Journalist: Minister good morning to you.
Peter Dutton: Good morning Ray. How are you?
Journalist: Look we have this unfolding story so I’ll just forewarn you if I need to break in I’ll have to go the United States of America if we have any further developments there for obvious reasons so I apologise in advance.
Peter Dutton: Of course.
Journalist: Last week we spoke about legislation to strip dual nationals of their Australian citizenship if they are linked to terrorism. It’s not through the Senate yet. Will that happen today before you shut down?
Peter Dutton: Yes it will Ray and we have worked pretty closely with the Labor Party to get their support.
The Greens are opposing it right to the eleventh hour, but hopefully common sense prevails and the law is passed because as we have seen in the UK with this law where you can strip dual citizens of their nationality it stops them from coming back in many cases to the country.
If they have been in Syria and they have been skilled up in the art of bomb making and then they come back then they pose a greater threat.
So once we get this legislation through I think we can say that we make our society a safer place.
But as we are seeing unfold in the United States and elsewhere at the moment we are living in a time of great uncertainty.
Journalist: I don’t understand what Dr Di Natale is saying from the Greens – saying these measures which are now being supported by the Opposition and the Government about exporting terrorists. Nick Xenophon said it’s safer to keep them here.
Peter Dutton: Well I just think that it would be good to hear Richard Di Natale and the Greens actually condemn a terrorist instead of condemning our police officers and the intelligence agencies and the Government for the work that we are doing to keep people safe.
We are doing everything possible in terms of the legislation, funding for the police and the intelligence agencies, the powers that they need to keep us safe. The fact is that ASIO has all of these high priority investigations underway at the moment and we know that that we have got home grown difficulties here as well.
We are working very closely with the Islamic community to make sure that we can get as much information as possible available and work with the community to really deal with some of these threats and yet we have some of these crazy Greens who I just don’t think are acting in the national interest.
Journalist: Look as a former police officer, and I know it’s not under your jurisdiction, but we have got a really big drama here in New South Wales about a bloke with a name that’s as long as your arm charged over attempted murder and also having been found guilty of threatening to slit the throat on an ASIO officer, a federal officer, refusing to stand for courts. And we seem to be sitting on our backside here in New South Wales trying to figure out a way to get him to stand up.
I have suggested today and suggested earlier this week that the District Court can simply say to the bloke that if you don’t want to stand up that’s fine then go back to Silverwater and stay there and when you change your mind then we will hear the matter. Appeal to the Supreme Court if you want, but I’m not going to have you in my court until you are actually compliant.
Have you got a view on all of this?
Peter Dutton: Well Ray in my day the magistrates or the judges used to hold people in contempt and they would sit in the cell until they adhered to the direction given to them by the judge or the magistrate.
The fact is that people should respect the judges, they are independent and the court room can’t be turned into some sort of a circus.
Look part of the frustration when I was a police officer was the fact that you would go to court and having spent months and months putting a brief together to prosecute somebody they would get a slap on the wrist and they would be back out doing the exact same offence the week after. Police no doubt have that same frustration.
So the courts have to reflect community expectation and the community expectation is that these people will adhere to the same rules as everybody else that goes before the court. If you are told to stand up or sit down by the magistrate then you do it.
Journalist: Well it’s civil. Look we have got four District Court judges in New South Wales not knowing what to do. One held him in contempt and then the Attorney General said ‘oh we don’t know if we have got legislation.’
I’ll tell you what we will do in the new year we will make legislation, but what will the penalty be? I don’t know, but we will make that up as we go along.
Look we have got a really tough District Court judge in New South Wales called Paul Conlon. He gave a paedophile 13 years last week. I know what Paul Conlon would say and if he was in charge of this case, which he is not, he would simply say to this bloke ‘go back to the cells, that’s fine, you don’t wish stand for me – when you decide to stand for me when I enter the court then we will hear the matter.’
He will go to the Supreme Court. Now the Supreme Court may be reluctant to uphold his appeal because they might think like the District Court judge if he were given the chance no because if we have this allowed to happen we have anarchy. So we have got to make people respect the courts otherwise it all falls over, it all falls over.
Peter Dutton: Well Ray the other point too of course is if you are going to conduct yourself like this is court you can only imagine what sort of behaviour you are undertaking out in the community.
Journalist: Well you can imagine what the poor coppers have to put up with this lunatic.
Peter Dutton: Well that’s the thing. If you have got disrespect for the courts and our laws then why do you live here? If you are not going to abide by our laws then why stay here. Jump on a plane and go back to wherever you want to go. But if you want to abide by our rules and enjoy our welfare system and our health system and the rest of it then start to live by Australia’s rules or make a decision…
Journalist: Can you do me a favour? You can’t tell me the answer, but can you do me a favour and check the status of Milad Bin Ahmad-Shah Al-Ahmadzai and see whether he is an Australian citizen or not? You might be able to do the job of the Attorney General and punt him anyway.
Peter Dutton: Ray I have a look at names and people brought to my attention all the time so we are happy to continue doing that work.
Journalist: Well good have a look at him and if he is not a resident – he has already been found guilty of threatening to slit the throat of an ASIO officer – you may do us all a favour by putting him on a boat before he faces anymore charges and send him away.
Peter Dutton: As I say Ray, I think it’s pretty clear; we’re a law abiding country, we’re a peaceful country, we offer an opportunity to people to start a new life. If you don’t like it and you don’t enjoy living here, you don’t want to see women walk the streets or kids be educated, well, don’t stay.
Journalist: I wanted to talk to you about a statement you made to Parliament this week and I’m a bit confused and I need some guidance.
You said, and I quote: “With the boats stopped, we’re now addressing the legacy we inherited from Labor, 30,000 people who have arrived illegally by boat over that previous five years. Labor opened 17 additional detention centres, we’ve closed 13. Around 9,000 people who arrived illegally by boat were in detention when the OSB commenced – Operation Sovereign Borders that is – we reduced that to just 900.”
Now, you then go on to say: “The Government has finalised 1,732 asylum claims – 80 per cent of which have been rejected – showing that most who paid people smugglers to come by boat were not refugees.”
Now, I just want to pick at these figures. You said 9,000 people were in detention when you came to Government, does that mean that 21,000 people were immediately released out of the 30,000. Does that mean that?
Peter Dutton: No, it means for Labor when they lost complete control, there were about 900 or 1,000 people a week that the Border Force officers were pulling off boats up on Christmas Island. So essentially people, even without the proper identity checks during Labor’s time, were brought back and they were never in custody, many of them, they went out into the community….
Journalist: …and they’re still there now?
Peter Dutton: We’ve released some. We’ve returned some back to their country of origin – either voluntarily or we’ve involuntarily removed them back to their country of origin – but Ray, the point here is that the vast majority of these people clearly were economic refugees, that were seeking to come here looking for work – fair enough – but we’ve made it very clear; you come here the right way or not at all.
Journalist: So if we extrapolate that up; you say here in your speech the Government has finalised 1,700 asylum claims, 80 per cent of which have been rejected. If we take that to the….can we expect that figure to be maintained of the 30,000 you will examine?
Peter Dutton: Well 1,700 is a fair sample size. I’d probably want to see us do another couple of thousand then I think we can make a judgement about it.
Journalist: So that would mean 25,000 of the 30,000 that came, at least, have come here illegally and are not eligible for resettlement, that’s what it would mean?
Peter Dutton: If the same trend continued out of the 30,000, you’re right, so we have to be honest about this.
There are some people who sought refuge who were fleeing persecution or difficulties but the vast majority of people weren’t and they were taking the Labor Government for a ride.
Now, Labor I see today, Richard Marles my opposite in Labor, is out there talking about wanting to dismantle the Regional Processing Centres. They’re in cohoots again with the Greens trying to pass a Bill through the Senate which would see kids and everybody out of detention – even if in circumstances proper checks hadn’t been conducted within 30 days, which would be a green light to people smugglers to say snatch up your kids and jump on the boat and you’ll come to Australia – the boats would restart, it’s a complete disaster and why they would want to go back to those days is completely beyond me.
Journalist: Okay. Finally and very quickly, I know you’ve got to get back to the House. Mal Brough; he’s made a statement to Parliament, which is in conflict with what he said to Liz Hayes on 60 Minutes. He answered one question to Liz Hayes, ‘yes I did’. In Parliament he said ‘no I didn’t’.
He’s either lied to Liz Hayes or lied to Parliament and if he’s lied to Parliament, I’m afraid whether it’s Mal Brough, Malcolm Turnbull or Peter Dutton or anyone else, there’s only one result when you lie to Parliament – if you’re a Minister you’ve got to stand down.
Peter Dutton: Well Ray, if you mislead Parliament that’s a cardinal sin and I don’t sit in judgement though of Mal Brough, I don’t know the full circumstances of the case and obviously Labor’s desperate to try and drag attention away from Bill Shorten who is on the brink of losing his leadership.
Journalist: You’d do the same thing…to be fair Mr Dutton, you’d do exactly the same thing. When you’re presented with a gold medal opportunity like this, when a bloke goes on a national TV programme who is the Special Minister for State now and says one thing and in the House says another thing, of course you’ve got to go after him – whether it’s to protect Bill Shorten or anyone else.
Peter Dutton: Well they’ll play the games again today Ray. I think in the end it’s hard to judge it when you don’t have the full facts. So from my perspective, I’ve known Mal for a long time, he’s a decent bloke, he obviously works hard – not only in his electorate but in Parliament as well – and he’ll answer those questions and that’s obviously what’s going to take place in Parliament today no doubt.
Journalist: Well the sense of decency won’t be diminished by being on the backbench. Thanks for your time.
Peter Dutton: Thanks very much Ray. Take care.