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Sunday, 03 September 2017
Transcript

Interview with Deborah Knight, ‘Today Show’ Nine Network

Subjects: Australian Border Force Airline Liaison Officers; people smuggling ventures; visa programme – putting Australian workers first; Father's Day.

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

DEBORAH KNIGHT:

The Minister for Immigration and Border Protection Peter Dutton joins us now from Brisbane. Minister, good morning to you.

PETER DUTTON:

Good morning Deb.

DEBORAH KNIGHT:

This is quite the result. Tell us where exactly are these airline liaison workers working?

PETER DUTTON: 

Well the whole idea Deb is that we push the threat beyond our borders. So that is, we want to stop people hopping on planes and becoming a threat here in Australia. So in ports like Dubai, in Kuala Lumpur, in Jakarta, in Seoul, all of these ports that are major hubs for people coming directly into Australia, that's where we've got our liaison officers and the Australian Border Force officers do great work. They try and identify the threats – particularly given that we've got foreign fighters coming back through Southeast Asia and all over – the idea is to stop them getting on planes and we keep Australians safer if we do that.

DEBORAH KNIGHT:         

And who exactly are these people, these undesirables, who are being stopped?

PETER DUTTON: 

Well there's a lot of work being done with the airlines, with the governments, the host governments and we're looking at people against their alert lists. We're trying to identify, not only terrorist threats, but also people who are involved in paedophilia or other organised crime; people that are involved in drug syndicates – so criminals, undesirables that we don't want in our country.

Many countries allow people to arrive and then assess the threat then; but the Australian model – which I think serves us very well – is that we have these Airport Liaison Officers posted at these international ports, stopping people getting onto planes and it works really well for us.

DEBORAH KNIGHT:         

Well they're the arrivals by air, but reports this morning that an asylum seeker boat has been found off Indonesia with dozens on board bound for Australia. Another boat reached our shores last week. Are we facing a new wave of arrivals here?

PETER DUTTON: 

Well Deb, it's a really significant wake-up call I think for all Australians. We haven't seen activity on the water for a long period of time. We've turned back 31 boats over the course of the last couple of years. We've got all the kids out of detention and we don't want boats to restart. There were 1,200 people who drowned at sea when Labor lost control of our borders. We've not had a drowning at sea since Operation Sovereign Borders commenced and there was a vessel, as you say; the Indonesian authorities detected that vessel and those 33 people were coming from Sri Lanka with a destination of Australia or New Zealand and it just goes to show – and all of the intelligence indicates this as well – that the people smugglers are trying to get money out of these innocent men, women and children.

If the chatter here in Australia is that somehow the policy's going to change or Labor's going to go weak on this aspect or that aspect; the people smugglers will quickly be back into business.

So we've just got to make sure that we're remaining vigilant, which we are. We've got lots of resources at sea, in the air, detection, stopping vessels before they get away from foreign ports, but the point is that the threat is still there. It's not gone away and as we're seeing on the Mediterranean and in Europe at the moment, there are millions of people that would want to come to a country like ours.

DEBORAH KNIGHT:         

Now the Government recently cracked down on 457 visas for foreign workers and there are reports this morning that a loophole is seeing foreign workers on 400 visas, being exploited at the expense of Australian workers. Will you be reviewing that situation, the 400 visas?

PETER DUTTON: 

Well we've been very clear; the Prime Minister and I have been very clear Deb, that is that we want Australians first into Australian jobs. So we want companies to advertise for workers. If they can't find an Australian worker and they can demonstrate that, and it's integral for the employee to be sourced from overseas to make sure that business can stay viable, then that's the system that we want.

The story today smacked to me of a bit of a fight between a couple of unions – the Maritime Union and another one. They've had a turf warfare for a long period of time and to be honest I think that article today was more about that.

So the Government's really put in place measures to tidy up the rorts that were going on within the 457 programme. We closed that down and we've got a lot of compliance work, that where people are doing the wrong thing, then they won't be allowed to sponsor people into the future.

DEBORAH KNIGHT:         

Now just on the dual citizenship drama. Barnaby Joyce will be acting PM later this week when Malcolm Turnbull goes to Samoa for official duties. Labor is threatening a walk out from Parliament over this. If it's okay for Matt Canavan to stand down from his ministerial duties while his case is reviewed by the High Court, why can Barnaby effectively run the country?

PETER DUTTON: 

Look Deb, I've been around Australia over the last week; I can tell you people couldn't care less for this issue. They want us talking about how we're going to reduce energy prices, how we're going to keep people safe in terms of the terrorist threat that we face…

DEBORAH KNIGHT:         

…but is it fair enough for Barnaby Joyce to be acting PM while it's before the High Court?

PETER DUTTON: 

Well of course it is and he's been acting PM on a number of occasions before. If the Labor Party wants to run these juvenile stunts in Parliament, then I think frankly the public just look at that with contempt.

But the point here is that Bill Shorten was calling for Matt Canavan to produce the documentation to show that he had dual citizenship or to give the evidence up. The fact is that Bill Shorten himself refuses to give his own evidence up.

So look, there's lots of childish games going on here. Let the High Court sort it out. Let us get back to the business that's important to the Australian public: keeping people safe, getting energy prices down where we can, making sure that we can be creating jobs and building the economy.

DEBORAH KNIGHT:         

And a happy Father's Day to you as well. We know you've got three lovely young kids. How are you celebrating today?

PETER DUTTON: 

Thanks Deb. Well I got a bit of a sleep in this morning until about 6.30am before they all stormed in. So I got a set of noise-cancelling headphones which are meant for the plane, but maybe I can use them at home.

DEBORAH KNIGHT:         

Did you?

PETER DUTTON: 

But a big shout out to my Dad Bruce. I'm the eldest of five and we've got a fantastic Dad. So happy Father's Day Dad and we'll have a big family lunch later on. So it's a nice day. Happy Father's Day to all the Dads out there.

DEBORAH KNIGHT:         

Absolutely. You enjoy the day. Thanks so much for joining us.

PETER DUTTON: 

Thanks Deb.

[ends]