JOURNALIST: Peter Dutton the Immigration has been in charge of all of this and he is on the line. Minister, good afternoon.
PETER DUTTON: Good afternoon Ben.
JOURNALIST: How difficult was it to regain control?
PETER DUTTON: Well the Australian Federal Police and the Australian Border Force have done a great job.
Obviously people up on Christmas Island in the detention centre are now a population made up of some pretty serious criminals
So as the boats have stopped, and we haven’t had a successful boat arrive for about 18 months, the numbers of boat people in detention have come down dramatically.
At the same time we have cancelled visas of people who have committed serious criminal offences like criminal outlaw motorcycle gang members.
As boat people have come out of detention centres, these serious criminals have gone in.
So there has been quite a change in the population of the detention centre, Ben, and there are some pretty serious criminals up there.
We have 11 people who have been convicted of armed robbery, 27 of assault, 5 people who have committed sexual offences against children, people who have been convicted of grievous bodily harm, 2 of manslaughter, 4 of rape and 9 of break and enter and robbery. So we are talking about some pretty serious criminals.
JOURNALIST: I heard the New Zealand Prime Minister making similar comments in their Parliament today.
How much damage has been done to the facility that we are going to have to pay for Minister?
PETER DUTTON: Well that is a good point mate, there is well over a $1million worth of damage…
JOURNALIST: …a million?
PETER DUTTON: Over a million worth of damage and taxpayers are going to have to foot that bill I’m sorry to say.
These people are playing us and they are playing the legal system frankly through appeal after appeal.
They have had their visas cancelled because they have failed the character test and they are going through the courts trying to delay their deportation from Australia and at the same time they are destroying property.
The police will investigate now whether or not any charges will be brought against some of these people for willful damage, for arson or what ever the case may be.
In the end though the Government is determined to make sure that we can cancel visas of non-citizens who have been involved in serious crimes.
We have cancelled a record number of visas for people who have committed sexual offences against children and those that have been involved in outlaw motorcycle gangs who are involved in the distribution of Ice and other drugs.
We are just not going to take a backwards step to make sure that we can make our society safer.
We have made our borders safer and the job now is to make sure that if you are here as a guest to our country, whethere you come from New Zealand or anyone else, you have to abide by the law and if not you go home.
JOURNALIST: They sound like very determined vandals if they have caused a million dollars worth of damage in a number of days?
PETER DUTTON: Well the difficulty of course up on Christmas Island we have only so much of a response up there and we have had to fly Federal Police in overnight.
So they have access to parts of the compounds within the centre. There are parts of the immigration detention centre up there that remain operational and unaffected, but they have caused come significant damage.
As I say these are serious criminals they have been involved in many cases in a lifetime of crime or on the edges of it. They know how to cause damage and that is exactly what they have done.
JOURNALIST: I know that you weren’t there when control was regained, but would it surprise you to learn that rubber bullets were used?
PETER DUTTON: I haven’t received that advice. I heard a journalist put that question this afternoon, but obviously police will deal with the risk as it is posed.
There were reports early on that they had gained access into a gardening shed or into an area that had been secured with all sorts of products and bits of machinery to upkeep the gardens.
There was a suggestion that somebody had got a chainsaw out of that secure area and I suspect if they had advanced towards police with that sort of a weapon then the police would responsd with whatever they thought was appropaite, necessary and within the law.
JOURNALIST: Is that what you have been told? That someone advance towards authorities with a chainsaw?
PETER DUTTON: I received a briefing earlier Ben that somebody had access to a chainsaw and I don’t know whether they advanced or not, but certainly they had possession of a chainsaw and the police were in the vicinity.
JOURNALIST: How quickly are these people going to be booted from Christmas Island?
PETER DUTTON: Well as quickly as I can mate, but as I say, people have appeal rights through the courts and it is a reasonable thing, but it is frustrating sometimes when people are playing the system.
We have said to the New Zealand Government that we are happy for these people to go back to New Zealand and we will pay for their airfares to go back.
If they appeal through the courts and my decision to cancel the visa is overturned then they can return to Australia, but we would like to see them gone from our shores as quickly as possible.
JOURNALIST: Just very quickly. We know that there are five detainees injured with minor lacerations and other injuries. Any of your staff or AFP been officers injured?
PETER DUTTON: No and that is my most important consideration is that none of the officers have been injured and that is a good thing.
These people need to hear a very clear message that the Governemnt is just not going to be intimidated by this sort of behaviour and if you have destroyed Commonwealth property that tax payers are going to have to pay to fix up then there will be consequences to pay for that as well.
JOURNALIST: Thanks for sharing your time on a busy afternoon.
PETER DUTTON: Thanks Ben.