ABC Radio Melbourne Jon Faine 24 July 2019

SUBJECTS: Temporary Exclusion Orders; Peter Dutton’s personal abuse.


SUBJECTS: Temporary Exclusion Orders; Peter Dutton’s personal abuse.

JON FAINE:  Peter Dutton was on AM with Sabra Lane about half an hour or so ago talking about yesterday’s passage through the Parliament of legislation designed to make it harder for people to return to Australia if they went over to Syria or Iraq in order to fight with ISIS.
Now there’s an unknown number of people who are Australian citizens or their children born overseas who are stuck in displaced persons camps. But the interview with Mr Dutton on AM became a distinctly personal attack against the Shadow Attorney-General, Melbourne Member of Federal Parliament Mark Dreyfus QC. Have a listen to Peter Dutton on AM this morning discussing with Sabra Lane the legislation that went through the Parliament yesterday.
Labor has used PJCIS a management tool for Mark Dreyfus. He’s a prickly individual for every Labor leader. He believes he’s the smartest guy in the room and he has watered down pieces of legislation to a point where they can become ineffective and we aren’t going to tolerate that any longer.
            Peter Dutton, ABC AM, 24 July 2019
Peter Dutton speaking to Sabra Lane on AM. We thought it important that the ABC offer Mr Dreyfus an opportunity to respond. Mark Dreyfus good morning to you.
FAINE: Apart from the personal abuse, effectively Mr Dutton is saying that you are putting the safety of residents in Australia, Australian citizens who live in this country, you’re putting them at risk?
DREYFUS: I think this says a lot more about Peter Dutton than it says about me. These are offensive suggestions by Mr Dutton that Labor is somehow less interested in, or less committed, to keeping Australians safe. We are just as committed, as is every member of the Australian Parliament, to keeping Australians safe and secure, to making sure Australians prosper. Everybody in the Parliament loves Australia and it is offensive to suggest otherwise.
It is very revealing Jon, that the Government that has just been elected for three years and has such a small agenda, perhaps no agenda, that all they can think of is how to attack Labor. It’s all about personal attacks, it’s all about smears and last night in the Parliament Mr Dutton pretty much said the sort of things he said on air today. He wasn’t prepared to debate the substance of the legislation that he was bringing to the Parliament and that’s a disgrace.
FAINE: The substance of the disagreement, as I understand it, is that the Labor Party want judicial oversight? You want a judge or retired judge to be making the decisions over whether somebody can come back to Australia safely or not whereas Mr Dutton wants that power for himself, for the minister in his portfolio?
DREYFUS: That’s one of the disagreements. What happened here was that the Government waited four years after the British legislated a Temporary Exclusion Order power back in 2015 to bring this legislation to the Parliament in February this year. They said it was urgent. The joint intelligence committee, which is a Liberal- dominated committee - it’s got six Liberal members and five Labor members - agreed to do it urgently. It reported in April and made 18 recommendations for practical, useful change to the bill that the Government had brought in and Mr Dutton has ripped that up.
So it’s not just the disagreement you’ve mentioned about judicial oversight, it’s several other disagreements. There are some 11 recommendations of the 18 that the Government is not adopting. Bear in mind this is a Liberal-majority committee that made these recommendations. The amendments I moved in the Parliament were all of them giving effect to the recommendations made by a Liberal-majority committee.
Really Mr Dutton is barely fit to be minister because he’s not able to come into the Parliament and properly debate the legislation. He made no attempt to explain why his Government, Mr Morrison and him, are ripping up a compact that has been there for 19 years. The joint intelligence committee operates in a bipartisan fashion. It’s a good thing. It builds Australians’ confidence in our national security laws but for this bill Mr Dutton actually wants to pick a fight. He’s much more interested in picking a fight with Labor than he is in the national security of our country.
FAINE: He of course says the same about you - personally, in a very personal attack, but also about the Labor Party - he says that you would compromise safety. It seems not to be relevant to the Government that the people in displaced persons camps in the Middle East, they are Australian citizens too. But have they surrendered their rights because of the decisions they’ve made?
DREYFUS: Absolutely not and Mr Dutton is pretending that somehow the children and women and a small number of men who are fighters - they are in a different place in Syria in a detention centre - the ones that are the immediate concern are the ones in these displaced persons camps as you call them. Mr Dutton seems to have forgotten that they are Australians. A third of them are children under five Jon and what we’re talking about here is a law that enables the management of the return of potentially dangerous people.
FAINE: They have to be deradicalised. Is it better done here or there?
DREYFUS: I have a view that it is much better done here. That is the view of the American Government. The Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has called for all countries to take their nationals back from Syria from these camps. The Kurdish regime that’s running these camps wants countries to take their nationals back.
Labor supports the creation of a power to manage the return of these people. That’s why we voted for the legislation even though it is imperfect, even though the Government is ignoring the recommendations made by its own members on the intelligence committee.
We voted for the bill because we think there ought to be a power. But in the meantime at a practical level you have got to ask the question what is this Government doing? What is this Government doing about the 30 odd children under five, the Australian children under five who are languishing in these camps?
FAINE: We will continue to try and follow some of the more petty aspects of this debate whilst at the same timekeeping in tough with the substance of it which is occasionally difficult. Thank you for your responses this morning, Mark Dreyfus QC, the Shadow Attorney-General.