SUBJECT | Religious Education | 18 October 2022
PETA CREDLIN: Dan Tehan is the Shadow Minister for Immigration and Citizenship; he joins me now from Canberra. Dan, thank you for your time. Congratulations on that speech, so you're one of the first to really draw that link between immigration and religious freedom. What concerns you the most about these recent attacks on faith?
DAN TEHAN: Well, we’re undermining religious freedom in this nation, and it's one of the freedoms that any democracy should enjoy. And it's one of the freedoms that migrants ought to have when they are seeking to go to another country — to be able to live and participate and be an active member of the community. 54% of Australians have an affiliation to a religion, it's 68% of migrants who come to this country, and globally those who are affiliated to a religion continue to grow, and it’s nearly 87% now of the world's population. We undermine religious freedom in this nation, we under undermine freedom of speech, and the presumption of innocence, we undermine our ability to attract the best migrants.
CREDLIN: We heard yesterday from a whole lot of religious leaders who want the Prime Minister to reverse his opposition to protecting religious freedom in legislation. What does Labor need to do to turn around this risk you're talking about?
TEHAN: Well, they need to put forward their religious discrimination act that we put to the parliament before the last election. They need to sit down with the Opposition and make sure that we're going to get that bill through the Parliament. It is incredibly important. It is a cornerstone of one of our values, one of our most important values, and we can't let it be undermined. Cancel culture in this nation continues to march towards our institutions and towards our freedoms, and we have to draw a line in the sand and be prepared to stand up and say enough is enough.
CREDLIN: In the former government, Dan, you were a minister for Veterans’ Affairs; there's a stoush going on about so-called ‘frontier wars’ in and around the Australian War Memorial. Quite a lot of people involved in the War Memorial certainly don't support it. We certainly know the RSL; I spoke to them on my program here Friday night; they say if you want to deal with any wars that happened before Australia was a federation involving Aboriginal people, conflicts they are properly called, that should be in the new Indigenous centre built at the old Parliament House, not in the War Memorial. What's your view?
TEHAN: The RSL is absolutely correct, and once again, this is the Left trying to march through our institutions and trying to take what is great about them away from us. The War Memorial was set up by Charles Bean to honour those who have fallen fighting for our nation overseas. That is where we should pay our respects to our soldiers who fought in those wars, whether they be Indigenous or other Australians who fought. We do not need a discussion about the frontier wars playing out at the Australian War Memorial. It will undermine all the values and principles upon which it was built.
CREDLIN: I got to ask you there's a big fight going on in Victoria about roads at the moment. All the flooding has obviously worsened roads, particularly around Shepparton and Echuca, across into Bendigo and elsewhere. I know you're a country MP, and I know you spend a hell of a lot of time in your car on the roads, I don't have much positive to say about Victorian roads. I mean, it's a small state Victoria, but I've lived in New South Wales and ACT; it's got some of the worst roads here in the country. Why are the roads so bad in Victoria?
TEHAN: Because the underinvestment by the Andrews’ Labor government in our roads has been deplorable. They spend more on a level crossing, one level crossing than they do on the whole maintenance budget for regional and rural Victorian roads per year. And if the Albanese government wants to do anything, anything for the flood victims and country Victorians as they battle these floods, that 2.2 billion they've allocated for that urban rail loop, which will cost $150 billion, they should take that $2.2 billion stop the charade, stop backing one a Dan Andrews’ pet projects, which is going to cost an arm leg, and put that money into our regional and rural roads. That's the best thing they could do for all those who have been inundated by these floods.
CREDLIN: Dan Tehan, thank you.