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Transcript of interview with Samantha Armytage: Sunrise, Channel Seven: 3 September 2019: child sex offenders to face mandatory sentences; Sri Lankan IMA family deportation

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3 September 2019

Subjects: Child sex offenders to face mandatory sentences; Sri Lankan IMA family deportation.



The Federal Government will today announce a new Bill calling for the mandatory sentencing of child sex offenders. As part of the proposal, the most serious offenders would face life in jail.

Now the Government says in the past year, 28 per cent of convicted child sex offenders have not faced a single day in jail and for the latest, we're joined by the Minister for Home Affairs Peter Dutton. Minister good morning, welcome.


Morning Sam.


You're in Perth to make this announcement this morning with Attorney-General Christian Porter. Is this a sign the Government has lost faith in our court system?



No, it's a sign that we want to do even more to make sure that we can protect children and we've already introduced a significant number of Bills designed to protect kids from the groups of paedophiles and we're concerned though that, as you point out, about one in three don't end up in jail and yet those kids who suffer from sexual abuse as children have a lifelong sentence. So there's a lot that we can do and we want to get this through the Parliament as quickly as possible. It will be introduced next week.


This is shocking that so many people are getting away with these horrific crimes. How has this been happening and is mandatory sentencing likely to stop people doing this to children in the first place?


Well it's not the silver bullet, but it sends a very clear message of deterrence and in addition to that we've also said that there'll be a presumption on bail, particularly for repeat offenders. We don't want people out there reoffending.

We've had a particular focus in trying to protect kids online. It's parents' greatest nightmare of having their kids groomed online by some paedophile and there's a lot of work that we're doing with some of the internet companies, some of the social media companies and the Federal Police and all of our agencies; including Austrac have been tracking down financial transactions.

Some of the horrific stories that you hear - Pay-Per-View - it's just a world that none of us really want to understand, but we need to be realistic about the threat and we need to lock up those people that are doing the wrong thing and send a very clear message that it's unacceptable and that not going to jail for a crime of this type doesn't reflect community expectations. We want the judgements to reflect those community expectations which is why we think the mandatory sentencing is a very key part of it.


Yeah, good on you. I don't think you'll get many arguments on that one.

However, let's move on. This case seems to be dividing the country right now. This Tamil family fighting deportation to Sri Lanka. The case is before the Federal Court tomorrow. Now, if the court rules the youngest child should be reassessed for refugee status, will the Government accept that court's decision and will this family stay in Australia?


Well Sam, of course we accept any court decision, but on seven occasions now, the courts and decision makers have found that this family is not entitled to protection in our country,


that is that they're not refugees. These are all very difficult stories for any of these cases to end up on a Minister's desk; by definition they're the most complicated, but we've had 1,500 people, including many in family units that have gone back to Sri Lanka and we have people behind these people in the queue now.

So we've been very clear; we don't want deaths to restart at sea. We have a compassionate program. We are one of the most generous nations in the world in terms of the numbers of refugees that we bring into our country, but there are 68 million people around the world at the moment that are in a similar position, that is they want to come to a country like ours and we have to have an orderly migration program.


So just quickly on this one, what's the best move for this family now? These kids were born here - I know that doesn't make them citizens legally, but they were born here - they're a good hard-working, peaceful family and many regional communities out there need families like this. Should they go back to Sri Lanka and apply for asylum again? What should they do?


Well Sam they can go offshore, they can go back to Sri Lanka and they can apply like anybody else and we'll assess that application. So again, we're a very generous country, but we've just said that given 50,000 people arrived on 800 boats and 1,200 drowned at sea, including many children, we don't want to return to those days and we're been very specific that if you arrive by boat you won't be settling here.

But there are particular circumstances in this case where the father as we know, has travelled back to Sri Lanka a number of times, to Qatar a couple of times, into the Middle East for work etc. So the claims around persecution if they return to Sri Lanka need to be weighed up and they've been weighed up now all the way to the High Court and been found not to be refugees.


Yeah okay. Alright. Minister Peter Dutton thanks for your time today.


Thanks Sam.