17 November, 2015
Subject: Grand Mufti, Paris attacks, refugee resettlement
E & EO Transcript
JOURNALIST: Minister, good morning.
PETER DUTTON: Good morning Alan.
JOURNALIST: Thank you for your time.
Can I just ask you half a left field question? Would you consider cancelling the visa of the Grand Mufti? Not just for his equivocal statement yesterday, but as an example to other leaders or wannabe leaders in the future that such a lack of commitment to Australia will be treated seriously?
PETER DUTTON: Well Alan I’ve condemned the comments and I think they are a very poor message to young Muslims and to people of good faith across the country because they don’t reflect good thinking.
I don’t know the status of the Grand Mufti. I suspect that he is here as an Australian citizen, having been naturalised or on a permanent visa.
So my judgement is that we need to work with people.
There were some good people out yesterday from the Islamic community condemning without reservation these barbaric acts.
The Grand Mufti I think would do well, frankly, to listen to what some of the moderate leaders had to say because they remain the hope of the side if we’re to combat some of this wrong-thinking within the community.
JOURNALIST: He hasn’t answered the simple question, has he, as to whether or not the men who carried out the attacks, as I have been asking now many, many times since Monday morning, whether the men who carried out the attacks in Paris were martyrs or murderers.
That ought to be a simple question to answer shouldn’t it?
PETER DUTTON: Well, of course. There should just be no hesitation.
We don’t qualify a situation where somebody commits an act of murder or domestic violence here in Australia, we condemn the action.
We’re not worried about what’s happened in their childhood what might have influenced them in the school yard, we condemn the act.
If the Grand Mufti has other issues he wants to debate well debate them, but these acts need to be condemned for what they are.
They’ve been condemned by Muslim leaders around the world and they should be condemned here by the leadership in Australia as well.
JOURNALIST: I don’t think people would, I mean you’re a tough cookie, I don’t think people would believe that the other Muslim leadership has been as outspoken as they would like.
We tend to sort of take the soft line here – oh other people haven’t agreed and other people have – I’ve read one or two comments, but I must say they’ve been quite muted and they took a long while to issue forth.
PETER DUTTON: Alan I did a session on Channel Seven the night before last and there was an Islamic leader on there who was quite straightforward and without hesitation condemned the attacks. I’ve seen other comments reported as well.
I think we need to step-up though the contribution from Islamic leaders because in private they are, as you and I would be, as any of your listeners would be, absolutely dumbfounded by these attacks and we condemn them without reservation.
I just think the leadership otherwise of the Islamic community in Australia needs to make that publicly clear because there are young people who hang off every word that’s said and these young people who are being radicalised online need counter messages.
I go to countries like Malaysia, for example, and there the Government and many people within the senior ranks in the Malaysian Government, obviously they’re of Islamic faith, they have no hesitation whatsoever in condemning these acts of terror.
They don’t tolerate within their own community people who are on the fringes making comments that may influence young people, young minds, to go toward an act of terrorism and we shouldn’t tolerate it here.
JOURNALIST: Why wouldn’t the leadership of Australia, in this very critical period, pick up the phone to this Grand Mufti and say ‘What the hell are you talking about?’
I mean everything gets a mention in the statement that you make – racism, Islamophobia, duplicitous foreign policy, hello, that’s the Government, military intervention, hello, this is the Government.
These are the causative factors, but Islamic State, which has claimed credit for the mass murder is not even mentioned as a causative factor.
Can’t someone pick up the phone to this Grand Mufti and say, ‘listen, the Government wants to know what the hell you’re on about?’
PETER DUTTON: Well Alan I think the opportunity is there today for the Grand Mufti to come out and clarify his comments and make it very clear that he condemns these acts of terrorism, these murderous acts, without reservation as other leaders have done.
I think the opportunity is there for him to do it sooner than later and it should be done today so that people can’t be left in two minds about how strongly he feels and it should be a strong as the rest of us.
JOURNALIST: It’s deliberately constructed, I’ll leave this in a moment, it’s a deliberately constructed press release by mentioning racism and Islamophobia it means that you and I are open, and everybody else, to the allegation that our comments are racist, that we’re Islamophobic because we dare question the motives of these people.
I resent that and Australians resent it and we are simply pro-Australia.
It’s not clear this bloke is.
PETER DUTTON: Well Alan I think, as I say, there is an opportunity for him to come out today to clarify the statements in a calm and measured way and put beyond doubt the fact that like all Australians, regardless of your faith, we condemn these acts.
There’s no qualification to it. There’s no reason, there’s no justification.
People have committed murderous acts. They should stand trial where they’re caught, and no doubt the French will round people up.
But we have serious concerns in our country about the terrorist threat. There have been some attacks that have been thwarted by some of the best intelligence and policing operatives in the world, but the threat remains.
We need everybody to go out, in particular those in positions of leadership, and make their position clear so that we can hopefully deter some of these people that might be minded to cause similar atrocities here in our ...
JOURNALIST: … but if the causative factors, I’m sorry, if the causative factors, about the Grand Mufti are racism, Islamophobia, duplicitous foreign policy, military intervention – I see that language as encouraging individuals out there who are so inclined to be in distinct and very significant opposition to the Government of Australia.
Now the law of sedition says it is a crime, a crime under the Crimes Act of 100 years ago, to conduct or use language inciting rebellion against the authority of the state.
An illegal action inciting resistance to lawful authority intending to cause disruption or the overthrow of a Government.
When a leader starts saying that the causes of all of this are racism, Islamophobia, duplicitous foreign policy – what is that language if not an incitement to people to oppose the Government of Australia?
PETER DUTTON: Well Alan as we point out, there is no excuse and there is no qualification and the opportunity is there for the Grand Mufti to come out today to issue a statement that is not qualified, doesn’t provide excuses, that says this was an act by a terrorist organisation by individuals inspired by that organisation and it needs to be condemned.
As I say other Muslim leaders around the world, including in Islamic countries, have come out to condemn these attacks and the same should happen from the leadership of the community here.
JOURNALIST: Peter Dutton one of the terrorists involved in the Paris attacks appears to have held a Syrian passport.
Are you worried that there is more than a 50/50 chance that a terrorist, some terrorists, could exploit this refugee issue?
So what assurance can you give Australians about the kind of people who are going to be allowed into our country?
PETER DUTTON: Alan, there are a couple of points here.
I was in Jordan and Lebanon a couple of weeks ago, as you’ve mentioned on your show I think, and some of the footage came back to Australia.
I issued a very direct and deliberate direction to our staff in the post there. That is that if there is any hesitation, if there’s any doubt whatsoever about an application, if we can’t verify a person’s identity or if we believe that they have false documents, then that application is to be discarded and we move on to the next application.
We’re not going to rush the programme…
JOURNALIST: … are you confident that you have got, you will have adequate proof of documentation?
What worries people, Minister, is that while you say these things and you’re very well intentioned in saying them - are you confident that those manning our Immigration offices around the world are not vulnerable to being, excuse the word, bribed by people who want to get here?
PETER DUTTON: Alan the short answer is yes and a definite yes.
We’ve got Australian-based staff that we’ve put into the region to go through and assist the post staff, which includes not only locally engaged staff, but also Australian-based staff within the Embassies to make sure that we scrutinise every aspect of these applications.
We do biometric testing, we do fingerprint testing.
We’ve settled about 825,000 refugees in our country since the Second World War.
It’s a different scenario for our country as compared to country like France because we don’t have land borders and people …
JOURNALIST: … that’s our virtue, isn’t it?
PETER DUTTON: Well, well it is.
We’ve been very tough on border protection. People have been critical of the Government because of that, but there is a very sound reason.
We’re seeing that reason play out now in Europe.
People are pouring across borders and some of them with false documents, I don’t know whether this Syrian passport was a legitimate document and I don’t know any more than what I’ve read in the media.
We face a very different scrutiny of people. We do all of the checks offshore before people get here and we, frankly, discard many applications because we’re concerned about an aspect of it.
We’ve also said that we want to make sure the priority is women and children who pose no risk to us.
We have experts in document examination…
JOURNALIST: … well that’s what Tony Abbott said. It does appear to me that Malcolm Turnbull has changed that tact.
I mean people are saying they don’t want any more Muslim immigration. That’s what they’re saying out there.
The first four families, amongst those Syrian refugees two, or fifty percent, were Muslim families.
PETER DUTTON: Well we’re working through with the Syrian Christian groups here in Australia to identify families who come from very difficult circumstances, where other family members may have been killed or tortured by IS.
It’s important to remember that many of these people will come from a background, Alan, where either they’ve been attacked by the Assad regime in Syria or it will be the case that they’ve been attacked by Islamic State themselves.
They are fleeing the sort of terrorist acts that we’ve seen play out in Paris.
We need to make sure that they’re bona fides are…
JOURNALIST: … we do, we do, but the language of the Grand Mufti tells us what we all know - that there’s been significant trouble in assimilating many of these Muslim people.
Whether we like it or whether we don’t, that is a reality.
PETER DUTTON: I think there have been some mistakes made in the past in Immigration policy and there have been some great achievements.
I want to make sure that in the 12,000 we bring in we bring in people that do want to be a part of Australia.
They can celebrate their heritage, but once they sign up to be an Australian they sign up to our values, to our laws and people need to adhere to Australian culture…
JOURNALIST: … but two of the first four families are Muslim. I just come back to that point. How does that happen? I mean people are genuinely concerned about this.
PETER DUTTON: Well Alan it happens because they’ve deemed to be persecuted.
As I say we’re working not just in the camps, but out in the communities in Turkey, in Lebanon, in Jordan, in the north of Iraq, to find people who have been persecuted including Christian families.
There will be a big component of the 12,000 that are of a Christian background, because they have been persecuted simply because of their religious belief.
We’re working to identify those people who may not be in the camps, they may have lodged an application with the United Nations or not, they may have family links back here.
We want to try and provide assistance to those people because the Government has been very clear that this is how we’re going to run the migration programme.
We’re not going to allow people to come freely by boats, as they did, because you don’t know who’s coming.
In some cases, out of the 50,000 people that came on 800 boats, proper identity still hasn’t been established.
So we’ve said we are going to be tough and remain tough on our border protection policies.
The dividend, the upside is that we will bring people in, but we’ll bring them the right way, in a controlled way where we can subject them to all sorts of tests to verify their identities, their motivations and, ultimately, require their integration and assimilation into the Australian society.
That’s what the Australian public expect.
We’ve given people a second chance and they should take that chance with both hands.
JOURNALIST: Alright. We’re grateful for what you do and we hope you’re right. We hope you’re right.
We’ll talk again.
PETER DUTTON: Thanks mate.