Subjects: Cancellation of foreign national’s visas; United States resettlement of refugees from Nauru and PNG; Visa Revalidation Bill; Prime Ministers comments in Parliament.
Minister the cancellation of the visas in Queensland, what do the numbers show?
Well I have cancelled a record number of visas over the course of the last 12 months including over 300 in Queensland and that includes 37 people who have committed sexual offences against children and I don’t make any apology for that.
There are millions of people who come to our country each year and the vast majority do the right thing, but those people who want to commit crimes against Australians, in particular children, then I am going to cancel visas at a record number.
I want to not only keep our borders safe, but I want to make our communities safe as well and if people come here on a visa and they believe that they can commit offences against Australians then they can expect for their visas to be cancelled and for them to be deported as quickly as possible.
By cancelling these visas we make our community a safer place and my desire as the Minister for Immigration is not only to have secure borders, but also a safer community and that’s why in Queensland I have cancelled over 300 visas of non-citizens over the last 12 months.
Why Queensland? What’s happening up there?
Well there are over 1042 visas that we have cancelled across the country over the course of the last year so it is a record number and the number will continue to grow because we are working with intelligence and policing agencies to identify non-citizens who are committing offences, who are breaking the law and we are going to continue to cancel those visas. Right across the country, where people are committing offences, if they are here on a visa they are expected to abide by the law and if they break the law they will be deported from this country.
What kind of offences Peter?
Well we have had people over the course of the last 12 months who have been deported, had their visas cancelled, for murder, for manslaughter, for armed robbery, for serious sexual assault and rape – so all of the crimes that you can imagine.
We have also cancelled a record number of visas of Outlaw Motorcycle Gang Members because we know that the bikies in this country, the outlaw bikies, are the people who are involved in the distribution of ice and other amphetamine and other drugs right across the country.
They are destroying young lives and we are having a big impact by cancelling the visas of bikies who are involved in distribution and selling these drugs to young kids in communities across the country.
With the refugee deal with the United States, we know quite a lot about the people that have passed their bono fide refugees. Is there anything that you think that the Americans would need to know more to fulfil their definition of extreme vetting?
Well it’s an issue for the United States under the agreement as to who they take and the way in which they conduct their vetting so I don’t have any comment to make in relation to the US process.
From our perspective, we have worked hard with both the Obama and Trump administrations and we are very grateful for President Trump’s adoption of the agreement struck with President Obama.
Our desire is to get people off Nauru and Manus as quickly as possible and not to have the boats re-start.
The people on Nauru and Manus are there because Labor’s border protection policy failed and 50,000 people came on 800 boats and we are not going to allow a situation to reoccur where we give up our sovereignty to people smugglers ever again.
Certainly under this Government, we are determined to move people as quickly as possible and that’s what we intend to do.
Do you know when the new screening will start? The Homeland Security people on Nauru?
Well I don’t have any comment to make in relation to when US officials will be on Nauru next.
Obviously there have been officials there who have left, as I understand it, in the last couple of days and we would expect other officials to be there in due course.
But there is a lot of work being done at an official’s level with people from my Department and the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of State in the US, but it’s not something I have anything to comment on.
Does Labor have a point that you or future governments could exclude people, revoke their visas, because of their religion or country they are from?
Well look, I have been in Parliament 15 years and this is one of the most mendacious claims that I’ve ever heard.
The Labor Party said as recently as Sunday that they supported the Bill that we’ve got before the Parliament and that they wanted an amendment to it, which subsequently we didn’t agree to.
It’s been through a Senate Inquiry and the Labor Party made one recommendation – that was for the Bill to be passed.
Mr Neumann in the last 24 hours has gone out there simply to try and get attention because they failed on border protection policy and sadly now it’s clear that they have failed on this national security test.
And the thought that if we can issue a 10 year visa to people from China to come here as tourists, but that we couldn’t cancel that visa during the course of it because somebody had popped up on a terrorist list or we had received intelligence about an individual – I mean it’s an absurdity.
I would just ask people to have a look at the facts, have a look at why Mr Neumann was making very clear statements of support as recently as Sunday and yet in the last 24 hours since Bill Shorten got a complete hiding in the Parliament, they’ve put out this smokescreen and that’s all it is. It’s a complete distraction from the disaster that was Question Time for Bill Shorten yesterday.
So, this is a complete outrage and I think Mr Shorten needs to haul Mr Neumann into line, he needs to be disciplined for his comments because they are aren’t based in fact and it is a complete and utter political stunt on a national security Bill to try and deviate people’s attention away from Bill Shorten’s misfortune in Parliament yesterday.
What did you make of the Prime Minister unplugged yesterday?
I thought Malcolm Turnbull did a great job yesterday. He made a convincing argument largely because exactly what he said was 100% true.
I mean Bill Shorten pretends to be the champion of workers, but people in their gut instinct across the country know that there is something that doesn’t add up about Bill Shorten. He’s just not the genuine product and Bill Shorten has demonstrated when he was a union leader – he sold the workers out so that the union could get more money. He has always been about union bosses, not the workers and people within the Labor Party from Anthony Albanese down know that this guy is a fake a fraud and I think Australian recognise that.
I think yesterday Malcolm Turnbull spelled it out very clearly that you know whilst Bill Shorten is out there pretending to be the friend of the worker he is flying around on the private jet of the Pratts and enjoying dinner parties with the elite in Melbourne and this guy is somebody who needs to be exposed and I think Malcolm Turnbull did a great job of it yesterday.
Is there an expectation from the Party that they want to see more of this?
Well I think you’ll see more of it because we do need to call Bill Shorten out. There are many aspects where Bill Shorten goes out and makes statements like the one that, he no doubt supports, Mr Neumann’s made in the last 24 hours which are just factually incorrect.
I mean they are just not true statements and they try to misrepresent things – well I think the Australian public is over that and I think Mr Shorten needs to be called out for it and we will call him out.
Just on the Migration Legislation. Do you think this is part of a new Labor tactic to try to align conservative, the Australian conservative parties with Trump policies?
Well it may be, but the only thing that I would ask and I did AM this morning with Sabra Lane who I like a lot as a journalist, I think she’s a great journalist at the ABC, but journalists just can’t read the press releases of the Labor Party or follow a Twitter feed and put that out somehow that its fact.
We need to have a look at the claims that are made, can they be substantiated and journalists frankly need to do their work before they print these things especially online because it seems to me with a lot of these cases it’s published by one outlet and it’s picked up and runs like wildfire by other outlets.
I can understand that people have got time pressures and the rest of it, but this is factually incorrect. What they have said is completely misleading the Australian public. This is a visa which applies to people who are coming as tourists from China over a 10 year visa period. The reason that we have done that is because we want them to come in multiple times as tourists so that they can spend more money, spend more time here as tourists, help the Australian economy, grow jobs and Labor somehow is saying that this is a Trump-like power – well this was introduced before President Trump became the President, it was introduced before he issued his Executive Order obviously and Labor went through this Bill in detail in the Senate Inquiry and the recommended that it be passed.
So I think Mr Neumann has a big credibility problem and I think he needs to answer these questions today and it shows to me that Labor has no credibility when it comes to border protection and they are using the issue of National Security for their own political distraction purposes and they should be called out for it.
Alright. Thank you.