Monday, 10 October 2016

Doorstop Interview, Parliament House

Subjects: More than 800 days of no illegal boat arrivals to Australia; third country resettlement; Donald Trump's comments.



I'm pleased to announce today that it's been more than 800 days since we've had a successful people smuggling venture to Australia and that stands in contrast to Labor's record, where they had 800 boats and 50,000 people who came illegally to Australia.

Now, the Labor legacy will last for years. It has cost billions of dollars and most tragically 1,200 people drowned at sea. Labor has apologised for their policy failing, but the message to all Australians today is; yes it has been 800 days since we've had a successful people smuggling venture arrive in Australia, but the problem has not gone away. People smugglers are still trying to put ventures together and the Government has turned back over the course of the last couple of years almost 30 ventures and the point is, had any of those boats got through, it would have sent a very clear signal to people smugglers to put further ventures together and we would have seen what happened under Labor's period in government and that is that people would have drowned at sea.

Now, this Government stands for strong and secure borders. We've been able to increase the number of refugees that we've bought in at the same time since we've been elected and we have been able to restore order to our borders.

Labor is still bitterly divided when it comes to border protection and this is a huge leadership test for Bill Shorten because it's obvious that he presides over a party that has torn itself apart and even to this day cannot reconcile within its own ranks what its policy should be on border protection.

I'm happy to take any questions.


Minister, obviously border protection has been one of the strong suits of the Government, it's been one of its success stories, obviously you're still holding out to get those third country arrangements in place. Are we any closer? Can you give us any update on those?


Well one of the proudest achievements of this Government is that we've been able to get the 2,000 children out of detention. Labor had 10,000 people in detention at its peak and we've now been able to reduce that number down closer to 500.

Not only have we got the 2,000 children out of detention, but we've been able to close 17 detention centres and, as I've said, we have been working very hard with third countries to provide settlement options to people on Manus and Nauru.

The priority for me now is to get women and children off Nauru and we are in discussions with a number of countries.

But I have been consistent in saying I'm not going to comment on particular countries or particular scenarios. Suffice to say we have worked very hard and continue to work hard with third countries, but my priority is to get women and children off Nauru.


There's a new ANU poll this morning that shows strong support for the border protection policies, but the majority of Australians want more to be done about preventing a terrorist attack on home soil and also there's concerns about Muslims being signalled out in some of the policies too.


I think it is important to recognise some of the reporting on the weekend about the Syrian intake and the circumstances of Germany in the last 48 hours. It is the case that the Government said quite deliberately that in taking the 12,000 we were not going to cut any corners. We wanted to provide refuge and safe haven for people who are coming out of war torn Syria and Iraq, but at the same time we would never compromise the national security here in Australia. And I want to reassure all Australians that in identifying the 22 people of the intake of Syrians that may have been of security concern to us, we are doing all that is within our power to guarantee the security of the Australian people and this Government will never shirk from that responsibility.

Mr Marles and Mr Shorten and others have criticised me for going too slow in bringing the Syrians into Australia, but I think what we've demonstrated in identifying that some people have been identified as security risks, on the back of what we are seeing in Germany, in Paris and elsewhere, the Government has had a prudent approach and we will not sacrifice national security under any circumstance. And that's been the number one priority of this Government and certainly for me as Minister in this portfolio and we will continue to do all that we can to keep the Australian public safe.


Minister, Donald Trump's comments, your reaction to those over the weekend?


I don't have any comment to make in relation to the US election.

Thanks very much.