Subjects: Melbourne African crime gangs; judiciary decisions; visa cancellations.
Peter Dutton good morning.
Good morning Macca. Happy New Year.
And good to talk to you Peter. Let's go straight to the crisis in Melbourne and there's a situation where the State Government doesn't seem to want to intervene in what clearly is becoming an emergency.
Well, it's well beyond that. There are people that are scared to go out of a night time. There was some polling released in Victoria only in the last couple of days which clearly indicated that and yet if you make a statement of the obvious like that, you seem to be chastised and attacked in some parts of the media and social media in particular.
I think it all comes back to this political correctness, Macca. I mean the fact is we need to call out problems where we see them. We need to be frank about them because I don't understand what is to be gained by denying the fact that, in Victoria's example, these crimes are running rampant, these groups are running rampant and causing all sorts of mayhem in the community. I don't understand why people within legal circles, within some parts of the community want to deny that it's even taking place.
So there's a lot of energy, frankly, that's wasted on whether this group's referred to as a gang or whether they're of a particular ethnic background. The fact is these people are committing crimes. They are causing harm to Australians and particularly for those that are here on visas, they need to understand that if you commit a crime, as a non-citizen, against an Australian citizen, you can expect to be deported from our country.
I think, like most people, we're welcoming of 99 per cent of people who come to our country, but those that do harm can expect to have their visas cancelled and to be deported from the country.
You've been critical of the judiciary. This Mark Burgess of the Police Federation says: judges are handing down sentences of less than 12 months to avoid triggering this provision of being returned to their homeland.
Yes. So there's a provision under the Migration Act at the moment which, in a couple of instances, can allow me as the Immigration Minister to cancel the visa on character grounds. So if somebody's a member of an outlaw motorcycle gang or if they've been sentenced to 12 months or more for a particular crime, if they've been convicted of sexual offences against children for example, some of those things, and other grounds otherwise can trigger a cancellation of their visa on character grounds. Now, they're up by about 1,200 per cent; I've really ramped up the number.
We've gone through very carefully each case to look at and I think we've made our community a safer place by deporting these people, but there are some instances where we have magistrates, judges who are suggesting that they'll sentence for a period less than 12 months so that it doesn't trigger the deportation. I find that quite incredulous and I think the judiciary, frankly, needs to explain their position.
Yet of course the separation of powers provision applies at the federal level as it does at the state I presume?
Well and rightly so, but nobody's telling judges here how they should find guilt or innocence in a particular case. Nobody's trying to lean on judges. My argument very simply is that the judiciary is not above the Australian public. The public has an expectation that community standards will be met when sentences are passed down, when they're imposed on criminals who have committed serious offences and I think when the public asks those questions, to be fobbed off by some members of the judiciary, is unacceptable.
I think it's very clear that the community, particularly in relation to offences against children, particularly in relation to offences committed by non-citizens, Australians expect the judiciary, if there is a finding of guilt, to impose adequate sentences and there are some cases, particularly in Victoria at the moment – and we've seen cases in Queensland as well – where that is not the case and I think the judiciary should be providing explanations – maybe there's a proper explanation that they can provide – but I think if we're to have faith in the judiciary, as we should, then they need to provide that information to the public so that the public can have confidence because at the moment there are many people right across Australia who are quite disillusioned with the way in which some of these sentences are imposed.
Peter, great to talk to you and I think a lot of listeners will be thrilled that you're prepared to speak out on this matter because there's a lot of concern being expressed about these things up here and thanks for talking to me today.
Thanks for your support Macca. Take care.