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Transcript of interview with Alan Jones: Radio 2GB Sydney: 4 September 2013: Kevin Rudd's PNG election 'fix'; the Coalition's Operation Sovereign Borders Policy; postal vote applications



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Transcript

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

Wednesday 4 September 2013

2GB Sydney with Alan Jones

Subjects: Kevin Rudd’s PNG election ‘fix’, the Coalition’s Operation Sovereign Borders Policy, postal vote applications

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

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ALAN JONES:

Well as I said the Rudd and Gillard Labor parties wouldn’t know truth if it introduced itself to them. I asked you a couple of days ago what you thought was the biggest lie that Kevin Rudd has told in a campaign dominated by them. Perhaps the so called PNG solution to the asylum seeker fiasco. I’ll tell you what though, Mr Rudd’s audacity and ability to say anything know no boundaries. The asylum seekers continue to arrive; since Kevin Rudd abandoned the Howard Government’s border protection policies in 2008 51,200 people have arrived on 815 boats. Since Mr Rudd was reinstated this year as Prime Minister, 5,801 people have arrived on 73 boats. And this thing, the PNG so-called solution, was cobbled together in the shadows of an election and it’s unravelling at the rate of knots. People going to the polls on Saturday must never forget that the starting point for all of this was Kevin Rudd in 2008 dismantling a tough border protection regime that successfully stopped the boats. Rudd axed it to accommodate the chattering classes. People smuggling started again and now this year there have been as many as 4,000 a month. As I said, more than 51,000 have arrived since Kevin Rudd’s fateful decision in 2008. More than 1,100 have died. Has Kevin Rudd apologised? Never. And since he announced his PNG deal, 3,209 asylum seekers have arrived on 45 boats and if you’re lucky one in every 10 has been relocated to Manus Island. Another lie, they’d never be on Australian territory, he said. Well they’re at Christmas Island. This of

course was a two page, 11 paragraph agreement which doesn’t guarantee anything. It certainly doesn’t guarantee that PNG will take all arrivals and why should they anyway? It’s our problem, not theirs. PNG’s Chief Migration Officer Mataio Rabura has almost daily raised concerns in Port Moresby about their ability to cope with asylum seekers. So the deal’s been exposed for what it is - a pre-election fix. No planning, nothing thought through and yet we are pouring $500,000 per asylum seeker of your money since Manus Island became the key to all of this, the PNG solution. $500,000 per asylum seeker, promoting bitter clashes in the jungle between angry locals trying to grab a branch off the money tree. One Manus Island tribal leader is reported to be threatening to sabotage the makeshift detention centre by cutting off water. Local workers are astonished that asylum seekers are receiving free mobile phones, chocolate and ice cream and they’ve staged strikes to lift their pay. Reports that tempers are boiling in the steamy jungle surrounding this temporary centre. One tribal elder vowed to die before allowing construction workers access to gravel during a fiery blockade witnessed by John Lehman from the Daily Telegraph. A village elder told a fellow Manus Island local who had work you can kill every one of us if you want but we’ll be here, we’ll stand and wait. The Manus Island local was digging gravel for the so-called detention centre and the village elder said everywhere you go dig, dig, dig, digging to fill your own pocket but what’s left for us? The only thing is you die or we die, that’s the bottom line and I’m prepared to die on my land. This is what Kevin Rudd has done to Papua New Guinea and to us. Scott Morrison is on the line. Good morning.

SCOTT MORRISON:

Good morning, Alan.

JONES:

Scott Morrison, can I just ask you this. You were a former director of the Liberal Party so you have run several campaigns. Can I ask you this about postal voting in a day of identity fraud and I’m just representing, I suppose, my position because others are in the same boat. I couldn’t believe that when I voted postal yesterday and was meant to put it in the box, the post box to post it into the post office, all my details are exposed on one side of the envelope. Alan Jones, my address in the Southern Highlands, my signature, in a day and age of identity fraud.

MORRISON:

Yes. I think it’s a very valid point that you raised earlier, Alan and I’m sure Bronwyn was listening intently.

JONES:

But how the hell does it get to this?

MORRISON:

Well, you know, I think in our democracy and the way that the system runs, I think that these issues can come up and you made the other point about the Liberal Democrats being registered. I mean, how that happened is a mystery to me as well and I’ve had people in my own electorate down here in the Shire, where it’s a beautiful morning today, who’ve raised similar concerns about these things and so we’ll be taking those up with Bronwyn if we are elected, obviously, and we hope that’s the case on Saturday but we take nothing for granted.

JONES:

The PNG thing is unravelling in a terrible way. Have you had contact with people up there?

MORRISON:

Yes I have and they’ve expressed the same things to me that you have just said and I think the way Tony Burke has handled this has been a contributing factor. I mean, he’s been very dismissive of the local people up there. He thinks he can have a conversation in Port Moresby and everybody up in Manus Island will just have to fall in line. I mean, the guy has no clue about how things operate in Papua New Guinea. I’ve been there many, many times in all sorts of capacities. The same issues on Nauru, it’s just a very dismissive, arrogant attitude and it’s as if everyone has to get in line with Kevin Rudd’s election objectives and fix.

JONES:

So what happens though - you could well be the Immigration Minister on Sunday morning in title, what are you going to do about Manus Island? I mean, the Governor there Charles Benjamin said things are getting bad.

MORRISON:

Yes. We are going to have to stabilise things quickly, I think Alan. I think we’re going to have to go back to first principles up there. I mean, the Manus Island processing centre is also important for us in terms of offshore processing but what we learnt last time around and the government ignored us from our previous experience up there, is you’ve got to get the locals on side and you’ve got to get a set of arrangements in place that is sustainable. Because they’ve done this in such a hurry, in such a mad rush before the election for their fix, once again they just never think these things through. I mean, how are they going to resettle people on Papua New Guinea? They haven’t even started to try and work that out. All they could do was get the ads out at taxpayers’ expense as quickly as possible. But the details they just never think through, now, all of what’s happening on Manus Island at the moment, we thought would happen.

JONES:

I mean that Mataio Rabura whom you know, he is the Chief Migration Officer, he said that the discussions between the Australian Department of Immigration and the Manus Island people have been suspended. He said Australia - what?

MORRISON:

They were suspended and we obtained a letter through our sources which exposed that a week or so ago, and what that highlighted was there actually hadn’t been any talks going on at all when it comes to resettlement. I mean, all of this is back of the napkin stuff from the government and the Chief Migration Officer is the one who’s trying to, you know, put all this together and it’s proving to be an overwhelming challenge. So we’ll salvage what we can from this arrangement but what it highlights is...

JONES:

But I mean will you be - how do you process the assessment of claims for 3,000? I mean, that’s not 30 or 50 or 80 or 20. 3,000 asylum seekers, is that beyond the capacity and capability of Papua New Guinea?

MORRISON:

I think we can have 3,000 accommodated up on Manus Island if we get the stability, the situation under control...

JONES:

But Tony Burke says that he’s confident that Manus Island has a capacity well beyond 10,000, Tony Burke says.

MORRISON:

That’s just bizarre and crazy and he doesn’t know what he’s talking about, clearly. And this guy will say and do anything before the election. I mean he’s claiming credit for the weather now when it comes to arrivals figures. As you said in your introduction, they are five times higher today than they were before the last election. Now, if unemployment was five times higher today than it was three years ago, it would be at 25 percent. Are they claiming that would be a success? I mean these guys will just say and do anything on this...

JONES:

But what about the cultural thing? Non-Melanesian refugees in a Christian and very a proudly Christian society. Is this a recipe for disaster?

MORRISON:

I think it has enormous risk, and anyone who knows anything about PNG knows the difficulties that are involved in this arrangement, whether it is trying to get things happening on Manus Island or the actual resettlement. I put this to the Minister yesterday in our debate. Where is he planning to settle them? Popondetta? Lae? Madang?

JONES:

Well where do you resettle them, because all the land, all the land in Papua New Guinea or up to 97 per cent is owned by family or kinship groups, known as clans or tribes, not the government?

MORRISON:

That’s right. And are you going to give them health care, what are the locals going to say about that? All of those issues they haven’t even worked through and this is why putting all their eggs in one basket on this PNG arrangement is just ludicrous. That’s why we’ve got a plan that goes well beyond PNG. We’ll salvage what we can but we have Nauru, we have turn backs, we have Operation Sovereign Borders, you may have seen today that Tony has announced that Major General Molan will be our special envoy to work on the operational issues on this up through the region and in Indonesia, he has an outstanding relationship with the Indonesian military and the Indonesian police as well as up in Malaysia and through the region. So we’ve got a plan that goes well beyond Papua New Guinea and you need that to actually fix this mess and so on the other side of the election if we are elected, we have the plan, we’re ready to go but they are creating a bigger mess by the day including on Manus Island.

JONES:

And the cultural thing is a worry, I mean you’ve got asylum seekers coming from all those Muslim countries getting housing and benefits and food and education and phones and so on juxtaposed against 10,000 West Papuan refugees...

MORRISON:

That’s right.

JONES:

...living in absolute poverty around Port Moresby and on the Papua New Guinea Indonesian border. How do you reconcile that?

MORRISON:

Well I think it’s going to be very difficult, that’s why we say we will salvage what we can but I’m very familiar with the challenge. I’ve visited some of those West Papuan

refugee camps in Port Moresby Alan, and I know the conditions they live in and the idea of what the government is proposing. I mean, in their own budget figures they are budgeting for 6,000 people to be resettled in Papua New Guinea and they’ve allocated $236 million or there abouts for that task, and they cannot tell you where they can settle one person before this election. They announced it weeks and weeks and weeks ago but they still refuse to answer the questions. Where are you going to resettle them? How are you going to do it? What are they going to get? When is it going to happen? They don’t

know.

JONES:

It’s just a metaphor of the chaos of this mob. I’ve never known anything as incompetent on every front. I mean, we’re just talking about asylum seekers here now but you talk about education, it’s the same thing. You talk about building the education revolution, pink batts, it’s all the same thing. I mean you’ve got PNG security workers. I had contact with a Papua New Guinea official yesterday. The security workers are on $180 a week, and the Australian guards are on $2000, work that out.

MORRISON:

Yeah. Well look. This mob, this government, they never think these things through. They frankly couldn’t forecast the dawn tomorrow if you gave them half a chance because what we’re seeing on Manus Island and other elements of this arrangement was all entirely foreseeable if they actually had half a clue and that’s why we’ve always warned them about these arrangements. Look, it’s going to be very difficult. But what I said yesterday, even put PNG to one side for a second, this mob deserves to go because they let 50,000 people in the back door, over 1,100 people are dead and 15,000 people around the world have been denied visas waiting in camps and horrible places elsewhere because they gave those visas to people who came by boat. And on the other side of this election, if Labor is re-elected, they will give out 30,000 more permanent visas to people who came illegally by boat. On that score alone, this mob should go.

JONES:

Absolutely. I can’t, I say unapologetically to everybody out there, I can’t think of a single reason why you’d give one vote to these people, let alone one seat in the Parliament. And if someone out there says they have 33 percent of the vote, 34 percent

of the vote, then dear old Australia is in some sort of trouble. Thank you for your time, Scott Morrison, and thank you for always being available it’s much appreciated, and good luck on Saturday.

MORRISON:

Thanks very much, Alan.

JONES:

There he is, Scott Morrison.