JOURNALIST: Lots of worrying issues to catch up on tonight and just a few moments ago I caught up with the Immigration Minister from Brisbane. Peter Dutton, welcome back to Viewpoint.
PETER DUTTON: Thank you Chris.
JOURNALIST: Look, I just want to start outside your portfolio area, but we have this grim wait now to find out what's going to happen to Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran in Indonesia, as they've been given notification of their impending executions. Does Australia now hold out any hope of being able to prevent these executions going ahead?
PETER DUTTON: Well, Chris, it's obviously a very grim time and, as you say, consulate officials have been advised in relation to this matter and it really has been a huge effort by Julie Bishop and Tony Abbott, not only at a Ministerial and Prime Ministerial level, but within the department.
Obviously people within the consulate in Indonesia have worked very hard putting the case and it is a very, very difficult situation; there's no question about that.
CHRIS KENNY: There's no doubt those representations though will continue right up 'til the last minutes if need be, but it sounds, obviously, from everything you're saying and Tony Abbott and Julie Bishop are saying that there really is no hope being held out.
PETER DUTTON: Well, Julie Bishop's made comment this afternoon and she said that she is again making representations to her counterpart, but it is a very grim situation and, as you say, those representations will be made right up until the last moment.
But it's obviously a particularly difficult time for, not just the two men involved, but for their families as well. The Government really has pushed as hard as we possibly can to try and negotiate with the Indonesian Government and it's a very difficult situation over the next few days, obviously that's the crucial period ahead of us now and I know that Julie Bishop and the Prime Minister won't relent from the task of making those representations on behalf of the family and on behalf of the two men.
JOURNALIST: Indeed; shocking business. I want to switch to another issue which is very disturbing of course and that's Islamic State and Islamist extremism, both at home and abroad. And the latest revelations regarding the former Australian - the Australian - the doctor jihadist it seems. He calls himself now Abu Yusuf; we've seen the video; we believe he was Tareq Kamleh when he lived in Australia, studied medicine in Adelaide and then practised in Perth. What more can you tell us about the background of this man and were our security agencies aware of him?
PETER DUTTON: Well, Chris, obviously the investigations will take place, but I'm advised a 29-year-old male left Adelaide for Malaysia in March and obviously now these matters will be investigated fully.
It's very concerning because obviously somebody who is medically trained in our country is a person of significant intellect and yet their minds have been pervaded with this message of going to support people in Syria by this man's own admission; he's in an area which is prescribed and would make it illegal for him to be there and obviously that will be investigated.
But for these people there's only two outcomes. One is most likely and this has happened to 30 Australians already; that is that they get killed in Syria or in the Middle East fighting or being involved in supporting those who do fight or they come back and face lengthy jail terms.
It's unimaginable that they put themselves and their families in this situation and going to aid and abet murderous thugs who are raping and pillaging across Syria is just not something that a person of sound mind would engage in.
So I think that's the most alarming aspect to all of these matters and that is the fact that over the internet people are listening to these messages, their minds are becoming infected with this evil message and particularly for young people to go across.
We're trying to stop as many as we can at the borders, but it is unimaginable for those families and for those people themselves that face a near certain death.
JOURNALIST: Do we know whether this particular man, Tareq Kamleh, was born in Australia, whether he had or has Australian citizenship?
PETER DUTTON: Chris, my understanding is that he's an Australian citizen and that he's done his medical training in Australia, but I don't have more details beyond that.
JOURNALIST: Going to what you were saying then; what is disturbing about this is the fact that this seems to be a young man with so many options ahead of him; qualified as a medical doctor of course.
We hear a lot of people talking about, we're worried about marginalised youth, and certainly some of the people we've seen take up arms in Australia or head off to Iraq and Syria, have been loners, if you like, or aggrieved loners, or people who have been marginalised in some way.
It is very disturbing here that you've got someone who's obviously got the intellect and capability to have a good life here. We've seen him on video; a man who's obviously very articulate as well. It shows the evil, pernicious nature of this philosophy, of this ideology rather than reflecting on any problems within our society.
PETER DUTTON: Well, Chris, it's a problem for all western countries from across the western world trickling into Syria in great numbers and, as I say, over 100 Australians are taking part on the ground, 30 have been killed already and you can understand, as you pointed out, I mean an impressionable young 16 or 17-year-old being brainwashed by a couple of mates somewhere online, you can understand and you can try and prevent that from happening.
But for somebody of this intellect to be convinced to go across, to put his own life at risk and ultimately to support those in an area where it has been prescribed for Australians, it makes it illegal to visit or stay there. It is very, very difficult to comprehend and I think what it shows us, particularly given that this fellow has given himself to being involved in a propaganda video, basically putting out a call to medical staff across the world to come and join this cult, that makes it even worse in my mind, because he's now a front for the organisation.
We know that ISIL puts out, by some reports, about 100,000 social media messages a day. They've got young people obviously who are involved in this propaganda machine, and this latest video is just one part of that drive to get the information out to convince people around the world that there's some legitimacy to this cause, when in the end they're killing, raping, and pillaging across Syria.
They're not helping the Syrian people at all, and this is something that I think a lot of parents really need to pay attention to, and if people have information call the national security hotline, or to call the Australian Federal Police. Provide as much information as you can because you may well save the life of somebody who otherwise had intended to go across to Syria.
JOURNALIST: Alright just going to your direct responsibilities for border protection for a moment. We've seen the horrors unfolding in Europe this year, with close to 2000 people drowning crossing from Northern Africa into Southern Europe.
Just before Tony Abbott headed off to Europe for the Gallipoli commemorations he suggested that what Europe should be doing is toughening its response. He was mocked of course by his political opponents here; people suggested he had a different message to Julie Bishop. But we learned two things at the end of last week; one is that the Europeans are toughening their approach, they are looking at toughening the measures they've got in place and throwing more resources at stopping the boats strangely enough, and also that they've asked Australia through Foreign Minister Julie Bishop about our experiences.
PETER DUTTON: Well Chris I don't think it should come as any surprise that people would look to the Australian model, and given the way in which we've been able to turn this situation around over the course of the last 18 months it's one of the most significant achievements of the Abbott Government. We had 50,000 people arrive on 821 boats - the human tragedy of that is that 1,200 people drowned at sea.
We're mocked by the Greens and by the Labor Party for that success, and it's really just quite beyond belief because at the heart of the success of our policy has been a turning around of boats where it's safe to do so, and the temporary protection visas, and it seems to me that Labor has walked away from both of those principals.
Now as you say the European Union is having a look at ways in which they might be able to look at other countries, including Australia, to learn from our experiences to stop people drowning at sea, and we're prepared to provide whatever assistance that we can, but in the end we've demonstrated that we still have a significant threat from people smugglers who right now are trying to fill boats, but we're staring that threat down.
There's a lot of work that still is being done behind the scenes, out of the minds of the public, and we've just got to continue that resolve, because I can tell you one thing that people smugglers have in their mind, and that is that if Labor is elected at the next election they see their business case reopening, and the boats restarting, and I just don't want to see that because it will result in deaths at sea.
JOURNALIST: Now you're trying to empty Nauru and Manus Island obviously. Tough conditions undoubtedly for people who are stuck in those offshore detention camps. You want to send people, refugees, to Cambodia, has anyone put up their hand to be resettled in Cambodia?
PETER DUTTON: Yes they have and we've been working very hard with…
JOURNALIST: How many?
PETER DUTTON: Well we're not going to say just yet Chris because we're still negotiating with some.
JOURNALIST: But there's suggestions there's only one at the moment; is there any more than one at the moment?
PETER DUTTON: There certainly is, and part of the difficulty though is that we've got refugee advocates here in Australia, but also some troublemakers within the asylum seeker community in Nauru who are saying look just stay at Nauru, you can outlast the Government, test their resolve, don't go to Cambodia, at some stage they'll blink and you'll come back to Australia.
[Audio error] said very clearly, and I'll repeat it again now; those people who have arrived by boat that are on Nauru will never be settled in Australia.
I've started discussions with David Adeang the Justice Minister in Nauru about a new ten year deal between our two countries, and that should send a very clear message that we are not going to allow those people to settle in Australia.
Already hundreds have decided to take up the support that we've offered to them and return to their countries of origin, including Iran, but we are not going to allow those people to settle in Australia.
As I say all of these things, all of these layers, these decisions, many of them very tough decisions to have to take and to stand by are part of the reason that we've stopped the boats, and that we're not going to allow the boats to restart. So the resolve of the Government is absolute, but we're still negotiating with some people, and we'll make an announcement in the not-too-distant future about the first group of those people that will go to Cambodia.
JOURNALIST: Just briefly, we're running out of time, but how many children are left in detention?
PETER DUTTON: Well at the peak under Labor there were 1,992 children…
JOURNALIST: Yes we know that, how many now?
PETER DUTTON: … in detention. So there are closer to a hundred on the mainland, and there are just over 100 that are on Nauru.
JOURNALIST: So just over 200. And are they with their families? Is that why they're in detention, because you can't release their families?
PETER DUTTON: Correct. So in some cases Chris I've got an adverse security assessment given to me by ASIO against the father for example - he may have been involved in some sort of terrorist activity [indistinct].
JOURNALIST: [Talks over] yeah, alright, I understand that.
PETER DUTTON: [Talks over] and I can't release those families in that situation.
JOURNALIST: [Talks over] so you keep the children…. Sure… but do you think you can get to a situation where all the children can be freed, or is that the minimum now? You're stuck with 200 children in detention until you can resettle or repatriate their families?
PETER DUTTON: I'm coming down to the hardest cases, no doubt Chris. The ones on Nauru the outcome for those people will be to return to their country of origin, or to go to Cambodia; that is basically the only option available to them because they won't be settling in Australia.
The ones who are on the mainland I've said to some of the families where I can't release the father for security reasons or because there are allegations against that person I've said to mum that we will take you and the kids, help you settle in the community. In many cases that has been rejected, and in those cases it will be hard to release those people into our community despite my desire to do so.
JOURNALIST: Very briefly we've had an SBS reporter lose his job because he was tweeting last night that the Australian Anzacs were rapists and thieves. Did SBS have any option but to dismiss this man?
PETER DUTTON: No and they did it promptly and so they should have. His comments were a disgrace, and I don't care whether he'd been drinking or had some other feeble excuse, his comments were repugnant, and particularly on that day the celebrations around the country were amazing. The commemoration that took place was great credit to many communities across the country, and to have somebody [indistinct] it's just an outrage.
JOURNALIST: Indeed, and that provided a sad end to it all.
PETER DUTTON: Indeed yeah.
JOURNALIST: Thanks very much for joining us Peter Dutton, appreciate your time.
PETER DUTTON: Thanks Chris, thank you.
JOURNALIST: The Immigration Minister there.
He's still got very many tough issues to deal with, especially repatriating people, emptying those offshore detention centres, but what a success it's been to stop the boats, empty and close detention centres around Australia, free up 10,000 places for overseas refugees to come into this country, and underpin, restore faith in the integrity of our migration system which is absolutely vital for the ongoing success of this country. We need immigration, and we need people to have confidence in the immigration system, so this is one of the Government's greatest successes, they should talk more about it.