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Transcript of interview with Sabre Lane: ABC AM Programme: 7 February 2017: Cory Bernardi; United States resettlement of refugees from Nauru and PNG; other resettlement arrangements

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The Hon Peter Dutton MP Minister for Immigration and Border Protection


Interview with Sabra Lane, ABC AM Programme

7 February 2017

Subjects: Cory Bernardi, United States resettlement of refugees from Nauru and PNG, other resettlement arrangements.



Minister thanks for joining us on AM.


Morning Sabra.


Will it be disloyal for Senator Bernardi to quit the Liberal Party and effectively the Coalition?


Well let’s wait and see what Senator Bernardi has to say today, but all Liberals, all people who voted for Senator Bernardi or for any of us at the last election do so because they believe in the values that the Liberal Party represents and for people to desert that cause, people will be angry and they will be disappointed.

But the principle that we have to adhere to here is that the enemy of the Liberal Party and the enemy of good government in this country is the Labor Party and we can most effectively defeat the Labor Party at the next election if we’re united and if we stick together as a party. If we do that we’ve got a good story to tell and we can defeat the Labor Party at the next election and for the good of small business and for families around the country that is something we must do.


You just mentioned how Liberal Party supporters might be feeling towards him in South Australia, people who handed out how to vote cards for him, you know, eight


months ago. It’s a betrayal of them isn’t it and The Telegraph here has portrayed him as a rat?


As I say Sabra let’s wait to see what Senator Bernardi has to say, but it is a betrayal when somebody leaves a political party because, as you say, the grassroots members, people in many cases who have handed out how-to-vote cards election after election because they believe in good government, because they believe in the cause of the Liberal Party, because they believe that we will keep our borders secure, that we will keep the economy strong and that we will deliver a better outcome for all Australians and that’s certainly a sense of betrayal that they would feel when somebody leaves our ranks and in the end it dilutes our efforts to defeat the Labor Party.

Bill Shorten would be a tragedy for this country, being run by the CMFEU and others that he’s wholly owned by, that would be a bad economic and social outcome for this country and I don’t think we should underestimate the threat of what a Shorten-led government would mean for this country.


There will be some in the Coalition who will be quite happy with this given that he can do more damage within the party and now he can be dismissed as an outsider.


Well my view is that people are better and more effective at their job if they stay within the party.

They can argue the cause in the Party Room, people on the backbench in particular get to argue their point of view, they can agree or disagree with the Executive, they can put forward ideas and they can argue those ideas and if we’re united, if we’re able to present with a united front to the public then we can defeat - and we will defeat the Labor Party at the next election - and the consequences of allowing people to drown at sea again or for the boat trade to get back into business is inconceivable, but that is exactly what would happen if Bill Shorten was to be elected prime minister and that’s not something we should allow to happen.


Senator Bernardi though probably if he does do what we suspect he will, he’ll still vote with the Government on most issues and on key personal issues he’ll do what he’s always done.


Well again that’s an issue for Independents.


My very strong view is that people are much more effective inside the tent than they are outside and Independents, whether it’s Pauline Hanson, whether it’s other Independents, Nick Xenophon and others, in the end these people can’t govern our country. They can make popular statements, they can put out views that people might be attracted to, but in the end they can’t make the decisions that are required to govern in the best interests of our country.

The Liberal Party has demonstrated time and time again that we can manage the economy, that we can manage the crucial issue in the modern age of national security and people are most effective inside the Liberal Party than they are outside.


What’s the risk that others might follow?

George Christensen this morning says he’s loyal to the Nationals, but he’s also warned that a new vote on gay marriage for example is against the Coalition agreement.


Well George has also said that he is loyal to Barnaby Joyce and that he’s loyal to the LNP and to the Coalition and we take people at their word and I take George Christensen at his word.

So, to answer your question I think there is no chance of others following and I think people, as we said before, will be angry about any defection, angry about a betrayal of the Liberal Party values and people if they want to defeat Bill Shorten at the next election will be united as a Liberal Party to make sure that we can stare down that threat.


Is he right on that core issue though, on same sex marriage, because there is talk that some people within the party want a new vote on that, is he right that a new vote on this would be against the Coalition agreement?


Well the Prime Minister stated the position in relation to same sex marriage and that position has been put by the Prime Minister as recently as Sunday and that’s the position of the Government.


To your portfolio now, there’s been a lot of focus on the US-Australia refugee resettlement deal, it’s been reported this morning that Mr Trump wanted to tear up the agreement in that now infamous call with Mr Turnbull, is that right?



Well I wouldn’t have any…[audio distorted]…at all …[audio distorted]…between the Prime Minister and the President. The only thing I would say is that the Prime Minister stood up for our country, as is his obligation and his want and desire …[audio distorted]…I think in the end we’ve got the best possible outcome for our country.

We respect very much our allies in the United States, starting with President Trump down and we have many, many aspects of the relationship we continue to work on, including foreign fighters and people crossing borders where we share intelligence with our Five Eyes partners including the United States and that relationship is as strong as it’s ever been and it will continue to strengthen even further.

We will work with our partners to identify those people that will be eligible on Nauru and Manus because in the end again it is a great frustration that we are left with a Labor mess to clean up. People on Manus and Nauru are only there because Labor failed our country and let our borders soften and allowed people smugglers to get in control of the trade.

We have tidied up that mess. We have closed 17 detention centres and we’ve got children, every child, out of detention and I want to make sure that we don’t revert back to a Labor government that allows our borders to reopen and people to drown at sea again.

So this is important for us to get people off Manus and Nauru as quickly as possible and that’s exactly what we are doing.


How quickly; will it take weeks or months?


It will take months and we’ll need to work through each individual case. That was always the case under the Obama agreement that’s been adopted now by President Trump and it will take time to work through individual cases.

In some cases there are identity issues, in others there will be separated family members that we will try and repatriate and we’ll do it in a compassionate way, but we’re going to do it in a way that won’t restart boats.

This is a one-off deal and people who think if the boats restart again that somehow a deal like this is easy to come by are kidding themselves.

People are in a difficult position because Labor didn’t have the resolve. They said at the election that they would continue John Howard’s policies, they dismantled them and we saw the dysfunction and death that followed from that and this Government is not going to allow that to re-occur.



Not all the people who are on Manus and Nauru will be allowed to travel to the United States given the extreme vetting procedures that are taking place.

How well progressed are you in trying to find other nations who will settle this group?


Well we have other nations available and we also have the option for people to return back to their country of origin where they’ve been found not to be refugees.

There are 65 million people in the world that would seek to come to a country like Australia tomorrow and the reality is for those people we cannot accommodate all of them, no country can. We need to have an orderly migration programme and on a per capita basis we take a significant number of people, but we are not going to allow people who are seeking a better economic outcome for their family to displace people from the queue that are facing death or persecution.

The Refugee Convention that we and other countries have signed up to is designed to help those who are most in need and if you allow people smugglers to take the option away from a government, from a sovereign nation to run its own migration programme, than it’s a rapid spiral and you harm those people that you seek or you should be seeking to help most; those people that are coming from conflict zones or civil war zones around the world, that’s what we’ve done with the Syrian intake.

We’ve got a responsible, balanced, measured policy and we continue to preside over that and that’s the option for people to go their country of origin, we can help them re-establish their lives in that country, but we have been very clear and we remain absolutely resolute that those people will not be settling in Australia.


Immigration Minister Peter Dutton thanks for talking to AM.


Thanks Sabra.