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Transcript of interview with Kieran Gilbert: Sky News: 22 July 2013: PNG 'solution'; election date

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The Hon. Christopher Pyne MP Federal Member for Sturt Shadow Minister for Education, Apprenticeships and Training

Manager of Opposition Business, House of Representatives 22 July 2013

SUBJECTS: PNG ‘Solution’, Election Date


(Greetings omitted)

Kieran Gilbert: Can I start by clarifying what is the Coalition’s position when it comes to the PNG deal?

Christopher Pyne: Well we always welcome rigorous off-shore processing but it has to work and you have to be able to trust the people implementing it to implement it successfully. Now Kevin Rudd is very good at announcements, he is very poor at delivery whether it’s pink batts, whether it’s school halls, now this so-called PNG solution. Now since Friday we’ve found out there are three hundred available places on Manus Island. That it is a tent city. And the Government wants people to believe that it will be able to build thousands and thousands of houses on Manus Island in a very short space of time. We’ve also found out that women and children won’t be going to Manus Island because they can’t be inoculated against malaria on Manus Island. We’ve also found out that only single males will be sent to Papua New Guinea and if people are found to not be refugees the Prime Minister of PNG says that is Australia’s problem. So there isn’t the capacity, the ads that are running are actually lies when they say if you come to Australia you won’t be settled here. That isn’t true.

Gilbert: But the Government has said that women and children won’t be sent immediately but they will be once facilities and procedures are in place to accommodate them. So the single men, for example if you look at this boat the first boat that arrived since the announcement eighty three on board, I think it was about thirty or a bit over single Iranian men. They’ll be sent within a few weeks.

Pyne: Supposedly.

Gilbert: The remainder, families will be sent once the facilities are there.

Pyne: Well maybe. Now the Minister for Immigration, Tony Burke, has been bringing women and children back from Papua New Guinea. So they have been sent there and they are now coming back. Now you have to look at what the Government says and what the Government does. They have an election fix at the moment. They want to get through the next six weeks with the people believing that they have a solution for boats. Now they’ve brought fifty thousand unauthorised arrivals here in the last five years. They came into power, they got rid of a solution that was working under the Howard Government, they replaced it. We’ve had fifty thousand unauthorised arrivals since. They’ve announced a policy on Friday, the PNG Prime Minister has already said that there is a limit. At least three thousand is the limit.

Gilbert: But they do have a deal don’t they. They’ve got a deal with PNG.

Pyne: Well they’ve got a two page arrangement.

Gilbert: But already you are seeing signs out of Indonesia. Asylum seekers saying they won’t be making the trip. People smugglers saying well look you might have shut our business model for the time being. That sounds promising.

Pyne: As soon as they find out this is just another Kevin Rudd con. Do you know what will happen? Women and children will become the customer of preference for people smugglers. Because if women and children aren’t being sent to Manus Island and we now know that that is true, that they won’t be sent, since Friday the detail has started to leak out again. Kevin Rudd, the big announcement, all talk no action -

Gilbert: - (inaudible )…temporarily isn’t it?

Pyne: Well so they say. But they also said they’d stop the boats. This is there seventh iteration of an anti-people smuggler policy. We’ve had East Timor, Manus Island Mark 1 which has fallen over, the Nauru solution which is on fire on the weekend and has burnt to the ground. You can’t trust Labor to stop the boats. The only way to stop the boats is to turn the boats around where it is safe to do so, bring back temporary protection visas and have rigorous offshore processing. Now they are making an attempt at rigorous offshore processing but yet again the devil is in the detail and the detail is that it is not true that if you come to Australia you will be settled in PNG. And the Government’s $2 million tax-payer funded ad campaign is a base lie.

Gilbert: But the Government has repeated that commitment whether you say it is legally binding by PNG or not. They’ve said the asylum seekers who arrive by boat have no possibility of being processed here. So whether they are resettled in PNG or elsewhere that’s a pretty clear policy statement.

Pyne: Unless you are a woman or a child Kieran. So on Friday the Prime Minister said if you come here by boat you will not be settled in Australia. Now we find out if you are a woman or a child you will be settled in Australia.

Gilbert: Does the Coalition see any prospect of using this PNG deal if you do win? The polls still say that you are in front albeit a lot closer…

Pyne: - well I’d be very surprised …

Gilbert: … do you think there is scope to use this in office?

Pyne: Look they have a two page arrangement with Papua New Guinea. The High Court has already knocked over the Malaysian Solution and the Malaysian Solution was a lot more detailed than what the Prime Minister gave us on Friday. This is just more Kevin Rudd flimflam on Friday. Kevin Rudd said in 2007 that you would turn back the boats, now he says you can’t turn back the boats. Now we are supposed to believe that he is sending people to Manus Island where there is a tent city, where there are no houses, where they are bringing women and children home, where it is so infected with malaria that you can’t inoculate children against it. And their claim that if you come to Australia by boat you will not be settled here has turned out to be a grotesque lie. That in fact if you are a woman or a child you will be settled here and therefore women and children will become the people smugglers’ clients of choice.

Gilbert: Let’s go to the - I want to ask you about the ALP Caucus meeting today. Labor reform is going to be the focus of their meeting today. It will get the tick obviously this close to an election. But when it comes to dealing with problem areas, Kevin Rudd is gradually ticking off the areas he needs to manage, well it appears the electorate appears to be warming to what he is saying?

Pyne: I think the electorate are prepared to give Kevin Rudd a go. I think that has been reflected in the polls. I think when they work out as they are - and I spent last weekend at footy matches and sporting matches with my children and friends and people that I know - they are already working out that Kevin Rudd is just spinning them more all talk no action. He said he was going to terminate the carbon tax, he hasn’t terminated the carbon tax. He’s put the car industry at risk through these Fringe Benefits Tax changes. He’s said he is going to stop the boats now we are discovering the devil has been in the detail and the truth is he is going to do no such thing. The problem for Kevin Rudd is that he always makes historic overreaching statements which he can never match.

Gilbert: What’s your expectation of your best guess of the election date? It won’t be August 24 obviously.

Pyne: I think they’ll go to the polls as soon as possible because the longer Kevin Rudd remains in office the more obvious it will become that he is all talk and no action and that you can’t rely on his word.

Gilbert: Manager of Opposition Business, Christopher Pyne, appreciate your time this morning. Thank you for that.