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Transcript of interview with Paul Murray: Radio 6PR: 25 July 2013: Operation Sovereign Borders; Papua New Guinea



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SHADOW MINISTER FOR IMMIGRATION SCOTT MORRISON

Transcript - 6PR Paul Murray

Thursday 25th July 2013

Subjects: Operation Sovereign Borders, Papua New Guinea

E and OE

MURRAY:

[Audio begins] with a policy which most people would regard as far tougher than anything that John Howard had in his Pacific solution and certainly anything that Tony Abbott has talked about since then. It was always going to demand some sort of a response from the Opposition and that response has come out today. The Opposition has released what they call Operation Sovereign Borders, it’s been released by the Immigration spokesman Scott Morrison, and he joins us now. Morning Scott.

MORRISON:

G’day Paul.

MURRAY:

So what’s Sovereign Borders all about?

MORRISON:

What this is about is ending the confusion and chaos in how we have umpteen different agencies, about 15 of them, all working at cross purposes and all having something to do with what we do on our borders, whether it’s running detention centres or it’s running intelligence operations up and throughout Southeast Asia, this is about bringing all of that under one control: it would be under a 3 Star military commander that would report through a chain of command to the Immigration Minister onto the Prime Minister. This is a national emergency that we’re seeing on our borders and what I learnt when I watched Labor’s failures over so many policy areas has been their inability to implement things, regardless of what people may think of the various ideas they’ve had. Even the ideas they have had, they have completely failed in their implementation so what this is about is putting the right structure in place, the right people in place with the right authorities to make

decisions and to drive things down through to operations on the ground that actually make policies happen. So that’s what we’ve announced today, this is about a very significant change, about how we manage and implement policy on our borders and it links it all the way through. You’ll remember Captain Emad. The guy sailed into the country as a people smuggler, pushed shopping trolleys around while he organised people onto boats and then flew out without agencies even talking to each other. That’s the sort of chaos we have to end and that’s what this policy addresses.

MURRAY:

How is a military commander going to help there?

MORRISON:

Because all of the various agencies will report to him, in terms of their operations in these areas, whether it’s how we’re building detention centres on Nauru, whether it’s how we’re gathering intelligence up in Indonesia or Malaysia or even as further up the field into Pakistan and Afghanistan, it’s about how we’re running the operations at sea - all these things come together. Currently, it’s all one-out. I mean you look at the chain of command on how all of these things happen at the moment and it’s absolute noodle nation and what we have learnt from watching Labor’s failures is you need to integrate this. You need to put it under a clear chain of command where people can take decisions and this is one of the big changes from when we were last in government. We know those policies work but you need to be able to implement them effectively and what this does is gives us the ability to do just that - that’s why General Molan has come out and backed the plan so strongly today.

MURRAY:

People will see this as you basically calling in the army to deal with people arriving on boats.

MORRISON:

Well, we are calling in a military-like operation. It’s still a civilian operation and that’s not unusual. I mean, military are involved in post-flood reconstruction. I’m here in Brisbane today where we’ve announced the policy, these things done in East Timor; in fact, Border Protection Command is a combined civil-defence operation between customs and the navy and they currently reports through to two ministers, the

Minister for Defence and the Minister for Home Affairs. So what this does is it integrate all that far more than it’s ever been achieved before because we’ve got a Prime Minister at the moment who is only ever interested in the announcement effect and not the implementation effect and that’s why so many of their policies have failed. That’s why we remain very sceptical about his ability to implement what he announced last Friday because their form is just so bad and this is one of the reasons why their form is so bad.

MURRAY:

But it does appear that you’re prepared to adopt a lot of what he said on Friday. You’re prepared to use this PNG solution?

MORRISON:

Well, we will use what you can use out of it. There are many significant problems that have to be worked through and what I’ve announced today will put us in a far better position I think to implement what the government has talked about but I think have no capacity to implement. But that policy is no substitute for the many other measures that we’ve been talking about for years, I mean Kevin Rudd’s view is this - it’s PNG or nothing. What we’re saying is we’ll salvage what we can out of what he’s announced with PNG and that will add to our already extensive suite of policies in this area, which Kevin Rudd refuses to do.

MURRAY:

Are you embarrassed that the Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea Peter O’Neil has come out and said the Coalition, of which you’re a part of, has misrepresented what he said about the foreign aid component of that PNG deal? I mean it’s pretty embarrassing surely, when the leader of another country involves himself in this sort of diplomatic stoush?

MORRISON:

No I’m not. Well, that’s for the Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea to explain his involvement in the domestic debate. But let me ask you this question. We’re simply asking a simple question here. I should first stress that the Prime Minister has, in no way, raised questions about the core thing we’ve said. And that is this arrangement does not provide any compulsion on Papua New Guinea to take everybody and resettle everybody, as the Prime Minister has claimed. That has not been disputed.

MURRAY:

Yeah, I’ve read the two-page document and you’re completely right in saying that.

MORRISON:

And Mr O’Neill has not disputed that one iota. But here’s the issue on foreign aid - in the Papua New Guinean press - I’m relying on his own public statements, I’m not referring to any private statements - but they’re consistent with what he said publicly. He said in the Papua New Guinea press that the changes to the foreign aid arrangements were the most significant in decades. Now that’s what he said in the Papua New Guinean press about the foreign aid arrangements. My question is simple and that is what is the change? What is this change that Prime Minister Rudd has agreed to on foreign aid arrangements, which the Papua New Guinean Prime Minister has said hasn’t been able to be achieved under previous Prime Ministers over decades?

MURRAY:

I also read what he said in the PNG press and I relied on them for the conclusions I drew in a piece I wrote for the West Australian yesterday. But he’s saying that you’re misusing things that he told the Coalition in a private meeting.

MORRISON:

Well, I’m only referring to public statements that he’s made and I’m simply asking a question, so what are these changes? These once-in-a-generation because that’s what we’re talking about, if we’re talking about twenty or thirty years of how it’s been done previously being changed, and he’s the one who has defined the time frame here. That’s his public statement so I am assuming that that is true, in terms of what he’s told people, so my question to Mr Rudd is: what’s the change Mr Prime Minister? What is the detail of this change to how foreign aid is now being directed to Papua New Guinea based on what Mr O’Neil has said is a change. There’s been nothing forthcoming, it’s certainly not in the arrangement which doesn’t even have the standing of the Malaysian people swap, which was struck down by the High Court. But it’s not in that document. What document is it in? And what are the implications to that? And the Prime Minister hasn’t answered any of those questions and I really think he should.

MURRAY: I must say the information that’s come out recently about the riot in Nauru and then the SBS Dateline exposure of the sexual abuse at Manus Island appears to be changing some attitudes pretty quickly to all this. The Sydney Morning Herald’s been quite supportive of the government over the PNG deal but the lead story on the Sydney Morning Herald today is “Rudd plan in tatters as camps labelled ‘gulags’”.

MORRISON:

Well this is the problem with Labor, they can’t implement anything right and we should also be clear. What the Prime Minister announced last Friday is not offshore processing. The difference of what he announced last Friday allegedly is he’s now had offshore resettlement. Now for that to be effective, Papua New Guinea has to make a whole bunch of changes to their legislation, there’s an enormous amount of things still yet to be worked out so he can’t make the claims about that but just on offshore processing, they need to ramp that capacity on Papua New Guinea up to around about 3,000 at the very least. We’ve already had over 300 people turn up since who would be subject to this policy and that’s how many people were on PNG for offshore processing just a couple of weeks ago. So they’re already back at that level. They’ve got to put a whole bunch more capacity in place. Nauru burnt down on the weekend and we’ve seen constant unrest and difficulties on Manus Island since they started doing this last August. So my question is simple. These guys’ form is shocking when it comes to implementing these things so how can you trust them again?

MURRAY:

Kevin Rudd’s ridiculing this new operation that you’ve announced today, Operation Sovereign borders, he’s said that you’ve added just three words to the existing slogan stop the boats to operation something or other.

MORRISON:

He doesn’t get it. He doesn’t understand. He doesn’t even - the problem with Kevin Rudd is he doesn’t understand why so many of the government’s own policies have failed. This is a detailed document, a very detailed document. If he’s got a problem with there being a heading on the front of it well he obviously hasn’t read past the heading. He should read the document because what it details is over seven occasions where the government have tried to solve this problem and it’s all ended up in failure. The terrible thing about this is every time one of Labor’s solutions fails, the problem ends up being worse at the end than it was in the start. That’s my great

fear with what he’s proposing in PNG. Once again we will see him make a grand announcement, it will all fall apart if he’s re-elected on the other side of the election and it will be far worse then than it is even now. So this is a choice in a generation for this election. People need to judge this Prime Minister on his form. But the key thing in this document which is outlined is why Labor have failed and why we need to change the model. The change to the model is we’ve got a national emergency, we need a military-like focus to this with a clear chain of command where we can react and respond and deploy and act quickly. At the present that just can’t happen and it’s frustrating people on the ground whether it’s people in border protection command out at sea, whether it’s our people working offshore for the Australian Federal Police, whether it’s our ASIO agents here in Australia who have the job of getting the intelligence out of the networks of support for people smugglers here in this country. Whether it’s Immigration officials having to build another detention centre that this government has let burn down again. That’s the frustration.

MURRAY:

But people are going to say how will having just one man in charge change all of that?

MORRISON:

It’s not just one man Paul this is about a whole structure. This is about bringing all of these agencies to work together and to put it under a clear chain of command where there are clear decisions so you can implement policy. This is about having the implementation effect of policy not the announcement effect of what Kevin Rudd seems to be only concerned about. This is how you do things. The military have a great experience about getting things done and you need to get all of these agencies to work together and work to one single strategy and that’s what we’re doing, that’s what we’ve learnt. I’ve been in this job for four years. I’ve been through four immigration ministers, I’ve watched them all fail. I’ve gone back to the lessons of John Howard and Alexander Downer and Philip Ruddock and I’ve looked at all of that. I’ve been in Malaysia, I’ve been in Indonesia, I’ve been in Sri Lanka, I’ve been in Nauru, I’ve been to Papua New Guinea over many years and one of the key answers here is you’ve got to now update this and bring it under a central command and control model which enables you to get it on the ground and happening.

MURRAY:

OK Scott, thanks for that.

MORRISON:

Thanks for your time, Paul.

MURRAY:

Scott Morrison, Opposition Immigration spokesman.

Ends