Subject: 501 deportations, election timing, Senate reform, Tony Windsor, retirement of Teresa Gambaro, Cambodia resettlement, Operation Sovereign Borders, QLD Government, unions.
JOURNALIST: Peter Dutton, good morning to you.
PETER DUTTON: Good morning, Ray.
JOURNALIST: Over the past 15 months we’re told that you’ve revoked or refused to renew visas for more than 1000 people, 1052 I think as a matter of fact. We’re talking about murderers, paedophiles, drug dealers, bikies and rapists. The thing that concerned me in congratulating you about that is that 80% are being appealed.
Now I know you can’t talk about individual cases, but do we get the same sort of result when the matter goes to appeal or not?
PETER DUTTON: We’ve had a pretty good result when the matters go to appeal.
There have been a couple of bikies that have gone to the High Court and matters have been resolved in the Government’s favour in many of these cases, so I think we’ve got good grounds to cancel the visas.
At the heart of this Ray is that we’re conducting operations with the police forces from around the country and in addition to that with the Australian Crime Commission. So we’re trying together to identify the top targets and people who are causing most grief in our community.
I think people believe that if you’re here as a non-citizen you abide by our laws. If you don’t, if you’re committing offences against Australians, you can expect to have your visa very quickly cancelled.
JOURNALIST: The Prime Minister, as I have indicated both today, yesterday and the day before, is keeping his options wide open – firstly for the Budget and then a possible election on July 2nd.
I got emails from your constituents telling me that your beaming smile is across the electorate already.
Are you getting ready for an early election? As opposed to one in August, September, October?
PETER DUTTON: I’m using that old photo where I had a bit more hair Ray.
JOURNALIST: You’ll have less by October if things keep happening the way they’re happening at the moment I’ll tell you.
PETER DUTTON: I’ve got some billboards booked, but I booked them a fair while ago and for most of this year. There are a couple of prime spots that I wanted to get in. So, no, not a heads up, but obviously in an election year these things start early and expectation and speculation start pretty quickly.
I think people now are starting to see the distinctions drawn between the Liberal Party and the Labor Party, particularly over tax. This tax on people’s houses and people who might have a small share portfolio and a margin loan – now Labor’s saying that they won’t be able to claim a deduction on that interest. This is a huge issue Ray and I think this will be one of the big issues in this election year.
JOURNALIST: Do you understand that the electorate are just a bit concerned, from my point of view, that we don’t all overcook this and that we don’t want to be too smart about it?
That if the Senate is hostile and if you can’t get important legislation though then the only answer is to dissolve the Senate and the lower house and go to a double dissolution.
Now if all of a sudden we’re getting stuff from the Prime Minister where he says, “Oh, it will be the second half,” well July 2nd is the second half of the year.
I mean people want some surety. I know you don’t want to signal your intention to the Opposition, you know get them ready, you want to keep them guessing, but at the same time in keeping them guessing Minister you’re keeping the Australians guessing. I mean and that doesn’t sit too well with many people.
PETER DUTTON: Well Ray, the Prime Minister obviously will work through a process which he thinks is going to be ultimately in the best interests of the country.
I think most Australians believe that having Bill Shorten, as a character of the CFMEU and dictated to by the union movement, having that man as Prime Minister would not be in our country’s best interests.
So the Government needs to go to an election this year. That process is never easy, but it’s not easy at the moment in particular, as you say, because of the Senate composition. I mean you’ve got people like Clive Palmer, Jacqui Lambie and Ricky Muir, all of these people running around that nobody voted for.
The Senate reform that we’re talking about actually delivers back into the hands of the voter the capacity to know where their vote is going. So when people fill out the Senate paper after the next election they’ll know where their vote is going to end up, not end up supporting somebody else.
JOURNALIST: What’s the timeline for that Senate reform? Will that be done this week?
PETER DUTTON: I think it will be done in the next sitting week and I think, again, that will allow people to know where they’re casting their vote that that’s where it’s going to end up. I think that’s a big problem that…
JOURNALIST: …and the Greens haven’t backed away from the promises they’ve made so that you don’t get to the Senate and all of a sudden you stumble across the line?
PETER DUTTON: I think Mathias Cormann and others who are working hard with other Senators to get support and I think ultimately they’ll get it.
Look, Gary Gray, who’s the Shadow Minister…
JOURNALIST: …but he’s retiring.
PETER DUTTON: He’s retiring, but he said “look, these reforms are sensible.” He supports them personally. He got rolled by the union bosses in his Shadow Cabinet, but he knows that this is a sensible reform.
I think people – when they look at the goings on with Clive Palmer and Jacqui Lambie and whatnot – they understand that change needs to take place.
JOURNALIST: We’ll get an announcement we believe in about 25 minutes from Tony Windsor on what he plans to do – either run for the Senate or take on Barnaby Joyce in his old seat of New England.
I hope the people of New England have got long memories on that fact that he delivered Government to Julia Gillard in that election, famously. The other thing that I was reading this morning, which I can’t come to terms with and I shared it with my listeners a bit earlier – he’s talking about the fact that someone’s got to fight the Federal and State Government about coal mines.
This is the same man that sold his family farm for $4.625 million which was way over the odds per hectare that his rival has got in the same area. I believe he has now bought farms further out west, out around Coonabarabran or Coonamble or west of Coonamble actually. I don’t understand it.
What is he about? I mean is he suffering some sort of deprivation syndrome that no one talks about him anymore?
PETER DUTTON: Well Ray, I think that’s part of it. I think he loves the media attention but, as you say, I mean he’s a self-funded retiree. He’s got millions of dollars out of the sale of his farm to a mining company and now pretends to be the champion of farmers.
I think people will see through this and the fact that Barnaby Joyce is Deputy Prime Minister, he’s the local Member there, I mean people see that and they will, as a local area, have good access through Barnaby Joyce to the highest levels of Government. I think that’s good for a local area.
Why would you go back to somebody that kept Julia Gillard and Kevin Rudd in Government?
JOURNALIST: Your listeners on 4BC have sent me emails this morning about two issues germane particularly to Brisbane. The retirement announcement yesterday by Teresa Gambaro – they’re saying to me that because of her backing of the Prime Minister, the current Prime Minister, she wouldn’t have been returned anyway.
Were you surprised by her announcement that she wouldn’t contest the next election?
PETER DUTTON: I think we’ll win the seat of Brisbane because I think Malcolm Turnbull is a Prime Minister that appeals to an electorate like Brisbane.
I think you’ll see a lot of Malcolm Turnbull in the electorate of Brisbane…
JOURNALIST: …what about if Campbell Newman is the LNP candidate? Will you still win it then?
PETER DUTTON: Well I think the process needs to be gone through.
Obviously if Campbell’s interested, I’ve seen the media speculation, but I haven’t spoken to him in the last 24 hours, so I don’t know whether he’s interested.
There’s a great young fellow up there, Trevor Evans, who has been a local branch member there for a long time and he’s a good person that intends to stick his hand up.
There will be others, no doubt. The process will go through, as it does. There will be a preselection and our candidate will be selected.
I think you’ll see a lot of Malcolm Turnbull there because he has resonated well with the people of Brisbane.
It will be a tough campaign, it’s a marginal seat, but I think in the end we’ll retain that seat.
JOURNALIST: I note yesterday that Shadow Immigration Minister Richard Marles held a press conference attacking your Department’s boss Michael Pezzullo.
Mr Pezzullo had previously dismissed these as highly offensive, unwarranted and wrong claims from critics that likened detention centres to gulags and suggestions of public indifference similar to that allegedly experienced in Nazi Germany.
Now, Richard Marles seized upon that ‘allegedly’. The Department says it was taken out of context.
I think it’s a bit offensive for Mr Marles to suggest anyone in your Department is a holocaust denier. I mean it was one word and maybe it should not have been used, but it was inadvertent use was it not?
PETER DUTTON: I think it was just overreach Ray.
I mean the Labor Party is split right down the middle when it comes to boats policy and I think Mr Marles is probably trying to appeal to the left of his Party who scream that they should open the borders again and allow boats to restart.
Even the Fairfax papers criticised Mr Marles and thought it was an overreach and for them to call him out, that’s a pretty big occurrence.
Mike Pezzullo has worked for both Labor and Liberal administrations. He’s a first class administrator and we’ve got an incredibly hard working team at Australian Border Force.
Some people don’t like the fact that we have stopped boats and we’ve got a tough policy in place, but we’re not going to step back from that.
JOURNALIST: Much has been made of this. You’ve done a deal with Cambodia, a $55 million deal, and some of it is aid I think. You’ve sent, I think, only five people, or five have volunteered to go to Cambodia. Now there’s only three there because two have gone back to their native Iran.
Wouldn’t this be positive and proof that, you know, you’re saying to the people smugglers, “look you won’t get here and eventually you might end up back where you came from anyway via Cambodia.”
PETER DUTTON: Of course Ray.
I mean part of the key message that we’re saying to people smugglers and we’re saying to people in Indonesia, 14,000 of whom are ready to get onto boats today, we’re saying that if you come by boat you won’t be settled in Australia. You’ll go to Nauru, you can go to Manus Island, you can go to Cambodia – a third country, we’ll help pay for you to go back to your own country, but you won’t be settling here. That’s been a significant part of the reason why we’ve stopped the boats.
There are some fanciful figures going around at the moment. There’s an aid component to that, which…
JOURNALIST: …that’s what I figure. You’re giving them aid.
The $55 million is not just saying look take these five people at $11 million each is it?
PETER DUTTON: There’s $40 million of that which is aid money, which is helping with crop production, it’s helping clear landmines and it’s helping to get democratic elections. So aid money as it normally would be spent.
In addition to that there’s a component which is to help people go from Nauru to Cambodia, but only $2 million has been expended so far.
The fact that we’ve had no drownings at sea, no successful boat arrivals, I think is a pretty significant outcome.
If Labor wants to undo that then they should tell people before the election.
JOURNALIST: Now, Bangladeshi men. They were on a boat, six of them, that sunk on the Timor Sea on their way here. Australian authorities helped those on board, offloading the six boat people and two crew onto an Indonesian fishing vessel. There are claims that Border Force scuttled the boat.
Can you give me some details on this?
PETER DUTTON: Well Ray, there’s been a bit of activity on water and, as I say, people who think that the boats have gone away, it just defies the reality of what we’re dealing with.
We’re dealing with ventures, we’re dealing with distress calls from boats and we’re dealing with people what have got problems at sea.
Australian Border Force has assisted a vessel and I don’t have any further public comment to make on it, but at some stage we’ll release more detail publicly.
They have helped out some fisherman and I understand they have returned to Indonesia.
JOURNALIST: I was just reading this and it’s got nothing to go with your portfolio, but you’re a prominent Queensland politician.
I’ve campaigned in New South Wales, for a long time, for stronger sentencing for paedophiles and to a certain extent we’ve had a recent decision in New South Wales which seems to make me think we’re going down the right path. It was a Criminal Court of Appeal decision in relation to a horrible paedophile called Maurice Van Ryn who had his sentence doubled to 13 years and six months.
But this relates to attacks on members of this, or alleged attacks, on members of this man’s family. I can’t name him. They say he’s from Sinnamon Park. I think it’s just west of Brisbane, Sinnamon Park, a suburb there. Here’s facing a host of serious child sex offences and the matter has been mentioned in Court.
The 54 year old, who can’t be named for legal reasons, and that would be because it’s incest and it’s his own children, was charged on August 17 2014. 2014. With 15 counts of indecent treatment of a child, 11 counts of sexual assault, two counts of deprivation of liberty. He’s facing ten other serious charges. The alleged offences occurred between April 1 and June 30 2014, during that timeframe.
The man’s matter was adjourned briefly on Wednesday, being yesterday, at Ipswich Magistrates Court where it was adjourned until April 20.
This is the one that got me going – the man remains free on bail.
PETER DUTTON: Well Ray, I just think for parents, for police, for good decent people, this is just an affront.
The courts will operate under the laws that are provided by the Parliament and I think this is a deficiency in the law in Queensland.
It has been addressed, as you say, in some part in New South Wales.
JOURNALIST: Not totally, but better than Queensland I will say that.
PETER DUTTON: Because of the campaign that you and others have conducted there is a better situation where kids can feel more protected in New South Wales than they are in Queensland.
I don’t think in Queensland we should stand for it. I think it should be a major issue in the run-up to the next election.
We don’t have Senate, there’s not an Upper House in Queensland – if the Government wants to change the laws they can change them tomorrow.
We should have stricter laws, particularly around bail and particularly around allegations against people that have committed, or are alleged to have committed, offences against children.
We know with sexual offences, with predators, that they are more likely to reoffend. They are recidivist offenders and if people are harmed whilst this person or somebody else is on bail people will be rightly outraged.
The Magistrates will operate under the law and there’s some discretion there. They should listen to the community views.
We live in a democratic society. I believe that there should be a change to the laws in Queensland and I think it should be a key election issue so that the police and the community can feel safer in bringing these people before the courts so they’re taken off the streets and they’re not reoffending.
JOURNALIST: Is Annastacia Palaszczuk bluffing about going to the polls after the defection of Mr Pyne from North Queensland?
PETER DUTTON: I think she’s bluffing. I think she knows that Mr Pyne, as a Labor Party member, former member, will support Labor as Craig Thomson did in the Federal Parliament. This circus will continue on.
The problem is that on the ground people are suffering. Queenslanders are losing their jobs, the mining industry is in a slump, housing is not going well in the South-East corner. Tourism is going ok in certain parts of Queensland, but we need infrastructure projects on the ground and the problem at the moment is that Labor has run out of money. They’re employing more public servants, which is, you know, fine because that keeps the unions happy, but it means they’re not building the rail lines or the roads that employ Queenslanders otherwise.
That’s, I think, hugely frustrating and that’s why I think Lawrence Springborg has got a big chance at the next election.
JOURNALIST: It’s funny you should mention unions. There’s a story in the Courier Mail today which you might not have caught up with.
A Brisbane construction union official behaved like a thug when he turned up to a worksite uninvited and began loudly abusing non-union workers.
A court has ruled and Scott Vink was fined $9,000, the CFMEU must pay $48,000 within a month, after both admitted Vink abused non-union workers for using a smoko shed at the Westfield Pacific Fair site at Broadbeach in March of 2014.
PETER DUTTON: Well Annastacia Palaszczuk will tell you she’s a great champion of workers and making sure that a workplace is all safe and harmonious.
If it was a fellow employee that made these sort of suggestions or threats then Labor would be outraged, but because it’s a union boss and somebody who is donating money to the Labor Party they go silent on it.
These people are thugs. They’re costing thousands of dollars extra for every unit and home that people buy because the CFMEU is standing over building companies. It makes the price of units or houses tens of thousands of dollars more expensive and I think we need to call it out for what it is.
The Royal Commission pinged these guys and some of these people are going to court shortly.
If we clean it up we’ll see a reduction in the prices of houses and units and I can’t understand why the Labor Party would not condemn these people for the thugs they are.
JOURNALIST: As always, thanks for your time. We’ll talk next week.
PETER DUTTON: Thanks, Ray. Take care.