset that’s in there. To, say, the Chinese… ..they think of the community
and the greater good over the individual rights. And that’s one big difference
between the West and Asians, and that’s why we get it wrong
so many times. When we try to foist our democracy
on Asian cultures, African cultures and all that,
it doesn’t work. It just bombs out. And not… And the worst thing
about it is that Western nations
tend to want to import or… Sorry, to export and impose
those values on countries going in, forcibly and under the pretext… And the pretexts, as I said before,
have a hidden agenda that only comes out later on
when you find out from WikiLeaks, and you…and some senators
tell you, “Hey, they actually went in
on a pack of lies on this “all across the place.” And their whistleblowers,
they will tell you, “Hey, it’s actually
the wrong thing to do.” OK, Li Shee, I’m going
to throw that to Anthony. And do you…take the point that democracy only works
in some countries? That’s what he’s saying –
that, in China, it wouldn’t work, the kind of democracy
that we have in Australia or even that they have
in the United States. No, I…I don’t accept that. I mean, I think human beings
are human beings, and, given an opportunity, what
they would like is the liberties, the opportunities and so on
that we enjoy in the liberal democracies
of the world. So, I don’t think I agree with that. But I do think that,
out of the conversation so far, a very important point has come up, which is, firstly,
security does matter. There’s no question about it. It’s a prime… ..um, a major responsibility
of government to protect the security
of…of the populace. But it is also true, however, that, in the face of
terrorist threats and actions, we have nibbled away, in quite troubling fashion,
at our civil liberties. Not just… I don’t know quite
what the situation is in Australia, but it’s certainly happened
in the UK and elsewhere. And, you know,
one has to remember this – if we are going to be free, if we’re going to enjoy
our liberties, we have to be prepared
to take the risk that’s involved. I mean, the way
to make everybody safe is to lock us all indoors
in our houses, and then all we do is quarrel
with our spouses and so on. But if you’re going to,
you know, travel, you’re going to get on an aeroplane
or a bus or a metro train, you are taking a bit of a risk,
but it’s a risk which is worthwhile. We always have to remember
what Benjamin Franklin said. He said, “If you trade
your liberties for security, “you don’t deserve either.” Clare. WRIGHT: I’m just reminded… I’ve had an American student from Smith College
in the United States here interning with me
for a couple of months. And we did a trip to Sydney
and she was just flabbergasted that she didn’t have to
show her passport at the airport, that she could take bottles of water
on the plane, and just the level
of…of freedom… You’re talking about
travelling domestically. I’m talking about
travelling domestically. Yeah, OK.
But she felt, everywhere she went – she was here for two months,
it was…it was a good visit – that she couldn’t believe
you didn’t have to queue, you didn’t have to go through… Because she’s just so…gotten
so used to the level of security that there is in America. And what she said is that,
in the two months she spent here, she has never felt safer. So, I think, sometimes,
we have to look at how those… ..how, um, the sense of security actually erodes our sense of safety. That these things
can be used against us, so that, as…as citizens, we actually feel less safe
in our homes, and…and that there’s
a big bogeyman out there. And she said she just actually
felt freer in Australia without that security detail
that’s going on all of the time. And I just think
that it’s interesting because it just shows
how those large arguments – and particularly authoritarian ones like the war on drugs
and the war on terror and the war on crime – they aren’t necessarily
the things that… Well, what we know is
they don’t work. I mean, evidence base shows
that they don’t work. Alan, I’ll give you the final word. Um, in relation to what? I mean, democracy,
we should be defending. We have a great democracy here. We always have to continue to, um… ..I think, to work on it, um, to… The question really was
about whether the security state actually ends up confining
our freedoms or restricting them. Well, inevitably,
it does confine them to some extent, and we see that even when
you’re going to the football or wherever these days, when you have to go through
security checks. I mean, that’s the most obvious
manifestation of it. But I think
the Australian public expect governments of the day to take the national security
exceptionally seriously, particularly when there are
very serious threats against us on a very regular basis. And, um… And I think we’ve got
pretty good settings in place, but we constantly have
to review them and constantly have to be listening
to our security agencies, who are world-class. OK, that’s all
we have time for tonight. I’m sorry to say we haven’t solved
all the problems of democracy. We’ll leave that to you,
the citizens of Australia. Please thank our panel – Li Shee Su,
Terri Butler, AC Grayling, Clare Wright and Alan Tudge. (APPLAUSE) Thank you very much. Now, next week on Q&A, a special look at the case for
recognition of Indigenous Australians in our constitution,
and an Indigenous voice. Joining the panel,
the father of reconciliation, Senator Patrick Dodson, one of the architects
of the Indigenous voice to parliament and the Uluru Statement
from the Heart, Noel Pearson, a leading Indigenous opponent
of constitutional recognition, Jacinta Price, and the co-chair of the Joint
Committee on Closing the Gap, Pat Turner. Until next week, goodnight. (APPLAUSE) Captions by Red Bee Media Copyright Australian
Broadcasting Corporation

51 Comments

  • Kee-pyor Myndopen

    Dear Q&A,

    Your last 2 shows have been added to the YouTube algorithm under the category ‘sleep inducing relaxation audio’

  • Animal Farm

    I expect treachery and deceit from the one-party state politicians, but watching this embarrassing act of complicity to a corrupt system by the "Philosopher and author" A. C. Grayling was disgusting. It just shows Grayling clearly understands on which side his bread is buttered and how the plutocrats have been able to buy much of the voice of academia in this Neoliberal hegemonic world. I'm not asking the ABC to compromise its position with the Washington puppets in Canberra by presenting Noam Chomsky's view of history or the encroaching fascist state, but maybe present someone not bought by the establishment for once. Will we ever again see an independent voice that tells the truth on the ABC or are we committed to perpetually watch puppets spew half truths, obfuscation and deception? C'mon ABC, have John Pilger on uncensored for just one show; your ratings will definitely improve.

  • Ton Cek

    Duh! Of course the Chinese media is biased since there is only one view allowed. So pro-democracy demonstrations are seen as terrorism by a totalitarian leadership that must not allow any dissent to ensure that they don't lose control over the behaviour of 1.5 billion people. China just like Islam has shown that its agents have been infiltrating higher education institutions to push a favourable view of their ideologies. There is no way that that we should allow things like the Confucis course to be used as propaganda to sell the view that a totalitarian regime presents no threat to democracies.

  • Andrew G

    Of course democracy is good for Australia and Australia is a democracy. How else can you explain why Mr. Su has NOT been deported yet?

  • Lupco Kotevski

    Sour grapes Grayling says that democracy is not working because its has produced Trump. What a breathtakingly elitist, arrogant, out of touch comment that dismisses tens of millions of decent Americans fed up with corrupt, career, establishment politicians.

  • Lupco Kotevski

    Sour grapes Grayling says Hillary received 3 million more votes than Trump in the 2016 election. So what. Recently big tech whistleblowers have revealed the manipulation of the electorate by big tech and their search tools. One recent researcher speaking at a Senate inquiry to Senator Ted Cruz claimed that big tech helped Hillary gain 2 to 10 million votes at the 2016 election. For the 2020 USA election, watch big tech try to undermine Trump by suppressing on-line independent conservative commentators, and send out reminder notes to vote to democrat voters only. The suppression of conservative commentators has already started of course, common knowledge to the tens of millions that consume both left and right media.

  • Jarryd Federico

    Anyone else find Terri Butler's unsolicited explanation of Australia's system of democracy kinda awkward? Mansplaining? Oh wait..

  • Sam

    To read between the lines: australian politicians and public figures will not critisize China because they buy our minerals. That is how important democracy is to "our cherished values".

  • UK Chi

    Thank you for all the panellists touched on the Hong Kong Protests and bought the issues to a international level. People around the world need to know the situation especially with the operation of using undercover police to dress like the protesters to incite illegal actions and then arrest them shortly. Thank you ABC.

  • Tiny House West Kentish

    Wasn't Drew's mic Tony, it would be his bad connection thanks to Telstra! Time to take Telstra back into public ownership!

  • Dick Chan

    The rhetoric of Li Shee Su is all so familiar to us as Hong Kongers, it’s simply the same as that of the communist China. That economic disparity in Hong Kong is only the end product of an unjust political system entirely controlled by China. That’s why the vast majority of the pro-democracy supporters are actually well educated, better off citizens, whereas the pro-establishment camp can only rally the Tycoons with huge vested interests, and lower educated population, in many cases new immigrants from the mainland China who are brainwashed by the communist for most of their lives.
    It is not hard to imagine those pro China rhetorics are no simple coincident.

  • Tony Wang

    Hongkong is a special administrative area of china! According the law , hk government is only a local government of china. Chinese central government had auhtority to stop the violenece in hongkong . Peaceful protest welcome but violence must stop by violence

  • astrogirluran

    As far as Asians wanting democracy or being able to have it, look at SE Asia, India as example, I also come from close to that region. May not be perfect democracy or exactly as good as here or the West, worse corruption and more ethnic tensions but still a whole lot better than a totalitarian autocracy, authoritarianism like socialism or communism. Asians are humans like anyone else and due to our free will want individual freedoms, why so many migrate. Protect our democracy people and improve it, help the people of Hong Kong. Who wants a gov that uses its police against its citizens rather than terrorists, what an analogy to make?

  • John Douglas

    "if democracy was working, you wouldn't' have someone like trump there" righteo then.. I do SO live the virtue signaling wankers chiming in like this. but corrupt hillary would be in? and then democracy would be working right?
    cancer pure cancer.

  • John Douglas

    43:53 idiot disparages trump because trump derangement syndrome. you only make yourself look bad lady.
    the ONLY president to action and bring to fruition every single one of his promises. he does what he says he's going to do, openly
    but he's orrange man bad.. ~SMH~

  • John Douglas

    50:36 "the freedom to speak your mind" no we do not, we have hate speech laws, that is not freedom to speak your mind.

  • zhmz888

    if HK gov demand the assitance from mainland china, mainland has every right to despatch assistance no doubt…what kind of man is questioning about china police got involved in HK?? china can't be bothered to get in and thank for those who spend 1.8 billion to bring colord revolution agenda at the door of china….Lybia and Syria is too far…thank god…

  • zhmz888

    Andrew is an absolute nut, I am sorry, pls make sure he is an australian, not preaching for US military industrial complex…plus all his perception about china is worng..basicly he was brainwashed by text books fro 1950s.

  • zhmz888

    china is a democracy but not the democracy the west desired..for them…as simple as that..why?? people seems to have short memory to remember china had applied west style democracy for a decade just right after they kicked the last emporer out…but it ended in disaster for china…so both poles of politics of china decided to change to a democracy could work, only difference was who should be run the show…..

  • 918ausi

    “You shouldn’t turn over the bowl you’re feeding on. “ (unless you’re so ungrateful)
    Remember, your customer is always right and he got a fragile heart and can get hurt easily.

  • 918ausi

    What a rubbish about “housing affordability, bomb making and bias journalism” in Hong Kong! No difference from the Chinese Government spokespeople! None of the panelists could point out his fallacy with some meaningful statistics and insight. That’s how our society becomes complacent and insensitive to the force eroding our democracy.

  • Brad Cavanagh

    Terrible Terry Butler… a smug, condescending, mealy-mouthed quota hire and the Chinese guy is a clearly a Chinese Communist Party agent.

  • Johnny morris

    Chinese artist Ai Wai Wai has said that the Chinese government will place violent protesters in with the pro-democracy protesters as they did in Tiananmen square to allow them to come down hard with some kind of justification. I'm surprised at the very delicate and nervous discussion where it seems the panel are afraid to upset the Chinese( except for the plucky Brit) it should be called out for what it is these people want democracy, they should be supported in that by Australia, end of the story .

  • Chris Butt

    How arrogant is old mate to think that he has a better understanding of how the US President was elected…

    If you think the 150 Million people in between CAL and NY are less intelligent, than you yourself could be the racist. Think about it…

  • Francis Weber

    There is no such thing as Democracy, in Australia we have a multi party dictatorship,
    they say, you do or they send out their mercenaries with guns to make you comply to their rules!
    We want your vote, thanks for that now DO AS WE TELL YOU TO DO!

  • John Smith

    We might have compulsory voting but all we have to do is turn up get our name ticked off and go to the ballot box and leave it blank making it an invalid vote by not even filling in the ballot paper so its not really compulsory. I usually vote by who I select not to be in power because well its hard to keep my remarks civil at this stage.

  • jane ho

    I’ve always been surrounded by the overseas Chinese students, none of us knew they’d been watched or monitored…. LOL that whire hair dude is really full fo it. you’re the one spreading conspiracies.

  • Viren Parekh

    So Terri Butler is very familiar with the reactions to the article on China by Hastey, but hasn't read the article…. Interesting!

  • lotsofsparks32

    The problem is that Australian democracy isn't real democracy. The nanny state isn't popular yet it's being forced on us stripping our freedom and making life pointless and boring.

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