Topics: Prime Minister’s travel to the G7, Sri Lankan Tamil Family
DAVID KOCH: Joining me now, Home Affairs Minister Karen Andrews from Thursday Island in Torres Strait. Minister, the WA Premier has even warned Australia could be the big loser if the PM keeps attacking China on this issue. How hard is the Government prepared to go on criticising our biggest trading partner?
KAREN ANDREWS: Well, the PM is on his way over to Cornwall now for the G7 meeting. That is a significant meeting of some global leaders that Australia has not always been part of, but the Prime Minister, Scott Morrison, has for the last three years.
What he will be taking to that meeting is very strong concerns about trade. We are here in Australia clearly a very strong trading nation, we need to do what we can to make sure that we are protecting our trade rights and responsibilities, and of course, we would expect that the Prime Minister would be going to a meeting such as the G7 to speak with our like-minded nations there and talk to them about the importance of making sure that there are appropriate but strong penalties in relation to trade.
DAVID KOCH: While we’ve got you, you said you’re looking at resettlement options for the Biloela family in both America and New South Wales. Its cost Australian taxpayers, all of us, $6.7 million so far to keep this family on Christmas Island. As Home Affairs Minister, you’ve got the power to intervene at any point. A lot of Australians would be saying- are saying to me: ‘why are you being so mean to this family? Why don’t you intervene, why don’t you just send them back to Queensland? What’s the point?’
KAREN ANDREWS: Let me just pick up the first point that you just made then. I actually haven’t said that I’m investigating resettlement options for that family. What I did say is that I was looking at investigating resettlement options in a range of circumstances. The PM also came-
DAVID KOCH: Even back to Queensland?
KAREN ANDREWS: No, no. Let me be clear about what I said. It was a very general comment in relation to cohorts that we have here in Australia, that I’m on the record as saying that we will be working with. Now, I have been on the record in saying that I’m working with New Zealand in terms of refugees who have been medevaced here to Australia. Those negotiations and discussions will continue.
DAVID KOCH: But this family, why are you being so mean?
KAREN ANDREWS: It’s not a case of being mean, we are very strong as a government and our policy in relation to our border protection. These are long-standing policies, and quite frankly, I’m not going to have people die trying to come to Australia by sea on my watch. So, let’s not forget the history that we’ve had here where we know that more than 1200 people actually died trying to get here. I’m not going to open the gates to the people smugglers. Now, having said that, obviously we are concerned for the welfare of people who are in Australia, and I am assured by Border Force that they’re doing everything they can to make sure that that particular family is well accommodated on Christmas Island.
DAVID KOCH: Okay. Alright, Minister. Thank you for that from Torres Strait up there where you’re looking at our Border Force facilities there. Appreciate your time.