Subjects: Banking Royal Commission; national security; AAT decisions; vegetation laws in Queensland.
Most Thursdays I speak to the Immigration, Border Protection and Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton. He's back home in Brisbane today. He's on the line. Minister, good morning.
Good morning Ray.
Now, revelations from the banking Royal Commission are becoming a real problem for your Government. Not because of what the banks did, but your reluctance as a Government to form the Royal Commission. You did that, but even as recently as last month, Scott Morrison said there were no systemic issues within our banking and financial system. That was a day or two after we found out they were taking…or the Commonwealth Bank was charging dead people fees. And now, all of a sudden, he and others within your Government want them all hung, drawn and quartered. Is it a surprise to you how deep this goes?
Well Ray, there's obviously a lot of activity within Treasury and Finance portfolios to look at ways in which they could address concerns that had been raised about, not just the banks, but financial planners and across the sector otherwise. It's not fair to say that there hadn't been attention to it already. There's a lot of work that's been done. A lot of reform that's been introduced. Bill Shorten's out there crowing about it, but Bill Shorten had six years when he was in government with Mr Rudd and Ms Gillard to implement any sort of royal commission and they never did it.
So I think the important thing is now that it's underway, it exposes practices which are completely unacceptable and we need to clean that up, and that's the whole idea of the Royal Commission and I think that's what will happen.
I've said to you before that it's apparent to me your Foreign Minister Julie Bishop is rarely on the same page as you are over important matters and you always take the gentlemanly way out and compliment her and the wonderful job she does. But there's a story in The Australian that Julie Bishop says she's not aware of any need to expand powers of Australian cyber spies; exposing stark differences between her and you. You yesterday said there was a case to be made for such a move. So is it a deliberate attempt to undermine you by your colleague, the Foreign Minister? This is not the first time she's done such a thing.
Ray, it's not. Look, I think people are sort of adding two and two together here and getting something different than four.
There is no difference between us. I mean the suggestion in the papers last weekend that somehow we were going to spy on Australians or collect data is a complete nonsense.
But as I've said – and we've discussed it on the program before – I'm very serious, for example, in ramping up our effort to expose child exploitation, to make sure that we can stamp that out and in the modern world where you've got people who are conveying images, including images of sexual acts against children in live streaming on the internet, we've got to deal with that threat.
We have the ability, potentially, to disrupt some of those servers. At the moment the ASD, for example – which is a government agency – could disrupt that server if it was in operation offshore, but not if it was operating out of Sydney or Melbourne.
So look, there are different ways in which we need to look at the cyber threat. There's not only that; the threat to our banking system, to our electricity grid, all of those threats we're looking at at the moment.
So Julie's exactly right. I mean there's no proposal on the table, but we are looking at ways in which we can deal with that threat of particularly child exploitation online, as well as some of the other threats by both state and non-state...
…yeah, but I agree with you, but look, Mr Dutton, she says quite clearly: the three relevant Departmental Secretaries confirmed and rejected any suggestion this proposal to use the Australian Signals Directorate – which is within the Department of Defence and Marise Payne – to collect intelligence against Australians to access their data.
Now, if we're talking about Australians who are paedophiles, surely to goodness she appreciates that we would move in that direction, surely?
I'm sure she does. I've no doubt about it, but we're looking at options at the moment and if we've got a proposal to put forward, we'll put it forward. But the question Julie was asked, or the suggestion out of last weekend was that somehow we're going to be collecting data or spying on people. It's a complete nonsense.
I mean we've put $70 million into this new child exploitation centre with the Australian Federal Police. They do, as we discussed I think on the program a few weeks ago, the toughest job I think in policing, reviewing all of this material and arresting these creeps. We need to recognise that the internet now is being used in a way that people never envisaged and to convey those images and that content, we need to deal with it and we're looking at ways that we can do that right now.
Well I'd imagine people admire your loyalty, but at the end of the day, okay, she says: I'm pointing out the facts. These different agencies lie. If there's any proposal that relates to increasing the powers of the agency, it wouldn't come from the ASD, the Minister for Defence, I wouldn't think, because we have ASIO Acts and Acts that cover the Australian Federal Police. We're talking hypotheticals. If a Minister…if the security intelligence agencies advise a Minister there's a need to amend our laws, well then of course any proposal would go before the National Security Committee.
So I won't continue because you're not going to bag her, I can see that, but she's always at odds with and she takes great delight, I think as an observer, in putting you back in your place, so to speak.
Now, I move on to News Limited journalist Keith Moor, who's done some outstanding work and you've sung his praises previously on this program. He alerted us to this story that eight killers, 66 other criminals with shocking records of violence are among foreign-born crooks the Admin Appeals Tribunal has saved from deportation since before your time, way back in 2010. People acting on your behalf, delegates of the Immigration Minister, they want to get rid of these shocking people, but the AAT for some reason – not all of them – but many members of the AAT just fly in the face of what's fair and decent.
We have spoken about it before and Keith has done an incredible job highlighting some of these cases and the anomalies and there is a case for reform, there's no question in my mind about that and we do have more cases going before the AAT because we've cancelled more visas of criminals in the last year than what Labor did in six years. We've also got a lot of cases coming before the AAT of the 30,000 people who are still onshore out of the 50,000 that came on the boats. So we're dealing through those cases as well.
But I believe that – as we've said on the program before Ray – people at the AAT need to consider all of the facts and the community has an expectation in relation to the standards that are applied and if somebody has committed serious offences against Australian citizens, then they don't expect that person to remain here onshore. We're going to continue to cancel those visas and if we need to change the law we will.
But there are a lot of appointments to the AAT made in the Rudd and Gillard years and we've not renewed those appointments, we appointed new people and I think you will see a change in the approach of the AAT and I would welcome that.
Look, just breaking in there's breaking news pertaining to your state, and not far removed from where you are, but it is in headlines across the TV ribbons at the moment that Ipswich Council is being dissolved – that's what I'm told. The Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk and Local Government Minister Stirling Hinchliffe have announced Ipswich Council will be sacked. They've said enough is enough – that's after Andrew Antoniolli stood down. I said the Mayor was stood down probably to save the Council, but it's not enough to save the Council. The Premier's saying they will be sacked. I'm sorry to interrupt you with that news, but it is news that is breaking at the moment.
Just while I'm talking about Queensland, I had Robbie Katter on the program yesterday and I noted that after I spoke to him your colleague Matt Canavan spoke about these vegetation laws.
I know that you hold a seat in the city of Brisbane, but the indication to me from listeners on 4BC via email is while those affected in rural parts, particularly those west of the divide, will be greatly impacted by the interaction of these vegetation laws, it could have a greater impact on people, particularly around the Cape. The Indigenous communities are outraged by this because they run farming communities up there and farming properties; cattle properties, they say it's going to impact on them as well. Do you see this as a really big issue leading into a state election sometime in the foreseeable future?
Yes it is Ray. This is nothing to do with the environment. I mean Labor want to pitch this as somehow protecting the Barrier Reef that… stopping people from felling trees in Western Queensland it's going to have an impact on the Barrier Reef; of course it is a complete nonsense and if it was for environmental reasons, then you could entertain what they're saying.
This is exactly how Bill Shorten's played out in the seat of Batman in the by-election there a couple weeks ago, where it's all about the Labor Party trying to rescue themselves from Green seats being, you know, the votes being taken by the Greens within those inner city seats and Labor's basically taken a decision that they'll abandon people in rural areas in favour of Green votes in city areas.
It's a problem for Annastacia Palaszczuk. Jackie Trad almost lost her seat in South Brisbane, so I suspect she's a big driver behind this and Bill Shorten does it on boat policy. I mean he tries to appease the Greens and he abandons people in outer suburbs and I think people see it for what it is. It's not an environmental issue. It's nothing more than a vote grab to protect themselves from the Greens in inner cities and it's cruelling family businesses, family farming businesses. We want sustainable farming, but this is a complete joke.
I note that Matt Canavan was suggesting there could be a challenge by the Federal Government to a High Court challenge that if this is enacted because of the impact on those people west of the Great Divide and for those Indigenous communities. They came out very strongly yesterday opposing these laws to be introduced because it's going to impact on them dramatically.
Well, there are towns in the north and west of Queensland that aren't going to survive on coffee shops. They actually need the industry, they need the employment and their businesses just aren't viable if they can't farm the land and they can't get product to market then they're not employing people and those country towns close down.
So it's all good and well for Annastacia Palaszczuk in George Street to be dictating to people in the north of Queensland or the west of Queensland, but she needs to I think act in the best interests of Queensland, as opposed to her party and people like Jackie Trad because she's worried about the Greens stealing seats from them at the next election.
Okay. Always good to talk. We'll talk next Thursday. Thank you.
Thank Ray. See you mate.