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Transcript of interview with Paul Murray: Radio 2UE: 21 August 2013: boat tragedy off Christmas Island; Kevin Rudd's PNG election fix

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Scott Morrison MP Shadow Minister for Immigration and Citizenship Shadow Minister for Productivity and Population Coalition Campaign Spokesman

Wednesday 21 August 2013

Interview: 2UE with Paul Murray

Subjects: Boat tragedy off Christmas Island, Kevin Rudd’s PNG election fix



MURRAY: This is a tragedy that is unfolding on this government’s watch but more importantly it is something that must be stopped. Scott Morrison, should the election go the way the polls are, it will be his job in about two and a bit weeks to start turning this around. He joins me now, the Shadow Immigration Minister. Scott, good morning.

MORRISON: Good morning, Paul.

MURRAY: Now, five people die, the politics needs to be sensitive here because if we point out the obvious, the left will have a go for trying to politicise death but the point is five people died who shouldn’t have died yesterday.

MORRISON: Well these are tragedies and they are as equal to the tragedies of the more than 1,100 who have suffered a similar fate at sea over the last five years. This is an issue that the Coalition has obviously been concerned about for many, many years and going back all

of those years when we raised these concerns, the government didn’t have the same view about the urgency of the matters they say they have today. I’m pleased that at least we’ve got to that point and there is at least a consensus that the problem needs to be addressed which wasn’t around for a long time. But the problem does have to be addressed, it is real and we need the measures in place that we believe are going to address this and that’s why we have been so consistent and so forthright in advocating on this issue over such a long time.

MURRAY: So if this government has spent all the money that it has, all the political capital that it has, it’s thrown itself in front of the bus to try to make it seem like, alright we’re going to stop the boats, we’re doing all the deals, we’re buying off the third world island nations. Why are people still chancing their hand here?

MORRISON: Because we’ve heard it all before from the government, we’ve heard it from this Minister before and all the other ministers before. They’ve predicted success for every single one of their failures over the last five years, and there have been plenty in the media who have been happy to cheer that on as well. My great concern is this, Paul, and that is, I’ve seen all of their one solution fixes before and when they unravel, like they inevitably do, the problem comes back even worse than before. Whether it was the Malaysian people swap or the East Timor election fix or the asylum freeze or the regional cooperation framework. I’ve just been through so many of them and they keep unravelling and they keep talking them up and then down the track they keep falling over and the people keep getting on boats in more numbers every time one of their solutions fails. As so, as people think about this election, I think what’s relevant here is the form and you’ve got to judge parties and leaders and politicians on their form. Our form is such that we believe we can get this done, we have done it before, we have carefully thought through all of our policies and we’ve had a consistent position on this for more than a decade so I think people know where we are coming from and what our resolve is.

MURRAY: Now also I think, left, right and all in between, what I find offensive about the way the government is handling this, and they are politically handling it as much as anything else, is the massaging of language. To say that boats, the tide has been slowing, well that’s because of Ramadan, now it’s fired up again and today their verbal response to five people dying will be to use words like test our resolve and challenge. They won’t see this for the human tragedy that it is.

MORRISON: Well I would hope that they would, and look I wouldn’t make that comment, Paul. I would hope and I certainly believe that everyone in politics who is trying to address this issue comes at it from trying to prevent these deaths at sea but you’ve got to have the policies that actually achieve that. I mean, why arrivals may have dipped a bit in the last couple of weeks, if they indeed have - I know the Minister was trying to talk that up. We won’t know the effect of this for many months down the track and that’s been the case

with previous big election fixes that they’ve tried before. There are other factors like you say, there’s Ramadan, there’s also been weather issues. But to try and go over the details of every latest arrival or something like that and try to read something into whether that has worked or not worked for grand border policy. Look I don’t think they would know for months with this sort of an issue, I mean we don’t even have the capacity of 3,000 on Manus Island yet, the issues of resettlement in Papua New Guinea are extraordinarily difficult and there is not one page of detail about how they’re actually going to do that. We’ve had the PNG Government actually come out over the last week or so contradicting the government’s claims about how this is all going to work. I’ve seen the seeds of that in previous announcements the government has made as well, they say, it’s all going well, it’s all going to work, just trust us, they’ll run some advertising, but then you get three months down the track and it’s all in a terrible heap and more people are coming and we have the problem just like we had before. I mean this thing becomes like a virus, every time the Labor Party fails to solve it, it mutates and comes back even stronger.

MURRAY: Mr Morrison nice to talk to you, thanks for making time.

MORRISON: Thank you, Paul. Thanks for your time.