Subject: Kevin Rudd/UN Secretary General bid; OSB two year anniversary of no illegal boat arrivals to Australia; Federal Electorate of Herbert; attacks in France; Administrative Appeals Tribunal.
Peter Dutton, good morning.
Good morning, how are you Ray?
Not bad. When is this meeting on about '07'?
The Cabinet meets later today, so obviously it will be one of the agenda items there – but I think as the PM pointed out yesterday – it's not the most important issue that we'll deal with today.
I think I know how you are going to vote….and I think I know how Eric would vote if he were in fact in the room, but he won't be. You're back in Canberra today ahead of that Cabinet meeting and we've spoken about that. I spoke to your colleague yesterday, or earlier this week, Scott Morrison, he made the point then – just one final thing about Kevin Rudd – that Labor didn't back Peter Costello when he was keen to head up the IMF. So there's a precedent for all of this. It's not a matter of Mr Shorten saying; 'you've got to fall into line because he's an Aussie, you've got to support an Aussie', it doesn't work that way apparently.
Ray, I think Bill Shorten is being pretty cute at the moment. I mean he was the person who knifed Kevin Rudd and he was front and centre leading his colleagues' revolt against Mr Rudd's leadership.
I haven't been contacted by anybody saying that they think it is a good idea for Mr Rudd to become the UN Secretary-General. It's not a big issue out there in the community and I think people have made their own assessment, their own judgement about Kevin Rudd; his conduct, his personality, his management style, everybody knows him well and those that know him best – his colleagues, as Eric Abetz and others have pointed out – they've been very publicly boisterous about what they believe Kevin Rudd to be.
It's a very different situation than somebody like Kim Beazley. We supported Kim Beazley for the Ambassador's role in the United States because he had very good contacts with the Democrat Administration.
And he's not a bad bloke…
…and he's a good bloke. He's been out this week saying that he doesn't think it is a good idea for Kevin Rudd to stick his hand up and I think there are other Labor leaders and Labor luminaries who have made similar judgements and ultimately it is an issue for the Cabinet to decide and that's the decision that will be taken I presume later today.
Okay. You met yesterday with the Prime Minister and appeared on media; two years since the last successful boat arrival, Operation Sovereign Borders, 734 people, 28 boats have been returned.
You said yesterday people smugglers are still trying to organise boats to Australia despite your hard line, but you manage to stop them apparently?
There is no question Ray. I think Australians are mistaken if they believe that the people smugglers have gone away, that the boats wouldn't restart tomorrow given a chance and as I said to you as we discussed I think last week on the programme, many of the people smugglers were up there talking with some of the people that they think would pay money to get onto boats, that if there was a change in the election, if there was a Labor Government elected they were going to put boats to sea very quickly and it shows how we've said, over a long period of time; it's very important for the Prime Minister's language, for my language to be consistent and we have been consistent. We haven't been divided.
Mr Shorten is still not fit for government because the Left of the party is still vehemently opposed to turn-backs, to regional processing and to the policy that we have got around stopping people coming by boat.
So, we need to do all that we can with the Australian Defence Force, with Australian Border Force, with ASIO and our other partners to disrupt the ventures before they leave Indonesia or Vietnam or Sri Lanka – wherever they might be coming from – and this is a problem that we're dealing with every day.
But my message very clearly yesterday was to say to the people smugglers; we've got aerial surveillance, we've got satellite surveillance, we have obviously a lot of assets at sea and we have disrupted these activities and it's been one of the most significant achievements of this Government, but the problem hasn't gone away and we are still dealing with it every day.
Now the Prime Minister spoke to my colleague Alan Jones this morning about the possibility of voters in Herbert going back to the polls and this was addressed with Scott Morrison on Monday on the programme.
Labor's Cathy O'Toole is still 30/35 votes ahead of Ewen Jones. The recount continues, but it does put you in a precarious position governing and then trying to find a Speaker that doesn't affect that balance. Obviously if it stays the way it is with Cathy O'Toole seizing that seat, it does make life much more difficult for you to govern in your own right, surely?
Well not in the Lower House because obviously the majority is 76 and that's what we get and the Speaker Tony Smith, who has done a great job, he has the capacity to cast a vote, a deliberative vote in those discussions – and that's if we didn't have the support for example of the new Member for Mayo in Nick Xenophon's team, Bob Katter and the other Independents including Cathy McGowan from Indi.
So look, 77 is better than 76, but we can certainly govern and govern well with 76 and I'm confident that Ewen Jones can get up.
I think there is a likelihood of it going to a by-election because if it can be established, as has been reported that these Army officers weren't able to cast votes, and that number is greater than that which has decided the outcome – so greater than 34 or 35 – then there is a very great prospect – and that's the precedent that was set in the Mundingburra state by-election back in 1996 it would have been – so this is an exact precedent actually in that court case where soldiers were on deployment weren't able to cast their votes and a Court of Disputed Returns ordered a by-election in that instance. So there is still a way to run I think on the Herbert situation. But Ewen Jones has done a great job and he is a good local member so I hope, I really hope, that he can retain that seat.
Okay. Now we've got this latest attack in France and they confront the same problems we do, although they're much more grave in France than we've confronted, but it relates to the judiciary both in France and in Australia.
You've got a bloke over there who's under a terrorist watch, who's tried to access Syria on two separate occasions. He comes to the attention of the police and the various spy agencies there. They put him before a court and some hand-rigging judge, I presume from the left of politics over there who doesn't think there is a problem with terrorists, decides 'oh no, we're going to put an electronic bracelet on him and we are going to track where he is – but we don't need to know where he is between 8:30am and 12:30pm'.
So at precisely that timeframe he and another bloke go to the church, they cut the throat of the 80-year-old priest and then murdered themselves.
I mean, what do we do when we identify dangers in the community, be it in France or Australia, and it's the same as Man Monis. We have got the coronial inquest continuing now – and I note that the Police Commissioner and Deputy Commissioner have been called, as they probably should – but yet we have a Magistrate or District Court judge who allowed this man bail on very serious charges; accessory to murder, rape, sexual assault, a whole range of things and they kept letting him out.
I mean thank god we are not France. We feel terribly sorry for what they confront, but we have the same inherent problem in the judiciary, Minister.
I mean it's a barbaric act that we have seen in France. It's just appalling and it won't be the first and it certainly won't be the last of these sort of acts because we have seen plenty of incidents already and there will be, in my judgement, this threat from terrorism for at least a couple of decades and we will have to live with it as people in Northern Ireland lived with it for a period through the 70s and 80s and as people lived with it and still do today in the Middle East and this is why we need to have strong laws in place.
It's why the Prime Minister has spoken about having detention going beyond the penalty imposed by the court where we think we've got a very serious threat, somebody that might…having been charged with terrorism, come back out into the community to commit another act or a more heinous act.
I think people recognise that the Prime Minister really is absolutely serious and adamant that we need as a Government to do all we can to protect Australians.
My job as Immigration and Border Protection Minister is to be part of the national security team so that we can protect Australians and where you see in France and Germany people coming across borders in a way that they don't in this country – thank God in a way we are an island nation – but also that we're vigilant in terms of our border protection laws because in the modern age it is inconceivable that we can allow people into our country where we haven't properly verified their identity and that's the absolute bread and butter of my job and what the Department does every day.
So we need to deal with those threats and hopefully prevent them before they happen and if they do happen then the courts need to act in accordance with the public view and that is that serious penalties need to be imposed.
Look we know you're tough and I applaud your tough stance on border protection, but there's a story in
The Courier Mail today about a Brisbane couple caring for a little boy from PNG.
Craig Wells met the boy's father when they worked on Manus Island. Craig and his wife Karen, I don't know the processes, but brought the two-year-old to Australia when his birth parents said they could no longer care for him.
The case has now gone to the Admin Appeals Tribunal in an attempt to stop him being sent back to Manus Island, are you across this case, has there been application made to you for some sort of compassionate resolution?
Ray what happens is they go to the tribunal and the tribunal makes a decision, at that stage there can then be Ministerial intervention, under the law I can't intervene before that.
But I just make a couple of points. One is that I deal with these sort of cases every day and in many cases, particularly where children are involved, as we've demonstrated in the past, we do have a compassionate approach and we do provide support.
There's another case that's been in the media in recent days involving a little girl with a disability. Now I haven't seen the full facts, I've asked for an urgent brief on it and in those cases on the facts as I've seen them reported, I would be very sympathetic to that case and allowing that family to stay in Australia.
Sometimes there is a difficultly though around adoption cases, around cases where there may be some ambiguity about how the child came to be in the care of an Australian couple and in a sense some of these cases may be more reliant on investigations by child services or by police and we would rely on that advice as opposed to, without commenting specifically on this case, but if we had a case where parents just turned up with a child that wasn't theirs, they're giving an account which I'm sure in 99 per cent of cases is right – but we need to verify all of that because there are issues around child trafficking, around circumstances where we just don't know what's happened in another country and we need to know all the facts in these cases – but they very emotive cases and on the face of it you want to help children and as we know there are millions of people that want to come to our country, including many from PNG that would want to see their kids raised and educated and provided with healthcare in Australia.
So we need to find the right balance. But in those cases I need to probably rely frankly on the advice of children's services and the police before I can make a judgment if it comes to that.
Okay as always, thanks for your time.
Thanks Ray. See you mate.