Subjects: Administrative Appeals Tribunal; deadline for IMAs to lodge protection claims.
Peter Dutton has been good enough to join us, the Immigration Minister, thanks for your time this morning Peter.
Pleasure Luke, thank you.
Can you explain what's going on? People that are scheduled to be deported are allowed to stay; why is that happening?
Well as you know Luke, and we've discussed this on the show before, we've really been ramping up the scrutiny that we've been applying to criminals who are non-citizens – that is people who are visiting our country here on visas and they're committing crimes against citizens – we've been cancelling those visas and the AAT – as it is pointed out in the paper today – has made decisions in relation to a number of cases, a pretty significant number of cases, where they've decided to reject that cancellation of the visa and we now need to appeal that, or in some circumstances I can substitute that decision with a decision to still cancel the visa.
It is a long legal process, it costs a lot of money and it's pretty frustrating – I suspect particularly for the victims of those crimes – and if we allow people to stay in our country that we know have committed serious crimes in the past, then there is a very high likelihood of people committing those same crimes or similar crimes into the future.
Peter, it's put that these people would be in grave danger if they went back to their country after getting here, but it has also been underlined that a number of these people who claim that they will be killed if they were sent back to Iran, in six instances, had also returned to Iran for holidays after getting their Protection visas and knowing the fake refugees had lied to get asylum.
At what stage does your Department say, hey listen; we'll run the show here, we know what we're doing, we're not mean spirited, we're going to do the right thing by genuine asylum seekers, but these other ones they're gone and we don't need to tie up the legal system protecting them?
Well this is the thing Eddie, I mean we are a generous country, we allow thousands of refugees in each year and we provide them with a lot of support; housing, education, health, welfare, etc, but we don't want to extend a helping hand to those people that aren't legitimate refugees.
There are 65 million people in the world at the moment who are economic migrants who would come to Australia tomorrow and we have to make sure that we're preserving support for those that are most in need.
So we don't send people back to face persecution or where they may face some threat, but as you point out, if you come here as a refugee and you're claiming protection and that you are going to be persecuted from the country from which you've fled, but then you're going back there on holidays or to get married or visit rellies or whatever it might be, I think the Australian public starts to say hang on; this is a bit of a con going on here.
As you point out there was a story last week in The Herald Sun where I'd taken a decision to cancel six visas of people from Iran and the AAT had overturned those decisions – and we'll have a look at those individual cases again – but as I say the frustration is that it does cost tens of millions of dollars each year. I'm having a look at ways in which we might change the law now because clearly the system is not working and we make these decisions on all of the information on the individual cases – we don't cancel visas lightly – and we do it within the law, but where they're overturned on technicalities or because people believe at the AAT that these people shouldn't be sent back to their country of origin, then I think we've got a problem in the system.
I think violent criminals, the opportunity to deport them, is something that we all agree on. Is that the answer Peter to try and change legislation? Is that possibility that you'll be able to get some more powers to do this?
That maybe the answer Luke; obviously it's difficult in the current Parliament because we've got to get laws through the Senate, we need to get Mr Shorten's support to change the legislation and tighten it up, but again I think people should have their fair day in court. I think they should have their matter scrutinised and as the Minister, as the decision maker, I should abide by that decision – as the other party to the matter should – but once the decision is made we should abide by the umpires call and then I think move on because at the moment we've got this quasi- judicial arrangement with the AAT, but matter then ultimately go onto the Federal Court – the full Federal Court, the High Court – and some people can be here for years and years and years and it costs literally millions of dollars of tax payers money to run this matter through the court.
There are lots of pro bono lawyers around that support refugees or migrants, economic migrants and it is a very expensive business for the Commonwealth. Again, I just think we're better off to concentrate our efforts on those people where they have made out a claim and you know the other issue that we're dealing with at the moment, is that we've got people that have been here for five or six years – there are about 7,500 at the moment – they've been here for five to six years, came on a boat, they haven't lodged their claims or they are refusing to answer questions about their claim or refusing to answer questions about their identity, we just can't allow those people into our country.
Thanks Peter for your time this morning. We appreciate you coming on Triple M's The Hot Breakfast.
Thanks very much guys.