Subject: Zaatari refugee camp visit, resettlement of refugees, comments of Senator Leyonhjelm on police, deportation of criminals.
E & EO Transcript
JOURNALIST: Minister, good morning.
PETER DUTTON: Good morning, Ray. How are you?
JOURNALIST: Yeah, well. Are you in Dubai?
PETER DUTTON: Mate, we’ve just landed in Dubai, so it’s about a quarter past one in the morning here.
So we’re on our way back home.
JOURNALIST: You’ve described your visit to the Syrian camp in Jordan as ‘confronting’.
Tell me why it’s so confronting.
PETER DUTTON: Well it’s confronting when you see 40,000 children running around in a camp which doesn’t have proper sewerage, doesn’t have electricity and the winter is about to onset.
It’s a desperate situation for those people and ultimately as Australians we can be proud of the support that we provide through the refugee and humanitarian programmes.
We can’t save everybody, we all know that, but the fact that we’re providing support to 12,000 Syrians who’ve been displaced by this war is something to feel proud of and this week we issued to the first travel documents to the first four families, who will be in Australia by Christmas and I think that’s a great thing.
We just need to make sure that we the security checks right, we get the health checks right and ultimately we get the right people in because I think they can add to our society.
As I say, we’re a generous people and we can provide support to them.
JOURNALIST: You think about all those people, you’re talking about 40,000 children, they say that this camp has accepted more than 600,000 people fleeing the conflict and yet we start the process with just four families.
The reaction from those four families; grateful, desperate, what were they like?
PETER DUTTON: Mate they were very grateful.
One family I spoke to in particular, two young boys from a Christian background had obviously a terrible story to tell coming out of the region.
You can see the excitement and trepidation on faces of the young kids and they’re excited about coming to Australia to see kangaroos, to enrol in school and they’ve got, you know, terrible backgrounds.
People have been slaughtered in this part of the region. The Assad regime has gassed its own people.
There are literally millions of people who have been displaced and they, I think, are looking for a new home and I think they will be willing to work hard and take the chance that has been afforded to them.
It is a slow process because I’ve made it very clear to the staff on the ground, which was a part of the reason for the visit that we’re not going to compromise on the security checks.
There are a lot of people running around with fraudulent passports and IDs and we’re going to do the checks properly and thoroughly so that we don’t have any security threats and we don’t have any problems arising out of the process.
So we can get people here quickly, as the Government has committed to, but ultimately we’re not going to compromise when it comes to those security checks.
JOURNALIST: Now I know it’s a bit difficult, given you’re on the other side of the globe, but we had a bit of a battle yesterday in relation to Liberal Democrat Senator David Leyonhjelm.
He’s had a meeting with police in Parramatta and Western Sydney and also with Sam Dastyari from the Labor Party, this self-appointed committee to look at the ‘nanny state’.
He used words that were used by soccer supporters describing all police as bastards.
He confirmed that he agreed with that and said that they had to ‘un-earn’ that slur, that all cops were bastards.
As a former police officer, it would appear that he’s got offside with just about every copper in Australia.
PETER DUTTON: Yeah look, Ray, I’ve seen some reports of it and it’s hard to understand what he bases his argument on or his statement on.
Strangely enough, I mean I’ve been in Parliament a while now and it has been a while since I left the police force, but occasionally if I’m making a speech I’ll get interjected on by Members of the Labor Party about my police background and derogatory remarks that they make and they’re not based on anything other than just prejudice.
I think most people in our community respect the work that our police officers do, particularly the police community that will be hurting a lot in Parramatta.
They face an uphill battle every day. They’ve got one hand tied behind their back half the time because of the courts and legal process and all they want in the end is to provide a safe community for Australians to live in.
When we see comments like this I just think it’s a slap in the face to those hardworking police officers.
If the Senator or anybody else has a complaint to make, well we live in a civilised society and there are checks and balances in place to make a complaint.
But if you’re just out there grandstanding, seeking a headline to try and promote yourself then I think people see through that pretty quickly and people will pass judgement on that sort of behaviour at the ballot box at the next election.
JOURNALIST: Let’s hope they do next time he gets, we get a crack at him, which will unfortunately be in another six years or so, here’s there for seven years in total.
It’s just beyond anyone’s belief, particularly has he got a rails run in New South Wales calling himself a Liberal Democrat so he got on the back of your party and of course then he drew the pole position on the ballot paper, which was another flum.
PETER DUTTON: Well as you say, Ray, I just think people will make their judgements on these sort of comments.
If you can’t back them up and you’re just after a headline then, as I say, people should park it in the back of their memories and when they’re walking into the ballot box at the next election they should allow it to influence their vote.
JOURNALIST: Now, you’ve been very tough, and everyone supports this, on outlaw motorcycle gangs, particularly those who are non-citizens.
You revoked the visa of Alex Vella, he’s stuck in Malta. Good luck.
Sam Ibrahim, you’re trying to get him back to Lebanon.
But there’s a report last weekend that other bikies are now trying to lodge citizenship applications on the basis that these blokes have been left overseas, or one’s been left and you’re trying to send one back.
Will they be successful in those applications?
PETER DUTTON: Well, Ray, we’ve had one case which has gone to the High Court and it has been decided in the Government’s favour and we’re just not going to take a backward step where these outlaw motorcycle gangs are involved.
People should remember that the outlaw motorcycle gangs are the biggest distributors of amphetamines - that includes ice.
They are the biggest manufacturers, distributors of the drug and they are destroying lives.
If you’re here as a non-citizen on a visa and you’re committing a crime as serious as that, well you can expect to have your visa cancelled and we’ll go through the normal legal processes and we’ll defend in court the appeals that they take to the court.
In the end we are on pretty sure legal ground and I have a team of lawyers within the Department that scrutinises each of these cases and we cancel the visas according to law and based on the person’s own behaviour.
It’s not just the outlaw motorcycle gang members, it’s the paedophiles as well.
We’ve cancelled a record number of visas for people that have committed sexual offences against children in our society and I believe that we’re making our community safer.
It’s full steam ahead as far as the Government is concerned, because I think that’s what the Australian public wants.
They want us to make sure that if people who are visitors and guests in our country are committing offences they should have their visas cancelled and that’s exactly what we’re doing.
These outlaw motorcycle gang members are cashed up because they’re involved in the distribution of drugs, they’re involved in extortion of small business people, they don’t have legitimate jobs and they’re out there creating havoc in society.
So they’ve got plenty of cash and the lawyers are happy to accept it, but we will defend the decisions that we’ve made and I think the community would expect us to do that.
JOURNALIST: Just on the paedophile rings. Robert ‘Dolly’ Dunn. There’s a paedophile who was part of his operation in the ‘80s.
He’s now battling deportation, we read over the weekend, after having served his minimum sentence, would you believe, of just four and a half years.
Now, we’ve already deported 33 paedophiles since last December. You’ve either cancelled or are preparing to cancel visas of more than 100 child sex offenders who don’t have citizenship.
This bloke just uses the legal system, from what I’ve read, to try and usurp the end result. And that’s him going back to the States.
And I made the point that had he been arrested and found guilty in the States, Minister, he would have been facing a lot more than four and a half years – probably forty-four and a half years back there.
PETER DUTTON: Well, Ray, I’m obviously the decision maker in relation to that particular case and it’s on appeal and that’s what I understand is the process at the moment so I don’t want to comment in relation to the individual case.
But I can say, as a general comment, we’ve got about 50 people in detention at the moment that have had their visas cancelled, that I’ve cancelled the visas of, people that have been involved in child sex offences.
As I say, if we can round more people up we will because it’s one of the most heinous crimes.
I worked in the child and sex offences squad when I was in the police many years ago and, you know, taking statements from parents, distraught parents, from young kids who have been violated by these people. It’s just a horrific crime.
I think we are doing the right thing by kids when we cancel these visas and we defend the cancellations and people will be deported, as they have been already.
We’re working with the police forces around the country to identify who these people might be and we’re going to increase the number of cancellations wherever possible because people that commit sexual offences against children are the worst people in our society and I don’t think anybody is out there defending them.
Certainly, from my perspective, we’ll be doing whatever we can to deport them as quickly as possible.
JOURNALIST: Thanks for your time. Have a safe journey home.