Subjects: Morrison Government’s strong border protection policies, Labor’s back-flipping and flip-flopping on our borders.
PATRICIA KARVELAS: The bid to pick a fight with Labor over energy policy coincides with efforts to place border protection at the forefront of the campaign – with the PM warning that an Albanese government would see asylum seeker boats start up again. Karen Andrews is the Minister for Home Affairs and is our guest this morning. Minister welcome.
KAREN ANDREWS: Good morning how are you?
KARVELAS: Good thank you. The PM says Labor has learnt nothing when it comes to asylum seekers, it would lose control of the borders if elected. Where is your evidence for that?
ANDREWS: Well what the PM was doing was actually picking up on the comments Mr Albanese has made over the last week, and the PM drew on the evidence what happened in 2008 when Labor stopped TPVs (Temporary Protection Visas). So, Mr Albanese has been flip flopping and he’s backwards and forwards, he lacks an understanding of the detail behind border security policy. Now on the one hand, he has said he supports OSB but he doesn’t understand what the three pillars of OSB are. Turn-backs when it is safe to do so, regional processing, and TPVs. So you can’t say you support OSB if you don’t support TPVs, because it is one of the three pillars. So that is the evidence the PM was drawing on, and it’s there because we know what happened after TPVs were taken away – under Labor, 50,000 people arrived illegally on more than 820 boats and tragically 1,200 people died at sea including children, that’s the evidence you have just asked me for.
KARVELAS: On TPVs Minister, weren’t they introduced before OSB? Aren’t they for the group of boat arrivals that came under Liberal and Labor governments before OSB?
ANDREWS: The point here, very clearly Patricia, is that TPVs are a key part of OSB-
KARVELAS: But since OSB, no one is going on TPVs are they?
ANDREWS: TPVs are a key part of the policy and they’re there to be a very strong deterrent. The first thing we want to do is stop people even attempting to get on a boat and that is why you have to have a strong policy with components that are going to be very strong deterrence, and if you have a TPV it fits very clearly with components with our policy – that works – which is that if you arrive here illegally by boat you will never settle in Australia, and that is the whole point.
KARVELAS: But anyone that tries to come by boat since OSB – which Labor supports – will be turned back or sent to Nauru. They won’t be allowed to stay in Australia on any visa, TPV or otherwise, so why do you still need them?
ANDREWS: You still need them because they are a key pillar of OSB and a key part of the deterrent we want to stop people even trying to get on a boat. So the three parts of that are-
KARVELAS: But they are not allowed to come on any visa, so isn’t it just irrelevant?
ANDREWS: No its not irrelevant, not at all – the point is that it is part of the deterrent message that we have. We need to stop people getting on the boats, we need to make it very clear that you will never ever settle here in Australia and that is one of the strongest messages that we can send to stop the people smugglers being able to argue there is an opportunity for these people to come to Australia by boat and to remain here. So, you can’t undermine the policy by saying ‘one part doesn’t matter’ – all three parts are key.
KARVELAS: So even if they are scrapped – these TPVs – why would people smugglers even bother to revive their trade, given their boats are likely to be turned around? Asylum seekers would never make it to the mainland, where is the logic in the argument?
ANDREWS: There is lots of logic to the deterrent part of the argument. We want to make sure there is no evidence that people smugglers can use to go out and talk to people and open their contact lists and start saying to people ‘there is potential for you to come to Australia and settle’ and scraping TPVs is most likely to be used by the people smugglers to say ‘it has been scraped and you can settle’. Under a Coalition Government – it won’t happen, because the key part has to be the deterrent message. The ideal situation is that no boats leave; that there are no ventures departing. Very clearly from when the Coalition put this into practice, it has been a very successful policy – that you will never settle here in Australia if you attempt to come here illegally by boat, that opportunity will never be given to you. Yes we will turn the boats back, yes we will process you through regional processing centres – that’s why we set up the enduring capability with Nauru, so we would always keep that facility there – that has been an important part of it. OSB has meant that people haven’t been dying at sea and I have been very clear since I have been the Minister for Home Affairs that I do not want people dying at sea on my watch trying to get here. It is so important to me and it’s so important to the people of Australia.
KARVELAS: Minister, just on this New Zealand deal that the Government struck just before the election, isn’t it possible these refugees who go to New Zealand and get citizenship will be able to come and live here, like any other New Zealand citizen?
ANDREWS: No. they won’t, that door is shut-
KARVELAS: Can you explain how it is shut?
ANDREWS: Yes, we will never allow them to settle here and the New Zealand Government is aware of that. They have said that it is up to us as to how we manage our borders. They have been clear they don’t agree to it – that is fine – we have also been clear that they will never be allowed to settle here in Australia.
KARVELAS: But Home Affairs officials, Minister, have admitted in Estimates last month that this back door remains open and that it isn’t closed, how is it closed can you explain?
ANDREWS: Yes it’s a clear part of our policy that they will not be able to settle here. In the first instance, people have to go to New Zealand, they have got to through the process of getting citizenship in New Zealand and then it will be a border policy matter that they will not be able to settle here. That is this Government’s view very clearly. The officials at Home Affairs know that is the government’s position and we will make sure those people cannot come here and settle permanently.
KARVELAS: But how?
ANDREWS: They will be stopped at the border. They won’t be allow to-
KARVELAS: But if they are NZ citizens and they have done the five years and have New Zealand citizenship, how will you stop them?
ANDREWS: They will be stopped at the border, just like we don’t let people come in who don’t meet the requirements to enter into Australia. We have been very clear that people – under that arrangement with New Zealand – will not be able to settle here in Australia.
KARVELAS: So what, through their visa application? What will you be doing, look at their history and stopping the ones who have been previous refugees?
ANDREWS: We know who they are, clearly they are part of a resettlement arrangement-
KARVELAS: So you will make a list? And what sort of laws will we need in our country and in NZ? I am just trying to figure it out because Home Affairs officials said something different so I am just trying to work that out.
ANDREWS: I understand your line of questioning here but people attempt to cross Australia’s borders on a regular basis and they are stopped at the border through a whole range of mechanisms. Those mechanisms will be used – fully – to make sure people who are part of the resettlement arrangement with New Zealand cannot settle permanently in Australia.
KARVELAS: Just moving to some other issues before we do move on. The PM stumbled yesterday on the job seeker rate Minister, he said it was $46 a week not $46 a day. Given how hard the Government hammered Mr Albanese over his clanger over the unemployment rate why should the PM be cut any slack for not knowing his numbers?
ANDREWS: Well he actually did know what the figure was, he misspoke and he said that afterwards. I am sure many people would be able to find where he has spoken in the past about what the rate actually is. There is a difference between a misspeak and not knowing the answer to something – as the media has rightly pointed out when Mr Albanese was asked the question about Australia’s unemployment rate and he didn’t know and he didn’t know what the cash rate was. People misspeak all the time – and of course that is forgivable, it happens, so be it – but someone who wants to be the PM of Australia should be across some key facts, and in this case it was clear that Mr Albanese didn’t misspeak, didn’t make a mistake, he just didn’t know the answer.
KARVELAS: On the Liberal candidate Katherine Deves – we spoke earlier with the NSW Treasurer Matt Kean, pretty senior Liberal in this country – and he says the comments about transgender people mean she is not fit for office. He describes her views as ‘outright bigotry’ are you happy for someone accused of that kind of transphobia to be the public face of the Liberal party in Warringah?
ANDREWS: Look, I don’t agree with the comments that have been made but it is a matter for the NSW Liberals to determine now-
KARVELAS: Matt Kean is very worried her candidacy will harm the likes of Trent Zimmerman and Dave Sharma if she remains the official Liberal candidate. Do you worry about that too?
ANDREWS: Matt Kean is absolutely entitled to his views on that, as I have said before it is now a matter for the NSW Liberals. I have said I don’t agree with the comments that have been made but it’s for the NSW Liberals to deal with any issues they see regarding anyone’s candidacy in NSW.
KARVELAS: Katherine Deves was also handpicked by the PM, not the party. Isn’t this one directly for the PM to intervene into?
ANDREWS: I would still say it’s a matter for the NSW Liberals to deal with that situation, I don’t know how many more times I can repeat that I don’t agree with the comments that have been made but it is for the NSW Liberals to determine. I am not going to give commentary on a party specific matter.
KARVELAS: Karen Andrews, thank you so much for joining us
ANDREWS: It’s a pleasure, take care.