Tuesday, 08 October 2019

Interview with Ben Fordham, 2GB Radio

Topics: Asylum seekers arriving by air

BEN FORDHAM: Australia is on track to post a new annual record for asylum seekers who arrive in the country by plane. Figures obtained by Labor show more than 95,000 people have arrived by air since 2014. The stats show that since the start of July, around 80 people every day have claimed protection after landing at an Aussie airport. The Shadow Home Affairs Minister Kristina Keneally says this is a crisis greater than the boat arrivals under the Labor Party.

Immigration Minister David Coleman is on the air to respond. Minister, good afternoon.

DAVID COLEMAN: Afternoon, Ben.

BEN FORDHAM: What do you say to Kristina Keneally's claim that this is a crisis greater than when the boats arrived?

DAVID COLEMAN: Well, it is an absolutely ridiculous statement, Ben. I mean, under the Labor Party, 1200 people died at sea. 50,000 people arrived. They locked up 8000 children. In terms of this air arrivals issue, Ben, in the last three years, we've approved 31 per cent less visas for air arrivals than the Labor Party did in their last three years. They approved 6900 permanent visas in their last three years. We've approved 4800.

BEN FORDHAM: You would acknowledge though that those numbers have to be addressed. If you got 95,000 people coming by air since 2014, I mean, that's a big number.

DAVID COLEMAN: Well, Ben, just to be clear, these are people that come with visas legally. So that we've got their passports, we know who they are. If they apply for what's called protection after they arrive, 90 per cent of them get rejected and, as I said, we've only approved 4800 in three years - Labor approved 6900.

If people come by plane, unlike people who come by boat, they're obviously not risking their lives at sea or the lives of their kids. They're not forcing Australian Defence Force or Border Force staff to go out onto the high seas and all the emotional trauma that comes with that. And the cost of Labor's boat catastrophe, Ben, to taxpayers is $17 billion now.

BEN FORDHAM: So Minister, you're saying that you're more than happy with the way the Government is handling this issues? There are no improvements you can make?

DAVID COLEMAN: Look, we've seen a reduction in the number of applications of 12 per cent last year already, Ben. And so far this year, compared to last year, we're also seeing a further reduction. So the number of applications is actually coming down and the number that are getting approved is much smaller than it was under Labor.

It seems to me that this is a spectacular own goal by Kristina Keneally to raise this issue, because if she's concerned about air arrivals, why did Labor approve thousands more than this Government if they're concerned about this issue? And why is Labor advocating a 71 per cent increase in the humanitarian program to go from 18,750 to 32,000? Because that's their policy, Ben. They want it to go up by 71 per cent to 32,000 people per year.

BEN FORDHAM: Fair questions. We'll get Mark Latham's take on all of that when he joins us later.

Minister, thanks for coming on.


BEN FORDHAM: David Coleman. And as he says, we need to remember 1200 people died - at least - during Labor's years in office when they relaxed the border protection policies introduced by John Howard.