20 July 2013
JOHN STANLEY: The Minister for Home Affairs and Minister for Justice is Jason Clare. He joins us on the line now. Mr Clare, good morning.
JASON CLARE: Good morning, John.
JOHN STANLEY: What do you think about that? The way it’s been treated. People are being sent to a hell-hole. A lawless hell-hole.
JASON CLARE: Look, I don’t look at it as whether it’s right or left or whether it’s tough or soft. This is about what works. We’ve had hundreds of people drown getting onto boats from Indonesia and elsewhere trying to get to Australia. When things like that happen, the people of Australia say – that’s not good enough. We don’t want to see that happen. People are getting onto boats at the prospect of a new life in Australia.
The important part of this policy is it says if you’re buying a ticket to Australia, well that ticket will be no good. That product’s not for sale anymore.
You will be transferred to Papua New Guinea and you’ll be resettled and you’ll live there. So that’s the big change and it’s designed to stop what we’ve seen happen too much over the last few months and the last few years.
JOHN STANLEY: So you’re saying that people who get on a boat today to try and make their way to Australia will never get into Australia – never?
JASON CLARE: They will come to Christmas Island, there’ll be health checks, there’ll be security checks. Then they’ll be transferred to Papua New Guinea to Manus Island and that’s where they’ll be processed and then they’ll be resettled in Papua New Guinea. And that’s a message, John, that we’ve got to get back up the pipeline to people that might be in Indonesia today or Malaysia or Thailand or the UAE or for that matter in Iran or Afghanistan or Iraq. That’s going to take some time and people smugglers no doubt who make up to $1 million a boat, are going to try to lure people to continue to get onto boats.
JOHN STANLEY: You’ve got to get the centre up and running so it can accommodate people because at the moment it can’t accommodate children or for instance pregnant women. Is that right?
JASON CLARE: That’s right. We’ve got to expand the temporary facilities at Manus Island. We’ve got to build permanent facilities there that are appropriate for women and children. We also said yesterday that we want to work with Papua New Guinea to expand the number of processing centres or at least available processing facilities in Papua New Guinea so that when people arrive in Australia, they can be sent as quickly as possible to Papua New Guinea for processing and then resettlement.
JOHN STANLEY: Yeah. Now my reading of the statement from the Immigration Department is it says even once the arrangements are up and running, even unaccompanied minors who arrive; as I mentioned before, pregnant women, they will be sent to Manus Island and if they’re found to be refugees, say an unaccompanied minor, they would then be settled in Papua New Guinea?
JASON CLARE: That’s right. We’ve got to make sure that we’ve got appropriate facilities and appropriate accommodation for young children, for families, for unaccompanied minors before that would happen. But the Immigration Minister said yesterday once those facilities exist, then that would happen. Everyone that arrives by boat without a visa from today onwards, will be transferred to Papua New Guinea and they won’t be settled here.
JOHN STANLEY: I mean you’ve got to do that to prevent someone, a family sending a child first, and then having that child brought into Australia…
JASON CLARE: Yes, that’s right.
JOHN STANLEY: Alright. But ultimately if they’re then sent to Manus Island, say a 14 or 15-year-old boy, with no other family, they’re then released into the community in Papua New Guinea as a refugee if they are a refugee, what support would they get there?
JASON CLARE: You’re right. We do need to do this because otherwise people smugglers load boats full with young children. You saw it in The Daily Telegraph yesterday, photographs of young kids. I had to tell the people of Australia last Saturday morning about a baby boy less than one-year-old that we recovered from the ocean last weekend who died clinging to a life-jacket. That’s what we’ve got to stop and if we’re going to make this work, part of it is making sure that you’ve got the settlement services, the housing and access to education and so forth.
In the case that you’ve mentioned, it’s important that they’ve got the necessary support there. So that’ll be the job of the Department of Immigration.
JOHN STANLEY: Alright. The Opposition say that they want to see a copy of the agreement so they can see what is involved here. Will that be made public?
JASON CLARE: Look that’s a matter for the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, for whatever the standard protocol is with agreements like this, I’m sure would be complied with in this case.
JOHN STANLEY: There’s going to be a big cost though isn’t there to this?
JASON CLARE: It’s already costing money. It’s costing billions of dollars already and costing lives. If this works, John, then there is the potential for it to cost less. If it reduces the number of boats coming to Australia, if people get the message up the pipeline and realise that if they buy a ticket to Australia they won’t get to Australia, they’ll end up being resettled in PNG. It’s got the potential to reduce the cost and more importantly, reduce the number of people that are drowning in the middle of the ocean
JOHN STANLEY: Yeah. If there’s a change of government do you expect the Coalition to proceed with this because they’ve broadly endorsed the thrust of it?
JASON CLARE: I would. I think they recognised yesterday that this is a practical simple commonsense idea.
People want to come to Australia. You’ve got to remove the incentive for people to get on a boat to come to Australia and to go through the UN if you want to seek refuge in Australia. And that’s why we think over time this will work. But it’s going to require a lot of hard work and effort in the months ahead.
JOHN STANLEY: Yeah, look, I know you’re pressed for time, you’ve got a lot on your plate this morning. But there’s been criticism from the Opposition of full page ads that would’ve come very expensive ads – in the Sydney newspapers saying you won’t be settled in Australia if you come here by boat without a visa. Haven’t they got a point spending all that money on those ads and they’re being targeted to people who are already living here?
JASON CLARE: No, no, no. I’m happy to defend this one, John. You’ve got to get the message to people that are in Indonesia and up the pipeline. But you’ve also got to get the message here because a lot of people that are thinking about getting on a boat today in Indonesia have got relatives in Melbourne or in Sydney or in Brisbane or other parts of the country. They get onto Facebook or Twitter, they’re talking to each other all the time, we’ve got to make sure we get the message loud and clear as quickly as we possibly can, to people that’re thinking about getting on a boat that the rules have changed and there are a lot of people here in Australia right now who can get that message up the pipeline.
JOHN STANLEY: Well, the cynical view might be the ads’re aimed at people who might be voting in the next few weeks in the Western Suburbs of Sydney in your electorate and others.
JASON CLARE: Well, John, I’m less interested in politics and more interested in this working and stopping more people drowning. There’s been too much of it already.
JOHN STANLEY: Okay, look, I know you’re pressed for time, I thank you for that.
JASON CLARE: Thanks, John.