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Transcript of interview with Kieran Gilbert: Sky News AM Agenda: 22 November 2012: Latest boat arrivals, offshore processing on Nauru, Manus



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Michael Keenan MP - Federal Member for Stirling Sky News AM Agenda with Kieran Gilbert November 22, 2012

Subjects: Latest boat arrivals, offshore processing on Nauru, Manus

Kieran Gilbert

Let’s go to Michael Keenan now. Joining me now is Michael Keenan, Shadow Minister for Justice, Customs and Border Protection, who joins us now from Perth. Michael Keenan you’ve just heard what David Manne had to say - what’s the Opposition’s response to that criticism of the language that’s been used to describe asylum seekers as “illegal”?

Michael Keenan

Well actually Kieran you’ll have to forgive me as I couldn’t hear everything David Manne had to say as we were fiddling around with the sound in the studio here, but I have heard the parameters of this debate and I think we need to be very clear that people smuggling is a criminal activity and it is done by vicious criminals and there is plenty of evidence that they have links to other criminal activity. I find this debate about whether it is illegal or not to come here without permission is a little bit bemusing. Of course it’s not legal or lawful to cross a nation’s borders without permission and without the correct documentation.

Kieran Gilbert

But just to fill you in on what David Manne said, he said “under international law, under our own Australian law, anyone is entitled to claim asylum in another country, with or without documentation.”

Michael Keenan

Well that’s true, but people smuggling is not a lawful activity, it’s a criminal activity, and Kieran I do think this is very much a red herring in what is a far more significant debate about what we’re going to do with the enormous flood of illegal arrivals that we’re forced to deal with because of the Government’s failed policies.

Kieran Gilbert

It’s international law though isn’t it more than a red herring, that people are - well in a moment we’ll get to the Government’s failed policies as you’ve described it - but in terms of Mr Abbott describing it “people who have come here illegally to this country need to know that they’re breaking our laws.” The people smugglers might be but the asylum seekers aren’t are they?

Michael Keenan

Well as I’ve said, it’s not lawful to cross a border without permission or correct documentation. People smuggling is done by very vicious criminals and it is certainly an illegal activity. And as I’ve said I don’t think this debate takes us very much further on what we should be focussing on, and that is how we stop people smuggling in the first place and why Australia is facing this unprecedented rate of illegal arrivals.

Kieran Gilbert

Ok so we don’t go around in circles let’s move on. The Government’s now basically adopted all the key components of the Coalition policy and it’s still not working?

Michael Keenan

Well sadly they haven’t, and that’s the problem. They’ve adopted one component of it, and that is offshore processing, and they’ve been dragged kicking and screaming to do that. What we have always said, is that the whole suite of policies that the Howard government used to stop people smuggling needs to be returned to. That is offshore processing on Manus and Nauru, but very importantly that should be done in conjunction with Temporary Protection Visas and turning the boats back around when it’s safe and appropriate to do so.

That’s the first point - they haven’t implemented the full suite of Howard government policies that they need to. Secondly, the problem is now Labor itself - the Government has made so many announcements, so many different backflips and had so many different positions on this that when they say they’re going to do something, nobody takes them seriously. About three months ago they were saying that if you come to Australia by boat you were going to be processed offshore, they’ve abandoned that policy yesterday.

This is just the latest in a series of backflips, and a series of positions they have put that they are unable to follow through with or they haven’t had the resolve to follow through with. And the problem is now that they have no credibility when they

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announce they’re going to do something, and this backflip yesterday is just another example of that.

Kieran Gilbert

The Government sent back just over 500 people in the last couple of months, so there has been some resolve, or at least progress on that front, on those that have been found not to have legitimate asylum claims.

Michael Keenan

Well we’ve had over 7,600 people arrive and the Government is bragging about sending 500 people back. Under the rate of arrivals at the moment, that is about one week’s worth of illegal arrivals so clearly when they brag about sending back such a minute percentage of the enormous amount of people who are arriving here illegally then that is just another pointer to their failed policies. This Government does not know what they’re doing and continue to make it up as they go along.

Kieran Gilbert

Michael Keenan I appreciate your time, very early over there in Perth, thanks very much.

Michael Keenan

Good to talk to you Kieran.

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

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

www.keenan.net.au

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