Subjects: Actions of China; Labor’s refusal to back Operation Sovereign Borders by refusing to back Temporary Protection Visas.
PAUL MURRAY: Minister thanks so much for the chat. Let’s not muck around here; this is a sovereign country. A sovereign country can make its own decisions but also its own mistakes and it’s also very obvious that China – who has had it out for this Government since you stood up to them on the pandemic – is more than happy for this to have played out like it has for the past week.
KAREN ANDREWS: Well, that’s an observation that many people are making. Anyway, we’ve been very clear as a Government that Solomon Islands is a very good neighbour of ours and we are a very good neighbour to Solomon Islands. The Pacific region is our region and what is happening there is effectively happening in our backyard. We are very conscious of the action that China has taken. Now, anyone who thinks that the only action that China is going to take is to sign an agreement with Solomon Islands and that will be it, is quite frankly quite naïve in their thinking, because what China is doing – is more at the start, rather than at the end of what China is likely to do in our region. Now as a Government, we are very mindful of China’s activities and we will always put Australia’s interests first, second, third, and fourth, and that’s the way we will be proceeding. I think there are a lot of questions that people should be considering and really thinking about.
MURRAY: I’m pushed for time, but let’s be clear – Albanese has been lying about boats and Kristina Kennelly has no idea how temporary protection visas work and how important they are. They say they back Operation Sovereign Borders, but it has three parts – it’s not a buffet.
ANDREWS: That’s right – and when Labor got rid of temporary protection visas in 2008, in 2009 60 boats arrived and between 2010 and 2013 there was an average of 195 boats arriving each year. So that tells you what happens when you get rid of Temporary Protection Visas; we put them back in at the end of 2013 – one boat arrived in 2014, and none since.
MURRAY: Good stuff Minister, really do appreciate it. We’ll talk to you again in longer form before the end of the election campaign.