JOURNALIST: Minister, good morning to you.
PETER DUTTON: Good morning, Ray. How are you?
JOURNALIST: Good and I appreciate the fact that you're not well but you've taken time to speak to our listeners again.
PETER DUTTON: No problem, mate.
JOURNALIST: Now seven men involved in that disturbance have been transferred to a prison in Western Australia. My tip is we're talking about five New Zealanders, a Tongan and an Afghan.
Can you confirm that?
PETER DUTTON: That is pretty much - you're on the money there Ray.
There will be others that will be transferred as well.
The Government has been very clear that we're just not going to tolerate this sort of behaviour.
People have committed serious crime in our community and they've had their visas cancelled and we're trying to deport people as quickly as we can.
Obviously some of them are appealing my decision through the court, which is their right, but it delays their departure and people are using the system to stay as long as they can.
Hopefully we can remove people quickly because we just don't need those sort of people in our country.
JOURNALIST: We're talking about criminals here and let's dispense with this nonsense by some half-wit from the Labour Opposition in New Zealand who tried to portray that one of these people that's in detention is a shoplifter who got 12 months.
I've made the point I can't get paedophiles locked up for more than a couple of years, how are we going to put a shoplifter in for 12 months?
PETER DUTTON: Well I said to a journo yesterday, I mean, just bring me the case of a shoplifter that's been committed to 12 months jail. It's a nonsense.
I think people need to take seriously these issues because we're dealing with some of the country's worst criminals.
I think people recognise now that the population that's in the immigration detention centre on Christmas Island is made up of some very serious criminals.
They've demonstrated that with millions of dollars' worth of damage to the centre, to taxpayers' property, and people will be held to account for that.
JOURNALIST: Now I know you have to be careful, given there may be appellant processes in place for these five from New Zealand, one Tongan and one Afghan.
But in general what sort of crimes are we talking about, these foreign nationals who are going to be expelled hopefully back to their place of origin, what sort of crimes are we talking about generally?
PETER DUTTON: Well without talking about those five.
There are 199 people who are in the detention centre on Christmas Island.
It included 113 with serious criminal offences, including manslaughter, sexual offences against children, people that had been involved in armed robbery, people that had been involved in grievous bodily harm, serious assault otherwise.
So people that had serious histories including outlaw motorcycle gang members. People who had been involved in those activities and everybody knows that they're the biggest distributors of drugs in the country and they involve themselves in extortion.
We've done a lot of work with the Australian Crime Commission and the Australian Federal Police to identify the worst of these people.
If they're on visas and they fail the character test then we've cancelled their visa on that basis.
So we're talking about some pretty serious characters here.
JOURNALIST: Ok. A report today that they broke into a medical centre, some of these people, and took drugs.
Is that correct?
PETER DUTTON: That is correct.
They also broke into an area where there was gardening equipment as well.
So they had the run of the centre until the guards were able to go back in and the Australian Federal Police arrived.
They've done some significant damage and they've obviously behaved in a way that many of them have behaved out in the broader community and that's why they're behind bars.
JOURNALIST: Are you saying, in general terms, that we are looking at a million dollar repair bill? Is that not exaggerating?
PETER DUTTON: Ray, the initial figure that we looked at in the opening hours was over a million dollars.
The figure that I was advised of yesterday and again they're still doing the assessment, but the figure is closer to $10 million worth of damage.
PETER DUTTON: Ten million dollars of damage. As I say…
JOURNALIST: You couldn't do $10 million worth of improvements.
PETER DUTTON: Well if people want to think that, you know, this is the sort of damage that's been committed by somebody who's been involved in shoplifting and minor traffic offences, I mean it just shows how wrong they are.
These people will have to pay for the damage that they've caused through the criminal courts if we can demonstrate and prove to the court that they have caused the damage then they'll face the courts like anybody else would.
JOURNALIST: Ten million dollars.
Now, what do you do about Serco?
Look I know you've inherited this mob, but in many respects they are a basket case.
It's reported in The Australian today they had two inexperienced guards on duty when the initial detainee who escaped, who unfortunately has passed away.
They didn't know what happened. They didn't know about the perimeter alarm.
What do you say to Serco given they're getting tens of millions of dollars of Government money?
PETER DUTTON: Well Ray we've had lots to say to Serco in private and there is an investigation underway at the moment and they've got a contract to perform.
The Commissioner obviously of the Australian Border Force and the Secretary of my Department are looking very closely at what went wrong and why there was a failure, which clearly there was.
The people on the ground that I've spoken to from Serco are very experienced officers and very decent people.
But clearly, at a management level, we need to get an understanding of how it is they're going to guarantee that this sort of incident doesn't occur again.
We've got that investigation already underway. They will report back to me shortly and we'll see what flows from that.
But clearly it's unacceptable.
The risk has dramatically increased with the combination of these people, there's no doubt about that.
We've provided additional financial support to harden the perimeter fences to make sure that there's extra security in place.
In return we expect that the centre is run appropriately and clearly in this case there's been a failing and there's a report into that that I'll get shortly.
JOURNALIST: Ok. The current mood on Christmas Island.
How many more do you think, you've said seven have gone already, how many more will join them in jails in Perth?
PETER DUTTON: Well Ray there's an operation underway at the moment. I won't go into the numbers, but there will be more that will be moved out.
The situation within the centre now is that it's calm.
Obviously the intention is I'm trying to correct the difficulty and repair the damage as quickly as possible.
JOURNALIST: Now, I notice some bleeding hearts writing in Fairfax this morning have gone into chapter and verse about you being a hard-hearted heartless bastard because you revoked the visa of a former New Zealand soldier who served bravely, and we thank him for that service, simply because he went and visited a friend in jail.
This bloke apparently doesn't have a criminal record, but then we get to the end of the story and notice he's a member of the Rebels Outlaw Motorcycle Gang.
PETER DUTTON: Well Ray I rely on the advice from the Australian Crime Commission, the Australian Federal Police, the State police authorities, as well as our intelligence agencies.
I can promise you that I only cancel the visas in those cases, particularly where we're talking about outlaw motorcycle gang members, where the evidence is provided to me that they are a significant threat.
Again I don't want to comment on an individual case, but people who are members of outlaw motorcycle gangs are involved in serious criminal activity.
All of the advice, whether or not they've been prosecuted through courts, but the intelligence gatherings and all of the information that has been collected through different sources that the police and intelligence agencies rely upon, that's provided to me and I make a judgement on that and I cancel visas on that basis…
JOURNALIST: … what is it with some journalists and some Queensland politicians who seem to have a love affair with outlaw motorcycle gangs?
They see these pictures on TV once every 12 months where they take teddy bears to sick children in hospital and they think they're saints.
PETER DUTTON: I just don't understand Ray for a moment why people are fooled by this.
These people are criminals and they have no legitimate employment, they are involved in all sorts of scams, they stand over small business people. They are without any doubt the biggest distributors of Ice and drugs in our country.
We have to act in relation to that. We're not going to sit by and watch these people destroy lives. Good decent people in our community are being affected by these people.
The police have had this fight against bikies for a long period of time and they're the modern day gangsters and we need to recognise the threat that they pose.
It's difficult for some members of the Labor Party because the CFMEU now use bikies to enforce their so-called rule of law on building sites. They're standover merchants and the rest of it.
There's a lot of conflict for Annastacia Palaszczuk in Queensland and as we're seeing with Daniel Andrews in Victoria where the CFMEU are pulling the strings on these Governments, as they do with Bill Shorten.
I think people need to put the public safety ahead of the interests of these outlaw motorcycle gang members.
JOURNALIST: Ok. Legislation to strip Australian citizenship from dual-national terror suspects is before Parliament. Debate has been delayed to give the Opposition more time to look at the recommendations.
Are you confident that Mr Shorten and the Labor Party won't delay it any further?
PETER DUTTON: Well this is a very interesting story Ray and I don't think it's yet developed.
I think Mark Dreyfus, who's the Shadow Attorney General, Mr Shorten's Attorney General in Opposition – I think he's considering his position at the moment.
I think he is opposed fundamentally to what the Government has put forward.
I think Bill Shorten doesn't want an issue with national security. He wants to support the Government because he doesn't want a political issue.
But I think they have torn themselves apart on this issue.
We saw it in relation to boats as well where essentially the left dictates behind the scenes.
I think the difficulty is that they don't have their heart in it.
The Government is determined with these foreign fighters, with these terrorists, that if they're dual citizens we are going to cancel their citizenship.
If we can keep them out of our country, well our country is a safer place.
JOURNALIST: Do you think Dreyfus will toe the line or do you think that the Opposition Leader will have to overrule him?
PETER DUTTON: Well I think he's had to overrule him in the last 24 hours and this is why they delayed.
You see they had a Joint Justice Committee, or Intelligence Committee, that had a look at the Bill and made 27 recommendations. We accepted those recommendations and Mr Dreyfus was on that Committee.
But still they came back and said ‘we've not had enough time to consider the amendments that you've put,' which is all just a ruse.
I think they took that time to pull him into line.
Now he's said nothing publicly and I think he needs to come out today and explain his hesitation and why he doesn't support this better legislation.
JOURNALIST: Just finally. This book that's been released and it's on the front page of The Australian and I saw Eric Abetz on Sky this morning saying that if Ms Bishop's Chief of Staff was at that meeting, the famous meeting held at Mr Hendy's home, the Member for Eden-Monaro, she should explain that.
My view is we've moved on. We accept that Mr Turnbull won the vote and he is the Prime Minister and this revisiting of all of this, the electorate will determine whether Mr Laundy, Mr Hendy and others who played some role in the demise of Tony Abbott deserve their positions in any Parliament into the future. The continual revisiting of it is less than helpful, I would imagine, for all concerned.
PETER DUTTON: Well Ray everybody wants to get behind Malcolm Turnbull to make sure that we can win the next election.
Obviously the Deputy Leader in the Party owes a special duty of care and a special loyalty to the Leader.
I don't even know if this is true. No doubt Julie Bishop will clarify the situation.
Obviously it has been claimed in this book and it's a serious suggestion, but no doubt Julie will be able to address it.
I just don't have any knowledge beyond that.
JOURNALIST: Ok. Thanks for your time. We'll talk next Thursday.
PETER DUTTON: Thanks, Ray.