RN Breakfast with Patricia Karvelas – Voice to Parliament and Iran Sanctions



Subjects: The Voice, Iran & Myanmar Sanctions 

PATRICIA KARVELAS, HOST: Later today, the referendum working group will brief the Opposition leader on their work around the Voice to Parliament. But across the nation, supporters are mobilising public events. Government MPs are holding town hall forums, with one being held in the seat of Wills last night. Peter Khalil is the Labor MP for Wills and the Chair of the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security. He joins me now. Welcome to the programme. 


KARVELAS: Are people in your electorate raising the Voice with you? 

KHALIL: Yes, they are. In fact, we had such a turnout last night at the forum that people were sort of spilling out onto the street. It was a remarkable turnout. People are very interested to engage in a conversation about the referendum that’s coming up around the Voice. So that was really encouraging. And I said to everyone in my introductory remarks: all are welcome. Obviously, there were many people who support the Voice in the audience, [along with] those who are undecided or want to hear more about it and understand more about the proposal and those who might oppose [it]. But as long as everyone was respectful in the conversation, all were welcome. 

KARVELAS: So, obviously your electorate is quite diverse. It’s an area I’m quite across. But there are some very progressive parts of your electorate. There has been a split in the progressive side on the left – were those issues raised? Are people sort of questioning what would happen? 

KHALIL: People asked questions right across the board – really detailed questions. I should say, our guests were Marcus Stewart, the co-Chair of the Victorian First People’s Assembly from the Taungurung Nation, and Professor Marcia Langton, a Yiman woman and long-term Indigenous activist and co-author of the proposal. They were very knowledgeable people. They had great insight, they had great knowledge that they shared with the audience. Look, I just want to say for people listening what I said to people to frame our conversation last night is that you might disagree. You might be undecided. But Australia has from time to time jolted out of our complacency to be called to make big decisions about our nation and reshaping our nation – our national story, who we are, who we might be, decisions that shape our identity and our purpose, shape our collective future, really. And this is one of those moments. It’s an important one. It’s an important conversation because this referendum I think – and this was sort of coming out last night too – goes to the heart of our nation and who we are. It really is about deciding whether we have a constitutionally enshrined – a guaranteed – First Nations Voice to Parliament. So, there are a lot of questions about what that is, how that would work, questions around – you mentioned the split, if you call it that – questions around sovereignty. And then there are many constitutional and legal experts and legal advice that we talked about last night that made a very strong point. Having a Voice to Parliament would not impact the questions around sovereignty at all. So, we discussed that quite extensively, and I thought it was a very respectful and a very useful conversation for my constituents. 

KARVELAS: One of the things we keep hearing is that there’s not enough detail or information. Did that come through? 

KHALIL: No, because as Marcia Langton I think very clearly pointed out there are 800 Pages of details and 20-plus years of work. I mean, this is really a culmination of decades of work by Indigenous leaders. The Uluru Statement from the Heart had hundreds of Indigenous leaders who came together from around Australia who, in the first Aboriginal Constitutional Convention, put forward the Statement from the Heart. People can read the detail behind that, the expert panel reports, all the different work that has been done over 20-plus years – and Marcia pointed that out to people in the audience: that people can make the effort to actually look at that detail. It’s been provided. Marcus also made the point that a lot of this is disinformation by opponents who are saying that there’s no detail when there actually is. We did almost 2 hours of a forum, so there was plenty of detail discussed about how the referendum would occur and how it’d work, what the questions might be and all the rest of it. So, I don’t pay much attention to that particular argument [that] there’s no detail. 

KARVELAS: Just changing topics in the last couple of minutes, a Senate inquiry has found Australia’s government needs to take steps to list the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps as a terrorist organisation and expand the list of individuals and entities targeted by the Magnitsky sanctions should this happen. 

KHALIL: My committee – as you mentioned at the start, I’m the Chair of the Intelligence Security Committee – would be looking at that question if it was raised through the Senate Select Committee, and if the government was to consider that recommendation, we would be the committee that would be determining the ins and outs of that. I should say for listeners: I have been a very strong advocate and supporter for increasing sanctions on the theocratic regime in Iran. Obviously, since the murder of Mahsa “Jina” Amini, there’s been massive protests in Iran. We’ve seen that before over decades, but this time it’s different. Patricia there’s a psychological difference here [with] the young people, all people of all ages who are protesting and standing up to the regime. It’s not so much about reforming or making some peripheral changes or changing when women could wear a headscarf. Women and girls and young people are out there saying “enough”. We don’t want this regime anymore. It’s got to go. And it’s very, very significant. I think we’re at a moment in history where we must be on the right side of history in supporting the people of Iran. The courage and passion that they’ve shown is remarkable in standing up to the so-called morality police and the besieging militia. The government has just announced extended sanctions on Iran, on 16 law enforcement and military officials as well as the Islamic Revolutionary Guard members, and financial sanctions as well. 

KARVELAS: Peter Khalil, many thanks for joining us this morning. 

KHALIL: Thanks, Patricia. Cheers. 

KARVELAS: The Chair of the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security, Peter Khalil.