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Transcript of interview with Nick McCallum and Justin Smith: Radio 3AW: 17 June 2011: Leslie Cunliffe visa cancellation

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FRIDAY, 17 JUNE 2011

SUBJECTS: Leslie Cunliffe visa cancellation.

NICK MCCALLUM: Minister, appreciate your time, I know you’re very busy, but there is some news on Leslie Cunliffe.

CHRIS BOWEN: Sure, good morning. Yes, we detained Leslie Cunliffe last night. I’ve cancelled his visa to be in Australia and we’ve begun the process of deporting him and he’s in immigration detention as we speak.

MCCALLUM: Whereabouts is he in immigration detention?

BOWEN: He’s in the Maribyrnong Immigration Detention Centre.

JUSTIN SMITH: Minister that is terrific news, well done. When will he be leaving the country?

BOWEN: Well there’s a process that we’ve got to go through. We’ve got to arrange, of course, with the UK Government and get that process underway. That can sometimes happen quite quickly - that can sometimes take a couple of weeks; or sometimes it drags out. I really wouldn’t want to put a time limit on it because it just depends on a whole range of factors. The important this is he’s not at large, he’s in immigration detention and we’ve begun the process.

MCCALLUM: I fear the answer to this question, but can he appeal in any way or is this now final?

BOWEN: It is, frankly, difficult to appeal a Minister’s decision - the way we’ve done this; but he can - there are, always, in these cases, some things that they can try to do and there are some famous cases, for example, which have dragged on for a long time with appeals, but we’re confident.

Obviously we’ve followed the law and I’ve considered the case quite closely. It wasn’t pleasant reading, I must say, but I read all the file notes and all the case history and came to conclusion that I did: that he’s not somebody who’s fit and proper, of good character to stay in Australia.

SMITH: So, he’s a British citizen. When did he come to Australia?

BOWEN: I’d have to go back and check that, but it’s been some time - long term in Australia but, nevertheless, not an Australian citizen and not of good enough character to stay in Australia, in my view.

SMITH: And your department has spoken to the family - the victim’s family rather - and what was the reaction of the victim’s family?

BOWEN: Obviously pleased, obviously relieved. It’s been a very stressful period for them and obviously a difficult period as they waited to see what decision I might make.

Obviously, sometimes, these things do take a bit of time. As I said, I had to the follow the law to the letter, which was to give him - the process we go through is we give him a period of time to respond to my initial view. So I let

him know that I was considering cancelling his visa, he had a period of time to respond to that and put a case to me and then I decided to cancel the visa. So that did take some time and that’s important to do that, to make sure that

minimises the avenues for his appeal.

MCCALLUM: And just one final thing, Minister: we just want to clarify - it is definitely revoking his visa? There have been stories going around that he’s broken parole; there’s no suggestion of that at this stage?

BOWEN: No, no, I’ve cancelled his visa to be in Australia.

SMITH: Well Minister, thank you very much. I’m not sure if you’ve talked with the family, personally - I know your department have.

BOWEN: My office has, and certainly the two local MPs in the Geelong area - Richard Marles and Darren Cheeseman have both spoken to me about it regularly, on the family’s behalf.

SMITH: Well I’m sure that they would want to make sure that you’ve received the message of their thanks. I’m sure of that.

BOWEN: Sure, thank you for your time.