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Thursday, 06 June 2019
Transcript

Interview with Ray Hadley, Radio 2GB-4BC

Subjects: Australian Federal Police search warrants; Visit to Sri Lanka; people smuggling ventures; Shadow Home Affairs minister; National Child Sex Offender Register proposal.

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

RAY HADLEY: 

Most Thursdays I speak to the Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton. He's back from Sri Lanka. He's on the line right now.

Minister, good morning.

PETER DUTTON:        

Good morning Ray. It's a beautiful day in Queensland.

RAY HADLEY:

It is indeed; blue skies out the back window here. Look, the story that's dominated the press for the past two days are the AFP raids on firstly, News Corp journalist Annika Smethurst, then the ABC studios yesterday. I noticed a softening from the Prime Minister this morning in relation to maybe reviewing laws. I know national security's most important, but while the AFP are acting in accordance with current laws, do we need to look at those laws?

PETER DUTTON:        

Well Ray, I mean just to recap what's happened here. The Secretary of the Defence Department has made a referral to the Federal Police. Now once the Federal Police have a referral, they have an obligation to investigate it. Obviously, it's a serious breach of our laws when highly classified documents are leaked and the Secretary of the Defence Department, or the secretary of any department, makes a decision then to refer that to the Federal Police.

The Federal Police has then a further obligation under the law, that is to operate independently and to investigate matters without any fear or favour, or influence from Government and that's exactly what they've done.

Mr Albanese's attacks yesterday on the AFP officers conducting the raids, I thought was a complete disgrace.

So we need to make sure that laws are upheld, we need to make sure that if the law needs to be modernised, you can have that discussion, but there was a law that was supported by both sides of Parliament recently in relation to some of these matters that passed through the Parliament.

So I just think we need to look at the facts and what's happened here and the criticism of the AFP, I think, particularly from Mr Albanese, has been most unwarranted.

RAY HADLEY: 

Well, I wouldn't disagree with that, and that's not the question I asked. I said – and I support the AFP because all they're doing is following directions under the current guidelines and laws – what the question was: do we need to have a look and review those laws? Because as you'd appreciate, a lot of information comes to me and to other broadcasters via people who are concerned that they've gone through the appropriate channels and things don't get done, and they come to us as a last resort, and we investigate it and when we find out there's merit to it, we broadcast it and we petition people like you to make sure the problem gets fixed.

PETER DUTTON:        

Ray, all of us support freedom of the press. As I say, if there's a problem with the law, then people can make that argument, but from what I understand of the facts, we're talking about highly classified national security documents. They were leaked from the Department. Now, I think that's a matter that obviously the Defence Department takes very seriously, as you would expect, particularly if there's sensitive information contained within those documents. If you receive a tip off about a business doing something, or a government not doing something, or a health department ramping whatever it is, the media of course has a right and an obligation to report on that, but the circumstances here involved highly classified documents. The Secretary of the Defence Department, quite separate from the Prime Minister and myself, or anybody else, has made a decision to refer this to the Police – and that has always been the case under both Labor and Liberal governments.

It's a case in the United Kingdom or in any Western democracy where you have documents that are sensitive enough to be classified – not open source documents – and where those documents have been leaked, that is against long existing laws. There's no new law that covers that. These matters occurred a couple of years ago, as I understand the allegation and they're being investigated as they've been referred to the Federal Police. They're required to do that. There's been no interference from the Government. I don't get notified in the circumstance until the execution of search warrants is taking place, or shortly thereafter, and that's entirely appropriate because if the Government's directing an investigation or who should be the subject of an execution of a search warrant, then obviously you'd be condemned for that.

So there's independence of the AFP. It's entirely appropriate. I just think the criticism of the AFP, which is where Mr Albanese and others rounded yesterday, is entirely inappropriate, and frankly unbecoming off somebody who would want to be Prime Minister of this country.

RAY HADLEY: 

Well, let's go back. Who determines which is highly sensitive? Who determines that, Government or Departments?

PETER DUTTON:        

Well Departments will have guidelines in relation to the level of information and the sensitivity of that information. So there are many levels up to Top Secret and beyond that in terms of documentations, limited distribution lists, and there are good reasons for that. They take it very, very seriously when that information is leaked.

As I say, all of us, including the Secretary of the Department, of course cherish the fact that we've got independence of our media, and nobody seeks to impinge upon that, but where you've got highly classified documents that have been leaked from the Defence Department or from my Department, or anywhere, it is a very serious matter and that is quite separate from you receiving information that you would rightly put to air, to question me about, or information that we might have about, as I say, a business doing the wrong thing – they're entirely appropriate matters – but we just need to put into perspective because there's been, I think frankly, a lot of hype by some in relation to these matters, but we're talking about highly classified documents.

RAY HADLEY: 

But the point I would make – and I don't want labour the point – the people that determine they're highly classified may have their own reasons for classifying them as Secret, when in fact there may be some damage done to their Department if they're given to the media to examine.

PETER DUTTON:        

Well Ray, as I say, we've got longstanding traditions as any democracy does of the way in which documents are classified. There are protocols in relation to whether a document is Top Secret, or it's got a limited distribution, and it's done with good reasons and the departments have that obligation, and they need to meet that obligation.

Now, there are different protections for people that want to seek recourse of believe that something has gone wrong, but the leaking of these documents is one of the most serious issues, and that's why the Secretary – not the Prime Minister or I – but the Secretary of the Defence Department, and as I understand the Director-General of the Australian Signals Directorate, in the other case, decided that that should be referred to the Federal Police and the Police have an obligation under law to independently investigate that matter.

RAY HADLEY: 

Okay. We'll go back to where you've been; Colombo. Operation Sovereign Borders; you had 20 people arrive and then get sent back. Then the story that's emerged since you were there, 41 people on board a vessel in the middle of the Indian Ocean leaking, spotted by Operation Sovereign Borders aircraft as we understand it. Sri Lankan Navy intercepts and takes them back, when they in fact could've perished and no one would've known about it.

PETER DUTTON:

Well, they could have and under Labor they did. As we know, 1,200 people drowned at sea so we've got a very good working relationship with our Sri Lankan colleagues. I met with the Prime Minister and with the other Ministers up there, including my counterpart and the Foreign Affairs Minister just to thank them for what they've done, to get a better understanding of what's happened during the period that we were in caretaker mode and to recognise the fact that you're right, we returned very quickly the vessel containing 20 people, and we did that because those people were found not to be owed protection and to return them as quickly as possible sent a very strong message in Sri Lanka that people are wasting their money if they pay to hop on a boat.

So the Sri Lankans have worked to disrupt other ventures, so people that were about to embark and as we know, this vessel of 41 that ultimately was picked up by our surveillance assets, but the assistance was provided by the Sri Lankan Navy. So we're very supportive of them. We provide a lot of financial support to the Sri Lankans as well, but if these boats get through, there will be dozens that follow so we just need to make sure.

I think it's fair to say that a lot of these people were anticipating a change of government. They thought that under a Labor government they could get through, that the boats would reopen, and clearly people were prepared – well already on boats – and from my perspective, I needed to send a very clear message that the Government hasn't changed our policy, it will not change and we're not going to allow people smugglers to get back in control.

RAY HADLEY: 

Okay. I know that you didn't have a high regard for Shayne Neumann, even though they didn't have a shadow home affairs minister in the last form of government or Opposition as the case may be, but you must be there scratching your head how the rails run presented Kristina Keneally puts her as the Shadow Home Affairs spokesman?

[phone line dropped out]

RAY HADLEY: 

Sorry about that Minister, it dropped out. I was mentioning the rails run given to Kristina Keneally as Shadow Home Affairs spokesman. You must have think you won the lottery. Firstly Shayne Neumann to contend with even though he wasn't a shadow home affairs minister, now Kristina Keneally. Have you won the lottery?

PETER DUTTON:        

Oh look, I just want to understand how these people who are appointed to these positions in the Labor Party can just disown every word that they've ever had to say – you know, all of a sudden I've seen the light and, you know, I now believe in boat turn-backs, now I believe in strong borders – where they've spent years and years criticising us, bagging the Government for what work we've done in this space and they expect to do that with credibility. I just think people…you have a look at what Ms Keneally has had to say over a number of years – I'm just not sure the people-smugglers are going to listen to much of what she has to say.

RAY HADLEY: 

I referred to an article yesterday in The Courier Mail headlined: predators live amongst us and state delay offender register and I went through it in chapter and verse. I won't do it again today. Robert John Fardon, the most notorious of those people in the story that was published in The Courier Mail. What do we need to do to protect Queenslanders from these type of predators? These paedophiles and sexual deviants?

PETER DUTTON:        

Well Ray, it's just beyond me. I mean we've got Bruce and Denise Morcombe who are strongly in support of this child sex predators register and we've put money into the budget, I've written to Premier Palaszczuk and others around the country to have this rolled out.

We don't want a draconian model. We want a model though that allows people the information that they'd need and deserve, I think, in their local community to know that there's a football coach or somebody that's having contact with their kids where there is a conduct of having offended against children. I'm not saying it's a silver bullet, but I think it is one of the ways in which we can help people have better information about their kids and ensure their safety.

You've got Annastacia Palaszczuk who's saying, you know, that they won't consider it. I don't know what's happening in Queensland, but it's a slow-moving train wreck as I see it. I mean the Labor Party here is destroying the local economy. I think Queensland is in a lot of trouble economically with the fact that this state government just won't make any decisions about growing jobs in our state. They've appointed people to the courts where we're getting very soft sentences and we've got decisions like this which I think are probably driven by the civil libertarians in the Palaszczuk Cabinet and not having the interests of victims or kids and families first and foremost.

Their obsession with having to look after criminals ahead of victims I think has to stop, and I think people need to call it out and they need to explain; Premier Palaszczuk needs to explain clearly why on earth they wouldn't support a sensible measure, which Bruce and Denise Morcombe and others support and it's just one of the ways in which I think we can try and expose paedophiles, stop the next child from falling victim to people of that nature.

RAY HADLEY: 

We'll leave it there. Thanks for your time as always.

PETER DUTTON:        

Thanks Ray. Take care mate.

[ends]