Topics: Bill Shorten’s weakening of border protection policy
BEN FORDHAM: On the line, the Immigration Minister David Coleman. Minister, good afternoon.
DAVID COLEMAN: Good afternoon Ben.
FORDHAM: This is becoming messier by the day.
COLEMAN: Well Ben, absolutely. As Michael Pezzullo said, what Labor's basically done is completely unravel the offshore processing system that's worked so well. Because basically at the moment, the Government decides when someone's transferred and that's not the case under this new law. So basically you get two doctors to give you a certificate and then you get the panel and that's it. And the other thing, and I mentioned this in Parliament today Ben, it's not only the one person who gets recommended for the transfer, but the doctor can say - oh well, in addition, there's another half dozen or eight or ten people who should come with that person and you know, unless that person's got a serious criminal record, there's nothing we can do about it.
FORDHAM: And Michael Pezzullo is no party political hack, I mean he has got a reputation as playing everything straight down the line.
COLEMAN: Absolutely. It's just common sense Ben. If you take away the power from the Government to decide
who comes to the country and you put in place these ridiculous rules that Labor's put in place in this law, we are going to see, I think as Mr Pezzullo said, that substantially everyone of that thousand people group, come to Australia soon. And it's going to overwhelm our existing system of onshore detention centres, which is why we're going to have to open Christmas Island at a cost of taxpayers of over a billion dollars. And it is just absolutely irresponsible. When Labor was in 50,000 people arrived, 1,200 people drowned at sea, 8,000 kids were locked up Ben. We fixed that, we've got the system under control and offshore processing is a really important and fundamental part of that. This bill completely upends that and it is a- just a disgrace that Labor's passed that through the Parliament.
FORDHAM: If new boats are spotted, will you be sharing that information with the Australian people?
COLEMAN: Well look, we have a range of protocols in place Ben in dealing with-
FORDHAM: Traditionally you haven't because they've been on water matters, but I'm wondering whether this time around you will because you'll be wanting to let people know there's a boat coming.
COLEMAN: Well look, I'm not going to sort of pre-empt how we deal with any particular boat arrival. What we've got to do is stop it from happening. It's incredibly unfortunate that Bill Shorten has created this situation, but our job is to do everything we can to stop those boats from arriving. You would've seen the PM put out a video that's gone up into Asia over the weekend on this exact topic. And we'll do what we always do, which is work with our security agencies and do everything we can to stop those boats from arriving. But, it's just common sense to say - people smugglers are going to have a great product to market because Bill Shorten, in unravelling these rules, it's going to lead to a large number of people coming to Australia from Manus and Nauru and if you're a people smuggler, it's very easy to turn that into some marketing material and that's what they'll do.
FORDHAM: I've got a feeling we'll be speaking frequently. Thanks very much for coming on.
COLEMAN: Thanks Ben.