Melbourne press conference

SUBJECT: The Government's bungling of the Neil Prakash matter.

THE HON MARK DREYFUS QC MP
SHADOW ATTORNEY GENERAL
SHADOW MINISTER FOR NATIONAL SECURITY
MEMBER FOR ISAACS
 


E&OE TRANSCRIPT
PRESS CONFERENCE
MELBOURNE
THURSDAY, 17 JANUARY 2019

 
SUBJECT: The Government's bungling of the Neil Prakash matter.

MARK DREYFUS, SHADOW ATTORNEY GENERAL: [inaudible] for the extraordinary conduct in relation to Neil Prakash and the way in which Mr Morrison's Government has told Fiji what it's own citizenship law is and Mr Morrison has to explain to the Australian people how this mess came about. Mr Morrison has to explain to the Australian people what exactly is the status of this terrorist, Neil Prakash who is presently languishing in a Turkish gaol but because of the mess that has been made by the incompetent Mr Dutton who seems more worried about reviving his shriveled political career than worrying as he should be, about national matters and national security.

We now don't know what the status of this terrorist, Neil Prakash is. I mean is he an Australian citizen or not, he can only have ceased to have been an Australian citizen if he is a citizen of another country and the country selected by Mr Morrison's Government, Fiji, has said in unequivocal terms that Neil Prakash is not a citizen of Fiji. So, again, Mr Morrison has to explain to the Australian people what is the status of this terrorist.

Mr Dutton should be joining in the apology Mr Morrison has to make to Fiji and Mr Dutton should be releasing the legal advice that he claims to have relied on in reaching the conclusion that Neil Prakash was a citizen of Fiji. He can't say that the advice is privileged in some way, he's already disclosed what the advice says or what he claims the advice says. It's long past time that advice be released so that the Australian people can see just what has gone on here. Are there any questions?

JOURNALIST: Isn’t it a bit early to apologise? The situation is still ongoing.

DREYFUS: I don’t think that the situation here is ongoing at all. It is a matter for Fiji as to who is a citizen of Fiji or not. No less than the Prime Minister of Fiji has made it absolutely clear that Neil Prakash is not a citizen of Fiji. That’s the only basis where he could lawfully have had his citizenship of Australia terminated. The government has made a shocking mess of this. It’s not too early to apologise. I think the starting point should be an apology to the people of Fiji for the extraordinary behaviour of Mr Dutton and Mr Morrison in trying to tell Fiji how their own citizenship law works.

JOURNALIST: Considering the government is attempting to smooth over the issue as part of an official visit, is Labor being helpful to foreign relations by up playing the rift?

DREYFUS: We’re not up playing the rift. This is a matter that was entirely created by this government. Of course we say that there needs to be proper relations with Fiji. There needs to be respectful relations with all of our friends in the Pacific and this government has not behaved in that appropriate, respectful manner. They can fix it. It’s a great shame that Mr Morrison has got to spend time in Fiji fixing up the mess made by his incompetent colleague, instead of concentrating on important matters like climate change or foreign interference in the Pacific, but regrettably these events have happened. The Australian people are owed an explanation and the people of Fiji are owed an apology by the Morrison government.

Thanks very much.

ENDS