Transcript| 2GB Ben Fordham Live | 29 March 2024

March 29, 2024

Friday 29 March 2024
Interview on 2GB Ben Fordham Live
Subject: Mike Pezzullo to be stripped of AO

BEN FORDHAM: Apparently procedural steps are underway to strip Mr Pezzullo of his AO. The Liberal senator James Paterson is the Shadow Minister for Home Affairs, and he's on the line. Senator, good morning to you.

JAMES PATERSON: Good morning Ben.

FORDHAM: This seems a bit over the top?

PATERSON: I think it is. There's no question Mike Pezzullo did the wrong thing, but he's paid a very high price for that already. He's been sacked from his job and publicly humiliated. This just seems like an extra insult which is completely unnecessary. Because the truth is that there's no public servant or politician or journalist who would survive having all our text messages leaked and published like that. And it's not necessary to go after him in this way. I mean, people who've lost their Order to Australia in the past are people like Rolf Harris or Brian Burke, people who have been charged and convicted of serious crimes, who have gone to prison. Mike Pezzullo hasn't been charged with anything, let alone convicted. And I just think it goes way too far.

FORDHAM: I think everyone's going to be wondering now, who is the person who decided, let's take the AO off him?

PATERSON: Well, I think the Albanese government should stand up and explain that today. Who was it that initiated this process? What did they do? And does the Prime Minister agree with it? If he doesn't, he should stop it. Because the truth is that Mike Pezzullo has served governments of both political persuasions for decades. He actually started by serving the Labor Party. He worked for Kim Beazley. But he's been a professional public servant, and he was absolutely key, along with Tony Abbott, Scott Morrison and Jim Molan in successfully stopping the people smuggling trade in our region, which led to thousands of people drowning at sea and 50,000 people coming to our shores via boats, without him that wouldn't have happened. And, you know, we should recognise that achievement even if he erred in his text messages.

FORDHAM: Yeah. If I was a minister, I'd have him running a department any day of the week. I just want to ask you about this though. The former prime minister, Paul Keating, has always refused to accept an award of companion of the Order of Australia. He says the honour should be reserved for the unrecognised achievers. He's got a point there, Paul Keating, doesn't he?

PATERSON: I do think he has a point. I mean, it is true that, most people who get awards get awards for the jobs that they do that they're already paid to do. And the higher your award the more likely it is that you're paid. It's the genuine community heroes who get the OAM, which is the lowest level of the order and it's the former Prime Ministers who get the AC, which is the highest level award. I think he has a genuine point there. But we have the award system we do, people are given awards for good reasons for the work that they do. We shouldn't be going round stripping it off people unless they have been, you know, found by court or tribunal to have done something very, very serious.

FORDHAM: Yeah. I reckon everyone's going to be digging for the details today and we'll catch up again soon. Thanks for joining us on the line.


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