SUBJECTS: Two seats for the NT;  Brereton report; China tweet; MUCs.

JO LAVERTY, HOST:  Luke Gosling is the Member for Solomon and joins us this morning. Hello Luke.

LAVERTY: Very well. So the bill is before the Senate. What exactly does it mean?
GOSLING: Yeah, apparently in the next 15 minutes it’s going to be tabled in the Senate. But and that’ll mean that we for the foreseeable future will have our current representation for the Northern Territory. And that’s obviously really important. Before I forget. Jo, I’ll chuck 100 bucks into the Vinnie’s thing as soon as I get off the phone. I’m a Vinnie’s member, so, yeah, I do sort of visits to people who might not be going that well and need a bit of a hand as a Vinnie’s volunteer. But it’s just amazing work that they do. So I’ll do that when I get off the phone.
LAVERTY: That’s so great. Thank you Luke. And I reckon having a visit from Luke Gosling would be just really lovely. Come over, have a nice cup of tea and a chat with Luke Gosling. That would be wonderful. Maybe we can maybe we can get people to pledge more money to have you come and have a nice cup of tea with them Luke.
GOSLING: Yeah really happy to do that. So very surely that that will go into the Senate. Hopefully there’s not too much need for debate, given that we all want this to go through as speedily as possible. It’s not the same as the bill that we had previously put in, but that was part of the recommendations from the inquiry, is that the government wanted to put their own bill in. So we were like, fine, we just want to get the representation sorted so it doesn’t guarantee two seats as the original bill that I wrote did, which the tabling office told me was the shortest bill that they had ever seen because it simply said the Northern Territory is guaranteed two seats in the House of representatives full stop. But this though, achieves that effect. But what they’ve done is as a result of one of the recommendations from that inquiry, he’s brought us in line with how these things are calculated for the states, so the territories, are the same as the states. And they use something called the harmonic mean. Now I’m a politician, not a mathematician. But what it essentially means is that we will now be required to meet a quota of 1.33 in terms of our share of the Australian population in the Northern Territory, which means and obviously we’ve had a bit of a comeback recently with our population. But what it does mean is that our population could still drop and we would still have that guarantee of the two seats. So we get the outcome of the two seats into the foreseeable future. We just want to get it through the Senate as quickly as possible today into the House so that we can get that put into law, because currently, if someone moves to Darwin, they still are enrolled in the single seat of the Northern Territory, which everyone now agrees is crazy. We need at least two members in the House.
LAVERTY: Well done on the work that went on to make this happen. And it was a bipartisan approach which was so nice to see. This is ABC Radio, Darwin. Luke Gosling is the Member of Solomon. You’re with Rick Hind and Jo Laverty this morning. Luke Gosling you’re a veteran who has spoken about the impact of the Brereton Report on the Australian Defence Force. And this week we’ve seen that pretty awful image that was circulated by a senior official in China’s government, which is adopting the image of an Australian soldier with a knife up against the neck of a 14-year-old child. What did you make of this?
GOSLING: It was pretty distressing to see that, it was a disgusting image. I thought that brought no credit at all to those members of the Chinese government that were responsible for that image. It’s obviously the relationship is experiencing some tension at the moment. There are some actions in the in the trade space in relation to some of our exported goods. So what it really needs is cool heads to prevail and diplomacy to be used to make sure that Australia’s national interests are met. We will never, of course, bow to intimidation, nor should we. And really, Labor is on a bipartisan unity ticket when it comes to calling out things like this image and moving swiftly to get our relationship back onto a much more mature and respectful level.
RICK HIND, HOST: But Luke Gosling, is that what’s actually happened, this spat with China has made international news in a way that the Brereton report didn’t. So now people in America, in the UK, have heard of the Brereton report and heard about what the ADF is alleged to have done. Is this spat just exacerbating that tension and creating more attention to the real problems in the ADF?
GOSLING: Well, obviously, we wanted to fix some of these cultures in the ADF, and that’s why the chief of the Defence Force instigated the Brereton report. It has been going for several years now, I’m glad it’s finally being been brought out into the light. Obviously, some of the material has been redacted. But what is important is that we are a liberal democracy. We don’t hide things way. We bring things out into the light so that process now needs to continue. The exacerbation of any embarrassment that we feel, whilst unfortunate, is a by-product of having a robust democracy where we do not hide away our failures. We bring them out into the light. What I’ve been trying to do in these last couple of weeks is just make sure our serving men and women, our veterans and their families are sure that a grateful nation really appreciates and respects the overwhelming majority of the service that is provided to our nation and that the sins of a few do not tar the service of the majority.
HIND: And initially, the report recommended that the whole SAS unit should lose their medals and awards, not just those directly involved with the alleged atrocities, but now there is debate about whether those recommendations should not be followed. Do you think the whole unit should be stripped of their honours?
GOSLING: As the Brereton report recommends, the majority of the crimes which were alleged to have been conducted by members of the Special Air Services Regiment. But the award, the Meritorious Unit Citation Award, was given to a much broader group of people, which is the special operations task group. So that includes members of ISIS, but also commandos, members of the Navy, members of the Air Force, members of different units of the Army. Ninety nine per cent served with distinction, did a great job.
A small amount, less than one per cent, need to be taken through a process where it can be determined whether they have indeed conducted war crimes and they need to be held to account.
LAVERTY: Luke Gosling we will let you go. We’ve got eight minutes until breakfast is over. I won’t refresh the tally for the ABC Christmas appeal just yet will give you a chance to do it. Thank you so much for your donation. I look forward to it coming through.
GOSLING: Thanks for chatting guys.