Subjects: PNG Supreme Court judgement.
For more on this, I'm joined live on the line now by the Immigration Minister Peter Dutton. Peter Dutton, good morning.
Good morning, Michael.
So what does happen to the men now?
Well obviously we'll await the decision from the PNG Government in terms of the next step that they will take.
They're taking legal advice at the moment and once we get that advice from PNG then we'll have an understanding of what it is they're going to do in relation to the detention centre which obviously is within their sovereign responsibility.
So it is, they are PNG's responsibility now? Or do we have responsibility for them?
Well this arrangement obviously was put together by the Rudd Government back when they lost control of our borders and thousands of people were arriving.
We want to see people off Manus and off Nauru, but they won't be coming to Australia.
The Government's been very clear and consistent in that message because we know people smugglers right now are trying to put ventures together and if they think the door to Australia has reopened then we will be in strife again and we're not going to allow that dysfunction to reoccur.
We'll work with PNG and provide what support is needed to them to help people return to their country of origin or to a third country otherwise, but we've been very clear, and I repeat it again today, that these people will not be coming to Australia.
Okay I'm just trying to get to the bottom of where you think the responsibility lies for their future though. Is it Australia's responsibility or PNG's?
Well in terms of the Regional Processing Centre in Manus it is part of PNG territory obviously and the decision of the Supreme Court is one that binds the PNG Government, not the Australian Government.
But we'll, as I say, work with a close partner in PNG to look at the best possible outcome. PNG has responsibility for the Regional Processing Centre, as Nauru does for the Regional Processing Centre on Nauru.
So we will work with our partners in the region because we're as determined as ever to make sure that these boats don't restart.
Because the whole deal is reliant on cooperation between the two governments, isn't it?
And there's been longstanding cooperation.
The difficulty of course was that when Mr Rudd was in government last, they undid the policies that worked.
When they came into government there were only four people in detention, including no children. That number went up to 10,200 people in detention, including, over the span of their policy failure, 8,500 children in detention.
We've got that number of 8,500 down to zero and I'm not going to allow boats to recommence to refill those positions. We've closed 13 of 17 detention centres that they opened.
I do want to see people exit Manus Island and Nauru in the Regional Processing Centres, but we will help them go back to their country of origin, as many hundreds have before them.
We'll help them go to third countries and settle there, but we are absolutely adamant that people won't be permanently settling in this country.
But what third country is willing to accept them?
Well there is obviously negotiations underway with a number of countries and we need to make sure that at the same time that we have these discussions that arrangements may be entered into that it doesn't create a pull factor for new boats to recommence.
Mr Shorten and Mr Marles are making all sorts of sounds now, wanting you to believe that they would have the policy under control, but that's exactly the language that Kevin Rudd used in the run-up to the 2007 election.
Labor will say or do anything to make people believe that they will continue the policies that have been successful in protecting our borders, but when in government sadly they get monstered by the left and they buckle at the knees and people smugglers get back into business and we're not going to allow that situation to arise.
Okay, sure, but it does seem that your offshore processing policy is falling apart here.
What happens to these men if third countries won't take them and if they refuse to return home?
Well Michael the first step of course is to wait and see the response of the PNG Government. They're taking legal advice as you would expect and I think that's the first step.
Before people get ahead of themselves let's see what the PNG Government has to say, what their response will be and how it is they propose to deal with the situation. I think that's the first prudent step and we'll await that advice over the next 24 hours.
Well have you spoken to them yet?
We've had an ongoing dialogue and obviously the Government's looked at every possible scenario and outcome and we've looked at that in terms of our strategy and our approach for a long period of time.
We've had many conversations, including myself with Minister Pato, my counterpart in PNG, and we'll have further discussions once the legal advice is available to…
…okay. Can you give us an indication of the flavour of those discussions? What's the tenor of the discussions at the moment?
Well it's a cordial discussion and PNG is a very important partner for Australia, as is Indonesia, Nauru and Malaysia and others within the region, because this is a regional problem for us.
And people are seeing the European situation unfold where people are drowning at sea, where there are millions of people potentially wanting to cross borders.
So this problem hasn't gone away. Because we've stopped the boats doesn't mean that they can't easily restart. We know that there are at least 14,000 people in Indonesia who are ready to get onto boats now.
I don't want children drowning again at sea. I want an orderly process and we've increased the number of refugees that we've taken into our country and that number will increase over the next few years in addition to the 12,000 Syrians.
So we are amongst the top three countries in the world in terms of the number of people that we settle on a per capita basis in this country and we should be very proud of that.
But at the same time we have been absolutely adamant that we are not going to allow organised criminal syndicates, people smugglers, to get back into business.
And as we saw some footage out of Indonesia last week, people smugglers and refugees up there believe that if there is a change of government that the boats will restart and we need to make sure that that doesn't happen.
Okay. PNG lawyers, as you've heard, will be asking the courts to rule that the men be sent back to Australia.
Where does that leave you if the PNG court rules that way?
Well again Michael I mean the finding of the High Court here in Australia is not binding on PNG, and the findings of the Supreme Court in PNG aren't binding on the Australian Government.
We'll work with our partners because the Supreme Court decision obviously has an effect in PNG on the Government's policy and their approach.
We'll work with them, but the first step is for them to get legal advice because the legal system does operate in a different way in PNG obviously than it does in Australia.
But in terms of the impact on Australia our policy is not going to change. I've been very clear about this for a long period of time and people should understand this message that we are not going to settle people that seek to come illegally by boat.
We'll help them go back to their country of origin. We provide settlement packages. And, as I say, may hundreds of people have already returned from Manus back to their country of origin and we'll provide that support for people.
But the option of coming to Australia is not open and it will not open in the future.
Okay. Peter Dutton, we'll leave it there. Thanks very much for joining us.