Subject: Sunshine Coast Airport upgrades; draft Departmental document.
Welcome. Thank you to the Minister for being here today. This is a great opportunity. We know how proud we are of our asset here, the
Sunshine Coast Airport, and so any investment that comes into this airport is more than infrastructure investment – it's about jobs and it's about increasing prosperity to our region.
So a big welcome to Minister Dutton, thanks very much.
Ted, thank you very much. Thank you for the invitation to be here today.
I am very pleased to have a look at the airport, to speak to the Australian Border Force staff and to look at the investment on the ground here and what is possible.
The Sunshine Coast is a very exciting region and it's an area of Australia that many people should visit more regularly. There are lots of international opportunities here today, but into the future as well.
I'm very pleased that the Australian Government, on top of the funding that we've provided recently, we want to upgrade the facilities for the Australian Border Force Customs element here because we do want to have a seamless transition for passengers. We want better arrangements for our staff. We want permanent facilities so that people can have a better work environment, so that we can have faster through-put of people who are either inbound or outbound.
So, this is just the start for the Sunshine Coast. It's a very exciting region and I'm very pleased to be here at the invitation of Ted O'brien today and I'm happy to take any questions.
What sort of upgrades are we having here?
Obviously as people know when they head off overseas or if they come back from having travelled overseas they have a front line. So at the point, in which they're greeted by the Australian Border Force staff, there are upgrades in those facilities, in screening facilities and where if there's an issue, where people will be taken for those investigations to be undertaken. Obviously there is an investment in to closed-circuit television and security measures otherwise.
The Government obviously takes very seriously the protection of our borders. We have millions of movements of people across the borders every year and we have provided a lot of money, frankly, which I don't think many people quite understand, but at departure gates including at this airport in time and at the arrival gates.
There's been a huge investment in technology and that makes it easier for people as they depart or as they return home to go through that process more quickly and that's what the travelling public want.
Could this potentially mean more international flights as time goes on?
I think, as the airport management point out here, there is an enormous opportunity for additional flights.
I think, as the relationship with Air New Zealand has demonstrated, there is a great capacity to see heavier loads on these planes and to look at further destinations at some point after upgrades into the future and ultimately that is good.
As Ted O'brien constantly says, he wants to get more investment into the Sunshine Coast, he wants jobs and growth here on the Sunshine Coast and certainly that's what the Turnbull Government's about.
The document that's been leaked says you'll make a proposal in the first half of this year to deny direct access to permanent residence to refugees. Is that your plan?
The only point I'd make is that obviously this is a draft Departmental document.
It's been shared with other Departments, as I'm advised, and the document hasn't even been to my office.
So in the normal course of events the way these things would proceed is the draft document, after other agencies have had their input, the draft document would then come up to my office, we would make changes, make additions, subtract pieces we weren't happy with and the final document would then go to Cabinet.
Just to put it into perspective, this document hasn't even made it in its first iteration to my office.
The other point that I would make though is that the Government's approach is not only to make sure that we have secure borders, and all Australians want us to have secure borders as we don't want the people smugglers to recommence, but at the same time we have been able to increase the number of refugees that we've welcomed to our country both through the United Nations High Commission and also through the Special Humanitarian Programme.
So the number of refugees that Australia will take this year is 13,750. That grows over the next couple of years to 18,750. In addition to that, as you know, we've announced we'll take 12,000 people from Syria and Iraq, both war-torn countries.
If there is a debate about how we should screen people coming into our country, the Government doesn't make any apology for that.
We are going to be tough in terms of the screening processes because we want to afford refuge to those people who are genuine refugees and people see on their television screens every night now what it is happening across Europe, across the Mediterranean.
In this country we have an orderly migration process. Order has been restored to our borders and we can, at the same time, have a compassionate approach to take a record number of refugees and we're not going to take a backwards step in relation to that.
Will refugees who have gained Australian citizenship be monitored more closely than other Australians who are born here, as the document suggests?
Well, as I say, I don't have any other comment to make in relation to what was a draft Departmental document.
The point I would make is that we want to keep Australians safe.
My responsibility as Immigration Minister is to make sure that in the millions of movements of people across our borders each year, that we are not bringing people into our country that are going to pose a risk to men, women and children across the country.
This a very serious time for our country, for Western democracies, and as we've seen in Europe, people will pretend to be refugees when they're not.
The vast majority of people are refugees and in need of assistance and we will conduct the proper screening processes so that we can welcome those people.
The other aspect to it of course is that many people need to be reminded about I think, and I've heard comment on this this morning, is that if we take people that aren't legitimate refugees then we displace somebody who is.
This is something we're very conscious of as we're trying to provide support for people coming out of Syria and Iraq at the moment.
Can you explain meaning of an enforceable integration framework?
Well, again, I don't have any further comment to make in terms of the draft Departmental document.
There were some serious concerns about what that might mean. It will come to you at some stage, you must have thought about it?
I just refer you to back to my earlier comment. Any other questions?
Alright, thank you very much.