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Transcript of interview with Howard Sattler: 6PR: 18 October 2012: Latest Boat Arrivals



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Michael Keenan MP - Federal Member for Stirling 6PR, Drive Interview with Howard Sattler October 18, 2012

Subjects: Sri Lankan asylum seeker vessel heading for Australia

Howard Sattler

Joining me now is Michael Keenan. Michael is the opposition Customs and Border Protection Minister. He’s not the Minister, he’s the Shadow. Hello Michael.

Michael Keenan

Hi Howard, how are you going?

Howard Sattler

Well what should we do with these people? Clearly, at least one person, it seems, has been killed, maybe three. So these people aren’t the sort of people we would even entertain as refugees, surely?

Michael Keenan

We don’t want people coming to Australia in this manner, and quite frankly this is the fault of crazy things we’ve seen from the Labor Party’s weak border protection policies. The Sri Lankan Government are doing the best that they can, to try and stop people leaving from Sri Lanka, and coming to Australia Illegally. Yet the Australian Government refuses to offer them any assistance, and of course the best thing that we could do is to change our own policies, which is stopping this enormous magnet, dragging people from not just from Sri Lanka, but all around the world.

Howard Sattler

Well let’s talk specifically about this case. These people are something else; I mean these people have appeared to kill, to get on to a boat to get to Australia because they think that it will take them in. Now what should we be doing? If we intercept them surely we should just hand them back to Sri Lanka. We wouldn’t even take them to Christmas Island, or even start the process.

Michael Keenan

My understanding is that they have actually been intercepted by the Sri Lankan authorities and have been taken back to Sri Lanka.

Howard Sattler

Really? Where did you get that? We haven’t heard that yet.

Michael Keenan

Oh Ok. I’ve only had that through media reports, so I can’t confirm that. I’ve just seen that through some of the media reports that have come through, that’s what the Sri Lankan authorities have been saying. Look can we just say Howard, that should they come through to Australia, then clearly what we would need to do is take an incredibly tough line, and we would not want people like this getting visas to come to our country under any circumstances.

Howard Sattler

Do we sort of treat them as criminals on the run?

Michael Keenan

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Absolutely, and if they’ve committed crimes in Sri Lanka, they would need to be repatriated to Sri Lanka, to account for those crimes.

Howard Sattler

Talking to the High Commissioner to Australia, Sri Lanka’s High Commissioner, he said the whole lot should be sent back, whether they’re these people or anybody else. They’re prepared to take these people back into their country because they’ve got no right going on boats and coming here in the first place.

Michael Keenan

I think that’s a very reasonable point. What we’re finding, is that people who are coming from Sri Lanka are having a very high rejection rate, sorry, we don’t think that they’re genuine refugees. And the situation in Sri Lanka has changed markedly over the past few years. That very vicious and nasty civil war has ended. Refugees that have been taking refuge in other parts of the world are actually returning to Sri Lanka as well, and I think there’s a very good case for us to work with the Sri Lankan authorities to repatriate people straight away. We can do that just by intercepting the boats, which is part of the Coalition policy.

Howard Sattler

So you’re saying 100%. The whole lot should be sent back? Would you in Government entertain that? Because they say that they’re prepared to take them back, just fly them back and they’ll look after them.

Michael Keenan

We do need to work cooperatively with Sri Lanka, to ensure that people that are leaving there illegally. And we’ve actually got Julie Bishop and Scott Morrison will be going to Sri Lanka before the end of the year, to discuss exactly that with Sri Lankan authorities, should the Government change at the next election.

Howard Sattler

So if their Government, the Sri Lankan Government says send them all back, you would do that?

Michael Keenan

Well we’ll need to work cooperatively with them.

Howard Sattler

Come on Michael, I want an under taking here. They say that they’ll take every one that tries to get here, they’ll take them back.

Michael Keenan

Look they’re happy to work with Australia to help stop this from happening, then I think Australia needs to take up that offer. And sadly we’re not doing that at the moment.

Howard Sattler

Thanks for your time.

Michael Keenan

Good to talk to you Howard.

Ends……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….

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