Subjects: PNG Supreme Court judgement.
Immigration Minister Peter Dutton is on the line right now. Many thanks for your time Peter.
So can you just explain from the Australian Government's point of view, what this decision does?
Well just a bit of background first Ross. So, this was a negotiation between the Rudd Government and the PNG Government at the time to set-up Manus because thousands of people were obviously coming by boat, and I think the Labor Party at the time, the government, were completely overwhelmed by the situation – in fact we know overall there were 50,000 who arrived on 800 boats and 1,200 people drowned at sea – now, the Supreme Court in PNG obviously doesn't have jurisdiction over Australia, they have jurisdiction on PNG matters; they've decided that there is a difficultly or a constitutional problem with the centre operating, the Regional Processing Centre, operating on Manus and we need to see what the PNG Government response to that will be.
The Australian Government's response doesn't change. Our position has been very clear for a long period of time. We don't want people smugglers back into business and these people won't be settling in Australia.
We're not going to allow people who seek to come to our country illegally by boat to settle permanently here. We've been very clear about that and it's very important that we repeat that message again tonight because the people smugglers are trying to fill boats right now and they will use this as a marketing tool to say that the gateway to Australia is now reopen….
…okay, just a question; the 850 people there who were seeking asylum in Australia, does Australia or its Government have any duty of care over those 850 people?
We don't have any obligation to take those people and we've been very clear that we will not be taking those people Ross. We will work with the PNG Government. We will wait to see their response to the court case and it will be 24 hours before I can get our legal advice in relation to the nuances of the judgement. So we will wait to make further comment until we get all of the legal advice.
We have been very clear; and that is that the Government is not going to take people into this country that seek to come illegally by boat. We've taken record numbers of refugees and the numbers will increase again this year through the UN process and through the Special Humanitarian Programme. So we will take refugees and we'll take them by plane, not by boat because many of them end up at the bottom of the ocean, and these people smugglers as people are seeing play out on their television sets, all of the scenes across Europe now, people drown at sea, people smugglers take advantage, they rip people off, they false promise all of these people to make them pay their money and get onto boats and there are no women or children in the Manus Island facility but we will work to try and help return those people to their country of origin or to a third country but they will not be settling in Australia.
Okay, just another one on this because does Australia therefore not necessarily, as you say have a duty of care to the 850 people who have found themselves in Manus Island, does Australia have a duty of care to Papua New Guinea and given it wasn't your government, but it was still an Australian Government that did a deal with Papua New Guinea, do we have a duty of care to Papua New Guinea to make certain that these people are resettled somewhere?
Well Ross, as I say, we'll wait and see what the PNG Government has to say once they've contemplated the legal decision and they've taken legal advice themselves and then, like always, we'll work with the PNG Government – they are a trusted partner, just like Indonesia is and other people within our region and we'll work on this issue and many others on a daily basis – but the Regional Processing Centre on Manus Island is the responsibility of the PNG Government.
There are many hundreds of people that have been returned from that Regional Processing Centre back to their country of origin because they've been found to be economic refugees; they've paid their thousands of dollars, they've got on a boat and they've sought to come to Australia or somewhere else and they aren't refugees.
The refugees that we're taking at the moment are people who have had family members slaughtered in Syria or who are involved in the society in Iraq where they've had people in their own village or within their own groups beheaded. They're the refugees that we are taking because they are not economic refugees, they're legitimate refugees.
So as I say we'll work with the PNG Government to contemplate the case but the Supreme Court of PNG doesn't have jurisdiction over Australia - as you would appreciate - and we'll continue to work with our partners in PNG becuase most importantly we don't want boats to restart. We do not want people drowning at sea and we don't want to reopen detention centres becuase we've been able to close 13 of those 17 detention centres that Labor opened and we've now got no children in detention - whereas 8,500 children went into detention when Labor lost controle of our borders.
Immigration Minister Peter Dutton, we appreciate your time at very short notice this evening but an important issue no doubt.
Thanks Ross. Take care mate.