JOURNALIST: Peter Dutton joins us now from Brisbane because I want to talk about the Labor Party, their National Conference this weekend. They are finally going to admit what anyone with a brain has known since 2007, since before 2007, turning back boats works. Minister good evening
PETER DUTTON: Good evening Paul.
JOURNALIST: It has taken them 1100 lives, it has taken them the best part of 10 years, but this is an extraordinarily late conversion from the Labor Party who have said some shocking things about a policy that works.
PETER DUTTON: Paul they are all good points and I think people need to look at what Labor has done and not what they say they will do. At each election the Labor Party has promised to stop the boats, to put the people smuggling people out of business and when they get into government they do the complete opposite.
Bill Shorten only a few months ago was arguing vehemently against turn-backs and yet today he is out trying to play with words and trying to come up with some tricky solution which is not about stopping the boats it is about getting him through the national conference.
I would be very surprised if the Labor Party holds this position all the way up to the next election let alone implement it if they are elected at the next election
JOURNALIST: Isn’t it clear though that for us to believe that this is a true “come to Jesus” moment that they have realised that what they were arguing was wrong and what you have been doing and your predecessor Scott Morrison is right.
Does Bill Shorten and Richard Marles the Shadow Immigration Minister, do they have to stand and admit they got it wrong?
PETER DUTTON: Well of course they do and Mr Marles has got an op-ed piece in the Herald Sun tomorrow where he admits that Labor because of their policy failings condemned 1200 people to their deaths and we know that 1200 people drowned at sea because of the policies that Labor put in place.
Don’t forget that Kevin Rudd promised in the run up to the 2007 election that they would introduce a policy of turn-backs. When Mr Rudd came into Government there were 4 people in detention, none of whom were children, and yet by the time that Labor had completely messed up this policy they had almost 2000 children in detention.
Now we have stopped the boats and with 50,000 people that came on 800 boats we have been able to close 13 of the 17 detention centres that Labor opened.
I just don’t think that people can trust Bill Shorten when it comes to boats. I think you can trust Bill Shorten as much as Kevin Rudd and Julia Gillard trust Bill Shorten.
On boats Labor is divided and dysfunctional and you will see a lot of argument at their national council this weekend, but in the end look at what Labor does not what they say they will do, particularly as the election draws nearer they will become more and more desperate, that they have learnt from their mistakes, they are going to change, but that is exactly what they have promised before the 2007 election, 2010 election, 2013 election and they just can’t hold a position because they are divided in the Labor Party between the left and the right on this issue.
We know that turn-backs work, we know that they have sent a very clear message which has resulted in us staring down people smugglers and I honestly believe that Bill Shorten can’t be trusted when it comes to border security.
JOURNALIST: There are three quotes here that I am about to read from Bill Shorten and that is what’s clear to me is that I think that their record is clear, I think that the fact that they are doing this to try to make it look like they are embracing the policy ahead of the next election, but it is their own words that they now have to denounce.
They can’t just pretend that they woke up tomorrow morning and this has always been their position.
This is a quote from 2014 to Bill Shorten a question….”so you don’t think that turn-backs have had any impact on stopping deaths at sea”? Shorten “No” , “There is no doubt in my mind that the Coalition’s boat person policy is absolutely not working” that was 2013. Back to last year again “No impact on stopping deaths at sea” He goes on and on and.
Tanya Plibersek who presumably will either vote for this to back up her leader or she votes against this with her left faction says “We certainly have been opposed to turn-backs” she said that here on Sky News this year.
PETER DUTTON: Well that is exactly right. They are condemned by their own words and as you say they do one thing before the election, they do another thing after the election.
The fact is that we have been able to stop these boats. The fact is that we have been able to stop the deaths at sea.
Border Protection is one of the 10 indicators of a competent Government and Labor when they were in power when Mr Shorten was sitting around that Cabinet table, he presided over decisions which resulted in people drowning at sea and all of the advice that we have been given by experts tell us that the policies that we have under Operation Sovereign Borders are effective, we know they are effective and the fact that Labor can’t embrace them demonstrates that they are divided and dysfunctional.
Now Mr Marles and Mr Shorten say ‘well we don’t understand how the turn-backs work’. Well you know what Paul, we have offered briefings to Mr Shorten and Mr Marles, Mr Marles has taken some up and has been talked through the detail by the general in charge of Operation Sovereign Borders.
Bill Shorten refused to go to the briefing, so it shows you how genuine they are when it comes to the issue of turn-backs and border protection and I think people will see straight through Bill Shorten, he is a phoney operator.
People in the Labor Party are now questioning whether he is a fit person to lead the Labor Party to the next election.
Tanya Plibersek would be the Deputy Prime Minister of this country if Labor is elected at the next election. She is dead against turn-backs, she will make all the right noises to get through this conference on the weekend, and I just don’t think people trust Labor when it comes to border protection
JOURNALIST: OK that’s all the free kicks, but I have to ask you. The way that our system currently works is that offshore processing works, turn-backs work, but I have been critical for some time of this sort of half-way house of accountability that we have when the Australian Government gives money to private companies. Private companies run the detention centres in Nauru and Manus island. Terrible things are happening inside those detention centres, but they are more subject to Nauruan law than Australian law.
What do we need to do to clean up the scenario that if someone is raped in a detention centre, somebody will be held accountable by Australian standards that is the very reason they are in that detention centre.
PETER DUTTON: Well Paul it is a fair question, but the fact is that regional processing centres say in Nauru and on Manus Island in Papua New Guinea are within the responsibility of those sovereign nations.
PNG doesn’t tell Australia how to conduct our affairs here and neither does the Nauruan Government and we work with these two countries as partners, but ultimately the Nauruan Government has responsibility for what happens on its soil.
Now I have been very clear about this and have said that we won’t tolerate boat arrivals, we won’t tolerate people smugglers coming back into business and we will be as hard as any governmentt can be to stop those people recommencing that trade.
But at the same time we will treat people humanely, we will provide people with support, with medical support, with housing accommodation, education for their children, in a humane way until those people when they are found not to be refuges can be returned to their country of origin.
I have said that I won’t tolerate any instance of sexual abuse at all and we are working with the Nauruan Government to make sure we will stamp that out.
Now there have been instances where people have been sexually abused or those allegations have been made. They have been made against guards, they have been made against people who are in the camps.
Now we take all of that seriously. We have arranged for additional Australian Federal Police resources to be put onto Nauru because we will not tolerate this sort of thing happening and we also have put in place an independent review body headed by some eminent Australians to make sure that we can get the best advice to put in place a regime which won’t see it happening into the future and that is what we are determined to do.
But ultimately as you point out Nauruan Governmentt is responsible for what happens on Nauru as is PNG society.
JOURNALIST: The thing is we went knocking on their door, and we said look we will pay for the land, we will pay for the fences we will pay for the guards, we will pay for this thing to exist.
Can’t we come to an arrangement with the Nauruan Government and the PNG Government that we will police what happens inside those fences no different than say an Australian embassy that would be located in those or any other countries?
PETER DUTTON: Well Paul what happens in relation to the detention centres here in Australia is that we have private contractors who run those centres and we have a very strict regime about the way in which we expect those centres to be run.
We want people to be treated humanely, we don’t allow contraband into the centres; we expect that people abide by the Australian law.
We have that regime in relation to the private providers who run those centres here in Australia and those same expectations are placed on the providers in Nauru and in PNG.
We will work with the Nauruan Government who ultimately have responsibility for what happens in their country to make sure that there is a reasonable environment.
I think that what we need to be cautious of here is that there are a lot of advocates here, a lot of people on the left of media in this country who are determined to pull down regional processing centres because they want people who arrive successfully by boat to be settled in our country.
There are people who are claiming at the moment that the proper medical assistance is not being provided to people in Nauru. That is complete rubbish. We provide hundreds of millions of dollars taxpayers support to medical needs to housing, to education, there is a world class world standard hospital on Nauru as there is on Manus. The classrooms on Nauru are at least as good as I have seen in parts of my own electorate on the northside of Brisbane.
We have a lot to be proud of the way in which we settle refugees the right way. We are probably the second or third largest settler of refugees in the world and we are increasing that number over the next couple of years.
I know the advocates have a lot to say, but I think when you look at the facts we are doing things well. We have stopped the boats, I don’t want the detention centres to be refilled with new arrivals and I certainly don’t want a repeat of those 1200 people drowning at sea as they did when Labor was last in Government.
So when you look at the facts and you look at the support we are providing, it is a balanced approach Paul and we can talk through any of the detail, but I think if you put to one side the scare campaign you realise that the left and the Greens and the Labor Party are running a programme to try and discredit regional processing, that along with turn-backs has been a significant way in which we have been able to stop the boats.
JOURNALIST: Thank you Minister for your time.
PETER DUTTON: Thanks Paul.