Sky News Morning Agenda - Andrew Bragg with Tom Connell

Tom Connell: Protest is going on at the moment, and some strong words from the prime minister saying that Australians are going to be offended at these protests, and they represent a double standard. What are your thoughts?

Andrew Bragg: Well thanks Tom I think that that PM is spot on to be separating the issues of Indigenous disadvantage with the issues that we've seen aired in the United States.  I mean the issues of Indigenous disadvantage really are significant for our country, and we have really let indigenous Australians down, and that's why the work that Minister Ken Wyatt is doing in the Indigenous policy space to enact components of the Uluru statement is really some of the most important work about government.

Tom Connell: He’s said some things interesting things this morning also saying let’s not import problems here. We've had no slavery in Australia is that accurate the words not often used. We had forced labour. We had indigenous Australians traded in this country as well off and paid a stipend, too. It was indentured labourers. Well, I mean we might not use the word slavery we've got our and dark history here, don't we?

Andrew Bragg: Look I think the Prime Minister's formulation is absolutely right, and he said that we should be honest about our our past, about our history. He's the member for Cook. He has spoken at length about the the links between Cook and the indigenous people in his electorate and of course one other part of the Uluru statement is around truth-telling, and that is something that our government is also working on so I mean the I'm interested in tangible solutions and the the Uluru statement gives our country a way to address things like truth telling address things like a indigenous disadvantage, and I think that's very important work as some of the most important work of our government.

Tom Connell: Well, a couple of elements on that first of along truth-telling? So when you look at the history of indigenous Australians in this country, as I said thousands forced to work for no money also being traded. This was happening by the way being forced to work right up to the 1970s. In the spirit of Truth telling, is that a form of slavery?

Andrew Bragg: The truth telling that we will conduct in this country of course is always going to be different to other countries, and I think you're looking to try and draw comparisons, and you know in the education system today.

Tom Connell: I am just asking for the definition of that Senator.

Andrew Bragg: I’m going to get into comparisons, the issues here around disadvantage around the stolen generations around policies, which did not work in the favour of indigenous Australians need to be told so the people have a full understanding of Australian history, which is exactly what the PM has said.

Tom Connell: You also mentioned The Uluru Statement of the heart, as it was decided. It's not going to be adopted in that form by the government is it?

Andrew Bragg: I’m not sure what you mean by that. The the voice component of The Uluru Statement…

Tom Connell:  Well let’s take the Indigenous Voice.  that’s not going to be a adopted how people have decided they want it to be?

Andrew Bragg: But we’re doing that. There is a co-design process which is being chaired by Marcia Langton and that work is underway. That work is looking at how an Indigenous voice to parliament, how an indigenous voice to government could operate in interest of all Australians especially indigenous Australians and that is work that we will see you very soon.

Tom Connell: but it was to be enshrined in the constitution and it won’t be under the coalition will it?

Andrew Bragg: If you go back to the Prime Minister's closing the gap statement, he talks about conducting the co design process of the voice as a first step and then looking at the other legal arrangements later. Now. That is the recommendation of the bipartisan and joint standing committee or joint select committee as it was on constitutional recognition, so we we are following the bipartisan report. I think the indigenous community that have engaged in that process would say it has been a good process.

Tom Connell: Alright, I want to move into a couple other matters, of course the OECD says Australia almost leading the pack on limiting the economic impact of Covid-19 or already praise for the health impact being limited. Also warning you about major new stimulus that's needed September and beyond particularly as the moratoria on evictions ends. Is that a message the government should heat?

Andrew Bragg: I think it is more evidence to this country is a country that you want to be in during this pandemic. On the health front we’ve performed very well in terms of transmission in terms of deaths and also done very well on the economic front compared to almost any other country, so I mean the JobKeeper scheme has been a huge success. It is injected confidence into the Australian community. There is currently a review into that scheme and we've always had an open mind about how it could be improved, but the point about JobKeeper is it was designed for a six-month period and then it will be in place for that period of time.

Tom Connell: But with that obviously that’s ending that 6-month period, there is going to be some other things available to other sectors as we’re reading sort of tea leaves here the point being that ending, plus that moratoria of evictions ending. How should the people that at that stage are going to struggle to pay their mortgages or indeed paying loans on small businesses. How should they be treated? Do we need to think of a special stimulus package there as well?

Andrew Bragg:  That’s a good question, I mean my formulation would be where you have a government shutdown in place in an industry, which is affecting peoples live then you need to look at particular support packages. So for example. If you looking at the arts or you are looking at international tourism sectors for example hospitality where there is still some form of government shutdown in place, and then you would need to look at packages and it's only fair.

Tom Connell: Right and just finally Concetta Fierravanti-Wells crossed the floor on this vote of an enquiry into the Australia-Chinese relationship, it's a pretty volatile one right now. It's a pretty important one. Why wouldn't an enquiry be a bad idea?

Andrew Bragg: Well, that’s why I love my party Tom because we're allowed to express a view, not be expelled. So you know very much, you know, we welcome people having a different views. That is not the policy of our government. We don't conduct Foreign Affairs through ascending enquiry process, but I very much but you know defend my colleagues right to express a different view.

Tom Connell: You won't tend to express one yourself, I mean it seems pretty logical on one level doesn't it? To have an enquiry into something so important and so volatile right now.

Andrew Bragg: I don’t think it is the role of the legislature to conduct foreign policy in in that form. I think it is a role of the Prime Minister and the Foreign Minister to conduct our relations with that very very important partner so that that is my position, and that's why I voted the way I did.

Tom Connell:  Andrew Bragg, always appreciate your time, talk soon.

Andrew Bragg: Thanks Tom, bye.

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