Subjects: Migration Legislation Amendment (Regional Processing Cohort) Bill.
Peter Dutton joins us now from Canberra. Minister, good evening, how was dinner with Mathias?
It’s coming up Paul, so you’ve got a good source, but not an accurate one – dinner is after this.
Now there is something that has happened also this evening where Kevin Rudd has come out and tried to have a go at yourself and Malcolm Turnbull about this debating point about whether or not to shut the door to all illegal boat arrivals was in fact his policy back from 2013. He calls the Prime Minister a liar for trying to suggest that this is some sort of continuation of the policy, but I remember the ads from 2013 because I remember paying for them in 2013 and it says, ‘if you arrive here by boat you will never come to Australia.’ That would be this policy, wouldn’t it?
Well I think Kevin Rudd loves to rewrite history and Bill Shorten knows that better than anyone. The difficulty for Mr Rudd is that he doesn’t have any credibility on this issue and the bigger issue for Mr Shorten is that for some strange reason he’s become captured by the Left of his Party as well and he’s going down the same well-trodden path that Kevin Rudd went down which resulted in 50,000 people coming on 800 boats and 1,200 drowning at sea.
So I think Mr Shorten has the same problems and he now frankly has less credibility on border protection policy than even Kevin Rudd did only a few years ago.
But what about the scenario too, the Essential Poll today, as I showed, that 52 per cent of Labor voters support the idea here. So who is Shorten playing to? Is it Twitter? Channel Two? What is he doing because the people who actually voted for him to almost become the Prime Minister want this policy?
Well it is what he has done on energy policy as well. So he has abandoned the blue collar workers to make sure that he can support the Green voters or at least caught the Green voters in marginal city seats. So the Labor Party has decided that they will abandon seats like mine, the outer-metropolitan areas of Brisbane, of Sydney, of Melbourne, Perth and across capital cities, he’s abandoned those people and their views and he is now trying to sure up seats like those occupied by Anthony Albanese and Tanya Plibersek. And it is a complete disaster because as we found out when Rudd was in government with the Greens, when Julia Gillard was in formal arrangements with the Greens to prop up her dodgy government, they give way to these crazy policies and the results are devastating.
Now it has taken us three years to clean this mess up. We are still in the process of cleaning it up because we want to get people off Nauru and Manus as quickly as possible, but Bill Shorten has demonstrated by his announcement this week that he won’t support this legislation and that he is completely beholden to the Left of his Party.
In fact when we announced this policy Paul, there were 26 members of his own Caucus who went out to speak against the policy before Bill Shorten could even make an announcement on it and that shows you how far out of touch his Party is and I think that riding off the 52 per cent of these voters or the 76 per cent of Coalition voters that support this policy is something that will come back to haunt Bill Shorten by the time of the next election.
But also there’s this scenario too, as you say about he’s playing to all of these different galleries, is that you know the Labor Party, as I said at the start, they thought, you know, don’t change anything and we will win the next election.
Well I would argue that for you to have won the election it means they would have lost it. I think they lost it in two areas. One their sums didn’t add up when it came to promises of debt and deficit and two, as you said, 20 different candidates including the Deputy Leader didn’t agree with any sort of tough on border protection position. And I think there’s a certain level of arrogance here that Shorten thinks he can simply skate and hope that you guys implode?
Well I think that’s right and it’s obvious that Anthony Albanese is lurking in the shadows, sharpening his knives and he’s learnt the skill of how to take out a Prime Minister from Bill Shorten himself and Anthony Albanese is waiting in the wings, waiting for Bill Shorten to falter and that’s why Bill Shorten needs to play to the Left because that’s Albanese base within the Party.
Look Paul I think what it does is demonstrates to the Australian people that they made the right decision at the last election. They saw through Bill Shorten’s phoney facade. He stitched together this dodgy deal at the ALP Conference on boats. He was only able to stitch together the deal because the CFMEU supported him and I think most Australians saw that Bill Shorten, if he was to be elected Prime Minister, would quickly unravel the policies just as Kevin Rudd did coming into government in 2007 off the back of John Howard restoring integrity to border policy.
Don’t forget that there are only four people in total, including no children in detention when John Howard left office in 07. We ended up with 17 detention centres being opened, 2,000 kids in detention, we’ve closed those detention centres, we’ve got those kids out of detention, now we want to get people off Manus, but I am not going to do it in a way that recommences boats and essentially this mixed message, this weak message from Bill Shorten, which people have called out is manna from heaven.
The people smugglers in Jakarta must be thinking that they’ve hit the jackpot with Bill Shorten. They thought two weak Labor leaders was the best they could get in a lifetime and they’ve got this bloke who has proved to be just as soft on border protection as Julia Gillard or Kevin Rudd and I think people, including Australians, will see through it soon enough.
Okay, so for this measure, obviously we now if the Labor Party and Greens want to vote against it we open up the crossbench, we see what happens there. Will we know about a plan to resettle the people on Manus and Nauru before this legislation is dealt with by the Parliament?
This legislation will be debated in Parliament tomorrow. It will be voted on, we expect, on Thursday and there will be no announcement before that and I’ve said very clearly that we are working on third country resettlement, we do want to get people out of Manus and Nauru, but we want to do it in a way that doesn’t fill the vacancies that we will be creating by sending those people to third countries. So it needs to be done in a sensible way.
We have restored integrity to our border process. It’s now over 830 days since we’ve had a successful people smuggling venture, but the crazy thing Paul is that Bill Shorten’s been arguing today and yesterday, firstly that he believes the problem of people smugglers has gone away – I mean you’ve only got to look at what’s happening in Europe, thousands of people are drowning on the Mediterranean trying to get to Europe – and the second point that he makes, the only substantive point it seems that he’s made about voting against this legislation is to say that somehow these people might want to come here as tourists in 40 years – that that is his reason for voting against it today. Well as we demonstrated today, as Simon Benson reported in The Daily Tele today, there are people who are entering into sham arrangements with people on Manus to try and get here as a spouse and they’re subverting the process. Now I’m not going to allow that to happen.
I’ve introduced this Bill because it is the right thing to do. It will help us keep a consistent and clear message to the people smugglers that they won’t get back into business and it seems to me that Bill Shorten hasn’t even got the fundamentals right and as you say I think he’s snubbing his nose to the majority of Australians who want to see integrity in our Australian border protection policies.
And in this day and age when you’ve got people running around the world pretending to be refugees, who are not refugees, but are involved in terrorist activities or are linked to terrorist organisations, you cannot afford to have people coming across your borders when you don’t know who they are.
Minister, thank you very much.