08 October, 2015
Subject: Farhad Jabar and associates, Syrian refugee resettlement, deportees in Brisbane hotel, New Zealand deportation
E & EO Transcript
JOURNALIST: Minister, good morning.
PETER DUTTON: Good morning, Ray. How are you?
JOURNALIST: Good, thank you.
Yesterday the counter-terrorism raids in Sydney targeted a number of people well known to authorities.
Of course, they told us the 15-year-old shooter, Farhad Khalil Mohammad Jabar, wasn’t on police radar.
He’s of Iraqi-Kurdish background, originally came here with his family from Iran.
Now, as Immigration Minister, do you then go ahead and investigate the circumstances of this family coming to Australia, or do we leave it to the courts?
PETER DUTTON: Automatically, Ray, our Department swings in to action.
Obviously it provides whatever support is needed to the Australian Federal Police and to the New South Wales Police.
We’ve had a look at the history and I’ve asked my Department to investigate all of the details, all of the applications that have been made.
It appears that, as you say, the family arrived in Australia, but the children may have come sometime after and I’m having a look into the circumstances around their applications, all of those processes.
No doubt that will be subject to the coronial investigations.
JOURNALIST: Well given it says the family arrived here 15 years ago, but it says he wasn’t born here, we can only assume that either mother or father came and a family reunion process was put in place. It’s all we can assume.
PETER DUTTON: Well, generally, it’s true, for a lot of people who come by boat, for example, who will come out ahead of the rest of the family and then they’ll try and reunite with the family here.
That does happen regularly, there’s no question about that.
JOURNALIST: Now, suggestions today and yesterday that this 15-year-old didn’t act alone.
We seem to be going to the same houses in Western Sydney, detaining the same people. Some of them are in SuperMax in Goulburn.
Does the Department investigate how these people came to be here, whether they’re Australian born, whether they’ve come here under various reunion policies?
Not just the murderer, but other people as well?
PETER DUTTON: Yes, Ray, and this is, I mean this is the whole debate about this character cancellation test that we’re running, the Section 501 cancellations, which has created a bit of heat in relation to some New Zealand citizens.
We do go through with the intelligence agencies, with the Federal Police, to have a look at individual cases, particularly where people are here on visas.
There might be questionable circumstances about some of the information that they have provided and we’ve set up a specific taskforce to go through and have a look at some of these high profile cases.
We’ve spoken publicly about that and I think it’s a necessary thing for us to do because if people are lying or providing false information about their applications, well we need to deal with that.
JOURNALIST: The sister of the murderer travelled to Turkey 24 hours before the shooting.
You’ve sought clarification from Turkish authorities, have you had any luck in finding out where she is? Whether she’s in Syria, Iraq or Turkey?
PETER DUTTON: Well, Ray, they’ll be inquiries undertaken by, no doubt, the AFP and my Department will provide whatever assistance is needed through the Immigration Department, but I haven’t seen any of that information.
JOURNALIST: Look, and I don’t put you into this lot, but I notice the Premier of New South Wales is backing away from describing this as a politically motivated attack.
Why were there so many people in Government, and even in the New South Wales Police, who we’re at pains to describe it as a politically motivated when obviously, given the young bloke was screaming ‘Allahu Akbar!’ as was shooting down the street, that it was a religious attack? That it was by a Muslim on a non-Muslim.
Why the reluctance by some people within your Government to call it for what it was?
PETER DUTTON: Well, Ray, people can answer for their own comments.
My comment is that we have to call these things for what they are.
If we want to have an honest relationship, whether it’s with the Muslim community or with Buddhists or whoever it might be, we have to have an honest discussion.
The fact is that we have a significant problem and we need to work with community leaders and people of influence within the Muslim community to deal with and to try and positively influence some of these people.
There’s obviously a lot work that the Attorney General does, that Michael Keenan as the Justice Minister does, to try and work with Australian communities, in particular in Sydney and Melbourne.
But we need to recognise that a lot of these kids have been radicalised online over a couple of weeks, whether or not they’re of the Muslim faith or another faith.
We know that they are receiving this education, this indoctrination, online and many of them wouldn’t have any idea about the values of Islam or about the values or Christianity or anything else.
The fact is we have a significant problem, in particular with people of, you know, in their teens – the age is getting younger and younger it seems.
Some of the advice is that it can take two or three weeks of internet indoctrination for these people to be able to be in a position to act.
We need to be realistic about that threat and I think that police are dealing with it as best they can.
JOURNALIST: Now, we’ve got 12,000 Syrian refugees coming to this country and that’s been applauded by everyone.
That was an action of the former Prime Minister Tony Abbott.
The news yesterday 7,000 of the 12,000 will be situated in Sydney, in fact around the Liverpool region where there apparently is a good number of Syrian refugees already, or Syrian immigrants.
People are worried about it.
When we discussed this, you and I, previously, we talked about marginalised Syrian groups and that means Christian groups.
People are concerned with the change of Prime Minister that maybe there will be a move away from what was originally announced.
Can you allay their fears?
PETER DUTTON: Ray, I can.
So, the former Prime Minister Mr Abbott and I worked closely and Mr Turnbull and I are working closely on it now as well.
The first point is we’re not going to sacrifice the security and health checks that need to be undertaken to verify who people are, because we to help those who are fleeing the sort of incidents that we saw in Sydney only a couple of days ago.
I mean the persecuted minorities; the Christians in particular, but others, have watched family members be beheaded, attacked and persecuted otherwise, so we want to help people who are the most in need.
We don’t want people who are seeking to jump on the end of the queue, or jump to the front of the queue, who are johnny-come-latelys and aren’t Syrians or aren’t in need of support. We’re not interested in providing a safe-haven to those people.
We want to seek out the legitimate ones and we are going to conduct the proper security checks.
I’ve been very specific to my Department about making sure that we have the biometric checks undertaken, in some cases there will be DNA checks.
We will work with the United Nations, but conduct our own checks with our intelligence partners otherwise to make sure the people that we’re accepting within the 12,000 are going to be a positive addition to our community, which will be a good thing for our country and a good thing for them.
So, we’ll work with New South Wales and Victoria and the Northern Territory, other State Governments who’ve expressed a will to try and provide support.
What we don’t want to do is create ghettos.
We want to provide an opportunity to have services delivered to people, including English language, including training so that people can get jobs.
We want to provide those services and generally that means that they need to be somewhere close to a large city or a like regional centre where those services can be provided.
We don’t want to marginalise people, we want people to be able to honour their past and recognise the fact that they have a rich history from where they were born, but you’re an Australian citizen now, you abide by our laws, you adhere to Australian practices and that’s what we ask of anybody who comes to our country.
If that’s the case, we find that things work out well and that’s what Australia’s been built on.
JOURNALIST: I don’t know if you caught up with the story last night on A Current Affair, I happened to be watching.
It’s about over-stayers being put up at the Adina Hotel in Brisbane, which has magnificent water views, it’s a four star establishment.
These are people waiting to be deported back. There was an Englishman on there last night quite happy to talk to the reporter from A Current Affair.
I’m wondering why they’re staying in this glamourous hotel in Brisbane, overlooking the Brisbane River and the Story Bridge, as opposed to a more appropriate facility that wouldn’t cost the taxpayer as much money.
This bloke spoke about three people being in the room being watched by three guards, I imagine they’re Serco guards, before they’re actually put on a plane and this could be weeks or, in some cases, many, many weeks staying in this luxury accommodation.
Are you aware of all of this?
PETER DUTTON: Ray, I have received some information overnight.
So, look, the Department’s approach is that they’ll seek out cheap accommodation options. In some cases it will depend on what’s available.
If they’ve got no room at the Immigration Detention Centre at the airport or at one of the facilities close by, then they will look for this sort of accommodation.
There will be multiple people, as you say, that are accommodated in one room.
They’ll have guards there and they’ll be awaiting deportation.
It’s not a prolonged arrangement and it should be a last resort that they end up in…
JOURNALIST: … Well I can help you, because I go to Brisbane quite regularly to call the football and also to appear on 4BC.
When I go up there I stay one of two places.
One’s relatively expensive and that’s in Charlotte Street, a block of apartments. But I stay a beautiful hotel complex out near the studios at Cannon Hill and it’s very affordable and a lot less than the place in Brisbane, or the Adina apartments. A lot less.
I reject, Minister, that your Department is looking for cheaper options.
The Adina Hotel is beautiful hotel overlooking the Brisbane River. There are much cheaper accommodation packages in Brisbane for over-stayers than that one, I can give you a tip.
PETER DUTTON: Well, Ray, we’ll see if we can get the room next door to you next time you’re …
JOURNALIST: … Happy to give you the name of the place we stay at. They serve a nice pub meal downstairs, there’s no room service, there’s no pool, but it’s affordable and clean.
PETER DUTTON: If they’ve made a mistake here, Ray, it’s not to be repeated and they will seek out cheap accommodation options and that is the direction they’ve been given.
JOURNALIST: Look, I wanted to talk to you briefly and finish it here, about a story I’ve raised with you previously.
It’s about a woman who’s now in detention, I think in Darwin, awaiting deportation to New Zealand and you raised this earlier in the interview.
There was an article in the Sunshine Coast Daily about this woman Angela Russell and it typified that she’s being deported for shoplifting.
She’s actually been in jail five times. She has an extensive criminal record and a record of drug abuse.
In fact, the Family Court, as I understand it, has given custody of a child to her husband, or partner as the case may be.
It’s been suggested that Angela Russell needs to stay here because of her children, she doesn’t have custody of that four-year-old and her 16-year-old daughter has chosen not to live with her.
How do these people con journalists and the like, even at the Sunshine Coast Daily, that they’re deserving of support?
PETER DUTTON: Well, Ray, let me give your listeners a bit of detail about Ms Russell and then people can make their own judgements.
Just a reminder about this programme.
The Immigration Minister, I’m in this role at the moment, we have the ability to go through and cancel people’s visas, so we’re not talking about Australian citizens, but if they’ve done the wrong thing, they’ve been involved in criminal activity, they can have their visa cancelled and be sent back to their country of origin.
Now, Ms Russell arrived in Australia - in 2002, and this is publicly available, but I’m sick of just hearing one side of the story from some of these journalists who are rushing out there to pretend that they’re the victim, they’re the friend of the offender and forget all about the victim.
This is what the history reads like.
So, from 2002: conviction for stealing, for assault, for possession of a dangerous drug, entering a dwelling and committing an indictable offence, attempted fraud and commit indictable offence, attempted fraud, dishonestly gain a benefit or advantage, wilful damage, assault or obstruct police.
Most recently, in January of this year, she was imprisoned for nine months. In 2008 she was imprisoned for 18 months for entering a dwelling with intent by breaking in at night, using threats of violence whilst armed and in company.
She was warned by my Department in April of 2014 that if there were any further offences committed she would have her visa cancelled.
There was a conviction in January of this year, so after the warning had been issued, and this woman was convicted on five stealing charges and imprisoned for nine months.
I think she’s had more than a fair go and I think most Australians would say that if you’re here on a visa you’re expected to abide by Australian law.
If you break the law, you go back to your country where you came from.
That’s exactly what we’re doing in this situation and if people believe that somehow I’m going to backflip or bend in relation to these cases, they have got it completely wrong, Ray.
We need to make sure that we keep our society safe, our borders secure. That’s exactly what we’re doing and I’m going to find more of these cases.
If people want to put out one side of the story, I’ll put out the other side and reasonable people can make their judgment about whether she’s been given a fair go or indeed too much of a fair go and that’s the decision that’s been made and that’s what will happen.
JOURNALIST: Well maybe we should send the audio of this interview and what you’ve just said over the last two or three minutes to Julie Bishop and to the New Zealand Prime Minister, who were wringing their hands about how unfairly this woman had been treated.
PETER DUTTON: Well, Ray, I just think we need to rely on the facts and I think the facts in this case speak for themselves.
JOURNALIST: Ok, we’ll talk next week. Thanks for your time.
PETER DUTTON: Thanks, Ray. Take care.