Subjects: Cambodia resettlement, election timing.
JOURNALIST: Immigration Minister Peter Dutton joins us now. Minister, good morning to you. Fifty five million dollars, that’s an expensive stop-over.
PETER DUTTON: Well Sylvia, obviously the Government is determined to make sure that we don’t allow people smugglers to get back into business.
We have been very clear about the fact if you come to Australia by boat you will never settle here.
We have entered into an arrangement with Cambodia. There are two elements to it. One is a $40 million aid package to try and provide support to local communities there, to make sure that we can provide support to elections, to crop production and then there is a $15 million component which talks about trying to help people resettle.
If we can do that, it means we can stop people drowning at sea and stop people from coming to Australia. I think that is a pretty good outcome
JOURNALIST: But it is safe to say it’s not having a huge impact. Fifty five million dollars, as you said, in total so far five people have taken up that offer when there are about 400 Iranian refugees alone in Nauru and also Manus Island. Are you sure that is a success?
PETER DUTTON: Well Sylvia, we had 50,000 people coming here on 800 boats and 1,200 drowned at sea when Labor lost control of our borders.
We have not had a successful people smuggling venture arrive in Australia for a long period of time now. We have had no drownings at sea. We have been able to get the number of children out of detention from 8,000 children who went in detention under Labor. The number now is less than 50 and I want to get it down to zero.
So I think the policy has been a success. We have been able to close 13 of 17 detention centres. At the same time, we have been able to increase the number of refugees we take through the United Nations process.
So restoring order to our borders and making sure we have strong border security, as we are seeing in Europe, is as important today as it ever has been.
JOURNALIST: Surely the fact that this Iranian couple has returned to their homeland, a place of persecution though, says plenty about the set-up in Cambodia….
On another issue Mr Dutton, July 2, will we be heading to the polls?
PETER DUTTON: Well Sylvia, I think only the PM knows that.
Obviously I think it is becoming pretty clear that this election will be about Labor’s taxes and their proposals to whack a tax on housing.
If house prices go down and rents go up under Labor, then I think that is a pretty clear battle for us at the election, whenever it might be. I think people now are starting to understand that Labor’s proposal to reduce housing prices and increase rents will hit families and small businesses and cripple the economy.
So there is a lot at stake at this election, whenever it might be. I think we will wait and see what happens over the coming weeks and months.
JOURNALIST: We will indeed. Immigration Minister Peter Dutton, thank you for your time this morning.
PETER DUTTON: Thanks Sylvia.