Subjects: President Trump's Joint Address to Congress; Australia's migration programmes; Newspoll.
Peter Dutton, good afternoon to you sir.
Thank you for talking to us.
You were in Question Time this afternoon as the US President Donald Trump was addressing a Joint Sitting of Congress for the first time and we came in from a mention.
Let me play for you just for a moment what Donald Trump had to say during his address to the Joint Sitting of Congress. Here we go –
PRESIDENT TRUMP: The current outdated system depresses wages for our poorest workers and puts great pressure on taxpayers. Nations around the world like Canada, Australia, and many others, have a merit based immigration system.
[end of recording]
So he seems to be suggesting that America wants to follow our path when it comes to immigration. As the Immigration Minister, how does that make you feel?
Well it's a good thing for our country Ben and it hasn't happened overnight. There's been a lot of hard work over a long period of time to get control of our borders back, to make sure that we've got biometrics testing, to make sure that we are stopping people at airports from getting on planes and the Australian Border Force officers and ASIO, the Federal Police – all of the agencies work really well together.
So I think we have got a good system, but we are dealing with a tough enemy in ISIL and terrorists who are either Australian based or coming back from the Middle East.
So there are lots of threats and we have to get it right because our job is keep Australians safe.
He says he have a merit based immigration system. How do you explain how that merit based immigration system works?
Well many years ago under Labor the programme each year was skewed toward people coming for family reunion and under John Howard he's flipped that around and about two thirds, or almost 70 percent of the programme of people coming in now, come in as skilled workers.
So they're people that are coming to set businesses up or where their skills – perhaps in the mining industry or elsewhere where they may not be able to get Australian workers – there's a lot of aspects to it that are pretty complicated and involved.
And we have a real focus on trying to make sure that people can speak the English language, we want to make sure that people are of good character and that's why we have been cancelling visas as well.
So we look at each case on its individual merits and we make decisions ultimately that are in our country's interest.
On the other side of the coin we do have also a generous refugee system as well which does bring people in not based on their skills or how much money they bring into the country, but the scenario they find themselves in.
That's right Ben. So there are two programmes. As I say, the vast majority of people that come into Australia are coming here to work, coming here as part of that Skilled Migration Programme which is good for the economy. It helps the economy grow particularly if they are starting businesses and employing Australians.
And then there is the other much smaller programme which is the Humanitarian Programme, but that is a programme which on a per capita basis given just the small size of our country means that we are a very generous nation – so as generous as Canada or the United States in terms of the number of people that we are bringing in.
But we're pretty tough in terms of the security test that we conduct as you'd expect and as we should. There's a lot of work that goes on behind the scenes before people are allowed to come to our country and if there is any suggestion that they could be a threat to our country then we just don't proceed with their application.
President Trump says a merit based immigration system like Australia's would save money, boost wages and help struggling families enter the middle class. Can we really say that it's boosted wages in Australia, probably not?
We can say that migration to our country since the Second World War, but before that, I mean we're a country of migrants; people came here to populate or perish and came here post war to rebuild our country and migrants who have come here; I mean there are countless examples of people that have done well, worked hard and the migrants that have come and made that success, we want those to be the examples for the people coming today and tomorrow.
We want people who want to abide by our laws. We want people that can speak our language. We want people that can fit into the Australian society and abide by our cultures. They should not reject or forget the heritage, the country that they were born it, but they owe an allegiance to our country and if they can't fulfil that obligation, if they can't show allegiance to our country then they don't deserve to be coming here.
But the vast majority of migrants who come to our country want to work hard, they start with very little and as we've seen over generations, they've worked hard, they've educated their kids and they are a great part of Australian society. They're the migrants that we want to come to our country and I think that helps build our economy.
As I say, if people are coming and creating businesses, bringing money from other countries to set businesses up here, then that's employing Australians and I think that's a very good outcome for the economy.
I was talking to a bunch of blokes in the window business. I walked out the front of my house today and there were four or five guys sitting there. They were having a bit of a smoko this morning – a very brief smoko no doubt because they were working on the home of one my neighbours, installing some windows or doing some renovations – and I got talking to them and they started asking about politics and Malcolm Turnbull's name came up and as people do, they start offering their own character analysis of how the Prime Minister of the day is doing and it wasn't all flattering for Malcolm Turnbull – and he's obviously got an uphill battle there at the moment, we saw that this week with the Newspoll. They asked me, they said who's the next Liberal leader and I said Peter Dutton. Are you hearing more and more of that these days?
Oh mate we get free character assessments in this business all the time; some of it good, some of it bad. Look Ben, my view is that we have to just redouble our efforts.
It would be a disaster for Bill Shorten to become Prime Minister of this country. The CFMEU would be in charge. The unions would be running the place and that would just be terrible for families and small businesses.
So my job is to be loyal to the Prime Minister, to make sure that we work hard to make the Government a success and that's the only thing that I'm concentrating on.
I think through the programme that we're just talking about, but through the portfolio otherwise, all of us have portfolio responsibilities and we've got to work as hard as we can in our different portfolios to make sure that not only Malcolm Turnbull, but the Government is a success and I think that's the best contribution I can make.
So what do you do when you hear that and you'd be hearing it more and more and I've just said it to you, you'll be the next Liberal leader. How do you black that out, how do you blank that out and just keep concentrating on what you are doing?
Well Ben I'm the Immigration Minister, so as I say I have lots of people who loath me and you know some people, fortunately, like me, so you have just got to try and get the balance right.
But in the end immigration is a portfolio where you've got to make tough decisions and I have to make decisions that I think are in the best interests of our country. We've been cancelling visas at a record rate because I want to kick out paedophiles and I want to kick out outlaw motorcycle gang members who are distributing drugs and I want to make our country safer.
We have got a lot to defend in this country and we should be proud of the heritage that we've got, the history and most importantly proud of the future. Lots of these young kids at school now that you meet right around the country, I mean they are going to be great leaders of the country in the years to come.
So look for me, I just think you take the bouquets and brickbats then just do your job as best you can.
Appreciate you coming on the programme.
Thanks Ben. All the best mate.