Journalist: Minister, good morning.
Peter Dutton: Good morning, Ray.
Journalist: We’ve got this summit being called today by the Prime Minister in relation to extremism and acts of terror. Senior law enforcement, counter terrorism officers are there.
What about Immigration – Australian Border Force? Have they got anything to do with today’s meeting?
Peter Dutton: They do.
We’ve got some senior people there and obviously Australian Border Force really is at the forefront of our fight against terrorism.
Not only have we got 80 Counter Terrorism Unit officers at our airports, but we’ve got representation in 50 or 60 countries around the world.
The Border Force staff do a great job and they’ll be providing information today and contributing to the conversation.
It’s a very serious issue for us and we need all hands on deck.
Journalist: You haven’t been backward in coming forward, nor has your predecessor Scott Morrison, in getting rid of people who commit acts, serious criminal acts, here and aren’t Australian citizens.
But we have a sizeable problem with Australian citizens, highlighted by two men that I’ve identified, Iranian refugees who were given protection by us now facing Melbourne courts over the importation of 19 kilograms of opium.
It’s an ongoing problem.
Peter Dutton: It’s a huge problem and these two individuals came to Australia by boat.
People conjure up in their minds that everybody who comes by boat must be fleeing persecution or wanting to be a refugee because of their circumstances, but the fact is that people who have arrived by boat have been involved in criminal activity.
These guys believed that they could allegedly conduct this sort of activity. The courts will now determine all of that.
We do need to recognise that people need to be properly identified when they’re coming across our borders.
Fifty thousand coming on 800 boats - people were released into the community under Labor’s time without verifying identity let alone what criminal histories they may have had.
So, we need to identify those that are in need of support, those that are genuine refugees, and we need to weed out those people that want to commit criminal offences, peddle drugs to kids and assault people or be involved in criminal activity otherwise.
They’ll have their visas cancelled and they’ll be sent packing.
Journalist: So, without specific reference to these two. If they’ve got bridging visas they can be cancelled if they’re found guilty of a serious criminal offence?
Peter Dutton: We can cancel visas and we do it regularly on the advice of police and other agencies. Yes.
Journalist: Ok, now another one that I dealt with on Monday. Nine News first raised the spectre of this on Sunday night about a 16-year-old stopped at Sydney airport while trying to leave for the Middle East.
What happens, in general terms, to these teenagers who are stopped in those circumstances? They’re obviously returned to the family home, but what happens in the future?
Peter Dutton: Well, Ray, the Australian Federal Police obviously take control once the Australian Border Force Counter Terrorism Unit officers have intercepted an individual.
So the AFP would be notified immediately and they would conduct their investigations.
They would then make referrals off to other agencies, they would have obviously the intelligence agencies involved in the discussion and they would have a look at the complete picture in relation to that individual.
So it really depends on the case, but the lead agency is the Australian Federal Police and they make, I think, the best judgements about how to intercept, how to provide either with charging that person or making sure that they can deal with them otherwise to try and reduce the risk.
Journalist: We had the Labor Party go after the Prime Minister yesterday, firstly in the Senate through Sam Dastyari and then followed up by some acolytes of Bill Shorten in the Lower House.
It seemed to blow up in their face, because we now know that Mr Shorten and Sam both have accounts, through superannuation, linked to the Cayman Islands.
Peter Dutton: Well, Ray, look, I just think people have sort of moved on from this sort of class warfare.
I mean Malcolm Turnbull has been successful in business. He’s a self-made man. Good luck to him.
And I say good luck to millions of Australian who are working hard each day in a job, in a small business, making a go.
You know, if they accumulate wealth because of their hard work, good luck to them.
Journalist: And as long as they pay their taxes that’s…
Peter Dutton: …they pay their taxes and, you know, one of the reasons that Malcolm’s invested offshore is because he doesn’t want to have direct shareholdings in companies here because for Ministers that’s always problematic.
I think he’s been cautious, but he made the point yesterday that he pays tax as an Australian taxpayer would on any investment and he’s happy for that to be known.
You know, look, I think Bill Shorten has to recognise that not everybody can be a union leader and you don’t find success in life just by being a union leader.
I think as we’re finding out through the Royal Commission at the moment, I mean Mr Shorten has a lot of character questions to answer.
I think throwing this mud around is some sort of distraction from his own woes and the fact that he was involved in ripping off these workers when he was a union leader.
I think people need to have serious look at this and if it’s a distraction by trying to suggest that Malcolm Turnbull’s not doing the right then, well I think Malcolm’s demonstrated that he is and people can make their own judgements.
Journalist: Well he didn’t get his own hands dirty yesterday, Bill. He sent others in, including Dreyfus and Mr Bowen, and Dastyari in the Senate.
I’m just interested in this. There’s a story by Troy Bramston, writing I think either for the Australian or maybe on a Sky News programme. I’ve relied upon this and I’ve said if we hadn’t had the new rules in place where they elect the Labor Leader via, you know, a rank and file vote, he’d probably be gone.
But he says this in an article ‘rules designed to protect Bill Shorten, or any future Labor boss, from a leadership challenge have not been incorporated into the ALP’s revised national Constitution. This leaves Mr Shorten, and any future leader, vulnerable to a challenge by a simple vote by MPs to change the Caucus rules adopted in 2013. There is no recourse to the party’s National Executive or Conference. The Party’s proposed Constitution, obtained by The Australian - so he wrote this in The Australian obviously - does not enshrine rules adopted by the Labor Caucus in 2013 that require a petition signed by 60 per cent of MPs to force a Leadership vote in Opposition, or 75 per cent in Government.’
And it’s there for all to read.
So maybe he’s not as secure as I thought he was, Bill Shorten.
Peter Dutton: Well he may not be.
I think you’ve got Tanya Plibersek who’s trying to position herself to take over, you’ve got Anthony Albanese strutting in Question Time each day saying he’s available.
The fundamental problem still remains, Ray, and I tried this in Question Time yesterday – a show of hands for people that have been involved in small business.
About 90% of the hands went up on our side and there was one person, Michael Danby, on the other side.
I think he’s in great danger, because he’s not a union secretary or a Labor staffer and that’s what they’re infected with at the moment.
As, you know, Keating and Hawke, Beazley, Rudd - all of these people have recognised that this is a cancer within the Labor Party.
If you’re a teacher or if you’re a policeman or if you’ve got a small business you have no hope of getting into Parliament in the Federal Labor Party. If you haven’t been, you know, blessed by the union bosses you’ve got no hope of getting into Parliament.
That’s the problem why we see the temporary turn-back policy. I mean Labor relied completely on the CFMEU to get that policy through.
Now do people think that the CFMEU is not going to call that favour in if Bill Shorten’s elected as Prime Minister?
He’s got debts all over the place with the union movement and I think people realise that.
Journalist: Back to your portfolio.
Seven pregnant asylum seekers on Nauru are refusing medical attention at health facilities. They demand they come back to Australia. The Australian reports four of the seven women have been assessed as having possible problems.
Will you bring these women to Australia?
Peter Dutton: No we won’t, Ray. I’ve been very clear about this.
There are 350 births on Nauru each year and people are able to access the hospital services up there.
The Australian taxpayer should know that they’ve provided $11 million for a hospital within the Regional Processing Centre and we’ve provided $26 million to help refurbish the Nauruan hospital.
Now, the circumstance is where people can’t get the medical services that they need on Nauru they can go to the international hospital in PNG. We, again, pay for that.
The racket that’s been going on here is that people, at the margins, come to Australia from Nauru, the Government’s then injuncted and we can’t send them back to Nauru and there are over 200 people in that category.
Now, as I say, we want to provide support to the Nauruans. We want to provide a safe environment, a humane environment for people, but we aren’t going to be taken for mugs.
The medical services, the obstetrician, all the nursing staff and whatnot have been provided to these women on Nauru.
But if people believe that they’re going to somehow try and blackmail us into an outcome to come to Australia by saying we’re not going to have medical assistance and therefore we put our babies at risk, well that’s a judgement for people to make, but we aren’t going to bend to that pressure.
I believe very strongly that we need to take a firm stance, provide the medical support that’s required, but if people think that they’re going to force our hand to come to Australia that is not going to happen.
Journalist: As always, thanks for your time. We’ll talk next Thursday.
Peter Dutton: Thanks, Ray. Take care.