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Transcript of interview with Tom Elliott: Radio 3AW Melbourne: 23 August 2013: Coalition's policy for Regional Deterrence Framework to Combat People Smuggling



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Transcript

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

23 August 2013

3AW with Tom Elliott

Subjects: The Coalition’s Policy for a Regional Deterrence Framework to Combat People Smuggling

E&OE……………………….………………………………………………………………… …………………………………………

ELLIOTT:

Earlier today I spoke with Scott Morrison- you heard me mention this earlier on in the program - the Liberal Party has a new policy which involves buying back boats, so the way you stop the boats apparently is to buy them in the first place. As I mentioned, earlier today I spoke with the Shadow immigration Spokesman, Scott Morrison, I began by asking exactly how this plan would work. Here’s what he had to say.

MORRISON:

Well, this is part of a broader regional deterrence network. What does that mean? It means actually trying to make the region’s borders stronger, not just our own borders, by putting in place things right up though Indonesia, Malaysia and through Sri Lanka, to stop those boats leaving particularly Indonesia and Sri Lanka. Every boat that turns up in Australia costs the Australian taxpayer $12.8 million so we’ve got to use every tool available to us to stop that happening and them leaving. Now the buyback arrangement would be used at the direction of the Australian Federal Police, working with the Indonesian National Police, and others up there where we think it is the right thing to do to try and disrupt or prevent a boat leaving Indonesia -

ELLIOTT:

Ok, but -

MORRISON:

It won’t happen in every case -

ELLIOTT:

Look, does.

MORRISON:

It is a tool that is available -

ELLIOT:

Mr Morrison, does this mean that you will go to Indonesia and buy a boat before it leaves an Indonesian port?

MORRISON:

That’s exactly how it works in the cases where the intelligence and the AFP and the Indonesian National Police believe that’s the measure we need to do to disrupt that particular operation. So it’s a targeted measure, it’s done where the operational people believe it’s the best tactic to use to deal with what they’ve got in front of them and you’ve got to give these people the tools to do their job and they don’t have them at the moment-

ELLIOTT:

Sure, but -

MORRISON:

They've got their hands tied behind their back, there’s not enough people and there’s not enough funding to support them.

ELLIOTT:

But Mr Morrison, there must be thousands of boats in Indonesia, I mean, we can’t, probably tens if not hundreds of thousands maybe even millions.

MORRISON:

Yes, but that’s why you have to target it and that’s what we are doing, Tom. With the intelligence capacity that we will be building under this programme we announced today. So we will increase our relationships with all of those villages, and up to a hundred villages, and we will be getting ahead of the smugglers and knowing where we can disrupt and when and if that means having to buy a boat back, if that’s going to save not only people's lives who get

on that boat, but also save the taxpayers over $12 million by that boat getting to Australia, then that seems to be a pretty good arrangement.

ELLIOTT:

But isn’t there a risk that you just end up with like a bidding war with people smugglers. So the people smuggler goes along to the fishing villages and says I’ll give you, I don't know, $10,000 for a boat and then they go to the Australian Federal Police and say hey, I’ve been offered 10 how why don’t you give us 12 and then they go back to the people smuggler and say the price is now 12 will you pay 15? I mean, is there not a risk that happens?

MORRISON:

No, for this reason and that is if they are actually fessing up to the fact that that’s what they’re doing then the Australian Federal Police have other measures as well. Because none of these things work in isolation. This is a tool that can be used in the cases where the officers believe it’s the best thing to use. It’s part of disrupting, it’s part of making the lives of people smugglers all so much harder and that’s how you stop this problem so it's everything we’re doing, Tom, it’s not just this. It's getting into those villages themselves and building the relationships and the networks so you can see it coming and you can deal with it and at the moment, the resources just aren’t there and the officers aren’t there to get that job done -

ELLIOTT:

Well -

MORRISON:

And that’s what we’ve announced today.

ELLIOTT:

Ok. So you say it costs almost $13 million per boat that arrives. I assume that’s all the cost of intercepting them and then housing the people etc etc.

MORRISON:

No. That’s just the immigration costs, Tom and that’s just based on the 2011-2012 arrivals so imagine how much it was this past financial year when over 20,000 people turned up.

ELLIOTT:

How many boats can you conceivable see the government buying, I mean, we're talking dozens, hundreds, thousands?

MORRISON:

It's a function of where and how often those on the ground think that needs to be done, now we’ve provided a good budget to do that within this programme and it’s part of the bounty programme as well. Now in some cases, they may believe that a bounty is needed to get

information and information that leads to a significant disruption or a prosecution or particularly conviction. Again, that’s another tool which they don’t have which we want to give them and we want to work with the Indonesian Government to make sure that can be deployed. You’ve heard people say there needs to be a regional solution how many times from the Labor Party but what does it actually mean? It's just talk. What this is actual things that we will actually do.

ELLIOTT:

OK so let’s say this time next year you’re in government, you’re been buying boats every week, you’ve got I don't know 300 boats sitting there. What do you do, do we burn them? Do you do something else with them?

MORRISON:

They will be destroyed.

ELLIOTT:

They’ll all be destroyed?

MORRISON:

Yes.

ELLIOTT:

Ok so but again, I just, I’m struggling to see here, I mean, if you’re a fishing village presumably you only sell the really old leaky boats to the people smugglers, I mean -

MORRISON:

That’s right.

ELLIOTT:

Do you honestly think that we’ll be able to buy enough boats to make a dint in the people smugglers’ business?

MORRISON:

I think we will be able to buy the boats we need to buy to disrupt the activity because it will be targeted. This isn’t some willy nilly programme that the Labor Party’s running. This will be a program run by the Coalition that has thought these issues through and has had the experience of dealing post the Bali bombings with relationships in villages to deal with counter terrorism issues up there. That’s what many of these measures that we’ve outlined today are based on -

ELLIOTT:

That -

MORRISON:

The relationship between the AFP and the Indonesian National Police. It’s a good relationship, it’s an excellent one in fact, but it’s not getting the resource and support that it needs to be more effective than it is now.

ELLIOTT:

Will it be Australians who are in places in Indonesia and In Sri Lanka who are offering to buy these boats or will it be done via their Indonesian counterparts?

MORRISON:

It will be part of a joint operation which, these joint operations currently exist, but they are just not being funded and there’s just not enough of them. Australian Federal Police have been reduced by 40 percent in Indonesia, we’ll more than double that capacity back up from where it is now but we will also put them in places such as Malaysia and Sri Lanka. What I’m talking about here are the people, the AFP officers who are directly involved in the people smuggling operations so there are other AFP officers doing other things up there, this is about increasing the numbers who are there to lead, facilitate, coordinate, engage with the Indonesian National Police to ensure that we get these joint operations running and getting the people smugglers disrupted and arrested and kicked out of town.

ELLIOTT:

Alright, we'd better leave you there, I know you are a busy man and I do appreciate your time. Scott Morrison, thanks for appearing on the programme.

MORRISON:

Thanks a lot, Tom.

ENDS

Media Contact: Julian Leembruggen, 0419 494 667