SUBJECT/S: Apology; National Redress Scheme; Dutton; Nauru
THE HON. MARK DREYFUS QC MP
SHADOW MINISTER FOR NATIONAL SECURITY
MEMBER FOR ISAACS
MONDAY 22 OCTOBER 2018
SUBJECT/S: Apology; National Redress Scheme; Dutton; Nauru
PATRICIA KARVELAS, HOST: Welcome to RN Drive.
MARK DREYFUS, SHADOW ATTORNEY-GENERAL: Thanks for having me.
KARVELAS: You were in Parliament for the apology to the Stolen Generations given by PM Kevin Rudd and the one given by Julia Gillard to victims of forced adoptions. Today another apology, a national apology to the victims and survivors of child sexual abuse in institutions. What is the value of an apology like this?
DREYFUS: I think these are all important days, Patricia. I think that they mark the nation saying sorry to victims and of course it’s the Parliament, the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition who can make that apology on behalf of the nation. I speak here as someone that’s been involved in the setting up of the Royal Commission into child sexual abuse, who has watched its deliberations very closely and was very pleased with the way it was conducted, and the opportunity that it provided to more than 8,000 people, survivors, to tell their stories. And it marks the end of that stage of the process and the beginning of making sure that all of the recommendations of the Royal Commission are implemented, the beginning of making sure that in future institutions don’t allow these circumstances to happen. So – sorry I’m being long-winded Patricia – but the importance of the day is to show the importance that Australians do attach to this monumental Royal Commission, do attach to the terrible abuse that was suffered by so many Australians in their tens of thousands. And it marks the nation saying we don’t want this to happen again.
KARVELAS: Today’s national apology was a reminder that there is clearly still anger and cynicism about the government’s role in this process. What’s your message to those people?
DREYFUS: I hope that the message from this national apology today given to victims and survivors of child sexual abuse is that the abuse that they suffered must never happen again. That the nation wants to make redress, wants to say sorry and wants to say ‘we believe you’. And, going forward – I can only speak for my party - we will be working as hard as possible to make sure that all of the recommendations of the Royal Commission are implemented. We’ve been critical on behalf of survivors about some aspects, for example of the redress scheme, which didn’t go quite to the extent that the Royal Commission recommended. And we’ll be watching very closely to make sure that as many as possible of the recommendations of the Royal Commission are implemented by this government, by state and territory governments and by institutions.
KARVELAS: Concerns have been raised about the matrix used to determine the levels of compensation under this national redress scheme. You just kind of alluded to that. Care Leavers’ Australia Network and the Anglican Church say they are horrified by it. Will it lead to people being under-compensated?
DREYFUS: We won’t be able to tell until some time has gone past because there are very very many cases and all of them, those that are going to apply for a redress payment, we have to see what the scheme – as in the national scheme – recommended by the Royal Commission and as set up by this government, is going to produce. But I can’t predict in advance. I hear the concerns that have been expressed by survivors about the redress scheme, which included also the level of the maximum payment that’s less than the Royal Commission recommended about indexation, about access to counselling, about access to redress for those people who were in prison. And we’ll have to see over time what the form of redress set up by this government is producing.
KARVELAS: On another thing, the Federal Government looks like its lost its majority in the House of Representatives. They’re still voting of course in the seat of Wentworth but on the current numbers it looks that way indeed. Is this an opportunity to create chaos or will you take the high road?
DREYFUS: The government has lost its majority. If the result is as expected by everyone. Perhaps I should say that it’s not over yet, they are still counting – but as at 4:45pm today, Kerryn Phelps was ahead by about two per cent or 1500 votes and most of the commentary is saying it doesn’t seem likely that the postal votes yet to be counted or yet to be received and then counted can produce the necessary change for the Liberal candidate to win. If that is the result, then the government has lost its majority in the House of Representatives. Mr Morrison himself said that a Liberal loss and a minority government would create uncertainty and instability. If he was right about that then actually the right thing for him to do would be to call an election so that stability can be restored. But we will go on doing what we have been doing for the last five years, which is being a responsible opposition, developing policy – working on the things we agree with on the government, passing legislation we agree with and opposing legislation that we think is wrong. And preparing to go to an election at any time, where we think we are presenting as a very credible alternative to a divided and disunited government. We are steady and stable and united.
KARVELAS: So given there are changed numbers on the House of Representatives floor, will you take another crack at referring Peter Dutton to the High Court?
DREYFUS: Certainly that’s something that is under consideration. We think that Peter Dutton should be referred to the High Court. That’s why we put a motion previously and it was lost by one vote. There are serious questions about whether Peter Dutton is even eligible to be in the Parliament, let alone serve as a minister. And that’s something we’ll be taking up if Kerryn Phelps is elected, with her to explain to her the serious legal doubts that there are over Peter Dutton’s eligibility to even be here.
KARVELAS: Finally, the independents have made it clear they want action to get asylum seeker children off Nauru. Is Labor prepared to reconsider the government’s conditions for accepting the New Zealand offer?
DREYFUS: Well the government seems to want to create a lifetime ban through legislation, that’s a lifetime ban on anyone that’s ever been in Australian immigration detention who goes to New Zealand ever being able to visit Australia, ever again even if they, say, won the Nobel Prize.
KARVELAS: Sure, but former Human Rights Commission President Gillian Triggs says the deal is worth considering if it gets these kids and these families into a better environment. 150 spots are up for these people to take. Isn’t it a pragmatic answer?
DREYFUS: Well, it’s not apparent at the moment that this lifetime ban legislation is even required to secure regional resettlement arrangements. This is a government that has spent five years not getting on with the job of finding alternative countries…
KARVELAS: But with respect you’re not answering my question. I’m saying isn’t it a pragmatic response – you may not like it but doesn’t it give you the ability to resettle these 150?
DREYFUS: Well I don’t think it should come down to this legislation. We’ve got sick children on Nauru.
KARVELAS: But if the government won’t change its position, then they’re stuck on Nauru.
DREYFUS: The government needs to change its position.
KARVELAS: But it’s not, that’s what I’m talking about.
DREYFUS: It needs to change its position, it needs to start listening to medical advice. It needs to stop insisting that there be a court order from the federal court of Australia before a sick child can be brought to Nauru.
KARVELAS: So there’s no movement from Labor on this? Because I heard Tony Burke yesterday on Insiders and I thought there was movement from Labor on this.
DREYFUS: We’ll look at anything Patricia – and if that’s what it comes down to we’ll look at that too. But there’s options ahead of that, there’s different third countries that can be considered. There’s a generous offer from New Zealand to resettle eligible refugees that’s on the table now, including children. And the government needs to get on with this as quickly as possible because these are sick children.
KARVELAS: I understand that’s your ideal scenario but if those options don’t work, it’s worth considering?
DREYFUS: I say again, Labor will consider anything because the best interests of these children is what has to be the paramount consideration. The government shouldn’t be holding them to ransom and insisting on legislation when it’s apparent that New Zealand’s not insisting on the legislation.
KARVELAS: No New Zealand is not insisting, the government is, that’s right but either way, if the government won’t give in to your conditions, and these people are stuck on Nauru, they’re stuck. They’re just stuck. Unless somebody blinks, they will continue to be stuck.
DREYFUS: Mr Morrison should be picking up the phone to New Zealand and negotiating a resettlement arrangement as quickly as possible.
KARVELAS: Thank you so much for your time.
DREYFUS: Thanks Patricia.