Monday, 11 December 2017

Doorstop Interview, Melbourne

Subjects: Senator Dastyari; Manus Island; citizenship; counter-terrorism.



Well everyone, firstly I want to say thank you very much to the Acting Chief Commissioner here in Victoria for his leadership in hosting the conference here today in relation to counter-terrorism.

All of us know that for any civilized western democracy like ours, we are subject of attention from islamist terrorists, from people that would seek to do harm and we’ve seen a number of incidents in recent years here in Victoria, but otherwise around the country where people have sought to do harm to men, women and children. And the Government provides every support that we can through collaboration with our state and territory partners to make sure that we can stare down that threat.

The fact that the Victorian Police have been able to bring together counter-terrorism specialists from around the world, will enhance their ability here in Australia to deal with the ongoing threat – particularly given the foreign fighters returning from overseas – and no doubt people can see though the stand up of the Home Affairs portfolio that the Government is very serious about providing whatever support we can to deal with that threat and to neutralise it.

I wanted to also make a couple of comments in relation to Sam Daystyari. Now, I note this morning that Linda Burney has come out calling for Mr Daystyari to go and he should go. Sam Daystyari can’t be beholden to a foreign power and pretend to be acting in the Australian public’s interest by being a senator in the Australian Parliament.

Now Bill Shorten is missing in action. He’s in some sort of witness protection programme – I don’t know where he is, but he should front the cameras. He should talk to the Australian people about how he’s going to show leadership to get rid of Dastyari.

Now, Sam Dastyari is a double agent and he can't be in the Australian Senate and it is important that Linda Burney has called him out, has called for him to go and now Bill Shorten should do the same.

So I don't know where Mr Shorten is, I don't know where he is hiding. He's been up in PNG and in New Zealand as well trying to put together some secret plan and I would also call on Bill Shorten to release his secret plan of their new border protection policy because when Kevin Rudd undid the policies of the Liberal Government under John Howard, 50,000 people came on 800 boats.

Now, it is clear that Bill Shorten is putting together a secret plan, which will water down our border protection policies, which have seen not only the stopping of deaths at sea, but all of the children out of detention and we still clean up Labor's mess this very day.

Bill Shorten has a lot to answer for at the moment and I think Mr Shorten needs to front the media today to make the announcement that we all know is coming and that is that Sam Dastyari must resign from the Senate.

You can't pledge allegiance to two countries if you are an Australian Senator. Your first duty is to the Australian people and Sam Dastyari has failed that duty.

Bill Shorten now fails his first duty; that is to show leadership as a leader of the Labor Party. Yes, Mr Dastyari and Mr Shorten are close friends, there’s no question about that, but Mr Shorten needs to put aside his friendship with Mr Dastyari. Bill Shorten may rely on Dastyari's numbers out of New South Wales, but he needs to put that aside and he needs to act in the national interest and so far we haven't seen it.

Happy to take any questions.


What’s the actual threat posed by the Australian public in relation to the allegations Sam Dastyari’s facing?


Members of Parliament – particularly senators and members in the House of Representaives in the Federal Parliament – owe an allegiance to the people that elected them. They owe an allegiance first and foremost to those people. You can't serve two masters – a foreign master and a domestic master – if you’re an Australian senator.

You are elected as a senator in this country because you want to about in the best interests of Australians and Mr Dastyari has taken cash personally, he has changed his views and his comments because of the influence of others and it’s unacceptable.

But the real test now is for Mr Shorten. He must come out and he must remove Mr Dastyari from the Australian Parliament because this festering sore for Bill Shorten is not going to go away. He needs to front up today and explain – as Linda Burney has done – why Mr Dastyari is in longer welcome in the Australian Senate.


What is it that China is actually trying to achieve?


Well, I would say, as I said yesterday, that foreign powers will always exert influence where they can.

The Australian Government has been very clear in trying to set the boundaries, trying to make people understand the rules of the game, but Mr Dastyari has very close links with foreign nationals and Mr Dastyari has conducted himself in a way which is not consistent with his presence within the Australian Senate and Mr Shorten does need to stand up today, show the leadership and sack Sam Dastyari.


What’s your reaction to claims from asylum seekers on Manus Island that locals have threatened to kill them now they’ve been moved into new accommodation?


Well, it’s complete nonsense and the propaganda must stop.

I didn't put people on Manus Island, but I have the job of getting them off. And I intend to get them off as quickly as possible, but in a way that’s not going restart boats. And if people are trying to twist the Government's arm, or trying to pump out this propaganda, it is not going to work.

What people on Manus Island need to do is to engage with the authorities there to either go to the United States or return back to their country of origin or settle in PNG as was the arrangement struck between Mr Rudd and Mr O'Neill at the time.

But people are not coming to our country under any circumstance if they've sought to come here by boat. I've been very clear about that. The Government's position is not going to change.

People have been living out in the community. One hundred and ninety people a day were travelling on buses in to the local community, to the beaches, to the markets. Some of them have formed relationships with local women.

So, the nonsense needs to stop and we need to send a very clear message to people on Manus Island, that they are not coming to Australia and that they need to make arrangements to return back to their country of origin or a third country if that's available.


By saying nonsense, are you going as far as to suggest that these people are lying?


Some of these people are lying; there's no question about that. And some advocates here in Australia are behind those lies. They're there because they don't frankly have the best interests of some of these people at heart. They're interested in their own situation and making themselves feel better and it is resulting in a prolonged difficulty for these people on Manus Island.

I want people off Manus Island, I want them off as quickly as possible, but the job is made much harder by the propaganda that is being spread by people online, including advocates here and some advocates on the island as well.


How much longer do you [indistinct]…


…are there any other questions on other issues?


Minister, do you believe Jason Falinski needs to refer himself to the High Court?


No he doesn't. And again, we have gone through each of the cases and a number of the Coalition colleagues have been caught by Section 44 and have been referred to the High Court or have resigned. That's been the stance that Malcolm Turnbull's taken, the leadership that he's demonstrated.

But in another failure of leadership by Bill Shorten, not just in relation to Dastyari, not just in relation to watering down their border protection policies, but in relation to his lack of leadership in referring people to the High Court – who are clearly captured now given the findings and the judgement by the High Court – he should refer those people himself.

And the fact that he says the Labor Party has four of theirs who are captured by the findings within the High Court and puts them in breach of Section 44, but he won't refer those without picking four of ours at random to refer is a complete nonsense. It's a juvenile debate. It's clear that some of his people by their own admissions were not Australian citizens or were dual citizens at the time of their nomination and those people need to stand up and Mr Shorten needs to show the leadership that's been lacking so far.

So I think a declaration to the Federal Parliament by our members, by any member, is a very serious declaration. Misleading the House, misleading the Senate is a very, very serious outcome and people have made their commitments by way of their declaration, we take them at face value.

But some of the Labor Party members are clearly in breach of Section 44 and Mr Shorten should stop this charade, show the leadership and refer these people.


In terms of CT; are you in favour of Australian agencies sharing more intelligence with international foreign agencies?


Well the agencies already have very well established protocols and abilities to share information. If they believe that it's underdone or there needs to be a change, no doubt they'll provide that advice or they'll undertake that change.


Do you have [indistinct]?


Well, I would rely on the expert's advice.

We have a very strong collaboration with our Five Eyes partners, for example, and there is a seamless sharing of information, intelligence, learnings and that's exactly what this conference is about. So the agency heads, I think, do a great job and I'm very pleased to see them in this collaboration here in Victoria.

Alright, thanks very much.