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Transcript of interview with Ross Greenwood: 2GB: 14 August 2012: Houston Report



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Michael Keenan MP - Federal Member for Stirling 2GB Interview with Ross Greenwood August 14, 2012

Topics: Houston Report

Ross Greenwood

Michael Keenan is the Shadow Minister for Justice, Customs and Border Protection, thank you for your time Michael.

Michael Keenan

Good evening Ross nice to be with you.

Ross Greenwood

You were one of those 41 speakers today in the Parliament. This has been previously a vexatious and also a very emotional debate inside the Parliament. Now that the government has seen fit to change its mind, does this mean the Government appears strong for having changed their mind or is it showing the weakness of its argument for the last four years.

Michael Keenan

I think Australians and your listeners would be entitled to ask what has been happening over the last four years. It was over four years ago that they abolished these measures that they are now reintroducing today. Now when they did that and even if they had high minded ideals about why they were doing that, when they abolished offshore process in Manus and on Nauru, literally the next month people smugglers went back into business. They did that in August of 2008 and in September 2008 people smugglers started sending people down to Australia and it got progressively worse every year. The consequences of what they had done were obvious for everyone to see - they had reinvigorated people smuggling. I think Australians are entitled to ask why has it taken them four years to reverse those decisions that could have avoided this catastrophe in the first place and that would be a very good question.

Ross Greenwood

What do you do about border protection? Do you believe that now this decision has and will be taken by this Parliament that the business of people smuggling will stop quickly?

Michael Keenan

I would like that to be the outcome but I am not convinced that that is what is going to happen because what they have done is only taken one part of the three measures that they should be taking. So they are going to reintroduce what they abolished which is offshore processing on Nauru and on Manus Island in PNG but they won’t be doing the other things that they need to be doing to bring the curtain down on people smugglers, which is turning the boats back around when it is safe to do so, something which the Houston Report says was possible and desirable as a deterrent from people smuggling, and they also need to reintroduce Temporary Protection Visas, which takes away the product that people smugglers can sell. What they are selling is permanent residency in Australia, which is a very attractive product. Temporary Protection Visas say look we will protect you as it appropriate for the duration of the time that you need it but if things change in your homeland then we expect you to return home, which I think people think is perfectly reasonable.

Ross Greenwood

So Temporary Protection Visas, if the Coalition were elected in at the next election that is something that would come in immediately as part of your government?

Michael Keenan

Absolutely. It would happen immediately and we would also immediately issue orders to the Navy that they are no longer going to be a taxi service, picking people up from the Indonesian search and rescue zone and bringing them to Australia. They are actually going to turn the boats back around from where they came. Both of these were part of the planks of policy that the Howard Government used to stop people smuggling. They have all been done before and have all been shown to historically work and even though they were pretty controversial at the time I don’t think anyone could argue that they didn’t do what they intended to do and that was to stop people smuggling. The empirical evidence is impossible to refute. They stopped the boats from coming, once they were implemented.

Ross Greenwood

One of the points that was made in the recommendations was the increase in the number of humanitarian places in Australia to 20,000 per year. Of course those people are coming through the airports rather than coming on boats. You also indicated that this was part of your plan but over three years. Are you now in agreement that the number of humanitarian places should be increased to 20,000 per year?

Michael Keenan

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We currently run a very generous program which is 13,750 and we did make an offer to the Government as part of the negotiations six weeks ago that we would support an increase to 20,000. The Government doesn’t need Parliamentary approval for it. I know from my own experience in my own electorate that if you are going to increase those places it needs to be done with substantial increases in support services. If you are bringing in people on the humanitarian visas they need a lot of support when they arrive in Australia. You wouldn’t want to just arbitrarily increase the number without making sure that people were properly looked after when they got here and if they are not then that program just doesn’t work as well as it should, and people are then left in difficult situations. It is not currently part of our policy but obviously that is something that the government could do without referring back to the Parliament anyway.

Ross Greenwood

But it is not a potential sticking point that could hold this legislation up as it goes through our two Houses of Parliament?

Michael Keenan

No it’s not.

Ross Greenwood

Michael Keenan is the Shadow Minister for Justice, Customs and Border Protection. I know those bells have been ringing in Parliament House Michael and I appreciate your time.

Michael Keenan

That’s ok it is for the Senate so doesn’t affect me. Sorry it interrupted our conversation.

Ross Greenwood

I will let you go anyway. I appreciate it very much.

Michael Keenan

Thanks Ross.

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

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

www.keenan.net.au

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