Subjects: Forestville Public School; Fred Chetcuti; GetUp! Bring Them Here campaign; Khaled Sharrouf; citizenship.
Most Thursdays we speak to Immigration Border Protection Minister Peter Dutton. He's on the line from Canberra. Minister, good morning.
Good morning Ray.
Before we get to your portfolio, I'm sure you're aware of this situation at Forestville Public School in Sydney's northern beaches – I'll get to it in the second hour when I'll talk to Damien Tudehope from the Liberal Party in New South Wales – but I said yesterday, and I say again today, I've had a gutful of teachers – I don't care where they are – pushing their own agendas on students. I wish they'd concentrate on teaching the children to read, to write, and mathematics and leave other things like what was played out at Forestville last week and this week to the parents. If the parents wish to take their children down that path, let the parents do it. They're in ultimate control. But surely to goodness it's not the role of teachers across Australia to become social engineers.
Of course it's not and this is the latest example of political correctness gone mad and the silent majority just shake their head in bewilderment at this. But look Ray, something has to happen here.
The people who are in the department that actively made the decision to go against the government of the day, to go against the New South Wales Education Minister and to go ahead and provide this information; those people need to be sacked. There's no question about it. They need to be held to account for their actions and you're right; we send our kids to school because we want them to learn to read and write, we want them to not have political correct agendas shoved down their throat and at the same time, as we're seeing a drop-off in the literacy and numeracy rates, we're putting more and more money into education.
I think we need to really shine a light on this because it's unacceptable and these people need to realise that there's a consequence and a price to pay if they're going to act against the instruction that they've been given.
Well I'll be talking to Damien Tudehope about that safe schools issue and I'll also touch on what happened with Forestville where we had years five and six students instructed to dress up as nuns and then treat the Indigenous children, who were white, but dressed as Indigenous, in an appalling fashion to indicate to the audience that every Catholic nun that has presided somewhere in Australia is a horrible wicked person. The whole thing's stupid. Anyway, I'll talk as I said a little bit later about that.
But I spoke earlier this week about convicted killer Fred Chetcuti. In 1993 Mr Chetcuti was sentenced to a minimum of 18 years for murdering his estranged wife Gloria. Now, Justice Steven Rares on Monday made the inexplicable decision to reverse your order to withdraw a visa and send him back to Malta. What's happened since that decision by Justice Steven Rares in the Federal Court on Monday?
Well Ray I went back and had a look at this case, and as you say he was sentenced to 24 years jail in '93 with a bottom of 18 and there was a decision made by the Labor Immigration Minister in 2012 – so that would've been in the Rudd or Gillard Government period – they decided, that Minister decided not to cancel his visa.
I cancelled the visa earlier this year as you point out. I'm advised that there was a technical problem with some glitch in the way in which the decision was made – so I'm not critical of the courts in this regard – but I have reassessed the matter and I've gone back through the paperwork and I have again cancelled that visa because there's a conviction of murder, as you say in '93 and there's activity otherwise that I'm aware of that led me to the decision that it should be cancelled.
Now, there is the prospect that this person can appeal or there are other legal mechanisms available to him – so I don't want to go beyond that because I don't want to influence those other legal processes – but I've signalled very clear on behalf of the Government before – and we've now cancelled something like 2,600 visas, including almost 150 bikies, hundreds of sexual offenders and the rest, and we're going to continue at this rate, it's up by about 1,200 per cent – I've been very clear if people are going to act outside the law or they're non-citizens who are committing crimes against Australians, they can expect to have their visas cancelled.
See this is where people are getting confused. You cancel his visa after a decision was not taken by the former Labor Government in 2012 you say. That cancellation's overturned by the court on a technicality, let's just say [inaudible] the benefit of the doubt to Justice Steven Rares. You now cancel it again, but then you stress that there's other avenues of appeal. When does it bloody well stop Minister? When does Fred Chetcuti get on a plane and go back to Malta, the murderous bastard that he is?
Well Ray, obviously under the laws of Australia people have the ability to appeal through the courts – I mean we've discussed some of the administrative law decisions taken by the AAT and so there are different streams – my judgement and it has been for a long period of time is that there are too many options.
When you look at some of these cases that go on for years and years and years, at huge expense to the taxpayers' when we should be spending money on helping families and businesses with energy costs and getting price down on cost of living and whatnot, people do shake their head and I'm with them.
Now people need to have, as I've said on your programme before, their fair day in court. That needs to happen. That's important. Ministers make decisions, they can be reviewable in the courts and then once the matter's finalised, then they need to depart. I'm very clear about that. But people can take matters under our justice system all the way to the High Court, there's no question about that.
Okay. I want you to listen to this text I got, okay, because you're an old copper and I won't identify the now very senior officer who sent it to me.
'Ray, I saw there was a story about this Fred Chetcuti who murdered his wife back in 1991. I remember it well. I was among the officers who arrested him. He tried to recruit a hitman who actually came to us with the plot and Chetcuti's confession to putting her body in water and weighing her down with rocks. I'll never forget the day he says, it was September 24, NRL Grand Final day when Penrith scored their first premiership victory over Canberra and of course we couldn't watch the footy, we were searching waterways in the Parramatta area.'
Now, this is really important for anyone making a decision on this bloke in the future.
'We found her body in three feet of water in Lake Parramatta, weighed down by rocks.' As I said this officer's now a very, very senior officer and he said to me; 'I can still see her eyes looking up at me from that three foot of water.'
'The mongrel bastard rammed her car on Victoria Road, Parramatta, gave her a flogging in front of her then 15-16 year old son, who was then forced to drive her car home, while the old man drove off. The young bloke never saw his mum again. Chetcuti returned home alone. A real cocky bludger when we arrested him without a body. He denied any involvement or ever going to Lake Parramatta.'
The jury requested a visit to the site. Guess who led the walk through the bush and stopped them and waited for them in the very spot where the body was found? The murderer. Not real smart. You see, that's what we're dealing with and when people say, oh look, he served his time, he deserves to stay here – Fred Chetcuti – think about what that officer said in relation to those eyes staring up from him from three foot of water and then have no sympathy for the murderer. None whatsoever.
Anyway, I move in and I move on. We've got, today, referenced in The Courier Mail and The Telegraph to Manus. GetUp! have been telling us all our lives that it's a hellhole, it's disgraceful, that you've got blood on your hands. It would appear that the people from GetUp! now have either suntan lotion or sand on their hands because from the photos we see, it's not quite as terrifying and horrifying as GetUp! would claim.
Well Ray that's the case and I'm told this morning that some of these people are starting to clean their Facebook pages, taking off the photos of them wading out in the water, mucking around and enjoying the surrounds up there. So there is a propaganda exercise that's gone on for a long period of time. I don't want to see people on Manus Island. I've been very clear about that, but I didn't put them there. My job is to get them off and we're in the process of trying to do that.
But there is a very different picture to be told, a different story to be told in relation to both Manus and Nauru. You've got GetUp! who is just a front for the Greens and the Labor Party – they're running this 'Bring Them Here' campaign at the moment – that is that they want people to come here and it's been very clearly pointed out over a long period of time, that if people come here, the people smugglers get back into business, the boats start again, the deaths start, the kids are back in detention and this is a real problem for Bill Shorten – I pointed this out in Parliament yesterday.
Bill Shorten was one of the founding directors of GetUp! He donated $100,000 when he was the union president into GetUp! and the CFMEU, with which Mr Shorten is very closely associated, gave over a million dollars last year to GetUp!
GetUp! holds themselves out as some sort of independent public advocate. The reality is they are nothing more than a front for the Greens and for the Labor Party and people should recognise when they hear the name GetUp! they should think Labor and the Greens because their policy, which was funded by the union movement, is to restart boats – and Bill Shorten to this very day can't look the Australian public in the eye and say that he is going to keep boats stopped because they will turn back the policies that we've had and we cannot afford that. We can't have people coming to our country in the 21st century, in the security environment that we've got, when they don't have papers, they've destroyed their passports, they refuse to say what country they've come from, refuse to detail their background and somehow we're expected to accept those people into Australian society.
So I would just say to the Australian public; if you think that Bill Shorten is shifty, he is. That's the reality. He's telling you one thing on one day and he moves to another audience the next day and tells you something different.
GetUp! have got a lot to answer for here and I think they need to come out today and explain the difference between their propaganda campaign that's being run at the moment and the reality of these people and the lifestyle that they're enjoying at the moment, as demonstrated by these photos in The Daily Telegraph and The Courier Mail today.
Khaled Sharrouf; reports of his previous demise have been greatly exaggerated. Can we take it as read that he really is dead now?
We don't have absolute certainty, but I for one – and I'm sure many other Australians – would be happy to hear the news confirmed that he has been killed. He's a terrorist. He would seek to kill Australians. He would be a significant threat if he came back to our country. If he's been killed in Syria, then I think that's good news for our country. Sad in relation to his kids because he and his wife took their children into that war zone – people remember the photos being held up of the severed heads and whatnot – but the Sharrouf's condemned their own children to a horrible life and a certain death by taking them into Syria and as I say; we haven't had it confirmed as yet, but there's a high likelihood that he has been killed in an air strike.
This citizenship stuff just keeps bubbling along. We've had your colleague, Michael Keenan the Justice Minister really angry today, saying that he issued a statement renouncing citizenship in 2004 before he became a Member of Parliament and the Fairfax organisation were aware of that, but published it anyway.
Cory Bernardi has now asked for Parliament to be prorogued, suspended until the High Court has dealt with the matter. I've made the point, and I don't know that anyone supports that point, but since Federation in 1901, I don't know how many Federal MPs, Ministers, or even a Prime Minister, could have inadvertently held dual citizenship? It's almost, given the current state, it's almost beyond anyone's belief without the sophisticated communication system we now enjoy, but over the history of the Federal Parliament, someone or dozens of men and women haven't been dual citizens.
Ray, there's no doubt in my mind that if you went back and looked at the history of people from Prime Ministers down, that people will have had the same problem that has been unearthed here. For somebody to suggest that Barnaby Joyce is disloyal to our country or holds a split allegiance, that somehow he would be acting on behalf of another country; it's just a nonsense. It's not the way in which the law is meant to apply. Obviously it's before the High Court now. They can hopefully clarify the situation and in the case of Michael Keenan; he was born in Australia, his father was born in the UK. Michael renounced his UK citizenship, which obviously was there as a result of the hereditary nature of his father's birth, he renounced that before he came into Parliament in 2004. It couldn't be any clearer. So frankly I think Fairfax is on an attack, as they normally are, against the Government. As you point out, I mean there are Labor Members that refuse to answer questions, why not ask them?
Exactly, but at the end of the day, and I've spoken about Larissa Waters – whether you like her politics or not – I think she's been really unfairly done by, by resigning and I think others are being treated…Canavan's the same and Joyce is the same and others, from both sides, whether it's Lamb from the Labor Party or Penny Wong or anyone else. I mean you couldn't question their allegiance and we shouldn't, but anyway the High Court will determine that.
As always, thanks for your time.
Thanks Ray, take care mate.