Subjects: Yassmin Abdel-Magied US visa; New Zealand refugee policy offer; South African farmers; allegations of Cameroon athletes breaching visa obligations; sentencing in Victoria; migration rate; Melbourne Airport Rail link announcement
Immigration Minister, Alan Tudge. What was happening in this case? She [Yassmin Abdel-Magied] was in the US for a conference, I imagine it is possible she entered on a tourist visa, perhaps.
That could be an issue. But do you have any reason to believe or any reason to understand why this citizen would be turned around at the border?
To be honest Sam, I do not know. This is the first I have heard of it and obviously these are decisions of the United States Government.
At the end of the day it is unusual for an Australian citizen to not be granted a visa to go into the United States.
But I simply do not know the details behind this particular instance.
Will you be out offering her any consular assistance? Is there anything you can do to assist her? Is it a concern to you that she has been stopped?
I just do not know the details underpinning this and whether or not that she had a tourist visa and perhaps there was evidence that she was to do things other than being a tourist there.
I just simply do not know the facts underpinning it. Every Australian citizen has right to consular access and so she has that right as well. I am reluctant to say too much more Sam, because I simply do not know the facts.
I have only just been informed about it by yourself just now, so let's get to the bottom of this before I make further comment.
Okay, Sky News is also reporting this morning that the Government was privately urging New Zealand not to take the offer of taking those Manus refugees off the table. Despite some pretty tough talk publically from Peter Dutton.
Are you really walking both sides of the street a little there?
I think everybody knows what our policy is and we have a very firm policy in relation to people who arrive unlawfully by boat. And that is, they will not be able to settle in Australia. Be that directly or via New Zealand.
Because as you know, if a person goes to New Zealand, they have full rights to come to Australia. Our policy is very clear, very firm and there is a reason for that policy.
It has been a successful policy. I do not know what draft advice was given to the New Zealand Government. I would not be commenting on draft departmental advice being given to our Government, let alone a foreign government.
The Australian Newspaper's Joe Kelly is reporting this morning that Peter Dutton has received a written request to fast-track a quota of persecuted South African farmers.
Would this be a similar special visa that was offered, for example, to people from Kosovo during the conflict there? That was a temporary visa. Is that a possibility in this space at all?
I have been discussing this issue for the last few days here in Perth. I held a very large forum which was organised by Andrew Hastie on Monday night. Sorry, on Tuesday night, where there was probably 600 local South Africans here.
And they told very harrowing stories of what is occurring in South Africa. Of rape, of torture, of murders going on. My message to them, as it is now, is that Australia is a very generous country to those people who are in need.
We have a non-discriminatory policy, and consequently those people who may be facing persecution can apply for a humanitarian visa and come into Australia under that way.
Of course, many South Africans can also come in via the skilled migration program, as they have done in very large numbers over the last decade. In fact about 60,000 people have come in that way over the last decade and have made tremendous contributions.
So just to clarify, you are not talking about a special, new way of these people applying? You are just still saying they have to go through the existing streams?
We have quite a flexible humanitarian visa program presently, Samantha. Even the Syrians who came in, did not come under a different visa category as such. They have all come through the existing humanitarian visa stream.
In essence, the definition of whether or not you can access a humanitarian visa is whether or not you have faced persecution. Certainly, I heard at this forum, I have read stories elsewhere that many people in South Africa, are indeed facing persecution.
We have already received a number of applications from South Africans. I imagine we will be receiving many more applications and of course they will be processed accordingly, in line with other applications that we receive from around the world.
Okay you have lashed out though, at the Labor Party for fundraising off the back of this issue. They put out a fundraising call saying that Andrew Hastie was holding a right-wing forum. I assume that is the forum that you attended?
It was, and it was absolutely disgraceful of the Labor Party to do this. Here we are, we have got Andrew Hastie, showing his decency by holding a forum attended by 600 lively South African-Australian residents here in Western Australia.
And they were telling, I tell you Sam, they were telling some brutal stories about what has occurred to some of their family and loved ones over in South Africa, and sometimes, instances of their own parents or their own brothers and sisters who had been murdered.
At the same time as this was occurring, the Labor Party was trying to fundraise off the back of the South Africans' tragedies. I just think that is a disgrace and I think Bill Shorten should apologise for the shameless way they went about that.
What is the latest on those athletes from Cameroon that have gone missing? We are told up to eight are on the run.
That was a big story today, that apparently some of the Cameroon athletes have gone missing. We are obviously monitoring the situation, but nearly all the Commonwealth Games athletes and their support crew have visas which go until the middle of May.
So, they are not in breach of any visa requirements at this stage. But we monitor the situation. If there are breaches of any visa by anyone at any time, obviously we take that very seriously. But we are not too concerned at this stage.
We also heard from Michael Sukkar this morning. He is disappointed that a man has been released on bail in Victoria in relation to a bashing of a Melbourne surgeon. He said, sadly that is the way it is with courts these days.
Do you share his concerns and do you feel constrained after that court case last year, or that hauling over the coals that you got from the Melbourne judiciary?
I will firstly point out that the High Court itself has found that the Victorian judiciary was handing down unlawful sentences in terms of not applying the law correctly and giving weaker sentences than what they should have been applying. That was the High Court.
Victorians across the board are sick to death of people getting out on bail and then committing further offences.
They are sick to death of the laws which show people are not getting the same sort of sentences in Victoria as they would in New South Wales and Queensland.
The judicial system in Victoria is weak. That is why we have had significant spikes in crime across a whole range of different areas.
We need to toughen up. Matthew Guy, the Opposition Leader, has got very firm policies to toughen up the judicial system in Victoria. Because Victorians, particularly Melburnians are sick to death of it.
They are sick of the crime, they are sick of the fear and we do need to toughen up and the Coalition Government, if they get elected in November, absolutely will do that.
Alright Alan Tudge, there is a lot of other things I want to talk to you about.
We are hoping to speak to you regularly on this program and have a large discussion about immigration and the make-up of that after these recent discussions in relation to Peter Dutton and whether or not he wanted to cut the intake.
Am I right to assume you are going to leave the settings in place or are you just thinking of cutting it yourself?
I think that both the Prime Minister and Minister Dutton have said that the settings will largely remain for the next Financial Year.
These settings are considered each and every year in the Budget context and we will have a cap of about 190,000 permanent residents for next year, which is similar to what we have this year.
That largely comprises of about 70 per cent of people who will come through the skilled migration program and about 30 per cent who will come through the family program, typically spouses of Australian citizens. That is going to continue.
I think the important thing in relation to this debate about immigration, about population policy though is that we need to make sure that the infrastructure is being built to cater for our population growth.
That is why it is so pleasing to see the Prime Minister announce the Tullamarine – the Airport Rail link in Melbourne.
This is a rail link which we have wanted for decades, and finally this Government, the Turnbull Government is putting $5 billion on the table to finally get that rail link built. And that will take a huge amount of congestion off the Tullamarine Freeway.
Alright, thank you very much for your time today, Alan Tudge.
Thanks very much Sam.