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Subjects: Election; Labor divided on boats; Operation Sovereign Borders; Manus RPC; Same Sex Marriage Plebiscite.





Peter Dutton joins me now from Brisbane. Peter, thank you so much for your time.




Pleasure Andrew, thank you.




Is Tony Abbott right to hint that you have been stopped from making boats policy as big an issue in this campaign as you would like because clearly it’s been a winner?




Well Andrew I think we have been really very involved in this campaign and I think Malcolm Turnbull in his speech at the party rally in Sydney only last weekend dedicated a large part of his speech to the very important issue of border protection.


I have been at pre-polling at Strathpine in my electorate of Dickson for the last couple of days and people are raising this issue on a regular basis. People want to make sure that we have secure borders and that we do have a safer community and people understand that Labor remains divided. So I think people have heard that message consistently through the election campaign.


People understand that Bill Shorten has 50 members of his own party who are still at odds with Mr Shorten’s position and yet in contrast to that Malcolm Turnbull leads a united team that is absolutely determined to make sure we can continue the success which not only stopped the boats and the drownings at sea, but has also got the kids out of detention which I think has been a very significant achievement of this Government.   




Yes I have noticed the Left applauding you ever since.


How big an issue do you think it really is? Is it at the front of the mind of voters, really. I mean are they thinking jobs? Are they thinking economy? Are they thinking, I don’t know, global warming or are they thinking boats?




Andrew my sense, having moved around a lot of marginal seats around the country and spent a lot of time in Queensland seats including my own which is a marginal seat, people have two issues at the forefront of their mind. One is to make sure that we have jobs and growth and that we have a stable government and secure economy, a strong economy particularly given the headwinds internationally not only in the United Kingdom, but across Europe, in China and elsewhere – people do want a stable government because they are worried about going into more debt which is what Mr Shorten’s proposing.


The second issue is that they do want secure borders. They want to make sure that we know who is coming to this country. They are seeing what is happening in Istanbul, in Brussels, in Paris. They are seeing what is happening in the United States and elsewhere around the world and they want a government, a stable government, that can deliver very strong borders and make sure that we can keep people as safe and humanly possible in the modern age. They’re the issues that people are raising with me at pre-polling and I think that they’re the issues that are decisive in people’s minds.


I think Mr Shorten has demonstrated on both of those issues that he doesn’t hold the credibility and that he doesn’t have the capacity to be the Prime Minister for these very difficult times and I think that’s very stark contrast to the strength of the leadership that Mr Turnbull brings to this election. I think people are demonstrating that around booths across the country as they vote in pre-polling.




Fine. Can I just get that right? You said they have seen Istanbul, they have seen other terrorist attacks and they support – the public is looking at your border policies. Are you linking boat arrivals with terrorist arracks?




No. I think people are seeing what’s happening in parts of Europe where some countries have lost control frankly of their borders and they don’t know who is crossing their borders.


The reality is in our country that some people did come across our border when Labor lost control of our borders – 50,000 people arrived on 800 boats. Many people came without documents. Now, that may have been ok 20 or 30 years ago, but in the modern age we need to know, whether people are coming by boat or by plane, who they are. We need to establish their identities and we need to make sure of that because we need to keep our country safe.


I have dedicated myself to the cause of keeping our borders secure, of cancelling the visas of criminals that would seek to do harm to Australian citizens and I think in doing that we have kept our community safer.


I think at this election people realise that Mr Shorten is presiding over a team, including Anthony Albanese, you mentioned in your opening remarks who would be leader after the election if Mr Shorten loses the election, these people are adamantly opposed to the policies which have worked to keep our borders secure and I think people see Labor as absolutely divided on these key issues. 




But you said the terrorism, I think you said it twice, the terrorism overseas, border controls here. Are you saying that if Labor comes in the boats return we will be at greater risk of terrorist attack? 




I think that we have shown Andrew, over the course of the last couple of years that we have been able to stop people boarding planes that have been on their way to Australia we think to do harm.


We have been able to cancel visas. We have introduced legislation which will allow us to strip the citizenship of those people who are dual nationals who we believe are involved in terrorist activities. We don’t want those people here…




…that’s a different issue. That’s a different issue. And you are right, no you are completely right…




…well when I talk about border security….


When I talk about border security, I mean we are talking about those people that come by plane, those people that come by boat and it doesn’t matter what method of transport people come by, we must establish the identity.


You cannot have people travelling in the modern age without identity documents. You cannot have people that destroy their passports that refuse to acknowledge what county they come from, you cannot tolerate that.


And this was the huge problem that Mr Rudd and Ms Gillard presided over and Mr Shorten was a senior Minister in that Cabinet that saw people, 1,200 of whom drowned at sea, people coming across our borders with no papers.


We have been able to restore integrity to our borders, both our sea borders and people who arrive by plane, people who are coming to our airports…




Get me right Peter, I’m not pillorying you for making such a link. In fact I’m sympathetic to it, I’m drawing a, you might recall how Wilson Tuckey when Malcolm Turnbull was first Opposition Leader got pilloried for making the link you’re doing by Labor  and I think they were in denial about what may be a link.


Can I turn to Papua New Guinea’s Supreme Court has ordered the PNG Government to finish processing the refugee claims of the, I think it’s about a thousand boat people we’ve got at Manus Island centre, to finish it in the next fortnight and the centre must, of course,  close by court order.


Have you figured out where those one thousand people, or at least those deemed to be refugees, will then go?




Well Andrew the situation is very clear from the Australian perspective that is that we will work with the PNG authorities.


The Supreme Court in PNG has not ruled that Manus Island must close, but they have said that they want the processing done more quickly and they want the outstanding cases to be finalised.


One of the difficulties for my counterpart in PNG is that some of these people who are claiming to be refugees are refusing to provide any detail about their claim.


Essentially they’re saying ‘we don’t want our claim assessed in PNG we want to go to Australia, we’ve paid money to a people smuggler and we want to go to Australia’ now I’ve been very clear, and we’ve repeated it on a number of occasions, that these people under no circumstance will be coming to our country.


We will work with the PNG authorities. They’ve offered a home in PNG for these people who are seeking refuge and for those people who are found not to be refugees they must return back to their country of origin and we are working on third country alternatives to see those people return to, either to their country of origin as a first preference, or to a third country and we’ll work through those details for people who are on Manus or Nauru.


But the most important thing is we cannot allow the people smugglers to recommence their trade because the vacancies that we’re creating within these centres, bearing in mind that we’ve closed 17 detention centres in Australia when Labor had opened 17 detention centres, I don’t want new boat arrivals filling those vacancies and so it is a delicate balancing act and my very strong belief is that only the Turnbull Government can deal with this and a Shorten Government has not ability to deal with what is a very complex issue.




OK. You are a senior leader or representative of the conservatives within the Liberal Party and some say a future Prime Minister.


Now can you tell conservatives like me why we should not be worried that Malcolm

Turnbull, once elected, will drag the party further to the Left after the election?




Well Andrew I’m very proud to be a person of conservative values and I’ve been on the frontbench of the Liberal Party since 2004. I’ve served all of our leaders of the Liberal Party from John Howard on, loyally, and I continue to do that with Malcolm Turnbull.


I believe very strongly that Malcolm Turnbull is providing good leadership to our party and as John Howard says our party is a broad church and it always has been, it always will be and those of us in senior positions within the Liberal Party will always express very strongly around the Cabinet table, in the partyroom and publicly our views which we think the Liberal Party should embrace and whether…




…You don’t think you’ve been rolled because you’ve already been taken off the National Security Committee for example. Malcolm Turnbull’s boycotted this show, you know the pinging of Tony Abbott, I mean there’s lots of straws in the wind here, but your confident that you won’t be rolled….




Andrew I can only talk from my own experience and that is that I’ve got a very good relationship with Malcolm Turnbull.


I think he’s provided the leadership that we need to get jobs and growth, to make sure that we can keep national security absolutely paramount, number one priority for this government, to keep our borders secure.


Look at Malcolm Turnbull’s record when it comes to boats; when he was Opposition Leader first he absolutely was rock solid when it came to making sure that all Australians knew that he thought Labor was doing the wrong thing in unwinding John Howard’s policies…




…he wasn’t rock solid, he was against offshore processing so he wasn’t quite rock solid…




…he was very much against…




….I’ll just move on, you’ve been against same sex marriage, I’d like to clear this up. The party’s policy is to let the people decide the issue at a plebiscite this year, that’s terrific.


But what is the party’s policy if the Senate blocks this plebiscite with the Labor and the Greens saying a plebiscite just creates hatred etc, would there be then no same sex marriage vote under the Liberals in Parliament?




Andrew, look our policy is to win this election because that is what is in the best interests of this country. This election is not about a vote on same sex marriage, that vote will come in the plebiscite which the Prime Minister has pledged to do.


Now Mr Shorten is out there criticising people of Christian faith and others who feel very strongly, importantly so, about this issue. I think it’s been a very, very bad mistake by Bill Shorten, but that’s a decision for him.


Malcolm Turnbull’s made it very clear that he wants to hear from the Australian people at a plebiscite and people will have that chance after the election, but at the moment when we’re 36 hours away from an election people are deciding, as I said to you before, on very important issues; the first of which is who can best manage the economy, who can provide stable government and who can manage our borders and keep national security at the forefront, I mean it is very clear on both of those….




…..sure but I just want to know your understanding, if the same sex marriage decision will be decided by a plebiscite or not at all in the next term of the Turnbull Government?




Well it’s very clear that we have the vote and that decides essentially what our country will do and if people feel strongly on the issue…




…no, but if there’s no vote, if there’s no vote, that’s the issue…




….there will be a vote. That’s the Government’s commitment. There will be a vote, a plebiscite, because we want to hear from Australians and I think that is, in a democracy like ours, an absolutely reasonable approach and Bill Shorten…




…I agree with you, but I’m still not getting an answer, I’ll move on…




…..I think it’s pretty clear…a plebiscite takes place after the election.




I know, but they’re going to block it, they’re going to block it and then what do you do, that is the issue.


But can I ask you one thing. There’s a lot of people saying ‘ooh well listen the Liberals if the plebiscite says yes to same sex marriage, will all these Liberals vote no, naughty people’; isn’t the question really if the plebiscite votes no do you expect all your colleagues to abide by that decision and vote no themselves to same sex marriage regardless of their personal commitment?




Andrew it’s an issue for those colleagues. I think from my perspective I’ll be campaigning against any change, I’ll be voting against any change in the plebiscite and my judgement is if you put this to the people and you hold a plebiscite that you accept that judgement and that’s been my approach I’ve been very upfront with people who have asked me about this in my electorate, but this is an issue for after the election.


The issue now for people in the next 36 hours and I’ll make this plea to all conservative voters across the country please don’t vote for independent candidates because people who thought that Clive Palmer as an independent was going to be a good person in the Parliament he has demonstrated that he is not and people that run on single issues will not act in the best interests of this country if they’re elected to the Senate or the Lower House please vote for either your Liberal or National Party candidate…


ANDREW BOLT:, no Peter, anyone who voted for Clive Palmer had rocks in their head.




I agree.




Good on you. Thank you so much.





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