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Transcript of doorstop interview: Academy of Science, Canberra: 3 August 2007: National security, Dr Naneef, Kevin Rudd, Dr Ali.



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Kevin Andrews MP Minister for Immigration and Citizenship

Minister Andrews comments on National Security, Dr Haneef, Kevin Rudd, Dr Ali

Friday, 3 August 2007

Doorstop: Academy of Science, Canberra

E&OE…

[Recording begins]

MINISTER ANDREWS:

…About issues of settlement, of citizenship, of integration, some of the matters which I announced in Sydney this week. And to have a discussion with the people who have been at the forum and it was a very, I think, useful exercise in terms of people being able to talk about the things which actually help us to be a socially cohesive society in Australia.

QUESTION:

Did you discuss the Citizenship test?

MINISTER ANDREWS:

Yes, I talked about the citizenship test at length and I talked about the new integration criteria that we’re, we are seeking to have in place. I talked about settlement and the great achievement in Australia which has been the balance of diversity and integration and how we’ve managed to get that balance right in a way which we have despite people coming from so many different country’s around the world, are a very socially cohesive society.

QUESTION:

Are you concerned that the death of Kafeel Ahmed will damage the case against Mohammed Haneef?

MINISTER ANDREWS:

Look the matters of the case is a matter for the police and the prosecuting authorities and I’m not going to comment, not going to provide a running commentary on every little matter that raises its head or is raised in this country or some other country around the world in relation to it. I think we ought to just let the police in various countries, the security agencies in

various countries get on with their job. And, you know, at the end of the day there will be the processes in the, in the courts and, and then we’ll all see what’s the true situation.

QUESTION:

Having revoked his visa on the grounds of association with criminals, is it not in your interest to have information about Mohammed Haneef come out?

MINISTER ANDREWS:

Well let’s just go back. I mean I think people can still picture in their minds that the vehicle in flames, crashing into the airport at Glasgow. And nobody has or can deny what is obviously an association between that. Now, beyond that that’s a matter for, as I said, the security authorities and the police in the various countries.

QUESTION:

So the association between that vehicle and Mohammed Haneef…

MINISTER ANDREWS:

No I’m saying, I’m not going to keep going over all of these things because I’ve been doing it.

QUESTION:

That’s what you just said; ‘nobody can deny the association….’

MINISTER ANDREWS:

There’s an association, that’s right… he doesn’t deny an association. Let’s look at all the circumstances….

QUESTION:

(Inaudible)

MINISTER ANDREWS:

No, I’m talking about the Gentleman concerned at the Jeep. He doesn’t deny an association with, with the Ahmed brothers. You know, that’s quite clearly on the record and you’ve all seen the Solicitor-General’s opinion and having looked at all this. But look can I, can I come back to the central point about this because what you’re asking me about it about things that relate to criminal investigations, and as I say they are matters that are within the purview of the security authorities and within the purview of the police. My responsibility is an entirely different responsibility to that. And it’s in this broad context, and that is that if a person has a visa to visit Australia, if a person has a temporary visa to come to Australia, that is not any inalienable right to stay in Australia. It’s a permission to be in Australia conditional on a number of things, one of which is that you obey the laws of Australia and one of which is

that you are of good character. And I make no apology on behalf of the Australian people for saying that if we don’t believe that the conditions are being upheld we have a responsibility and indeed a right to remove someone from Australia. That is my responsibility and I think the Australian people are fully supportive of that approach.

QUESTION:

Indian police have backed away from alleged links between Haneef and Al Qaeda. Have you had an discussions with them…?

MINISTER ANDREWS:

No, no I haven’t and that’s again, that’s a matter for the police and that’s a matter for the security agency’s and the international cooperation and relations between police and security agency’s around the world. It’s not a matter for me….

QUESTION:

Are you concerned though that it adds to a perception of misinformation and murkiness about this whole case?

MINISTER ANDREWS:

That’s a matter for the police; it’s a matter for the prosecuting authorities. The matter before me was whether or not this person, who is conditionally in Australia, has met the requirements for remaining in Australia and I came to the conclusion, based on evidence before me, that he hadn’t and that’s why I took my decision.

QUESTION:

Is there any, sorry…

MINISTER ANDREWS:

I was going to say, I am acting in the national interest and I’m not going to back away from acting in the national interest. I saw some comments reported overnight from Mr Rudd whom I don’t know where he stands on this issue now because at one stage he’s out there supporting us, after getting briefings from, or his party getting briefings from the Federal Police. At the same time he has his lapdog Mr Beattie out there attacking and traducing the reputation of the police, including Queensland Police involved in this, an somehow trying to shift the focus, his focus for the failings in the Queensland health system onto the Commonwealth Government and now you have Mr Rudd out there again saying something different. I mean when it comes to national security you’ve got to take a leadership role and part of leadership is actually making decisions and saying where you stand on these issues, and it’s about time Mr Rudd actually said what he would do in the circumstances instead of being all over the shop.

QUESTION:

Is there any updates of the visa status of Dr Ali, the second Indian doctor?

MINISTER ANDREWS:

I, as of last night, have not had any further information in relation to Dr Ali. But my department wrote to the authorities, the medical authorities in Queensland to, both the Queensland Health and to the Medical Registration Board, asking to be updated about any inquiries that they make. And we also offered the use of the expert document examiners which my department have and do that sort of work on a regular basis. As of last night I wasn’t aware of any reply to that. As to any other matters, it would be a case for, as in the situation with Dr Haneef, for the Federal Police to put information before me which would go to the question of whether I exercised my discretion. As far as I’m aware, I haven’t been in the office this morning I just came straight in from Melbourne, as far as I’m aware that hasn’t occurred at this stage.

QUESTION:

Do you concede that the Government has gained the public’s [inaudible] in, in you handling national security matters?

MINISTER ANDREWS:

Not at all. What the public is interested in is that we make a decision on the evidence we have. Look terrorism doesn’t wait. Terrorism doesn’t wait, people want us to make decisions. If we have evidence before us then people expect us to make decisions and that’s what goes to the safety and the security of the Australian people.

QUESTION:

There’s the perception out there though that this is all been politically motivated.

MINISTER ANDREWS:

Well, let’s be realistic, come on. I hadn’t heard of Dr Haneef until these matters came along. Did somebody in the government arrange him leaving Australia? Did someone in the government arrange for various conversations…?

QUESTION:

(Inaudible)

MINISTER ANDREWS:

Well come on I think that there is…

QUESTION:

...Goes to the extent that once it’s happened let’s, let’s (inaudible)

MINISTER ANDREWS:

Well, well once something’s happened and police provide information, and that information relates broadly to the safety and security of Australian’s, then we have a responsibility to act. As I said terrorism doesn’t wait. And we should act and this is why I’m very critical of Mr Rudd because he can’t come out and say what he would do in the circumstances. He’s, you know, running around saying at one stage - ‘I’ve been briefed and I support what the Government does and they made the right decision’, yet at the same time he’s got Mr Beattie out there criticising the police all the time. I mean where in the hell does Mr Rudd actually stand on these issues? If you want to be, if you want to be the Prime Minister of Australia one of your first responsibilities is actually to care for and do something and be prepared to be decisive about the security of this nation. And what this shows is that he is all over the shop, you don’t know where he stands and he simply can’t be trusted so far as the security of the nation’s concerned.

Thank you.

[Ends]

Media Contact: Kate Walshe 0421 588 794

See: Index of Media Releases

URL: http://www.minister.immi.gov.au/media/media-releases/2007/ka_doorstop_0711.htm Last update: 03 August 2007 at 16:34 AEST