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Transcript of interview with Tony Burke: Sunrise- Big Guns of Politics: 14 September 2012



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E&OE…………………………………………………………………………………

PRESENTER:

Let’s talk to our Big Guns of Politics, Environment Minister Tony Burke, and Shadow Treasurer Joe Hockey. Good morning gents. Now, families are being prepared for transport to Nauru - the kids have apparently been told they will be going to a ‘special city’ for six months. Tony, are you trying to sugar coat it? And I notice the human rights watchdog says you may have legal challenges on this.

TONY BURKE:

I don’t think there is any way of sugar coating the situation on Nauru. This is tough - but it’s not a prison environment. The children go to school. There are education facilities and that is in place. But there is no way of sugar coating this - it is tough, and it is for a reason. We want to make sure there is no advantage for people in getting on a boat.

PRESENTER:

Joe, another boat intercepted yesterday - as we said, 148 people. The Government is doing offshore processing - what you wanted all along, but they are still coming.

JOE HOCKEY:

Because we wanted two other things as well - Temporary Protection Visas and where possible, where it is safe to do so, turn the boats around. Temporary Protection Visas are really important because they ensure, if the people get to Australia, they are not guaranteed permanent residency. If their country stabilises - as is the case with Sri Lanka - and if they are on Temporary Protection Visas, they can be sent back there when it stabilises.

PRESENTER:

So why didn’t you do that, Tony? Why don’t you do the second leg?

TONY BURKE:

Well no-one ever got sent back with Temporary Protection Visas and when they were introduced the number of boats went up, not down.

JOE HOCKEY:

Well, we did send people back. The Kosovars are a very good example. During the war there we accepted people from Kosovo ..

TONY BURKE:

They weren’t on TPVs.

JOE HOCKEY:

No, but when we did, we did send them back. We said we were prepared to send them back.

TONY BURKE:

Sunrise - Big Guns of Politics Friday, 14 September 2012 Errors and Omissions Excepted

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But they weren’t on TPVs.

PRESENTER:

Tony, what are you going to do once it is full? You have had more people arrive in the last month than Nauru can take. So now what?

TONY BURKE:

As this is implemented there is Nauru, there is Manus Island. Obviously we have always believed Malaysia should be there as well. The Opposition weren’t willing to come at that. We have had that argument before.

PRESENTER:

But it’s not. So then what happens?

TONY BURKE:

We believe the principles we put in place - we are following through on what the expert panel said -we believe it is going to make a difference. It’s what the experts recommended - it’s what we are following through.

PRESENTER:

Let’s talk fishing now and the Government’s controversial two year ban on that super trawler fishing in Australian waters has passed the lower house with the support of the independent MP Tony Windsor. Tony, what did you have to do to convince him to support it?

TONY BURKE:

Not enough actually, we didn’t get Tony Windsor. Tony Windsor voted with Joe. We ended up with Rob Oakeshott coming across…

PRESENTER:

My apologies.

TONY BURKE:

And for Rob, ultimately, he wants to make sure the review of fisheries management we are doing fixes the system so we don’t have to have an Environment Minister intervening all the time. So the new rules we have put in place, the intervention will only be possible for 12 months and then that section will expire.

PRESENTER:

Okay Joe, why is the Opposition opposed on this? You are joined by quite a few scientists.

JOE HOCKEY:

For a start, for three years this has been going on. Tony actually facilitated the entry of - this is Tony Burke - facilitated the entry of the super trawler into Australia.

TONY BURKE:

How?

JOE HOCKEY:

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Because over the past three years you have changed the fisheries rules to allow boats to come on scale, on the basis of economics.

TONY BURKE:

That’s not true.

JOE HOCKEY:

Well I understand it is. It has actually been reported in Parliament. And then the boat comes in - the guys are complying with all the laws and then there is a reaction from the Minister and the Government that says ‘sorry guys, you can’t do it’. The bottom line is the new law can, prospectively, close down a licensed fishing vessel - someone who gets a licence after September - borrows money against their home, gets a fishing licence, goes out and trawls and the Minister - based on environmental uncertainty - can say ‘sorry guys, you are out of business for two years”.

TONY BURKE:

Sorry, to say that somehow I invited it in is just entirely untrue.

JOE HOCKEY:

Tony, I said you facilitated it, and you facilitated it.

TONY BURKE:

Nothing.

JOE HOCKEY:

You didn’t do anything? It just turned up?

TONY BURKE:

No. There was no action by me that I’ve ever taken that encouraged this.

JOE HOCKEY:

You facilitated this, you facilitated this!

TONY BURKE:

I don’t know what you are basing this on?

JOE HOCKEY:

I’m basing it on the information that has been presented to Parliament.

TONY BURKE:

I know Greg Hunt made a speech in Parliament which I then stood up and explained why it was wrong. So that having been done now, to revisit it now… Yesterday, we had a vote, and on the basis of that vote, either the super trawler was going to two years of additional science and checks on it or, after the vote, it was going to be able to go fishing straight away.

JOE HOCKEY:

The bottom line is - have they complied with the law up until now?

TONY BURKE:

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Up until now, yeah, they have.

JOE HOCKEY:

And now you change the law when the boat arrives.

TONY BURKE:

That’s right, because I believe the law fell short of what we need to do.

JOE HOCKEY:

And it was approved by your committee. The super trawler was approved by your committee, headed up by a former state Labor treasurer. Is that right?

TONY BURKE:

In AFMA, yes, in applying rules that I believed were inadequate.

PRESENTER:

Okay, gents, we have to leave it there. Thankyou.

JOE HOCKEY:

We still love each other.

PRESENTER:

Yeah, I know, hugs and kisses all around.

[ENDS]

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