Monday, 16 July 2018

Joint press conference with Mr Brett Whiteley, Burnie

Subjects: CCTV upgrade for Burnie region; migration program; US resettlement; people smuggling venture; health funding; Braddon by-election.



Well welcome everyone to Burnie and it's wonderful to be here, standing right on the new coastal pathway that's only just been constructed in Burnie as a part of the major coastal pathway program. And as a part of that announcement, I think it's important to make sure that these areas, now that they're going to be used by many more people, are safer for the community, to make sure that they feel if they're out walking or riding of a night-time that in fact they can do that with a degree of safety in the full knowledge that their movements are being patrolled and I think that will make everyone feel much safer.

We all want to live in a safer community and on that front I'm really pleased this morning to have with me my former colleague and a very good friend in the Minister for Home Affairs Peter Dutton and I'll hand over to the Minister now. Thanks Peter.


Well Brett, thank you very much. Great to be here this morning. Mayor Boyd thank you very much for being along here for a very important announcement, also to my – or the Senator Richard Colbeck, great to call him Senator again. It's good to see him here.

Brett Whiteley and I this morning I made an announcement of around $134,000 worth of CCTV. It's an incredible announcement because it means that people can live more safely in their local community and here in Burnie we're going to work with the council to contribute a further $60,000 to CCTV coverage of this region. And as Brett rightly pointed out, people want to move as they go around their community with their kids, to the shops, if they're travelling here as tourists, they want to do it in a safe way. The Federal Government has a program where we have invested into local communities, predominately working with local councils across the country to invest in that CCTV network. And not only does it gather evidence if a crime has taken place, but more importantly it acts as a deterrence so that people know that that region, that area, those streets, are covered by CCTV and there is a lower prevalence of crime within that community.

The beauty of this money is that it comes from the Proceeds of Crime Fund. That is money that we've taken off criminals – people that were involved in drug cartels, people who were involved in activities otherwise – where that money has been seized from those criminals. We're now using that money to invest in communities so that we can defeat even more crime.

So I'm proud as a Government to be able to make this announcement today. Brett Whiteley has been advocating for this for a long period of time and he's a person who can deliver in his local community. He demonstrated that when he was last in Parliament. He knows very well how to make approaches to ministers, how to get these outcomes and this announcement today is as a direct result of his advocacy and obviously there's a lot more that he's contributed to his local community over a long period of time.

Within our portfolio there is obviously a lot that we're doing to keep Australians safe, to keep Tasmanians safe and we're working very closely with the Tasmanian Police, with the Tasmanian Government obviously and in this case with the local council as well.

So thank you very much Brett for your advocacy and delivering for local communities, it's incredibly important. Brett has that quality in spades and I'm very happy to be here today to share in the announcement.


And when will this be rolled out?


Well we can get working on it straight away and it's important to send that message to communities that this will be a safer precinct because of the CCTV investment that we're making. People can come out with their kids. Elderly constituents and residents within the community can feel safer on the streets and that has a dividend of course to local businesses as well because people feel safer coming out of a night-time or wandering the streets and particularly for tourists as well and given the huge benefit of tourism to Tasmania it's important from that perspective also.


Minister, do you support Senator Dean's push for an inquiry into Australia's population policy?


Well just a couple of points. I'm happy to have a look at what the Senator is proposing at the moment, but the Government's done three important things in the migration space.

One is that we've secured our borders and I just note that Justine Keay has argued at least as hard as Nick McKim has to undo the success of Operation Sovereign Borders. Justine Keay is further to the left than the Greens when it comes to border protection policies. If you want the boats to restart then vote for Bill Shorten. The fact is that the Labor Party created a mess which we're now cleaning up. So that's a first important limb of the success we've had in the migration program.

Secondly, we have cancelled more visas of criminals in the last 12 months than Labour did in six years and that means that our communities are safer from Tasmania to Cairns. And right across our country, we've been working with the state policing agencies to identify the top criminal targets – including outlaw motorcycle gang members who are peddling ice to our young people in rural communities and regional communities – and we are cancelling those visas and deporting those people.

Thirdly, we have worked very hard to restore integrity to the migration program which is why you saw in the last 12 months the number reduced from 190,000 down to 162,000. We've listened to the Australian public and at the next election Bill Shorten is promising to increase migration numbers. The Coalition is delivering a decrease in those numbers, but we're doing that through an extra application of common sense and scrutiny around some of the applicants because we don't want people coming in on fraudulent claims of skills or of documentation. We want people that have a capacity to work and pay taxes, to work hard, to integrate and to abide by our laws in our country.

That is the third successful limb of migration and I noted this morning that Bill Shorten has dodged questions around what he would do with Australia's migration program and he's got all sorts of problems with people on his left, including Justin Keay and them out bidding the Greens frankly, in ways in which they can undo the success of our migration policies.


But to my question, do you support Senator Dean's push for this inquiry?


Well as I said mate, I haven't seen the letter. So I haven't received the letter is as I'm aware. I'm happy to look at the letter when I receive it.

But I just make this point, that it's this Government that's presided over a reduction in the number of places within that permanent migration program over the last 12 months. It's down by 30,000. Labor had the 190,000 – not as a planning level, but as an aim – and they were ticking and flicking I think some pretty marginal applicants towards the end of the financial year when they were in government.

And we've restored integrity to our migration program. The other point I'd make is that the Home Affairs Department and the Treasury have just recently conducted a pretty broad ranging review in relation to the migration settings in our country, only within the last six months or so.


Could you confirm that – would you be happy to see a similar drop in migration in next year's figures?


Well, we're going to make sure that we apply the integrity that Australians want us to apply to the migration program. We've got a wonderful story of migration in our country, people that have built our country, who have worked hard, who have educated their children and they're the proudest Australians.

And frankly, many of those Australians who come from a migrant background – and that includes all of us that don't come from Indigenous stock – they want to protect the values and the systems our democracy, our freedom of speech and all of that which is important to us in Australia.

So we celebrate migration, but we don't want people coming in who are just coming for welfare, or are just coming here to, you know, frankly not contribute or integrate into Australian society. We want to bring the best and the brightest into our country. We've done that for a long period of time and we want to make sure we can build on that, not detract from it. And by applying that level of scrutiny and integrity to our migration program, we're cleaning up Labor's mess and I think that's supported by all Australians.


Can you confirm that a refugee and her son on Nauru have been flown to Australia for medical care?


I don't have any comment to make in relation to individual matters.

As you know, people who are on Nauru and Manus were put there by Labor and it's my job to get people off as quickly as possible. We're doing that with the US deal. There was an uplift of people again yesterday and we'll continue to work to get people off Nauru and Manus.

But the most important thing really in all of this is to make sure that we don't have new boat arrivals. We've turned back 33 boats containing over 800 people over the course of Operation Sovereign Borders. Had even five or 10 or 25, let alone the 33 boats got through, we would have seen tens of thousands of people come behind them.

People smugglers have not gone away. You're seeing what's happening in Europe at the moment and Bill Shorten's European approach to migration and border protection policy in Australia is completely discredited.

So we don't want vacancies that we're creating in Nauru and Manus to be filled by new boat arrivals. Labor put 8000 kids into detention and this is why Justine Keay's approach to border protection and watering down border protection policies just doesn't make any sense because you end up with people drowning at sea again. Remember 1200 people drowned at sea under Labor. They put kids into detention.

We've closed 17 detention centres, we've got all of those children out of detention and we've not had a single death during my time as Minister. We are not going to allow the boats to restart, which is essentially what Justine Keay and Bill Shorten were advocating.


Should there be national standard that vaccinations for all strains of meningococcal disease are subsidized by the government?


Well I just leave comment in relation to immunizations to the Health Minister and I think he's out with the Prime Minister doing some media today and they're doing an incredible announcement today in relation to some lifesaving drugs and listings on the PBS.

Did you know, when Labor was last in power they ran out of money to put listings, new listings, on the PBS? I mean, Australians really would shake their heads at that. There were lifesaving drugs that weren't listed on the PBS because Labor ran out of money.

They mismanaged the economy here in Tasmania at a federal level so ineffectively that you need a Liberal Government both in Tasmania and at a national level to restore our economy and our Budget settings. Because if you run a good Budget, you can get jobs for people, you can see economic growth, you can spend record levels in health and education and you can keep our border and national security where it needs to be in the modern age.

And we need to protect Australians from threats and we need to provide for Australians who are sick and this Government is doing that through a record investment in health and education, including listings on the PBS that Labor just couldn't afford.


You mentioned that today's announcement was a part – the funding's coming from proceeds of crime. Should that money be used in election pork barrelling?


Well, it's used across the country in communities that want to be safe and Brett Whiteley is a champion of his local community. He has a track record of delivering. He has the ability to get things done.

Don't forget that anything that Bill Shorten promises or Justine Keay promises over the next couple of weeks means absolutely nothing to the local community because Bill Shorten has to be elected at the next election. So you need to vote for him twice before he can possibly deliver on any of these promises. And frankly, Anthony Albanese is going to make sure, I suspect, that Bill Shorten is not even voted in once. So all of these hollow promises at the moment don't mean anything.

Brett Whiteley has fought hard to keep his community safer and that's why we're here with the Mayor and with Brett today, to make sure that this investment will keep Burnie and the surrounding communities safer and that's the idea of the program.


[Indistinct] that went into deciding where this money was spent though? Obviously it's an important asset, but putting it in wherever there's an election happening doesn't really seem that responsible.


We've worked very closely with the councils and with other communities here and around the country. We, obviously within the Home Affairs Department, have the capacity to look at vulnerability, to assess applications that come in and we'll work with the councils to identify where there might be a further need for investment frankly because we are seeing record detections of importations. We're taking more money off criminal networks than we have in the past and I hope that we can invest more back into local communities and I suspect that's exactly what Brett Whiteley would be advocating for.


A Chinese developer has promised that investors will be able to get permanent residency in six months if they buy into a Hunter Valley development in New South Wales. Is the Department of Home Affairs investigating that development?


Well there is a big compliance program obviously within the Department of Home Affairs and if people are making false claims, if they're holding out false offers and promises, then our Department works every day with the Australian Federal Police, with all of the fair-trading bodies across the country, including in New South Wales as well as the state and territory police forces. So I would just say if people have any information, please come forward to the Australian Border Force or to the Department of Home Affairs with that information and it'll be properly investigated.


Has evidence of crime been presented to you in Burnie, or are these cameras coming because you want to have it as a deterrent for something in the future?


Well, as I say, the biggest benefit is in deterrence, but any community has an element of local crime. It doesn't matter whether it's drug dealing on the streets, it doesn't matter whether it's breaking into cars, wilful damage – It happens in every community. So the deterrence effect though is the biggest benefit of this investment and this is an almost $200,000 investment into this electorate and it's happened because Brett Whiteley's advocated for it. People in the local community here will be safer because of it. And I'm really pleased that we're here to announce it and I think the local community should be proud that Brett is once again delivering for this great community.


So who recommended that the CCTV be installed here? Was it the Department or was it Brett Whiteley?


Brett Whiteley has advocated to me and he's spoken very clearly about the need for it and we've worked with the councils obviously and Brett no doubt has been in contact with the local councils to identify the need. That work will continue and as any good local member or candidate does, they make representations to the Minister.

Brett Whiteley has my mobile phone number and he can call me at any time and does and I welcome that and I hope it continues because he was a great representative before and I think he will be a great representative again.

And I would encourage everybody locally please to support him if you're voting in pre-poll now or on the 28th on the day of the by-election because he is a person who can deliver. He will be part of a government which means that we can make these decisions quickly for local communities and there is a big dividend for the local community by supporting Brett Whiteley at the upcoming election.