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Tuesday, 22 May 2018
Transcript

Interview with Karl Stefanovic, Today Show

Subjects: Commonwealth Games overstayers; company tax cuts.

EO&E...........................................................................................................................................

KARL STEFANOVIC:        

Immigration Minister Peter Dutton joins us now. Peter, good morning to you.

PETER DUTTON:

Morning Karl.

KARL STEFANOVIC:        

So 255 athletes and officials still here – where are they?

PETER DUTTON:

We know that about 50 remain unknown in terms of their whereabouts. Australian Border Force is undertaking operations at the moment to try to locate those people. If people have any information they should contact the Australian Border Force.

We know that a number of people – the vast majority of the 255 – have applied for Protection visas, so automatically there's then a Bridging visa that is issued to them so that we can work out whether the bona fides are established, whether their story adds up, whether they are owed protection or whether they should be in immigration detention on their way back to the country of origin.

KARL STEFANOVIC:        

What do we do with them and do we fund them while we are waiting for that Bridging visa so to be processed?

PETER DUTTON:

If you are on a Bridging visa there can be benefits including welfare available and some of the cases can go on for a period of time – this is one of the great frustrations that I have –  we've got an incredibly generous legal system in terms of the ways in which people can apply, they can appeal, they can delay and it can go on and on.

PETER DUTTON:

So how many are seeking asylum then?

PETER DUTTON:

There's 190 at the moment and the remaining 10, or the remaining 15 rather, have applied for other visas and then 50 are missing at the moment. So about 255 in total.

KARL STEFANOVIC:

Do you have any idea where these 50 are, or have they just dropped off the face of the earth?

PETER DUTTON:

Border Force obviously is working on that at the moment, but if people go to ground they're difficult to find, but there will be a lot of work done with the state police forces to try and identify where these people are. But yes, it won't be easy, but they will pop up.

KARL STEFANOVIC:

A bit embarrassing isn't it?

PETER DUTTON:

Look, it's a cost of doing an event like the Commonwealth Games. You always get people overstay. We had it in 2000 with the Olympics, we had it in Melbourne. Every country experiences that. It's a cost of doing business unfortunately.

We warned people beforehand, but we issued about 13,600 visas to start with so nonetheless one is too many in terms of the number that would overstay.

KARL STEFANOVIC:

There will be some sympathy in the community for these athletes and some may even say these are the sort of people we should be granting visas to and they can go and fill jobs and move to country areas – it's an argument. How would you counter that argument?

PETER DUTTON:

Well Karl there are about 65 million people in the world at the moment who are displaced and many of them would give anything to be here tomorrow and live in Australia, it is a great country, but the fact is that if people have a claim to make they should do it the right way, not come here and take advantage of an arrangement like the Commonwealth Games.

KARL STEFANOVIC:

Are you thinking about closing that loophole? I mean the millions that it is costing us while they are having their visas assessed and processed, are you thinking about shutting that down or you can't do anything about that?

PETER DUTTON:

We are looking at the ways in which we can restrict some of the benefits available and the AAT is an area that we are looking at to reform at the moment – so that legal process – people should get their day in court, but at the moment it's dragged out.

We've got international law obligations that I can't act outside of, but we're pretty strict in terms of who the visas are issued to, but in this circumstance a number of 250 is completely unacceptable.

KARL STEFANOVIC:

Okay let's move on. Pauline Hanson will block the PM's company tax plan. Not just that, she's killed it this morning, hasn't she?

PETER DUTTON:

Well I hope she hasn't and obviously the negotiations are still going on with Mathias Cormann…

KARL STEFANOVIC:

….she has…

PETER DUTTON:

…but it's obvious – a million jobs we have created as a Government. We want business,  whether it is big or small employing Australians, we want small businesses contracting to big business and if they have a tax cut they will spend more money in the economy, wages go up, more people are employed, more apprentices etc. So we want that benefit for the Australian economy and I hope she can support it.

KARL STEFANOVIC:

She has killed it this morning. Come on, stop holding on.

PETER DUTTON:

Karl, she's a wily operator Pauline. She will put out there she is supporting it, she's not supporting it….

KARL STEFANOVIC:

….oh, she's just playing with you, toying with you.

PETER DUTTON:

Well, we will see. I think she understands the benefit of tax cuts in an economy like ours. You want business to grow and if business grows people get employed and wages go up.

KARL STEFANOVIC:

She says the Budget is on eggshells and it could flounder at any moment. So that's going to be your battle to fight. We appreciate your time this morning, thank you. 

PETER DUTTON:

Thanks Karl. See you mate.

[ends]