Subjects: Labor’s reckless and outrageous lies about border protection arrangements in Newcastle.
DANNY COX: Karen Andrews is the Federal Minister for Home Affairs and joins us now. Good morning Minister.
KAREN ANDREWS: Good morning, how are you?
COX: Well thank you. Is Border Force’s Newcastle office understaffed?
ANDREWS: Well Labor’s claim that Border Force staff in Newcastle have been cut or that the ABF is not at capacity is an absolutely outrageous lie. Now, the Australian Border Force has made it very clear that the number of dedicated officers in Newcastle has increased over the last 12 months. The officers are fully resourced – Border Force has come out and made that very clear. Newcastle is resourced and is fully capable of securing the region’s international border. So what Sharon Claydon has done, is made up some sort of fiction. She can’t substantiate those figures and quite frankly she shouldn’t even be talking about them. If she understood border security, if Labor understood border security, they would understand that going down that path of making these outrageous claims just feeds in to the drug smugglers and gives them the information they need to approach our borders.
JENNY MARCHANT: Sharon Claydon says the information comes from the CPSU; she says there should be 10 full time equivalent staff in the office, but there are six – so how many are there?
ANDREWS: I’m not going to go down the path of that, as I’ve just said that would be providing information to the drug smugglers.
COX: Is it at full capacity though Minister? If there should be 10 people there, is it at full capacity?
ANDREWS: I absolutely support the statements that have been made by the Australian Border Force, and they have been very clear that numbers have increased in Newcastle and that the Newcastle office is fully resourced and is entirely capable of securing the international border at Newcastle. It is an absolutely outrageous lie that is being peddled by Labor. They should not be talking about actual figures, and it is a clear demonstration they don’t understand national security and they don’t understand border security, and I am absolutely outraged that Sharon Claydon has done that.
MARCHANT: Well let’s talk about the type of security that’s in Newcastle’s port. You’ve said we’re at full capacity, very well resourced. Does this event this week – which frankly has shocked so many of us in Newcastle – does that indicate that maybe we need a higher capacity then we currently have?
ANDREWS: Well in fact the attempt to import drugs has actually been foiled – the police are now investigating that and I’m very conscious of that and I’m not going to make any comment in relation to that.
COX: Except there is a man that died.
ANDREWS: Yes, there is an individual that died as a result of that operation and that will be fully investigated by the police. But what we do know is that over the last financial year, the weight of illicit drugs that have been seized has increased by 45%; so it’s a staggering 38.5 tonnes of drugs that have been seized. That indicates to me that what is happening at our borders is having a significant amount of success – that’s drugs that aren’t on the streets affecting our families and our kids.
COX: Minister some might argue that this plot in particular was foiled because a body was found. So how are Australian Border Force officials adapting to the new methods that drug smugglers are using, such as attaching them to the bottom of ships?
ANDREWS: That’s not a new concept, but clearly the people who want to import drugs – and it is the cartels; the triads – a lot of it is international, but they have people in Australia that they work very closely with, and they are constantly looking at new ways to bring drugs into Australia. Sadly, Australians have a very big appetite for drugs – the market is high; the margins for drugs are incredibly high here – that’s why we’re focusing so much on stopping these drugs coming in. So the Australian Border Force looks continuously at the way that drugs are imported, so yes they are fully aware that they can be attached to vessels coming in, and in a multitude of other ways.
MARCHANT: So Minister, to confirm, do you feel that what has happened this week is an example of a successful detection and operation?
ANDREWS: What you actually see, is all of our agencies working well together. So you’ve got the New South Wales Police in this instance, you’ve got the Australian Border Force, at times you’ve got the Australian Federal Police. Is the situation something the Morrison Government is acutely aware of? Absolutely, that’s why we have put some many resources in to protect our borders and to make sure we’re doing all we can to stop drug importations as well as illegal weapon importation.
COX: Ok thank you Minister we need to get to the news but we appreciate your time this morning. Thank you.
ANDREWS: Thank you very much.