JOURNALIST: Greens Senator Sarah Hanson-Young has reportedly used some of her travel entitlements to go and observe the rescue of boat people in the Mediterranean.
Now, I was reading in detail about this. This is a boat that’s put there, by some wealthy American I think, and it’s basically a ferry service which conveys those people straight to Italy and therefore encourages the smugglers to sell them tickets and get them on a boat, which will be rescued by this large vessel she’s on.
PETER DUTTON: Well this is pretty much the approach that Julia Gillard had when she was in Government with the Greens.
It’s a beacon out on the high seas and this is part of the reason that 1200 people died coming to Australia.
Why Hanson-Young would want to try and use this as an example for us to follow again, it just demonstrates to me that they haven’t learned from the mistakes that they’ve made in the past.
I suspect that’s why the left of the Labor Party is going to roll Bill Shorten when it comes to boats policy at the ALP Conference. It’s just madness.
JOURNALIST: Just on this in relation to her, she gets part of her travel entitlements, Sarah Hanson-Young because, I think I’m right in saying Julia Gillard stopped all this nonsense, but is there some kind of grandfather clause where the money stays there, in some way?
PETER DUTTON: I don’t know all the detail, but I think there was a grandfathering arrangement, from memory, which means that she would have some money that she’s used for so called ‘study leave’, so she’s gone across there and gone to Rome and other places, as I understand it.
But, as I say, it just defies logic, Ray. Why you’d want to repeat these mistakes of the past. We’ve come up with a solution to stop the boats. People smugglers are still out there looking for any crack, any opportunity. They would be desperate to see a change of Government at the next election so that they can get people back onto boats.
If you have these operations out in the sea the boats will continue to make a beeline for them, because they know they’ll be picked up there and then taken to safe sanctuary somewhere else.
You can’t stop every boat, you can’t pick up everyone that makes the voyage and ultimately you’ll end up with people at the bottom of the ocean.
I just don’t know why Labor and the Greens want to continue down this path.
JOURNALIST: Look, I want to get a view on another issue away from your portfolio.
I’ve spoken to Scott Morrison, your colleague, and the Prime Minister yesterday, about the leaking of this document to the Telegraph regarding carbon tax or an ETS, which is a carbon tax by another name eventually.
Have you got a view on why someone within the opposition would leak it at this particular time, when Shorten is under pressure anyway, having appeared before Dyson Heydon the Royal Commissioner into the trade union movement and got a bit of a ‘shortin up’ for his time?
PETER DUTTON: Well, Ray, there’s only one answer to it and that is that people within the Labor Party who know Bill Shorten well, know that he’s not fit to lead this country.
People know that he’s not fit to be the Prime Minister of this country, and I think people now are starting to see that.
I think it has dawned on people within the Labor Party and this is what happened with Kevin Rudd - they were so desperate to get into government that they went with somebody that they knew wasn’t sound, but ultimately could win an election.
I think at some stage Bill Shorten looked pretty attractive to all the union bosses who are in Parliament. They backed him into the leadership position and now they know he’s not up to it.
I think we’re seeing that in a number of areas. Anybody who wants to reintroduce a Carbon Tax into this country, at a time when families are struggling to pay their bills already, shows that they’re completely disconnected.
I think when you see all of the evidence in the Royal Commission, all of the information that you get about the lavish lifestyle that these union bosses lead, it’s no wonder that the workers themselves, the people who are paying the union fees, shake their heads in disgust.
I think internally at the moment they’re trying to tear down Bill Shorten as quickly as they can, but he’s got a lot of support there because he’s the number one union boss and that’s what they’re mostly about.
JOURNALIST: To another issue. The Australian is reporting this. Counter Terrorism Unit teams at Australian airports have detected almost $4 million in undeclared cash; I think it says since last August.
The Counter Terrorism Unit seized much of the money from suspected jihadists. Is it right that his money was headed for Syria or Iraq, or Middle East generally?
PETER DUTTON: Well no question some of it would be, or otherwise to other criminal activities.
The Counter Terrorism Unit officers within Border Protection have just done an amazing job. They’ve only been up and running, as you say, for a short period of time at the eight international airports.
They’ve offloaded a couple of hundred people who were on their way overseas to commit terrorist acts, or to be involved the fight in Syria and Iraq, and I think that we should be very proud of the work that they’re doing.
They’ve got a real nose for being able to sniff out people that are suspicious and I saw their work in Brisbane and I’ve seen the activities that they’ve done in Melbourne and Sydney and elsewhere and they’re really a great credit to us.
The Australian Border Force, which came into being on the first of July, really sends a very clear signal that we want to clean the system up and we want to stop over-stayers, people who are doing the wrong thing and we want to have a safer society.
The Australian Border Force now is, in a law enforcement agency capacity, able to stop these people and seize this cash that would have been going to criminal type activities.
JOURNALIST: You’ll have to pardon my ignorance, it’s a lot of money, is it just within luggage, is it hidden in luggage or carried on their person?
I mean is it generally hidden from view, I mean how do they do it? I think it is $10,000 you’ve got to declare above those amounts, and obviously if we’ve got $4 million there are a lot of people taking more than $10,000 out.
PETER DUTTON: Well that’s exactly right. So they’ll either try or put it into their luggage, secrete it into their luggage or they could have it strapped onto their bodies.
Obviously, the work of the Counter Terrorism Unit officers goes well beyond the money, I mean you’re collecting information and intelligence that’s going back to the AFP, back to ASIO and others, and I think it’s helping in the fight against terrorism.
I think they’re frontline officers who are doing a great job and full credit to them, because it’s not only the cash that they’re locating, it’s also the other information that would help us potentially prevent terrorist attacks in our own country.
JOURNALIST: Now I know it’s not the most pressing issue – Johnny Depp’s dogs, and his wife Amber Heard. Now we can’t talk about her because she’s appearing, if she does appear, in the Southport Magistrate’s Court. Maybe someone will appear on her behalf and she’ll be fined or something like that.
The broader issue of these private jets, you know, not just with movies stars, but with high powered individuals coming into the country from all parts of the world and then bring things into the country without Customs knowing about it.
We only heard about the two dogs because they took them down to be groomed and the lady there released the details and all of a sudden all hell broke loose. But what about the general view of private jets into the country and not being checked by Customs?
PETER DUTTON: Well, Ray, I made an announcement on your programme that we were going to do more in this area, because regardless of whether people are coming in by Qantas flight or coming on a private jet, they should be subject to the same clearance arrangements and that is the way in which the law is written.
So, we need to make sure that in practice that is happening as well, and we need to make sure that the proper checks are undertaken.
I think in this case, in time, there will be questions asked and it’s fair enough, but at the moment, as you say, that process needs to go through the courts.
I think Australians would expect us to have the same regime at international airports for commercial flights as for private flights, and that’s what I would expect and that is what is going to happen.
JOURNALIST: Alright Minister, we’ll talk to you next week. Thank you.
PETER DUTTON: Thanks, Ray. Thank you.