Journalist: Immigration Minister Peter Dutton joins us from Brisbane. Minister, thank you very much for your time tonight.
One of the attackers here in Paris had registered as a refugee. How can you protect us from importing the same problem?
Peter Dutton: Well thanks Mel. The most important priority that we have is to make sure that we can protect the Australian public and national security remains as our number one priority.
We have biometrics checks, fingerprint checks and ultimately we rely on the advice of our intelligence partners, including the United States, to make sure that we know who is coming to our country and to make sure that we can block those who would seek to do harm if they made it to our shores.
Journalist: Can you reassure us that is enough? One of the issues – and I feel like this is almost too early to talk about given where I am standing – but one of the issues is what happened here in Paris appeared to be under the radar, that intelligence missed this.
So how can you assure Australians that we can be safe?
Peter Dutton: Mel, it's a different story of course in Europe than it is in Australia because France obviously has land borders and people cross quite freely some of those borders, depending on the passport or the travel documents that they hold.
Because we are an island nation we have the ability to work with intelligence agencies and the Australian Federal Police, as well as the Australian Border Force, to make sure that we can verify people's identities and frankly my instructions to the staff in the Post's in the Middle East has been very clear; and that is if we can't verify somebody's identity, one hundred per cent, then we move on to the next application.
We are not in any circumstance going to compromise on the number one priority which is making sure that we keep our public safe.
Journalist: So will these latest attacks have any impact on our refugee intake, in the numbers at all?
Peter Dutton: The Government has announced 12,000 people to come under the intake from Syria and Iraq. Obviously we have said as a priority we want families, women and children in particular who pose no threat to us.
But don't forget that many of these people of course are fleeing the same circumstance that the people in Paris have endured over the last few days and that is in Syria people from ISIS, who are beheading Christians, people who are attacking Syrians, as well as the Assad regime, attacking their own people.
We are trying to help people that are fleeing the same sort of terrorist attacks being inflicted on them in their villages as we have seen playout in Paris.
The trick for us is to make sure that we don't in any circumstance compromise our national security, but at the same time try to help people who want to flee certain death otherwise. That is the balance that we need to strike.
Journalist: Just very briefly Minister, you attend National Security meetings, what is your view; do we need more boots on the ground or is it is there a bigger picture of the security effort in the Middle East?
Peter Dutton: Mel, I think the leadership needs to be shown from the United States, from the United Kingdom and importantly from other countries throughout the Middle East.
Australia will lend assistance, as we are doing at the moment, and we have demonstrated that we have a great capacity through intelligence gathering, but also through our defence forces and we've been involved in a campaign to strike a number of strong-holds that ISIS has within Syria and Iraq.
We should be guided by what the global community thinks is best to try and secure peace at some point in Syria, to stop the flows of millions of people across borders because ultimately if you lose control of your borders then we end up with terrible situations and that is why the Government is absolutely adamant that we will continue a very strong border policy in our country to make sure that people who are coming in and going out, we know exactly who they are so that we can minimise that threat.
Journalist: Alright Peter Dutton, I really appreciate your time tonight. Thank you for joining us.
Peter Dutton: Thanks, Mel.