Thursday, 24 November 2016

Doorstop Interview, Parliament House, Canberra

Subjects: Migration to Australia under the Fraser Government; Senate; Migration Legislation Amendment (Regional Processing Cohort) Bill.



There are real character questions about Bill Shorten's conduct over the course of the last couple of days. He's complete and deliberate misrepresentation of my words, of what Barnaby Joyce has had to say in relation to water matters and it demonstrates a particular character flaw of Mr Shorten that he would seek to misrepresent so deliberately my words to try gain political advantage.

He's upset people within the community and he's deliberately done that and his conduct really I think has been quite sneaky and tricky and it's been underhanded and I think Mr Shorten has a lot to answer for. I think he's been called out. I think he's been found out as the Greens have.

I notice comments by Senator McKim this morning saying that what I have said is correct, it's factual, it's reasonable, but that we shouldn't speak about it – but 24 hours ago the Greens were saying that I was a racist and a bigot.

Now, I want to have an honest discussion. I did that in all of the remarks that I have had and that I have made in relation to what's a very important topic, and I repeat it again this morning and I'm not going to step back from this.

The vast majority of Lebanese Australians are law abiding, hardworking, good decent people who are besmirched by the small element within their community who are doing the wrong thing. I made that clear.

The fact that Mr Shorten would seek to misrepresent it, I think shows that he has been tricky, but he's been caught out and I think people need to call him out today and ask him how he responds to it and ask him to point to the words of mine, because you can go through any transcript you like in terms of what I've said; I've been factual in what I have said and I want to make sure that we have the best possible country that we can have – and there are very many countless success stories of people that we have had come to our country, migrate to our country to make our country the great place it is today – and I'm not going to be intimidated or misrepresented by somebody like Bill Shorten.

Happy to take any questions.


What is your response to Labor MP Anne Aly's claims that her family has received death threats after she condemned your comments?


I would condemn anybody that has offered any death threat or made any death threats. Of course I would.

But again, the question she should be asking is of Bill Shorten. I mean why did he seek to whip this up into an issue of political advantage for himself? Why did he seek to misrepresent my words and he's now got a track record of this.

Now, he might think this is tricky and maybe he thinks there is political advantage in it, but this is a man that wants to be the alternative Prime Minister of this country and he's out conducting himself in a dishonourable way.

His colleagues speak of this other side of Bill Shorten. I have only just seen it for the first time this week. I mean he's been deceptive, he's been underhanded, he's been tricky and he has been caught out. He has done it for political advantage, but ultimately, it's backfired on him and I think that is obvious to all who are following this debate.


Anne Aly says your comments that have stirred up racism, not Bill Shorten's?


But which comment? I mean point me to the comment that I've made. I mean this is the point. Mr Shorten hasn't quoted to you anything that I have said which has criticised the Lebanese community of hard working, decent, honourable law-abiding people – the vast majority of that community.

Now, we've got particular problems with foreign fighters and with other criminal activity and we need to call that out. We have to have an honest debate.

As I said Mr McKim gave the game away today when he said, well what Dutton has said is factual, reasonable, but it just shouldn't be spoken about – well Australians are sick of that. They want to have an honest discussion because if we don't learn from mistakes past, we will repeat them again today and into the future and I'm not going to do that as Immigration Minister.

I want to celebrate the contribution of millions of people who have come to our country, but I'm going to allow a great community like the Lebanese community in this country, to be defined by those within the community, a small element who are doing the wrong thing. That is exactly the point that I made in Question Time earlier this week.

It was very cute for Mr Shorten to be out yesterday making these statements, as part of his national security statement no less, but then not to ask a single question of either the Prime Minister or myself in Question Time yesterday because he didn't want the retort that we would reply and that is to call him out for the lies that he has presided over.

I think Australians will see through Bill Shorten in relation to this incident and I think the media should. I mean ask him to point to the questions that have caused this aggravation. The aggravation to which the Member refers is something of Mr Shorten's making. His misrepresentation of my remarks for his own political purposes has caused some people concern when there wasn't to be concern.

Now I think Mr Shorten can answer that question and ask him which comment did I make that he refers to?


Why didn't the Government ensure that all of the One Nation Senators were there last night to vote for your changes to the Passenger Movement Charge?


I think the story this week is that the Government has achieved significant outcomes in the Senate. We are getting on with the agenda. We're delivering on our election promises. We've got the Registered Organisations Bill through the Parliament which will help millions of workers – the workers don't want to be ripped-off by union bosses – they want the money to be spent responsibly and they want the union bosses to be held accountable for the money that they preside over and the organisations that they run.

We have had a huge win with the Registered Organisations Bill this week and ultimately One Nation can answer for themselves; people do make mistakes, they don't turn up to a division, Pauline Hanson can explain that, which I'm sure is a reasonable explanation and the Bill will be recommitted and I've got no doubt that it will pass.


But she's implied the vote was brought on suddenly and that they weren't given enough…


…well they are questions for Senator Hanson. I just can't answer those questions.


On the asylum seeker visa ban, have you been able to convince any of the Xenophon Senators to vote for it?


We have had a couple of good discussions with the Xenophon team and we will continue to work with them.

We are very determined to get the Bill through because I don't want new boat arrivals. All of the hard work of the last few years of stopping boats and stopping the drownings at sea, of closing the 17 detention centres and getting the 2,000 kids out of detention – I don't now want to get people off Nauru and Manus to only find that the vacancies that we have created are filled with new arrivals – I mean I just don't want that.

Mr Shorten's again failure of leadership on this issue is evident. We want the Labor Party to support this Bill because it does send a very clear message to people smugglers that we aren't going allow them to get back into business and it also sends a clear message to those people that have been found not to be refugees, not to be refugees, that the US settlement deal won't apply to. We want those people to go back to their countries of origin, as 650 people before them as done so.

So again Mr Shorten should stare down the Left of his Party and support what is a very reasonable measured Bill, but a necessary one, in making sure that we can continue the success of stopping the boats and not having them restarted.


When will the departure tax be voted on again?


Ah look, I think you would just have to refer that to Senator Brandis or Senator Cormann.


The fate of the Backpacker Tax is uncertain, but do you think that there could have been more done to perhaps negotiate it so that there was a consensus on the issue?


I think all of us are working hard to negotiate with the Crossbench Senators and the benefit of that is demonstrated in the Senate this week where the Government's agenda has been delivered on, despite Labor's opportunist opposition to everything we do.

I mean they are on a disruption path. They want to cause trouble. They want to misrepresent what we are saying. Bill Shorten is happy to go out there and lie about these important issues – they are issues for Mr Shorten to explain to the Australian public because Mr Shorten is fast being seen as a very tricky elite, with the a spivvy sort of message and I think Australians are seeing through it.

I think for the Government we want to negotiate with the Crossbench Senators. We will get legislation through. We've done that this week and I think the Government has achieved a lot this week and I hope that we can continue that with the ABCC next week.


Mr Dutton I'm sorry, I missed the beginning of your press conference so I didn't hear it exactly, but I heard just before I came around that you are suggesting that Bill Shorten has misrepresented your comments on immigration. How has he misrepresented you?


Well I think you go to his national security statement yesterday, you go to public comments that he has made otherwise and I think if you go to the words of his other colleagues that have been inspired by Mr Shorten, I think it's very clear.

I think Mr Shorten needs to step up, admit that he has made a mistake here because it's not just in relation to me, he's sought to misrepresent the words of Barnaby Joyce as well and I think he has been found out. I think there is a lot of hysteria; as I say for the Greens to be out there calling me a racist bigot yesterday or the day before and to be today saying, 'well what Dutton is saying is factually correct, but we just can't talk about it,' I think it demonstrates the duplicity here and trickiness and I think Mr Shorten has a lot to answer for because he has tried to play a game here.

He issued his national security statement yesterday with the words in it, but then as I say didn't ask a single question in Question Time to either the Prime Minister or myself because he didn't want to hear the response. There is not one word that I have spoken that Mr Shorten has quoted or pointed to that has resulted in what he has suggested.

So I think Mr Shorten should come out today and explain himself and his conduct because he is the person that aspires to be the alternative… or the prime minister of this country and he needs to conduct himself in a much more professional way than he has in the last 24 hours. 


I'm genuinely sorry to be dumb though, but I still don't quite understand how you have been misrepresented? Specifically how have you been misrepresented, just so I can understand?


I think if you have a look at Mr Shortens words, you have a look at some of what's been written. I mean Mr Faine for example, to go to another example, on ABC radio this morning, apologised for misrepresenting my words yesterday and I think the Labor Party has embarked on this very tricky approach.

Mr Shorten can do his own bidding, I'm sure. I'm saying to you; Mr Shorten has been very tricky here, he's misrepresented the words that I have said deliberately and I think he needs to explain it today.

Thanks very much.