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Transcript of interview with Leon Byner: Radio 5AA Adelaide: 9 August 2018: foreign fighters lose Australian citizenship; AAT; United Nations Global Compact on Migration; population growth



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THE HON PETER DUTTON MP MINISTER FOR HOME AFFAIRS MINISTER FOR IMMIGRATION AND BORDER PROTECTION

TRANSCRIPT

INTERVIEW WITH LEON BYNER RADIO FIVEaa

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www.minister.homeaffairs.gov.au

9 August 2018

Subjects: Foreign fighters lose Australian citizenship; AAT; United Nations Global Compact on Migration; population growth.

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

LEON BYNER:

Immigration Minister Peter Dutton, good morning.

PETER DUTTON:

Good morning Leon.

LEON BYNER:

How long has this taken?

PETER DUTTON:

It takes some time and the reason for that is that we look at each case obviously and if you're gathering evidence in a crime scene in Adelaide, for example, it's quite easy to gather that up relative to a war zone where it can take many months waiting for intelligence reports and documentation etc. So we do a very forensic examination of the conduct of some of these people and through their own actions they really renounce their citizenship. They breach their allegiance to our country and it's very clear that their values aren't consistent with the values of Australians.

LEON BYNER:

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Alright. For those who might say: oh well, big deal, so these five have lost their citizenship. What does that actually mean? How does it affect them?

PETER DUTTON:

The first point to make is that it does take time and it is a complicated process. The second point is that we don't render people stateless. So if somebody's lost their Australian citizenship then they default back to their birth citizenship, or if they have been naturalised somewhere else in the world then that's a precondition as well.

The legislation operates such that the course - as a result of their own actions they renounce their citizenship.

So it's a process that we go through in relation to these now six cases, but hopefully further cases, because my desire is to keep these people away from our country. Having them come back with all of the skills taught to them by ISIS just makes them an even more threat when they return to our shores. So I think it makes Australia a safer place by keeping these people as far away as possible.

LEON BYNER:

Minister, is it possible that there are people who have done these things overseas - to which you have revoked citizenship of five and explained that - is it possible that there are people who have returned to Australia who have actually gathered the very skills you don't want imported here?

PETER DUTTON:

Yes. There's no question about that.

In some cases people might go to Bangkok, for example, hold out a couple of weeks there and then head from there into the Middle East and it's impossible for us to track every movement of every person, as you'd expect, given the millions of movements across our borders each year…

LEON BYNER:

…sure.

PETER DUTTON:

It may be that people have the information available to them over the Internet or through an encrypted device, they will be able to gather up that information.

So the point though Leon, is that we have the best intelligence law enforcement agencies in the world and already they have been able to thwart 14 attacks. We've had a number that

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sadly have got through and killed a police officer, or the incident in Martin Place and tragically the expectation is that there will be a terrorist incident in our country. But that's the age in which we live and one of the elements that we've been keen to pursue is the reform of this law. The Prime Minister drove it very hard, as all of us did because we want it to be yet another tool of trying to reduce the threat of terrorism in our country.

LEON BYNER:

I want to put something to you that is adjacent to this matter Minister and that is this. We do know that the Administrative Appeals Tribunal has overturned decisions which would have exported, deported criminals who've done some of the most heinous stuff - rape, murder, bank robberies, home invasions, all these things - they are clear breaches of a visa condition, or a condition even of having a passport and yet the Administrative Appeals people seem to look at the world through a very different lens. Is something going to be done about this?

PETER DUTTON:

Yes it is and you and I have spoken about this before, the great frustration that you and I have and I think millions of Australians do as well.

I want people to have their fair day in court and when I cancel visas - and I've cancelled more visas in the last 12 months than Labor did in six years in government - so we've really ramped up the focus on law and order and keeping us safe.

But whether it's by excluding terrorists or kicking out people that have committed sexual offences against children or women, outlaw motorcycle gang members, who are the biggest distributors of ice and amphetamine in our country.

There have been many things that we've done to keep Australians safe and it is a frustration when the AAT in some of these circumstances overturns some of those decisions. And you can point to cases where people have had their decisions overturned and they've gone on to commit more crimes. More people have suffered at the hands of these criminals…

LEON BYNER:

….but see, the people who allowed this to happen are not accountable. That's the problem you see.

PETER DUTTON:

Well, what we've done is appoint Ian Callinan, who's a former High Court judge, to look at the operation of the AAT - from my perspective, particularly in relation to immigration matters - and he's going to come back very soon with recommendations about reform to the system.

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And I think they will be - well I hope that they will be a greater reflection of community standards and views because at the moment I think there are members within the AAT, not all of them, but some members who have clearly lost their way. They don't reflect the values or the views of the majority of Australians. And these - and many cases are appointments that were made by Kevin Rudd and Julia Gillard and they've overturned many, many decisions.

And it's a frustration for me and the decision makers within my Department because in the end we're a welcoming country. We welcome millions of people to our country as tourists, as students, whatever it might be, but we aren't going to tolerate people coming here, committing crimes, acting outside of the conditions of their visas. If that happens then they can expect to go.

LEON BYNER:

Look, there's a UN covenant about immigration that has become very controversial. What makes it even more controversial is that it seems Australia has been part of the [indistinct] nations writing this stuff. Now you've said we're not going to sign something like that. Has the Prime Minister ruled it out?

PETER DUTTON:

Well, the Prime Minister's been very clear as I have and that is we're not going to surrender our sovereignty.

There's been a lot of blood, sweat and tears in stopping boats in making Operation Sovereign Borders a success and as we've seen through Labor's comments talking about New Zealand being an option, the people smugglers hear that immediately and only a month ago we stopped a vessel carrying 131 people out of Malaysia destined for either New Zealand or Australia. So the problem hasn't gone away.

People see the scenes playing out on the Mediterranean or in Europe now and our country, under this government, is not going to surrender our sovereignty, the protection of our borders, the protection of our society and we will not sign any agreement that would compromise that.

So we've been trying to get the form of words into an acceptable state. We don't believe that it is in an acceptable state and on that basis, yes, we're negotiated in good faith, but ultimately we won't be signing any document that diminishes our capacity to defend our borders.

LEON BYNER:

Well Minister, given your attitude which presumably is relatively widespread across the Government and indeed the Opposition, you'd hope, how is it that we, our representatives have been involved in drafting the very thing that you find unacceptable?

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PETER DUTTON:

Well as I say Leon, we've been trying to influence document into something different to what it is now. That's as you would expect in any negotiation...

LEON BYNER:

…sure…

PETER DUTTON:

...and if the final document is not acceptable then you don't sign. So that's the position that we're in at the moment.

I think there are many European nations frankly who are like-minded with us on this because they've experienced hundreds of thousands of people coming into their own country. The fabric of some of these societies will be changed forever and we would have been on the same trajectory, in fact we were, when the 50,000 people came because there was no plateauing of that number. The number continued to rise each and every year and we would have got to 100,000, 500,000 because we know there are 65 million people in the world who are displaced.

And when you say that Labor's of a similar mind to us they're not. They're not. Bill Shorten is trying to sort of hold the caucus together at the moment on this issue, but Labor would fall over themselves to sign this UN document. That's clear. It was clear by their actions when they were in government and for them to pretend otherwise is a nonsense.

And the greatest threat they pose if they're re-elected is to the national security and border security of this nation because they didn't introduce the laws that we did that allowed the stripping of citizenship for people that have been involved in terrorist organisations. They did allow boats to restart, people to drown and kids to be put back into detention.

And we've not had a drowning at sea. We've not got a child in detention. The 8000 that Labor put there and we've not had a successful people smuggling venture now in a few years. So Labor would undo all of that. Let's be very honest about it.

LEON BYNER:

Last question is this, but it's got to be asked. Twenty five million reached yesterday, 30 years before the experts thought. Now what?

PETER DUTTON:

Well last year I brought the number down from - this is in terms of the permanent numbers...

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LEON BYNER:

…yeah….

PETER DUTTON:

...so it really spiked again when Mr Rudd and Ms Gillard were in government, up hundreds of thousands.

I bought that figure this year down to 160,000. It was 190,000. Now again we'll continue to do what's in our country's best interest. So if we need to adjust that figure we will, but we want the right people to be coming here.

South Australia is perhaps a different case than Melbourne and Sydney where...

LEON BYNER:

…they're full. They're full.

PETER DUTTON:

...most people will head to at the moment.

LEON BYNER:

Yeah.

PETER DUTTON:

South Australia seems to be very keen for migrants to come to South Australia so I'm told. So look, we need to encourage people to move to or to settle in regional areas. We've got regional areas where abattoirs can't operation without a migrant workforce. So we just need to get that balance right.

And the big issue otherwise is the fact that infrastructure is just not being built within many of the capital cities. People are sitting in gridlock because, you know, Jay Weatherill was off buying batteries and devising plans to turn the lights off when he should have been building more accessible roads and easier public transport. And in Sydney where Bob Carr basically went on strike for 10 years, didn't spend any money on infrastructure, well it's the disaster that you would expect when you have a population growing, but no money being put into roads and hospitals and schools. And it was the same story here under Peter Beattie and Anna Bligh in Queensland.

LEON BYNER:

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Alright Peter Dutton, thanks for joining us today.

[Ends]