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Transcript of interview with Laura Jayes: Saturday Agenda: 18 May 2013: Budget Labor's border protection failures



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Michael Keenan MP - Federal Member for Stirling Saturday Agenda Interview with Laura Jayes May 18, 2013

Topics: Budget / Labor’s border protection failures

Laura Jayes

Welcome back to Saturday Agenda. Now joining me from Perth, where it is very early in the morning, the Shadow Minister for Justice, Customs and Border Protection Michael Keenan. Thanks so much for joining me.

Michael Keenan

It is nice to be with you Laura.

Laura Jayes

First of all I just want to ask you about a story in The Australian newspaper today. A blueprint for disabling the Carbon Tax has been revealed. Preparations would be made to go to a double dissolution election within five months. Is the electorate going to reward you for that?

Michael Keenan

That would obviously be a nuclear option but there is no more central issue to this election than the abolition of the Carbon Tax. If we were to be successful at the election and then the Labor Party were to stand in the way of the abolition of the Carbon Tax, which I think is highly unlikely, then all options would be on the table for us to see through the will of the people. I think it is highly unlikely that the Labor Party, knowing that the Carbon Tax is a central part of the upcoming election campaign, if they were to lose, would then stand in the way of the will of the people being implemented.

Laura Jayes

It has been a busy budget week. Tony Abbott has flagged a tax white paper. For the GST not to be included in that it would be quite odd wouldn’t it?

Michael Keenan

It would be odd. I think we need to make a few points. Firstly we are going to see a lot of hysterical claims from the Labor Party in the lead up to polling day in September. The GST is a tax that is actually part of a compact between the states and territories and of the Commonwealth and you can’t change the rate of the GST without the agreement of all the states and territories, including the Labor states.

Laura Jayes

Would you like to see an increase or the base broadened?

Michael Keenan

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No these are not decisions for me to make. The point is that this is just another hysterical claim from the Labor Party. There are no plans for us to increase the GST and it is a state based tax anyway. You couldn’t make any changes to the GST without the agreement of every government within Australia and clearly that is not on the agenda.

Laura Jayes

On to your portfolio areas now. The Government is cutting 40 per cent of the AFP contingent in Jakarta, which focuses on people smuggling. Obviously you don’t support that but would you reverse it in government?

Michael Keenan

This is just one of the crazy decisions that we have seen from the Labor Party in my portfolio areas. They are responsible for the complete breakdown of the border protection system in Australia and yet they are cutting the very agencies that are responsible for cleaning up the mess. To reduce the contingent of AFP officers in Jakarta, who are very successfully liaising with their counterparts on people smuggling, by 40 per cent is just an astonishing decision. Of course we would look at reversing cuts like that because they are just silly. We will make sure that we have our frontline law and order services properly resourced to do the job that we expect of them and we just wouldn’t make silly decisions like this.

Laura Jayes

There is another report this morning that two more asylum seekers may have died at sea. This may very well be your problem in about four months time so relying on temporary protection visas, offshore processing and turning the boats around, how long do you give this to work to slow the flow of boats before you have to start looking at other measures?

Michael Keenan

I think the measures we take will have an immediate impact. People smugglers will see that there has been an administration change in Canberra, if we are successful, and that we are serious about closing them down. That is a very important message that we need to get out from the very first day of a new government, if we are successful at the election. I think that the people smugglers understand that if there is a change of administration that they will be dealing with a government that is going to close them down and that in its self will have a very great effect.

Laura Jayes

Well they are tough words and we have heard from Scott Morrison in the last few weeks saying that he will go to war on people smugglers. If that doesn’t translate into stopping the boats and the three key measures that you have got don’t work, do you have something in the bottom draw if you like, to really crack down? You have made a promise to the electorate and how long do you give before we start seeing a reduction? Will it be months or will it be years for this boat flow to at least slow down?

Michael Keenan

The Australian people need to be in absolutely no doubt that we will stop the boats. We have a suite of measures that have worked in the past and we expect that it would work again but I can assure all Australians, and also we will send this message very clearly to the people smugglers, that we have the resolve to do whatever is necessary to close down that evil trade and we will close it down.

Laura Jayes

In another area of your portfolio Justice, you said that you will take steps to give more power to the Australian Crime Commission to target the wealth of criminals but how does this differ from the Government’s already announced

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unexplained wealth laws?

Michael Keenan

The first thing you need to know about the Australian Crime Commission is that since the Labor Party came to office they have had their budget and personnel cut by roughly 40 per cent. This is an agency that has been completely savaged by the Labor Party. What we would do is we would implement in total the recommendations that were made by a very good Parliamentary Committee, chaired by a Labor Party Member I might add, into strengthening the unexplained wealth legislation in Australia to make sure that the ACC can use all their very extensive powers to call in somebody who they think has made all their wealth through criminal activity and ask them where that money has come from. We differ from the Labor Party in that we will enact a much stronger and more strident set of laws then they are proposing to do.

Laura Jayes

Is it building on the laws that they have proposed or is it something completely separate?

Michael Keenan

They have cherry picked some of the recommendations from the Parliamentary Committee that said that Australia’s wealth confiscation laws were to weak to work and what we will do is implement it in total. It was a very good Parliamentary Committee. It was chaired as I said by a Labor Party Member. It made broad bipartisan recommendations after they had spent a lot of time taking evidence about what would work and what wouldn’t work and we believe that the ACC, which is Australia’s most powerful law enforcement body, should be deploying those powers to target our most successful criminals and one way that you do that is by attacking the money they have made through their criminal activity and we will do exactly that.

Laura Jayes

Now Tony Abbott has promised to slash more than 12,000 public servant’s jobs. It could be up to 20,000. Given the pressures that you have outlined that some agencies are facing, will you guarantee or will you seek clarification from Tony Abbott that these agencies that you speak of under your watch will be quarantined from any of those cuts?

Michael Keenan

No Shadow Minister is in a position to do that but I can certainly say that we will always prioritise frontline services and we will particularly prioritise frontline law and order services. The agencies that, if I get to be Minister, that I will be responsible for are agencies that have been very extensively resourced by Liberal governments in the past and they can expect that they will have the resources that they need to do the job that the Australian people expect of them under a future Abbott Government.

Laura Jayes

Michael Keenan thanks so much for joining us from Perth this morning. A very early morning for you we appreciate it.

Ends……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….

© Authorised by Michael Keenan MP, 203 Wanneroo Road, Tuart Hill WA 6060

www.keenan.net.au

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