Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
Disclaimer: The Parliamentary Library does not warrant or accept liability for the accuracy or usefulness of the transcripts. These are copied directly from the broadcaster's website.
Boat buy-backs, joint ops with Indon police: -

View in ParlViewView other Segments

TONY EASTLEY: The Opposition Leader Tony Abbott has gone north today to Darwin where he'll outline another plank of the Coalition's policy to tackle people smugglers and to put them out of business.

The Coalition plans to spend millions of dollars to put more Australian police officers into the region to work on deterrents.

The policy also includes bounties to buy boats from owners who might be tempted to sell them to smugglers and to give Indonesia more money to improve its own search and rescue capabilities.

The Opposition's immigration spokesman Scott Morrison spoke to chief political correspondent Sabra Lane.

SCOTT MORRISON: The measures we'll announce today deal with the practical commitment to regional cooperation and the single minded focus on deterrence. Now that will include everything from significantly upgrading our involvement in joint operations with Indonesian national police, to work with them and make that offer.

In also involves community outreach program which would involve a bounties potentially through, working through villages, buying boats back where you can. But also just promoting the awareness like we did after the Bali bombings with counterterrorism to raise awareness that people smuggling is a criminal activity and it's things that shouldn't be encouraged or supported.

SABRA LANE: On the buying of the boats, would you need to talk to Indonesia about that first? Who would make the approach; would it be Indonesian officials or Australian officials on the ground?

SCOTT MORRISON: All of these programs will be run through cooperation with officials in Indonesia. And what's in the policy today is about an offer of practical support of a nature that will put meaning to regional cooperation initiatives.

Regional cooperation isn't about talk; it's about actually doing things. And we need to significantly upscale the work that is being done throughout the region, not just in Indonesia but also in Malaysia and Sri Lanka and that's what this policy seeks to address.

SABRA LANE: The program I believe also talks about deploying more federal police officers into the region. How many and where would they go?

SCOTT MORRISON: Well, the Government has taken AFP (Australian Federal Police) officers out of Indonesia most recently. The majority of the work done on the ground is done by Indonesian national police, but that is done through a partnership with the Australian Federal Police.

And we would seek to increase the capacity there but also in Malaysia and in Sri Lanka where there is virtually no presence from the Australian Federal Police apart from one officer. And these are more resources that would be dedicated to working on people smuggling.

SABRA LANE: The total cost all up, how much will it cost and what kind of impact do you think it will have?

SCOTT MORRISON: The Government has had a focus on accommodating people coming through the region and processing and that's been their view through their regional protection framework. We will have a regional deterrence framework which we believe always should have been the focus.

But the cost of these will be outlined at our policy announcement today.

SABRA LANE: Mr Morrison, the Indonesians occasionally seem to have trouble when it comes to search and rescue operations in their own waters when there are boats in distress. Have you got plans in relation to that to help Indonesia?

SCOTT MORRISON: A significant component of this package is about providing the offer of support to put additional capacity into Indonesia's search and rescue capabilities, particularly along the southern Java coast where we've seen so many tragedies.

This is about building the capability to respond in Indonesia's search and rescue zone; but not just the vessels but the maintenance and the support for running those services, but also increasing our own aerial surveillance to earlier detect vessels where we can and use that information to ensure that rescues are put in place and more readily wherever possible.

SABRA LANE: The UN Human Rights Committee late yesterday called on Australia to release 46 detainees who've been in custody. They've been found to be refugees but haven't been released because of security findings. This committee says the continued detainment is inhumane, that these people deserve to be released and compensation.

If you were immigration minister, what would you do?

SCOTT MORRISON: Well, there's a contradiction here. Under the Refugee Convention someone can be found not to be a refugee if there are national security risks involved. And while each of the specific cases are not in front of me, I'm aware of the broader issue which is that where there are national security issues at stake and ASIO has not provided that clearance and there is a process for that to be undertaken, I think people can't just be released into the community.

SABRA LANE: And the committee though said that they found that this is unfair and that these people should be released.

SCOTT MORRISON: Well they're entitled to their view and Australia is entitled to protect its national security.

TONY EASTLEY: The Opposition's immigration spokesman Scott Morrison, speaking to chief political correspondent, Sabra Lane.