Interview with Neil Breen – 4BC Breakfast
29 July 2020
Subjects: Detention protests
NEIL BREEN: Yes, well Acting Immigration Minister Alan Tudge is on the warpath over the cost to taxpayers with the ongoing refugee protests at the Kangaroo Point complex. Two hundred and seventy thousand a week. I could say it twice, I could say three times. Two hundred seventy thousand a week. So he's on the line the acting Immigration Minister Alan Tudge. Good morning to you, acting Minister.
ALAN TUDGE: Good morning, Neil. How's it going?
NEIL BREEN: Good, thanks. Look, the thing that I've talked about on this show is that they've been there for seven years like - and I know the Government's hands get tied by the court process and everything. Can't we just come to some agreement somewhere to make it end?
ALAN TUDGE: They haven't been in Australia for seven years. They've only been in Australia for up to 12 months and in many cases, they've been in open accommodation facilities on PNG or Nauru beforehand.
NEIL BREEN: Beforehand.
ALAN TUDGE: Beforehand.
NEIL BREEN: And they've got themselves to Australia …
ALAN TUDGE: And they've got themselves to Australia …
NEIL BREEN: … by saying they needed an operation or whatever.
ALAN TUDGE: That's right. Under Labor and the Greens' Medevac legislation which just required two doctors from anywhere in Australia to sign a certificate to say that a person needs to come to Australia for medical attention.
NEIL BREEN: And so that's how they've got in and now the system is such that they can say: oh, they don't need this operation; they don't need whatever, then appeals are put in at court and the thing just drags on and there's protesters there the whole time and the main street gets shut off and it's costing everyone 270 grand a week and it's unacceptable.
ALAN TUDGE: Well, that is exactly right, Neil. Your summary I think is pretty accurate. They've come here; they've, in many cases - a third of all cases actually didn't take up the medical treatment which they were offered and supposedly came out for. Nearly everybody now has had their refugee status determined. And so now we are asking and requiring people to take up one of the three options which they have. One of which is to go to the United States and some people already have. One of which is to return to PNG or Nauru, where again, they'll be in open accommodation facilities where they won't be facing persecution there. Or thirdly, it is to return to their home country if indeed they have not been found to be a refugee. They are the three options which are available to them. So what they won't be doing, Neil, and I know this is what the activists want - this is what the left and the Greens and the Labor Party want - they want these people to permanently stay in Australia. We know that if you do that, you might do that for this one group, but then inevitably the next group come and then the next group and then the next group. And you end up with the carnage that we had last time, when you had open borders and we're just not going to do that again.
NEIL BREEN: And so at the moment we're bogged down in court appeals and court actions and things like that. How can we - and I know there's separation of powers and all of these things but it's up to the whole of society here. We pay for the court system and everything. It's up to the whole of society here to say: hey, this needs to be resolved so we can all move on. How can we do that?
ALAN TUDGE: Yeah. It's a good question, Neil. I mean it's - the frustrating thing is that at the moment at least, our powers are a little bit limited to be able to compel a person to leave the country because as soon as we do that, inevitably an activist lawyer would place an injunction to prevent us from doing that. Now, we're looking into this as we speak to see what legal options we have because, you know, if you've come to Australia under this Medevac legislation, you actually signed a consent form to say that you'd only come here for your health treatment and then you'd return to PNG or Nauru, wherever you came from. We think it's perfectly reasonable therefore to hold them accountable for that consent form which they signed and indeed, the legislation says that. So we need to be able to see this through, but at the moment, we're looking at further legal options to be able to see that through.
NEIL BREEN: Okay. Acting Immigration Minister Alan Tudge, thanks so much for joining us on for 4BC Breakfast.
ALAN TUDGE: Thanks very much, Neil.