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Transcript of interview with Jason Morrison: 22 April 2013: Labor's border protection failures/ASIO background checks



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Michael Keenan MP - Federal Member for Stirling 2UE Interview with Jason Morrison April 22, 2013

Topics: Labor’s border protection failures/ASIO background checks

Jason Morrison

Michael Keenan is with us. He is the Shadow Minister for Justice. Afternoon to you.

Michael Keenan

Good afternoon Jason, Nice to be with you.

Jason Morrison

You too. ‘Risk adverse’, interesting phrase that?

Michael Keenan

I think it was just a common sense view that we need to make sure that people who come into Australia are people who want to be members of our community. The problem is when you have lost control over who is coming to Australia then clearly you have lost control of some of the leavers that you would use to keep out these sorts of people who we don’t want to come into our country.

Jason Morrison

Now what is interesting, when I read through just these three who have popped up in this story from The West Australian, and I am sure there are many more through the scatterings of people in there many thousands who have arrived here unlawfully. There would be people who our systems probably haven’t even had the capability of flagging yet because our computer systems don’t talk with the same level as they may do with some of these other countries?

Michael Keenan

It is also just the scale of the people who are coming in here. We have had over 38,000 people arrive illegally and when you are dealing with such an enormous influx of arrivals coming in on boats, the likes of which we have never seen before in this country, it is very difficult for our security agencies to make an accurate assessment about who it is that has arrived here and the circumstances in which they have come to Australia. It is just the sheer volume that we are dealing with that makes it so hard to do that job effectively in identifying people and saying yes you are somebody that we are happy to have in the Australian community.

Jason Morrison

Yet the Australian public are made to feel like they are heartless people for even suggesting for a second that we should be going through with a fine tooth comb and making sure that everyone who shows up here, who is given the free pass to everything when they get here, that they are in fact of impeccable character. There is almost this suggestion that the way ASIO behaves towards some people who show up here on boats without any documentation or papers, ASIO should just fan them through.

Michael Keenan

That is right and we completely reject that. ASIO are doing their job of making an assessment about whether the people who come here are going to pose a threat to the community and we support them in doing that work. What I am very concerned about though is, where ASIO used to do a much more comprehensive assessment of people who have come here illegally, the volume now makes that impossible. They can no longer do the comprehensive assessment that would have been done in the past and essentially it is very difficult for them to do anything more than a tick and flick exercise when they are asked to assess people who have arrived here illegally and don’t have even basic identity documents, so we can’t identify who they are or where they have come from.

Jason Morrison

I am reading the story here about the Egyptian man who is being held, thankfully, in immigration detention, who showed up here on a boat. The Egyptian man is an accused terrorist who shows up on what they call Interpol’s red notice alert system. Now you make that list if you are in Al Qaeda, you are associated with serious international organised crime. He is on that list and he showed up here and there are people who in the Parliament that you are in who actually think that he should be treated like he is a needy visitor?

Michael Keenan

I think most Australians would expect that someone who arrives in Australia and doesn’t meet the character tests, that we would like to apply to people who have been released into the community, be treated appropriately. Now obviously we saw that story in The West Australian on Saturday and I have written today to my counterpart, because I am Acting

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Shadow Immigration Minister at the moment, to the Immigration Minister seeking clarification about the circumstances that have occurred here. Now if what has been published is true then the Government needs to explain to the Australian people why that has been allowed to happen and what they are going to do about it.

Jason Morrison

What I don’t get is why he isn’t on a plane somewhere. If he is on a wanted list as an international terrorist and whatever we may think of another nation’s legal system, Egypt wants him as a terrorist, yet we are actually giving him some kind of safe harbour here are we not? Why is he not going back to there and being called to answer for the crimes, let alone the man who is wanted for killing a girlfriend and the other one wanted for international drug trafficking.

Michael Keenan

They are all very good questions and we are seeking clarification from the Government about them. In terms of the details they will need to be put to the Government because we certainly weren’t aware of any of this until it was raised.

Jason Morrison

But what I want to establish because a lot of people would be well aware that it is looking like you are going to end up the government. Will it be your view that if somebody shows up here and they are on the red light list for immigration for Interpol that you would say righto thanks very much mate but seeya?

Michael Keenan

If someone is a risk to the community then you certainly won’t find them in low level detention under our Government and we would treat people appropriately if we had concerns about them being a danger to the Australian community.

Jason Morrison

What murder suspects as well, I mean whether they are a danger to the community or not is something that some people might want to debate but if they are wanted by fair countries, and I see Sri Lanka as a country that is reasonably stable at the moment, as stable as Sri Lanka will ever be, would you want it that he would be on the next flight back to go face those charges there?

Michael Keenan

We would need to deal with people through due process. If you have committed a crime in another country which you are wanted for and we can safely return you home to face what we assess to be a reasonable justice system then we certainly would have no problem in returning people under those circumstances. Particularly for the sorts of crime that has been raised in those reports, murder which of course you cannot get a more serious crime than that and we certainly would have no problem in returning people home under those circumstances.

Jason Morrison

No asylum for drug traffickers, whether they are suspected or not. If they are on a list and another country calls them a drug trafficker I would be kind of inclined to listen to that?

Michael Keenan

The whole point of seeking asylum is that you are supposed to be escaping persecution from your government. Now Australia has obligations to grant people asylum in those circumstances but it certainly isn’t for criminals who are fleeing their home jurisdiction and we will make sure that our system cannot be used for that. What we need to do in the first instance, really what the heart of this problem is, is we must stop people coming here illegally in the first place. When you have got hundreds of people rolling up in the space of a week it becomes so hard for you to provide appropriate checks and balances in a way that you can when you have control over the immigration system. Stopping the boats is the most important step in all of this. We wouldn’t be facing these sorts of problems or issues if we had managed to close down people smuggling.

Jason Morrison

I guess all I am looking for, I want people to be able to be comfortable with the fact that when there is a change of regime running the country, that we will actually start to stand up for the principles of the country and that we wont have people who most of us would regard as bad news in our country not given some kind of protection. Even if they are being held in some sort of detention, if you are an accused terrorist there are places for you and not in immigration detention I would have thought?

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Michael Keenan

I can easily give you and your listeners that assurance and you are exactly right. If you are an accused terrorist low level immigration detention is not a place for you to be and we certainly won’t accept that.

Jason Morrison

Thanks for talking to me.

Michael Keenan

Happy to talk to you Jason.

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

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

www.keenan.net.au

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