Subjects: Superannuation, Benbrika, Temporary Protection Visas
GREG JENNETT: On superannuation tax concessions, the Shadow Home Affairs Minister Karen Andrews joined us from the Gold Coast on that and some national security issues that the Albanese government will also probably have to act on after a significant high court case involving a notorious terrorist is resolved. Karen Andrews, welcome back to the program. Why don’t we talk about superannuation tax concessions? First of all, we finally learned from Peter Dutton today that the Coalition, if elected to government, would repeal what Jim Chalmers and Anthony Albanese have proposed here. Why did it take so long to decide, though? Was there equivocation over whether a future Coalition government might actually like that revenue?
KAREN ANDREWS: Look, I don’t think that was the issue at all. In fact, it’s only just a day after Labor made their staggering announcement about what they were doing with superannuation, given that they went to the election promising that they weren’t going to make changes to superannuation. But clearly Labor has misunderstood the level of concern that people have in the community about superannuation. They don’t like it being touched, and I think Peter Dutton’s done the right thing to come out very clearly today and say that in 2025, if the Liberal and National parties were elected as a Coalition, that we would repeal the legislation that this being proposed.
GREG JENNETT: So look on the future growth of the number of people captured in this, because it’s not indexed, it does appear that a larger number than 80,000 would eventually be caught up in the net. Do you have any understanding or is the Coalition doing any work itself to try and ascertain what the growth trajectory is in this?
KAREN ANDREWS: Well, we’ll continue to start to look at what the projections are. There’s a lot of information that is available now that I know that people are starting to look at some of the superannuation funds are looking at it very clearly, but many of the financial advisors in the country are looking at it closely as well as of course, the members. But let’s not just focus on the fact that they’ve made this one announcement because they’re also proposing to tamper with superannuation as part of the National Reconstruction Fund because they’re trying to engage with superannuation funds to come in and be part of future projects. Now, I would think that we need to look holistically at what is happening with superannuation and Labor is clearly doing the wrong thing. It affects a lot of people now and it will continue to do so.
GREG JENNETT: Right. But just on that latter point, encouraging them, the funds that is, to invest in things like housing or things deemed to have a social worth, what’s wrong with that? If in fact, they bring the economic returns that those funds say they’re fully committed to pursuing in all their investments?
KAREN ANDREWS: Well, superannuation funds will make their own investment decisions, however, I would hate to see them being put under any pressure by this government to put their members’ money into projects that are not going to provide the return that is needed to members because a superannuation fund’s responsibility is to its membership not to try and prop up the bottom line for any government.
GREG JENNETT: I think we’ll be discussing this a little further when Parliament resumes next week. Why don’t we move on to a couple of things. In your shadow area of responsibility, Karen Andrews and the terrorist Abdul Naser Benbrika is soon before the High Court arguing the right, I suppose, to be freed from incarceration and ongoing monitoring, what is the patch up that you think the federal government should be doing legislatively from the issues that arise in this case?
KAREN ANDREWS: Okay, so let me just make a couple of points. Obviously, the matter is before the courts, so there’s a limit as to what I could and should be saying, but I can say this, that the Coalition takes national security incredibly seriously. We always have. So we will work with the government if there is any changes to legislation that is needed. But let’s be clear, terrorists have a pattern of behaviour and that includes re-offending. And there are numerous examples of that around the world. So we take making sure that the Australian community is protected very seriously. So if there are issues with the legislation, we will certainly work with that, the government, but we want to make sure that there’s a bit of steel in the current government’s spine as well too, so that they’re taking these issues seriously, and they’re looking at plans A, B, and C. So it’s looking at continuing detention orders, it’s looking at extended supervision orders. It’s looking at anything that needs to be done to ensure that the Australian community is kept safe.
GREG JENNETT: Do you think there is a way to fashion citizenship or more particularly the revocation, removal of citizenship, as a law in a way that won’t once again fall foul of the High Court?
KAREN ANDREWS: Well, I think that the first thing that we need to do, given where we are at this point in time, is to see what happens in the High Court, but really start to look at what the options are going to be. So, you know, the arguments that the likely to be prosecuted can be anticipated and some are known, so I would hope that the Attorney-General, the Attorney-General’s Department is looking at what the changes may well be that might need to be made as a result of any of this. And I really need some steel in the spine of the government.
GREG JENNETT: Well, certainly Clare O’Neil has made indications that she’ll be putting national security to the fore whenever that decision comes through. Let’s wait and see. On temporary protection visas and boats, I see that the Border Force statement, Operation Sovereign Borders update has come out for January. In that month, there was only one boat turned back. Do you have any reason to suspect based on the level of social media messaging that’s going on by the Border Force, Karen Andrews, that that number will have ticked higher in the month of February?
KAREN ANDREWS: Look, it’s hard to know at this point in time. I’m very keen to see what the figures are in February, but we know that since Labor came to government, that there has been about one boat a month that has been turned back by our border forces, and that’s on top of the boats that have been stopped by the Sri Lankan Navy. So we know that there’s an issue. We know that the government recognizes that with its proposed changes to temporary protection visas, there is a problem because they have provided for surge capacity from the Defence forces to go in and protect our borders. Now, that indicates to me that they know that there is a problem with what they are proposing, and I would encourage them not to do it.
GREG JENNETT: But the resources of OSB would be sufficient to deal with even a modest increase in traffic. Do you think?
KAREN ANDREWS: Well, they’ve brought in the Defence forces, they’ve brought in surge capacity, as well to support what’s happening with the old Operation Sovereign Borders. But let’s be clear, temporary protection visas were part of Operation Sovereign Borders. So I don’t think that anyone should be thinking that Operation Sovereign Borders is still in place because it’s clearly not.
GREG JENNETT: Alright, well, let’s see what the next monthly report brings. Karen Andrews, time is up for us in this conversation, but we’ll be talking to you again soon on Afternoon Briefing. Great to catch up today.
KAREN ANDREWS: Take care.