11 February, 2016
Subjects: Ministerial colleagues; Tara Nettleton/Khaled Sharrouf.
JOURNALIST: Minister if I can just start with; should Stuart Robert lose his job?
PETER DUTTON: Well that’s an issue for the Prime Minister and obviously I think the Prime Minister has done the right thing in asking for an investigation to have a look at all of the particulars and once the Prime Minister receives that report, no doubt he’ll pass judgement then.
JOURNALIST: There’s been accusations that the Cabinet is in chaos with all of these Ministers dropping down like flies. Do you agree with that?
PETER DUTTON: No. I wanted to pay tribute to Andrew Robb and to Warren Truss in particular today.
Andrew Robb, like Warren Truss, for decades has given service to our country and Andrew Robb has been an absolute master in the Trade portfolio. He has presided over deals that will be of billions of dollars of benefit to the Australian economy, thousands of people will go into new jobs because of the agreements that Andrew Robb has been able to broker over his time in the portfolio. I’ve known Andrew for a long period of time. He’s a dear friend and he will do well in the next stage of his life.
And similarly for Warren Truss. He and his wife Lyn have dedicated themselves, not only to Wide Bay and to Queensland, but to our country and he has been a masterful Deputy Prime Minister and I think he has served the Australian public very well and I think he deserves the gratitude of all Australians.
JOURNALIST: in the impending reshuffle, would you be confident of keeping your portfolio?
PETER DUTTON: Ultimately these are all decisions for the Prime Minister but I’m determined to make sure that we can get children out of detention, I’m determined to make sure that we don’t allow the boats to recommence and that we can bring the 12,000 Syrians into Australia as soon as possible, whilst making sure that we keep national security of our country as the absolute priority. So there’s a lot of work still to do and as the Prime Minister has said to me, continuity in this portfolio is important – so I’ll look forward to continuing to work hard and ultimately the Prime Minister will make judgements in due course about the composition of the frontbench.
JOURNALIST: Just on another issue, there’s a plea for the children and grandchildren of Tara Nettleton’s mother to be brought back to Australia now that, and I know it hasn’t been confirmed, but now that there are reports that Tara has been killed over in the Middle East. Is it Australia’s responsibility to bring those kids home?
PETER DUTTON: I’ve seen the media reports in relation to Nettleton. I don’t know whether they’re accurate or not. The point that I would make is that it’s very hard to get accurate information from war zones and in particular to verify whether or not somebody has been killed in these theatres. So I think it’s an issue for the agencies and for the authorities here in Australia to make those determinations – but that’s the only information that I can provide.
JOURNALIST: Would it be Australia’s responsibility to look after those children though?
PETER DUTTON: Well just, to make a separate general point; Australians receive consular assistance regardless of their circumstances and regardless of their age, but in particular for children there’s consular assistance provided. But in relation to the Nettleton case; I think we would need to have a look at all of the facts, make sure that all of that was verified and known to the authorities, but at the moment I just don’t have any further information than what’s publicly available.
JOURNALIST: Just lastly on the Save the Children workers who were found to not have breached or coached their client or people who were on Nauru, are you under an obligation to apologise to them?
PETER DUTTON: No and I’ve dealt with that last week and the Secretary has dealt with it in Senate Estimates. I don’t have any further comment in relation to that issue.