Subjects: Foreign fighters lose Australian citizenship, population growth, AAT, Melbourne gang riot, Inmates lecturing schoolchildren.
Minister, good morning.
Good morning Ray.
I wanted to talk to you about this story in the News Limited papers today, headlined by Sharri Markson. And it's remarkable. We don't know how you've been able to achieve this. Five Australian terrorists who went to fight with Islamic State have been stripped of their citizenship to prevent them from returning to Australia.
How did this all come about, because I know the last time we spoke, you were a bit frustrated by it?
Well, before this announcement Ray, we'd only been able to confirm that one Australian citizen had lost his citizenship and now, as you say, a further five.
There's a lot of good work that's been done by the Home Affairs Department, by our intelligence and security agencies. They've been working together very closely.
The way the legislation works is if people have conducted themselves against the law – that is if they've been involved in terrorist organisations, involved in foreign fighting, they’re in Syria, Iraq, hooked up with ISIS and other groups – then through their own actions effectively, they renounced their citizenship and they default back to their original citizenship.
So it's a good outcome, because I don't want these people coming back. I want them to stay as far away from our shores as possible and as we've noted before, a number of them have been killed in action in the Middle East. That's a great outcome. And if we can stop as many coming back as possible we will. So we're working through further cases, but full credit to the Home Affairs Department and all of the offices involved.
Given that these people flew to Iraq or Syria to join IS and fought there, that's one level of test that you can do it. What are the others? I mean, what has to come into being? Obviously dual citizenship as opposed to sole citizenship?
We can't – under the legislation we don't render people stateless – so they have to have a birth citizenship, or if they had acquired citizenship somewhere – elsewhere. And these cases can take months to work through, because obviously it's hard to gather the evidence of them fighting or having killed somebody or being involved in the finance arrangements for one of these organisations in the Middle East. It's different than trying to gather evidence here in Australia obviously. So a lot of work behind the scenes, but they've done a great job and our country's safer because these people aren't returning.
Okay. I know we face many battles as a country, but in light of what's happened this week, I think we face a real battle in relation to our population. And I'm really concerned about it, based on the fact that the ABS, the Australian Bureau of Stats, predicted we'd reach 25 million in 2050. We got there 32 or 33 years earlier than we anticipated.
On the current trajectory, we'll reach nearly 40 by 2050, 40 million. Who knows what the figures are going to be, given we're only guessing at the moment.
Are you concerned, I guess I know the answer to the question, but are you concerned enough to really lobby hard the government to reduce immigration numbers back to something more sustainable?
Well a few points Ray. I mean, as we discussed on the program before, I've brought the number back already this year. We want the right people. We want people who are going to work hard, integrate, pay taxes, so they're the starting points for me.
I want to try and get people living outside of capital cities as well. So if we can do – and we're in the process of this – we’ll have some announcements to make soon, but we are looking at ways in which we can encourage new migrants to move out into regional areas where, you know, the abattoirs can't operate because Australians won't work there or they have jobs that are going unanswered. Some country towns, you know, mayors who come and see us who plead for people to be encouraged to go to their towns, because people left in droves over the years.
So there are ways in which we can encourage a disbursement, because at the moment people – as you rightly pointed out before – want to come to Sydney or Melbourne because they've got family there, because they think that's where the jobs are, because they like a capital city, whatever it might be. So we've got to get the balance right.
The other point that I'd make just quickly is that in that number of 25 million, there are about two million people at any one time who might be counted in that number, but might be here studying as students, they might be here visiting family. It includes the number of New Zealanders who are here, you know, six or seven hundred thousand New Zealanders who are here.
It doesn't matter mate. Look, it's all well and good for you and Alan Tudge, your colleague, to say: ‘oh we're going to put them in Toowoomba or Tenterfield or somewhere else’. We don't have an internal passport system Minister. And unless you as the Minister along with Mr Tudge can convince the Prime Minister we need to actually pause back to levels pre-dating you – in other words, 80,000 to 100,000 as opposed to 150 or 160 or 220. Unless we actually pause in time – and you don't have the hospitals, you don't have the infrastructure, you don't have the sort of schools required. If 87 per cent are coming to Sydney and Melbourne and you want to get that down to 50 per cent, you simply can't do it mate.
And the only way for you, in the fair dinkum department – and I'm sure if you're Prime Minister, you probably would, but you're not – would say: ‘look we're going to review our immigration process. We're going to knock it back, we're going to have a pause in time, because the ABS said in 1998-99, we get to 25 million in 2050. It's now 2018 and we've got there.’ Even allowing for the Kiwis and the students and all the others you mentioned.
Well Ray, just wait and have a look at see what we're going to announce mate, because we've got Alan Tudge, as you say, who I think's done a great piece of work. So he's onto that at the moment and we will make some announcements in relation…
…well, the only announcement that's going to appease me, I can tell you, and most of the people listening, will be a pause in our immigration policy. Now, I'm glad you mentioned students.
A story yesterday: there's been a surge in foreign students taking their unfavourable visa decisions to the Admin Appeals Tribunal. The AAT's caseload from its migration and refugee division has increased by more than 75 per cent from 24,500 from the end of June last year to 43,000 at the end of May this year.
Is there any way you can say to those people we give student visas to: ‘look, it's wonderful you come here, wonderful you spend your money by your parents getting yourself educated, but when you get your degree, nick off.’
Well Ray, again, I mean we've discussed the AAT up hill and down dale, but we've just appointed Ian Callinan, the former High Court judge, to have a look at the AAT. He's going to come back to us shortly with recommendations. He understands the problems and the frustrations of not only you and I, but listeners and I think millions of Australians otherwise.
We want this process tightened up and clearly people are taking advantage of it. They've found ways to game it. Some of the appointments that were made by Julia Gillard and Kevin Rudd are complete jokes and we need to tighten it up and we're in the process of doing that.
I don't want my decisions overturned in the way that they are by the AAT at the moment. I don't think it reflects community standards and you're right; people come here on conditions, and I've been clear about this, if they breach the conditions, they can't expect to stay. There's no sense having conditions in the first place – like these African gang members in Melbourne who are running riot. You come here on certain conditions, if you breach the conditions of your visa, then you're out.
Well it appears, let me, while you raise that subject, I've already discussed it, we've got the public order riot squad or the equivalent, public order squad in Melbourne, with flak jackets on and all the armoury going out there. There's 100 of them outside a KFC restaurant putting on a blue. They tell the local residents lock your doors, we can't guarantee your safety. A bloke goes on TV this morning saying his 11 and 13-year-old daughters are terrified. He also said that people are starting to arm themselves, legally or illegally, I don't know, because they're scared someone is going to come crashing through the front door.
And at the end of all that, not one arrest. Not one person taken into custody by – and I guess at the end of the operation police would have outnumbered the 100 – but not one.
So they quell the riot and it looked like the Gaza Strip at one stage, pelting rocks and projectiles at coppers and they just cop it, under directions from their governor, from their Minister, or their Commissioner, or their Premier and they just go home, back to their homes, these Australian African youths and say ‘ah you beauty, we got away with again.’ If they did it in their home country they'd be shackled and probably horsewhipped and sent to a jail.
Well Ray, I don't know what sort of social experiment Daniel Andrews is trying to conduct in Victoria, but it is failing.
Now, they don't even want to accept that they've got gangs. We've been blamed for causing a spike in the number of complaints to the anti-something or other commissioner in Victoria. Some do-gooder down there claims because we've made reference to African gangs that somehow that's now contributed. It's complete garbage.
They need to call it out. This is our country. Everybody, regardless of your skin colour, your religion, you abide by the one law. It's against the law to start hurling rocks at police cars. It's against the law to start breaking into people's houses or stealing their cars. And you should front courts and the problem in Victoria, you know, why we're seeing a problem there and not in Sydney or in Queensland or in WA, the problem is in Victoria because the bail laws mean that when the police throw these people before the courts, they're back out before the police can get out the front door of the watch house and it's unacceptable.
Melbourne is one of our great cities and in 2018 having people riot like this, as you say, like a scene from some other part of the world, is unacceptable and Daniel Andrews, as I say, won't even accept that there's a problem, that these gangs exist, which is beyond – it’s just not credible.
He needs to, I think, come out and start sorting this out because at the moment people are getting hurt and somebody's going to be killed. We've predicted that before. Tragically that's how it will elevate and it needs to be sorted out sooner than later.
Well, isn't there an election in November down there? Maybe it's time for the Victorian electorate to sort it out, but I don't have a lot of faith there.
I think they will because I just think it gets to a point where people say: well what's the government trying to hide here? What benefit is there in denying that these gangs even exist? I mean, these people are locking themselves into their homes on the advice of police, you know, we're not making that up. This is actually happening. The footage is there and Daniel Andrews is living in some sort of parallel universe.
Just finally, one of my listeners has sent me a front page headline from there this morning. Did you see this? It's a sick joke this thug can speak to young people as part of an education program. He killed young Pat Cronin with a coward punch. He's bought immense pain and torment to Pat's parents, and I suspect this listener knows Pat's parents, by fighting against his conviction. It's a damn disgrace. Another example of Daniel Andrews' pathetic leadership.
Now you wouldn't have seen it, but I'll just read what it says: A coward punch killer appealing against his eight-year jail term is giving talks to schoolchildren who visit the prison as part of an education program. Andrew Lee, who killed Patrick Cronin in 2016, has been rolled out as a model prisoner. The father of the man that he killed says he hasn't even been in jail for 12 months.
Now, rehabilitation is a very important part of committing a crime, but you've got to serve some time before you start the rehabilitation and being wheeled into classrooms or classrooms wheeled into jail so you can tell them what a good bloke you are.
Well Ray, again, I mean what sort of message does it send? You can imagine that the parents, the grief that they're living through in the first instance and what they're now made to relive.
It's offensive to victims of crime. It's offensive to their families and frankly it's offensive to any decent Australian who hears that story.
And Daniel Andrews is the one that's created this mess, the person who has appointed these people and he's the one that needs to be accountable for it.
Okay, we'll talk next Thursday. Thanks for your time.