RN Breakfast with Fran Kelly

SUBJECT/S: Home affairs, Australian embassy in Israel, National security


SUBJECT/S: Home affairs, Australian embassy in Israel, National security
FRAN KELLY, HOST: The countries Director of Public Prosecution, Directors of Public Prosecutions, are calling on the Federal Government to stop the flow of foreign criminals who are allowed to leave our country before justice has run its course. That’s what they are saying in a public letter published in the Herald Sun today. State and Territory DPP’s are arguing that too often requests for deportation being lodged by foreign criminals are approved even if the criminal justice stay certificate has been issued.
They say deportations are impacting criminal cases for instance where individuals in question could be key witnesses. The Department of Home Affairs has confirmed its secretary, Mike Pezzullo, has received this letter. Mark Dreyfus is the Shadow Attorney-General. He joins me in the breakfast studio. Mark Dreyfus welcome back to breakfast.
KELLY: So what is going on? This is a letter published by State and Territory DPPs, so it’s fairly unusual, to say we are allowing deportation of foreign criminals before justice has run its course. What’s your understanding of what is happening?
DREYFUS: Well this is shocking Fran and it’s almost unprecedented for six state and two territory Directors of Public Prosecutions to be writing to Home Affairs saying that the policy that appears to have been adopted by Home Affairs, which is that they are going to deport alleged criminals facing trial for serious criminal offences before that trial can take place. That’s a shocking state of affairs. Mr Dutton, who likes to present himself as tough on crime, and indeed this Liberal Government or indeed the Liberal State governments or Liberal State oppositions, they all like to say they are tough on crime, but we have got this extraordinary state of affairs where Mr Dutton is now adopting a policy that they are going to deport alleged criminals charged with serious offences before the trial takes place.
KELLY: Let’s try and understand what is going on here because currently in this letter the DPP says that deportation sort by foreign criminals, so this is criminals requesting they be deported, criminals that are not Australian citizens, that these deportations are being approved even when something called a stay certificate has been issued. Can you just explain for us what a stay certificate is?
DREYFUS: Yes. When someone is an unlawful non-citizen in Australia then it is possible to get a stay certificate if they are charged with a serious criminal offence so they are not going to be deported. Home Affairs is saying, Mr Dutton’s department is saying, that they are reversing that long understood position so we can now get to the situation where someone charged with murder or a terrorist offence will be deported by Home Affairs before the trial takes place. What an extraordinary state of affairs, it’s shocking and Mr Dutton has got to step in straight away and reverse this.
KELLY: Well let’s step back a bit. I am not sure if this has happened yet you might know but the DPPs say, just to explain it for people, that they have been told by the Department of Home Affairs that the stay certificate, that you just described for us there, are trumped by another section of the Act saying that “an officer must remove as soon as reasonably practical an unlawful non-citizen who asked the Minister in writing to be so removed.”
So why would the Home Affairs be making that direction, there must be a policy imperative for that, a policy logic to that?
DREYFUS: They’re adopting a policy which flies in the face of all previous understandings or indeed what every Australian would understand to be the situation.
KELLY: Is it as simple as Home Affairs deciding that if there are foreign criminals on our soil we don’t want them here and we should get rid of them?
DREYFUS: Well, so it seems. I think the administration of criminal justice, of our criminal justice system, of making sure that people who have committed serious crimes in our country are punished for their crimes, are charged and convicted and punished for their crimes. That has got to take precedence to any mad idea Mr Dutton or his department have and he has got to reverse this immediately. We’ve got a department seemingly out of control, saying that its policies or its policy of deportation is going to trump our criminal justice system. Now I say, criminal justice comes first. The administration of the system comes first. We’ve got to have trials taking place when people have committed offences here in Australia.
KELLY: The consequences are potentially diabolical, as spelt out by the DPP. One hypothetical example, a person could fraudulently obtain a visa to come to this country as an illegal non-citizen, kill someone or create a crime on orders from someone back home, caught, arrested, charged, then request deportation and be sent back without facing trial. I mean that’s an extreme consequence. Do we know if anyone has been sent back in contradiction of a stay certificate yet?
DREYFUS: I don’t know. I have only just found out about this extraordinary letter from the six state and two territory Directors of Public Prosecutions, but they don’t willingly enter into an argument with the Commonwealth government. If they are taking the extraordinary step of writing, as they have, to Home Affairs saying this can’t continue.
Apparently they were advised in October of this and there has been no answer from Home Affairs and now that it has become public Mr Dutton, Mr Morrison and Mr Porter the Attorney-General have got to step in straightaway and reverse the position Home Affairs as taken.
KELLY: Mark Dreyfus, on another issue, we were speaking of earlier in the program about the relocation of Australia’s notion or raising the issue of relocating our embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
The Prime Minister is in Singapore for the ASEAN Summit. He has received some pretty stark warnings from two regional leaders, Dr Mahathir from Malaysia and Jokowi from Indonesia.
Indonesia saying, well we won’t sign off on a free trade deal until we see what this decision is and Dr Mahathir warning that this could boost terrorism, unleash terrorism.
Now we spoke to the Federal Treasurer Josh Frydenberg earlier, he basically implied that well Dr Mahathir would say that wouldn’t he and it’s in Australia interest to make our own foreign policy decisions without reference to interference from other countries. Is that a fair enough position?
DREYFUS: Well I actually heard his interview and he was accusing Labor, falsely, of suggesting that we have to be dictated to on our foreign policy by other countries.  No-one in Labor, let me make this clear, no-one in Labor has said that.
On the contrary we are saying that Prime Minister Morrison’s thought bubble, or scrambling for votes before the Wentworth by-election, is not the way to make foreign policy.
We shouldn’t be making foreign policy on the run. Of course we’ve got to consult with our neighbours. Of course we’ve got to consider Australia’s interests.  Foreign policy decision making is complex. What you don’t do is do what Mr Morrison did, which was to not even consult with our own Department of Foreign Affairs before making the decision that he made. We have now have Mr Frydenberg saying that, it’s laughable, he said that  the Prime Minister has made a principled decision to review the matter. 
Now Mr Morrison should just own up that he made a terrible mistake. He should reverse it. It’s a ridiculous thing to have been done before the Wentworth by-election. It should be brought to an end now, because we can now see the harm that’s being done. Mr Frydenberg did not explain how it is in Australia’s interest to move our embassy. He did not explain how it will assist the peace process and indeed it’s hard to imagine how either of those things could be the case.  How it could be in Australia’s interest or how it could assist the peace process.
KELLY: But given where we are at the moment, in this debate, is it in our interests to be seen to be doing the biding of Indonesia and Malaysia? The Treasurer told us that these countries have double standards when it comes to Israel and that we should call this out.
DREYFUS: We don’t do the biding of other countries Fran. No-one is suggesting that. We don’t do the biding of Indonesia. We don’t do the biding of Malaysia. We make our own minds up, but we’ve got to make rational foreign policy decisions. We’ve got to make decisions that actually serve Australia’s interests, that actually progresses peace in the world, that actually progresses international agreement making and nobody has yet explained, not Mr Frydenberg, not Mr Morrison, how it could be in Australia’s interests or in the interests of the peace process in the Middle East that Australia moves its embassy.
KELLY: Christopher Pyne says that if Australia did move its embassy to Jerusalem it could also open up a diplomatic post in East Jerusalem. So these are all the discussions that are going on. We know there is a review process going on, we will come to a decision on this.  Apparently we will get a decision from the government by Christmas.  Is that a proposal that has merit in your view?
DREYFUS: Well, we’ve now got the government scrabbling Fran, making it up as they go along to try and do the things they should have, to try and think about the things that they should have thought about before saying anything in the first place.  We’ve also got another senior minister, Mr Ciobo, saying that this has got about a 5 percent chance, so he has been reported as saying, about a 5 percent chance of happening. Who knows what this chaotic government is actually doing. Mr Morrison is saying one thing. Mr Pyne is saying another. Mr Ciobo is saying another. They just need to announce now that they are not going to go ahead with this and actually perhaps apologise for the mess that they have made of  Australia’s foreign policy here.
KELLY: Mark Dreyfus can I just ask you finally on another issue.  You’re Shadow Attorney-General, you’re a Victorian, in Victoria last week there was a terror attack in the CBD of Melbourne. This week we have heard of the reveal of the terror plans developed by four Melbourne men to strike Federation Square in 2016. They have been convicted of that. 
The Opposition in the run up to a state election has bought out tough new laws to monitor suspects and have suspects wearing ankle bracelets. The Federal Government say, in particular the Home Affairs Minister, says we need to toughen the encryption laws, laws around encryptions currently being considered by a committee. Do these events persuade you as a Victorian that more does need to be done and that laws do need to be toughened and perhaps we do need these new laws?
DREYFUS: There are two different things there Fran. We’ve got first of all a proposed Federal law, the Assistance and Access Bill, which is going to potentially improve the capacity of agencies to seek assistance from tech companies. That’s one thing, that’s in the Intelligence Committee, in fact there is a hearing here today in Sydney. There are going to be several more hearings and no doubt the Intelligence Committee will look very closely, I am a member of the Intelligence Committee, that’s why I am here in Sydney to look at that bill. That’s one thing, that’s in process.
Then we’ve got Mr Guy, the opposition leader in Victoria, coming out with yet another wild claim and another thought bubble about crime or security.
KELLY: He says this is based on the recommendations.
DREYFUS: Let’s examine what’s happened.  We’ve got now three men convicted of a dreadful proposed planned attack in Melbourne.  That’s the good work of our agencies, ASIO, the Australian Federal Police, Victoria Police working together. They’ve been caught. We had an amazingly rapid response by the Police to the shocking event in Bourke Street last Friday and we’ve got a government in Victoria, Mr Andrews’ government that has responded in every way to the terrorism threat. They have set up a counter-terrorism task force, they have toughened laws in a number of respects. Before we rush in and say we need yet more laws, let’s have a look at the way in which authorities have been excellently able to respond.
KELLY: Mark Dreyfus thank you very much for joining us.
DREYFUS:  Thanks very much Fran.
KELLY:  Mark Dreyfus, Shadow Attorney General, and we did contact the Home Affairs Department for a response to the letter from the DPPs, the state and territories DPPs, but a spokesperson from the department has only confirmed that the Secretary of the department did receive the letter.