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Subject: Neil’s interview with Kadir Kaya, radicalisation, counter-terrorism summit

E & EO Transcript

JOURNALIST: On the line is our Immigration Minister.

Peter Dutton, good morning.

PETER DUTTON: Good morning, Neil.

JOURNALIST: Can you tell us, in simple terms, why he wouldn’t be allowed to leave the country if he renounces his citizenship?

PETER DUTTON: Well I don’t know the details of the individual case, obviously, but ASIO and the AFP will make decisions in relation to individuals about the threat that they pose to the public and each day they’re dealing with cases.

ASIO has something like 400 high priority investigations underway now and this problem is going to be with us for a generation.

In the UK they have a similar issue.

The difficultly, in part, is that if they are an Australian citizen, who obviously at any point has a right to return to our country; if that person departs out shores and is trained in the skill of bomb making or terrorist activity otherwise and that person comes back to our country they pose a much greater threat.

So there are a number of considerations that the authorities will contemplate before they cancel a passport, before they stop somebody from travelling or indeed stopping somebody from re-entering.

One of the things that we’re going to do as a Government is to introduce legislation which allows us to take citizenship away from dual-nationals.

That’s something the UK has done for a period of time.

It is a big threat to us – there’s no question.

JOURNALIST: This, I understand you can’t talk about this case specifically, but as a matter of background, this man says he is a dual-citizen, he wants to renounce his Australian citizenship and go and live in Turkey.

Does that not affect it? Does that not mean, so well he couldn’t come back to this country?

PETER DUTTON: Well, again, it depends on the circumstances and if there’s been a cancellation of travel documents, again, without commenting on the individual case, the authorities, the police, those who have all of the facts available to them I think will make the decision that’s in the best interests of our country.

I think people can be assured of the professionalism of ASIO, of our intelligence agencies otherwise and the Federal Police.

They are dealing with these cases each day and they will have the complete picture in terms of who it is they’re dealing with, what risk they pose to the Australian public and they’ll make judgements about individuals and I think that’s the best we can ask for.

JOURNALIST: Doesn’t it sort of make a bit of a mockery, though, of that line ‘love Australia or leave it’ - well I don’t love it and I want to leave it, but I can’t.

PETER DUTTON: Well, for some cases people will leave and they do leave and they should leave if they don’t love our country.

We have offered people an amazing start in many cases.

People have come across as refugees or they’ve settled in Australia otherwise. They’ve made a great start in their life and it’s the children or grandchildren of those people who pose a great threat to us now.

Now we need to work out what has gone wrong and why that young person doesn’t feel at home in a peace-loving country like ours, what that person has done and what they’ve said online, how they’ve been poisoned in terms of the thoughts that they’ve now got.

This is a significant threat for us and…

JOURNALIST: …is it relevant, though, if a person says ‘I want to go, but I want to fight against ISIS.’

Is that relevant? Do you still stop them?

PETER DUTTON: Well the agencies will make decisions and it’s against the Australian law, currently, to go and fight in prescribed regions.

So if people are heading off overseas for that purpose they commit an offence.

Now, the difficulty is, as I say, that people are entitled to come back if they’re Australian citizens or if they hold dual-nationality with Turkey or another country.

We need to make judgements in relation to each of the cases and we do have an international obligation as well.

I mean if individuals from Australia turned up somewhere in Paris or in the UK or the US and committed an atrocity there, people would understandably ask similar questions to the fact if a US citizen came here to commit that same offence.

JOURNALIST: So if a Jewish person living in Australia, it’s alright for them to go and serve in the Israeli Army. Or if I’m a Greek person I can go and serve in the Greek Army because they’re not prescribed areas. Is that right?

PETER DUTTON: The Australian law provides for prescribed areas and that includes areas in Syria and we rely on intelligence otherwise about the individuals.

That’s the way the law operates, it serves us well, but it is an unprecedented threat and it’s going to get worse.

JOURNALIST: I guess the other point here is that gives us a glimpse of a person who’s disenfranchised.

He says he’s not supporting the terrorists, he’s supporting the other side, but totally disenfranchised and disconnected from the Australian community.

You wonder why and you wonder how many are out there are like it.

PETER DUTTON: Well, Neil, I mean as a parent it’s the greatest concern that you can have.

I mean your kids are online and they’re constantly on the computer or on their phones.

You’re worried about predators online making contact with your daughter or you’re worried about, you know, your boys getting pornography or something online.

But now the thought, the reality is that these people are invading the minds of young Australians, people who should have a bright future in this country.

Their minds are being poisoned. They’re being lured into this dreadful circumstance which can only destroy their lives and the lives of their families.

We need to get in earlier and that’s part of the reason the Prime Minister is convening this summit in Canberra today.

JOURNALIST: This man does say that he and his friends feel targeted by ASIO and the Federal Police and indeed the Government because they’re Muslim.

What’s your reaction to that?

PETER DUTTON: Well people are targeted because they’re a security threat to our country.

If they are planning an attack, if they are involved in preaching hate, if they’re a security threat to the Australian public then people are targeted for that reason.

But there’s good work that the Australian Federal Police and other agencies do to intervene early on so that people don’t get further down the track.

That works in some cases, but not all.

If people have broken the law they face law, as any Australian would.

But if we can provide intervention, if there is a way in which we can de-radicalise people then that happens.

We do need to work with the leaders, we need to work with people of influence in the community and the Government’s very much about doing just that.

JOURNALIST: Thank you so much for you time.

Peter Dutton, Immigration Minister in our Canberra studio.

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