Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
Transcript of interview with Leon Byner: Radio 5AA Adelaide: 23 August 2013: Coalition's policy for Regional Deterrence Framework to Combat People Smuggling



Download PDFDownload PDF

Transcript

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

Friday 23 August 2013

Interview with 5AA, Leon Byner

Subjects: Coalition’s policy for Regional Deterrence Framework to Combat People Smuggling

EO&E...........................................................................................................................................

LEON BYNER:

I want to talk about the Coalition’s immigration policy that’s been announced and that is that a boat buyback scheme and bounties paid in Indonesia, a part of a crackdown on people smuggling under a Coalition Government. And what they are basically saying is that Australian taxpayers would purchase leaking fishing boats from poor fisherman, I hope they haven’t got mosquitoes on them, because I’ll ask Scott about that too, where intelligence identified they planned to sell them to people smugglers. Alright, so it’s called a Village Watch program. Impoverished Indonesians would also be eligible to be paid bounties if they hand over crucial information under the Coalition’s Regional Deterrence policy. Scott Morrison, good morning.

SCOTT MORRISON:

G’day, Leon.

BYNER:

Now, you’re opposition, the government, is saying this is just naïve rubbish. What do you say to that?

MORRISON:

Well they’re the government that brought over 50,000 people to Australia on their policy so I don’t think they are in any position to make any judgement at all. What this policy is about Leon, and this is only a very small part of it, what you’ve mentioned so far, is to put regional deterrence in place. If we want stronger borders in Australia, we need stronger borders in the region. That means we need a greater police presence working with the Indonesian National Police up through Indonesia but also in Malaysia and also in Sri Lanka. We need to give the people who are doing that police work the tools they need to do the job and

those tools means bounties like you would operate here in Australia if you’re trying to get information. Reaching out into those communities to get information to disrupt and arrest and stop these people getting on boats.

BYNER:

Ok...

MORRISON:

I’ll just make this point - every time a boat turns up in Australia, Leon, it’s costing the Australian taxpayer about $12.8 million. So that’s what it costs if we let the boat come to Australia, so we need to do everything we can to make sure that boat never leaves Indonesia.

BYNER:

So let’s say Mr Fisherman gets an offer from a people smuggler to buy his boat, right? And currently he just sells it and needs the money and then they sell these passengers for $10,000 a ticket and all that sort of stuff, we know that. Ok. So what would be different here?

MORRISON:

What would be different here is, first of all, we’d be working in those villages and in those communities to find out where the smugglers are moving and what they’re looking to do and from that we will be able to identify where we would need to use these arrangements, the tools available for people go and buy those boats if that’s what they need to do. But that will be left as an operational decision for people who are working within each of those villages. I mean, the bigger part of the program, which is actually the more expensive part of the program, is just getting out and getting in to up to 100 villages across Indonesia in the first place. Now this was done with the counterterrorism initiatives after the Bali bombing where there was an excellent partnership between the Indonesian National Police and the Australian Federal Police and we worked in villages all across Indonesia and it was tremendously successful, and that’s what we plan to do again in this area.

BYNER:

So can you say how much and how many boats would be brought back?

MORRISON:

First of all, they would be destroyed if we were to take them on but secondly we would never give people smugglers a heads up about how we would do that operationally, they will find out our tactics when they’re confronted by them.

BYNER:

Ok so you buy the boats and destroy them.

MORRISON:

That’s right.

BYNER:

So notionally, a people smuggler has bought a boat from a fisherman or has an arrangement to get the boat handed over and he has...

MORRISON:

We would get it before they did. That’s the whole point, the...

BYNER:

Then you go and buy the boat so they haven’t got that boat.

MORRISON:

That’s right. There’s every...

BYNER:

So ...

MORRISON:

That’s right.

BYNER:

Well see, what could easily happen, these are market forces so you’ll cause a shortage of boats so that the people smuggler will then go to another fisherman and offer more to buy the boat he couldn’t buy before and then he’ll put the price of the passage up and they’ll probably get it.

MORRISON:

Well if the prices go up then people are less likely to get on these things, particularly when they are also faced with the risk of being turned back at sea which is also our policy, genuine offshore processing and everything else we’ve got in place and they may not even get to the beach because with our intelligence network we build up by what we’re doing to outreach to the villages and having a greater policy presence. All of this disrupts along the whole way. We’ve talked about this many times, it’s no one thing, you’ve got to have everything...

BYNER:

Alright.

MORRISON:

This is another tool we will put in the kit to make ensure that we frustrate and disrupt.

BYNER:

Scott, are you aware of a very important story where there are researchers at the University of Queensland who’ve identified a deadly threat, mosquito threat, out of Indonesia into Australia?

MORRISON:

I just had a briefing, well I heard of it this morning talking to someone up in North Queensland actually. I mean these are sort of the risks that are posed but you would want to get a proper briefing on the nature of the risks and the best measures to mitigate against it. All of these things pose as potential risks when your

borders are out of control and that’s why we have to gain control of them and under this government 50,000 people have turned up on over 800 boats.

BYNER:

The point I keep making is that we are generally seeing border protection discussed at a political level almost exclusively about boat incursions. Now I know there’s a good reason for that because the debt that it’s caused, the overreach of money that they didn’t think they’d have to spend that they have is over $11 billion ...

MORRISON:

That’s right.

BYNER:

But border protection is also about quarantine, it’s about not bringing diseases, it’s all those things and again we hear about the people smuggling but what about all those other issues?

MORRISON:

Well all of those are important as well, Leon, stopping guns coming into the country is important as well, stopping drugs coming into the country. I mean, it isn’t just about people smuggling. People smuggling is the area where the government has most lost control but all of these also require focus, you’ve got to get your borders under control for all those reasons. The Coalition’s determination on people smuggling will be equalled by our commitment on all of these other issues including the quarantine issues and disease issues. We will protect and secure our borders, that’s what Coalition Governments do.

BYNER:

Alright, now we’ve had a couple of emailers asking the question, given that there appears to be quite a bit of corruption in Indonesia and many countries like this, isn’t that really a big problem for us?

MORRISON:

Well it is and that’s often the case, it’s also the case in places like Papua New Guinea, that’s just a natural fact of life that you have to deal with and that’s why you need to work closely with the government of these countries. I mean, we have an excellent relationship with Indonesia and the measures we are announcing today are all about putting some substance into those relationships, in terms of tackling and addressing people smuggling. It’s not good enough just to get on planes and going to conferences, that’s Kevin Rudd’s approach, he gets on planes and goes and has meetings and then nothing ever happens. This is about putting police in place. This is about having rewards for getting information that stops boats leaving Indonesia, this is about putting stronger border controls at points of entry into Indonesia and Malaysia. It’s also, Leon, about increasing Indonesia’s capability to respond in search and rescue situations off the southern Javan coast. So these are all practical things we’re talking about, things that would actually happen, not just people going to meetings on planes.

BYNER:

There’s another point here. You talk as if people smuggling is a serious issue and I don’t think anybody will have a problem with that, except that we’ve sent back to Indonesia people who were charged with people smuggling offences and we’ve also seen Indonesia itself regard very lightly, in a legal sense, people smuggling as an offence. Now isn’t that part of a problem?

MORRISON:

Of course it is. This government under their own Attorney General gave an instruction not to prosecute first time offenders running boats to Australia. That’s what Nicola Roxon instructed her officials to do in terms of people coming to Australia illegally by boat and the crews. So how can anyone take a government seriously that’s prepared to do that? And this is part of the point, how can the region take Australia seriously on these issues when Australia isn’t stumping up in terms of their own responsibilities? That’s why we’re saying very clearly today, in an encouraging message to the region as an offer, the regional cooperation you will get from a Coalition Government is one that’s backed up with resources and a commitment to actually do things, not just attend meetings.

BYNER:

Now, there’s one other point here, you’re quoted as saying today that not only will buying the boats have an impact but you are also talking about stopping passengers getting into Indonesia in the first place.

MORRISON:

That’s right

BYNER:

Clearly, what they’re doing is going to an airport with documents and buying an air ticket and getting on a plane. How are you going to stop that?

MORRISON:

Well we already have in Australia advanced passenger clearance processes and there’s technology associated with that. There’s the need to train border officials in Indonesia and put different technology in place. You’ll find all those things in Singapore and we’ve had those discussions with officials there. It’s about getting the better technology and better processes into airports in Indonesia and Malaysia and there’s been some improvement in that of late but we need to keep working on that. As I said, it’s about having stronger borders in the region to have stronger borders in Australia, and that’s what regional cooperation should focus on. It’s all been very airy fairy with the government when they talk about regional cooperation. These are hard tangible measures that will be introduced and meaningful cooperation that delivers the deterrence outcome.

BYNER:

Alright, Scott Morrison, thank you. That’s the Coalition’s Immigration Spokesperson, Scott Morrison, explaining their election policy with regards to asylum seekers.

ENDS