Subjects: China relationship, criminal deportations, Queensland Labor Government mining taxes
PETER STEFANOVIC: Let’s bring in the Shadow Home Affairs Minister Karen Andrews for a look at some of the stories around at the moment, good to see you. So let’s start there before we get to Jacinda Ardern. Can the relationship be stabilised between Australia and China given all the coercion, given everything that’s happened?
KAREN ANDREWS: Look, it would clearly be in Australia’s best interest for the relationships between Australia and China to stabilize. From a trade perspective, it’s clearly very important to us to make sure that we do have a strong relationship with China. Now, is there going to be a reset? Who really knows at this point in in time, it was good to hear that the Foreign Minister is clearly saying that she’s open to that. When we were in government, the Coalition made it very clear that we were looking for diplomatic resolutions to the situation with China. So time will tell, but we have had Richard Marles as the Defence minister, the Deputy Prime Minister meet with his counterpart, who knows what’s going to happen without our Foreign Minister, but hopefully there will be reset of the relationship and our trade will be as strong as it traditionally has been with China.
PETER STEFANOVIC: Onto Jacinda Ardern, she’s in town. No doubt section 501 of the Migration Act will come up, Anthony Albanese has said that it will be maintained but possibly tweaked. Your thoughts on that?
KAREN ANDREWS: Well, I’m concerned about the comment that it may well be tweaked. And quite frankly, if Labor is going to capitulate to the demands of Jacinda Ardern to keep foreign criminals in Australia, it would be a very worrying sign. Now this is actually important. This isn’t politics, this is about keeping Australians safe and secure and keeping foreign criminals off the street. And I would be very concerned if Labor did anything to water down, the strong position that the Coalition took in government.
PETER STEFANOVIC: The tweak is time, and in particular, how much time they have spent here. Should the time a person has spent in Australia been taken into consideration for the good of our relationship with New Zealand?
KAREN ANDREWS: No, a foreign criminal is a foreign criminal, and it doesn’t matter how long they have spent here. If they are a citizen of another nation and they have committed a crime in Australia, I firmly believe that they should be deported. The number one priority of the Australian government has to be keeping Australia safe and secure and anything that makes this a welcome place for criminals should just not be on their agenda.
PETER STEFANOVIC: Do you concede it has had a corrosive affect on our relationship with New Zealand, this policy?
KAREN ANDREWS: Well, our priority when we were in government was always to make sure that we were governing the best interests of Australia and yes, a strong relationship with our nearest neighbours, including New Zealand is important, but the policies that the Coalition put in place were clearly set up and designed to make sure that Australia’s were safe and secure. And that has to be the overriding policy priority of Labor.
PETER STEFANOVIC: Your state of Queensland is in some diplomatic strife this morning. The state budget has called for an increase in taxes for mining companies. Now Japan, which has some pretty big interests in Queensland, has said it may well have to start to rethink where it is a safe and predictable place for an investment. What do you think of that position overnight?
KAREN ANDREWS: Well, that would be an awful outcome for the Queensland, without a doubt. And the fact that the Japanese ambassador was prepared to make such strong statements indicates the depth of their feeling. Now, Australia has had a strong relationship with Japan. We want to maintain that relationship quite clearly, it’s in our best interests. So, the fact that there was what seems to be some fairly unilateral action taken by the Queensland government to try and protect, preserve, and improve its budget. Bottom line is really quite worrying in the terms of the relationship that Australia has had with Japan and the relationship that we need to continue to have with Japan. So, I think it is very, very concerning.
PETER STEFANOVIC: Well they’ve said it could well extend beyond coal and into cleaner energy, when it comes to its investments in Queensland. I mean, what sort of a threat would you call that? Would you fear, or have concerns, that it s a bit more serious than an empty threat?
KAREN ANDREWS: Well, I didn’t see it as a threat. I saw it as a matter of fact statement coming from the ambassador that he was being very clear, what was likely to happen if Japan formed the view, and Japanese companies formed the view, that Queensland was a risk from an investment point of view. So, I think that he was making it very clear what the reaction is likely to be in Japan and they will look for safe investments. And if that’s not Queensland, what he has flagged is that they will look elsewhere. So that is very concerning for the Queensland. So, I am worried about it.
PETER STEFANOVIC: Ok Karen Andrews, we’ll leave it there.