Aboriginal Flag, Superannuation, ICAC
Transcript - SkyNews AM Agenda with Tom Connell
15 October 2020
Andrew Bragg: Good morning Tom. The Aboriginal flag is a very important national symbol and unfortunately it has been embroiled in a legal dispute, which basically emerges from the way that it was gazetted by the Keating government in 1995. And so what you’ve got now is a problem where Aboriginal charities, Aboriginal groups can't access the flag freely, and therefore stopping using the flag, and that's why the Minister, Ken Wyatt is engaging with the copyright owners to try and purchase the rights to the flag.
Tom Connell: Right, but the issue we’re looking at right now and whether or not there would be perhaps forced action by the Commonwealth. I mean looking at WAM clothing the company. It's not an Indigenous group, in fact it's previously been fined for making and selling fake Aboriginal art. Why not just say this issue is too important? You mention the symbolic significance of this and say “sorry WAM clothing, too bad.”
Andrew Bragg: Mr Harold Thomas is an indigenous artist who created this flag in the early 1970s. He owns the rights to the flag, and he has decided to issue these licences. It's not for the Commonwealth of Australia to take away his legal rights. I think that would be a very, very bad precedent, especially for a man of the Stolen Generation, so this is not something that the Government is considering doing. We are trying to negotiate with all the parties to try and land a decent settlement where there would be a situation where the flag would be available to all the Aboriginal groups that would like to use it.
Tom Connell: But is that outcome going to happen and what of the situation? If this just drags on and on because the concern is, if this can't be used in the way it was previously for a year, another year, then you get an issue with perhaps people deserting this flag that has brought so many people together.
Andrew Bragg: Well, I'm trying to aid the discussions by not trying to undermine them. I know that the Minister Ken Wyatt is a very good man, a very capable Minister and is leading the negotiations with Mr Thomas and I'll leave the Minister to discuss those deliberations. I don't want to try and undermine them in anyway. I actually think the Senate Inquiry which was chaired by Malarndirri McCarthy was actually quite a productive venture, that it put, it really put the issues on the table without undermining the negotiations. So my hope is that the Minister can land that. I mean in terms of the future…
Tom Connell: He needs to land it soon doesn't he?
Andrew Bragg: Well, I mean he is doing that so in terms of the future, I mean, there was some discussion about whether there will be a different flag, well that's a matter for the community. That's not a matter for the Government to prescribe or to set out in detail. But my hope is that we can conclude these negotiations.
Tom Connell: Made the changes to superannuation on the Budget, nothing on administration fees. Despite a recommendation from the productivity commission and some pretty damning findings on them. Why no action here?
Andrew Bragg: Well I’ve been calling for the past year for reform to superannuation and I think that the package in the Budget is a good step forward and I'm very supportive of more transparency, better governance, ultimately getting a better deal for the workers in Australia because for too long the workers have been losing out to the super funds, be they run by the banks or run by the unions.
Tom Connell: Right, but the question was about administration fees. They now in fact dwarf investment fees. Australians pay the second highest admin fees in the world and no action on them. Why not?
Andrew Bragg: Well, there will be action on all fees and what matters to members or workers is net return so all fees are relevant here, and I want to see all the fees come down. So I mean that is our agenda…
Tom Connell: But are admin fees, what actions are being done on admin fees?
Andrew Bragg: What you will see in the performance comparison tables is the total fees I mean that is what you will see. The agenda here is to try and cut fees and to make it simpler not to try and make it more confusing.
Tom Connell: But you don't think specific action on admin fees is needed given as I said they’re second highest in the world.
Andrew Bragg: I said all fees. I think it should be all the fees. Because what matters to members is net returns, so of course you are going to look at all the fees. So that is a very clear position that all the fees looked at as part of this process because we want to make it simple for people to be able to compare funds, and then move around if they want to and so the way to do that is to include all fees and costs.
Tom Connell: Alright, can I ask you finally about ICAC, your colleague Jason Falinski has come out and described it as a Kangaroo Court. He says we should start over with it. Do you agree?
Andrew Bragg: Well I'm not in the state parliament so I’ll leave my state colleagues to talk about ICAC but I would say that…
Tom Connell: Well he’s a federal MP.
Andrew Bragg: Sure. But I think there are some elements of the discussion over the last week where I think there is frankly too much personal information in the public domain. I think there's obviously a role there for a Integrity Commission to look at the matters of probity, but I do think that some more of the personal components that have been put into the public domain really shouldn't be there and I question why they are there.
Tom Connell: So does that go to the entire nature of public hearings at New South Wales ICAC, I mean they can choose to do private or public, they had a private aspect then a public one with Gladys Berejiklian, are you saying that was a mistake?
Andrew Bragg: Well I'm not sure about the disclosure of text messages, which have people's personal nicknames and the like being relevant to the public debate. I guess that is the point I'm making. Then in terms of whether or not you have public or private hearings. I can see that there could be a case for both. But I think the focus of these enquiries should be about matters of public probity for the people in public office. Not looking at people's nicknames.
Tom Connell: Andrew Bragg, appreciate your time today.
Andrew Bragg: Thanks Tom see you.
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