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Transcript of interview with Michael Brissenden: ABC AM: 8 November 2016: Migration Legislation Amendment (Regional Processing Cohort) Bill



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The Hon Peter Dutton MP Minister for Immigration and Border Protection

TRANSCRIPT

Interview with Michael Brissenden, ABC AM Programme

08 November 2016

Subjects: Migration Legislation Amendment (Regional Processing Cohort) Bill.

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

MICHAEL BRISSENDEN:

I'm joined now by the Immigration Minister, Peter Dutton. Peter Dutton, good morning.

PETER DUTTON:

Good morning Michael.

MICHAEL BRISSENDEN:

The legislation for the ban as we said is going to the house today. It doesn't look like you'll get Labor's support. You wouldn't really expect it, would you?

PETER DUTTON:

Well I would have thought Labor had learnt their lessons from when Kevin Rudd was in government. Clearly they haven't.

I mean Chris Bowen strangely was sent out by the Labor Party today, but he was a beacon of the failure of the Rudd years when they lost control of their borders. In fact 25,000 people on 400 boats came during Chris Bowen's time as Immigration Minister and as we know in total 1,200 people tragically drowned and we're just not going to return to those days.

It seems to me more apparent than ever that the sensible Right within the Labor Party, within the Labor caucus, has been rolled by the very boisterous Left and I think that is a real concern for Bill Shorten.

MICHAEL BRISSENDEN:

As you heard there, Labor is cynical about this. I mean, is it more about politics, trying to wedge Labor? I mean why do you need to do this now?

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PETER DUTTON:

Well Michael there are a couple of fundamental points that need to be understood by the Labor Party and I think the Australian people get it well ahead of the Labor Party. That is the problem of people smugglers has not gone away and frankly until we discover world peace and people won't move to try and find a better economic environment for their families we will always have irregular movements of people.

MICHAEL BRISSENDEN:

Sure, sure, but the policy was working. As you said, the boats had stopped. Two weeks ago, three weeks ago things were different.

PETER DUTTON:

So there are a couple of fundamental points here. We have stopped successful boat arrivals. We have turned almost 30 boats back. We've got 14,000 people in Indonesia. All of the intelligence indicates that if people see the green light to get to Australia again, if those 14,000 hopped onto boats or even 400 of them hopped onto boats and successfully arrived here, there would be tens if not hundreds of thousands of people coming from Europe, making a trek into Jakarta or into Kuala Lumpur, other markets, to get onto boats to come here.

Now the naivety….and I mean this is….this really has teased out how fundamental the misunderstanding is of the Labor Party of this issue.

Now the two fundamental points I was going to make is one that this problem has not gone away. The second point is that we have people on Nauru and Manus for example from Iran. Now people that have been found not to be refugees and Iran has a policy, as many other countries do, that they will not take forced returns. They will not take people back unless they voluntarily return.

Bill Shorten on Insiders on the weekend was saying, ‘oh well just send them back.’ So for a Labor Party, for a person who wants to be the Prime Minister of a Labor government in this country, to misunderstand those two fundamental points - the way in which regional processing works and the way in which the threat has not subsided and in light of the fact, we've been very open about this, that we are negotiating with third countries and we will have movement of people and if we allow people smugglers the divided message that they're hearing from Labor at the moment, they will see that as a green light and we're not going to accept that.

MICHAEL BRISSENDEN:

So you are still negotiating with third countries? Is this part of a resettlement programme? It's a question you haven't answered. You've been asked again and again over the last couple of weeks.

PETER DUTTON:

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Well Michael there are very good reasons for that. I mean Labor went out talking about East Timor, they went out talking about Malaysia, they went out talking about New Zealand - nothing happened. In fact we took all of the people from Malaysia, but never sent anyone there. So there is layer upon layer of Labor failure when it comes to boats and when it comes to border protection policy.

So I'm not going to broadcast what our negotiations are up to, but we have been very clear over the last few weeks that we are in sensitive discussions with a number of countries.

And I think the Labor Party, after having received their briefing yesterday, having received advice from my Department that this is absolutely necessary in light of the fact threat hasn't gone away and that we may have propaganda coming out of people smugglers if the Government is to make an announcement in relation to third country settlements, I would have thought that now is the time for Labor to put the Left to one side and do what is in the national interest and they failed to do that.

MICHAEL BRISSENDEN:

The briefing though, Chris Bowen said didn't meet their concerns. It seems also pretty clear that they may be putting up some amendments. Would you be open to any amendments?

PETER DUTTON:

We are not open to amendments and we've thought through this very carefully. I've spoken with the General in charge of Operation Sovereign Borders, I've taken advice from our intelligence agencies, the National Security Committee has discussed this legislation - It is a considered piece of legislative framework that we're putting forward and Labor should support this Bill.

This is nothing more, nothing less than Bill Shorten having lost control within his own ranks and this was demonstrated Michael at the last Labor conference where he had to stitch together a dodgy deal with the CFMEU to get the policy across the line. Without the support of the CFMEU, the illegitimate CFMEU, he would never have had a policy to take to the last election.

MICHAEL BRISSENDEN:

I mean you also still haven't really answered what's going to happen with all of those people that are still there if you can't find third countries to take them. I mean this really is a problem that's been going on now for such a long time.

PETER DUTTON:

Well you're right. I mean this is a problem of Labor's making and we are cleaning up this mess, but it will take time. We have been able to repatriate people back to their country of origin in the many hundreds and we've got people who have been found not to be refugees on Nauru and Manus who cannot go back to their countries of origin.

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And there are 65 million such people in the world, according to the UN, people that are displaced or seek to come to a country like ours.

So the argument that Labor puts forward that somehow the people smugglers have gone out of business, they wouldn't put ventures together tomorrow - I mean it just shows how dangerous they would be if they were in government because people would drown at sea again.

MICHAEL BRISSENDEN:

Can I just ask you what the state of the agreement with PNG is now because Kevin Rudd in his op-ed last week basically said that it was a 12 month agreement with the PNG Government. It is now three years down the track. Are you still operating off that agreement that was signed by the Rudd Government or have you signed a new agreement with them?

PETER DUTTON:

Well Kevin Rudd demonstrated that he was just, I mean frankly and honestly, I can only put it this way - Kevin Rudd was lying when he put that piece of work together. He had a 12 month review process in place. There were thousands of people arriving under his watch and the thought that this was somehow a sunset clause was inserted in there and that it would close after 12 months is a complete fiction and Bill Shorten hasn't repeated one word of Kevin Rudd's.

MICHAEL BRISSENDEN:

So have you signed a new agreement with the PNG Government?

PETER DUTTON:

We've not signed a new agreement…

MICHAEL BRISSENDEN:

So you're still operating on the agreement that he signed?

PETER DUTTON:

We're operating under the old agreement. The old agreement signed by Labor was that if people are found to be owed protection they would be settled in PNG.

MICHAEL BRISSENDEN:

And there's no mention of 12 months, a review after 12 months, a 12 monthly review, anything like that?

PETER DUTTON:

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There is no review because the difficulty, as I say before, is that you've got people who have been found not to be refugees who cannot be returned back to their country of origin and in that case the only option you have available to you is a third country because we have been very clear that people are not going to settle in this country.

Now up until now that has been my understanding of Labor's position as well, but it seems to me that Bill Shorten has reneged and back-flipped on every position that he's had which frankly is a duplication of the failed approach of Julia Gillard and Kevin Rudd on border protection policies.

MICHAEL BRISSENDEN:

Just finally, without Labor, you're confident you're going to get this through both houses?

PETER DUTTON:

I think we can get this through the Parliament because I think people will see the fact that the Government has thought through why we need to implement this legislation.

There is ministerial discretion within the Bill as is the case with most migration law and visa categories now. It doesn't apply to people under the age of 18.

But it sends a very clear message and if Labor believes that they want to go back to failed policies of the past by putting out these amendments and having these equivocal messages that people smugglers turn into social media messages telling people that the Government's resolve has weakened, pay your money, hop onto a boat, go to Australia - that would result in deaths at sea again.

This Government is not going to allow that because we've closed 17 detention centres, got 2,000 children out of detention and we're bringing in a record number of refugees otherwise.

MICHAEL BRISSENDEN:

Alright, Peter Dutton, we'll leave it there. Thanks for joining us.

PETER DUTTON:

Thanks Michael.

[ends]