Interview – Late Night News, Channel Ten

Late Night News

Channel Ten

19 July 2013

COMPERE: We’re joined by the Home Affairs Minister, Jason Clare. Jason Clare, thanks for your time.

JASON CLARE: Good evening, Danielle.

COMPERE: Can I ask does PNG have the capability and the capacity to resettle what could be thousands of asylum seekers?

JASON CLARE: They do work in closely with Australia. PNG’s a good friend of ours and they’re our next door neighbour and PNG understands like we do that you can’t solve this working alone.

If we’re going to remove the incentive for people to get on a boat and risk their lives, then we need to I guess remove what people are looking for and that is a permanent home in Australia. So PNG has been prepared to work with Australia to get this agreement in place.

We think it’ll work. We think that it will have a big impact on the number of people that are putting their lives at risk and getting on the high seas.

COMPERE: But on the one hand, this policy suggests that it will slow the boats because it will be a deterrent to people saying – you can’t come to Australia, you’ll end up in PNG. On the other hand, it says that PNG is a fine place to end up. So don’t you think that people trying to flee the Taliban will still come on the boats perhaps to try to get to PNG?

JASON CLARE: Let’s be clear about it. People are buying a ticket to come to Australia. People want to live permanently in Australia. That’s what people smugglers are telling them. Get on a boat and you’ll get to live in Australia forever.

The big change here is if you get on a boat and you don’t have a visa, then you won’t get to live in Australia, you’ll live in PNG. The fear of death, the fear of drowning hasn’t stopped people getting on to boats. Being transferred to Nauru hasn’t stopped people getting on boats. But this will hopefully remove the incentive for people to risk their lives because no longer will you be able to have the prospect of living in Australia for the rest of your life. Instead you’ll go to PNG.

COMPERE: You are, as Home Affairs Minister, the man we see speaking about the deaths when these boats crash and sink off our shores. Are you genuinely sure that this will slow the boats and reduce those deaths?

JASON CLARE: The Prime Minister was very up front about this today. He said this is not going to stop the boats straight away. We expect people smugglers will still try to lure people on to boats and test our resolve. But it’s important that this does work.

Last weekend I had to tell Australia that a little baby boy, less than one-year-old had died in the ocean, drowned holding on to a life-jacket. Now men and women in the navy had to recover that baby boy from the ocean. That’s happened too many times.

COMPERE: We spoke earlier to Julian Burnside, refugee advocate. And he said that the world will see Australia as rich, and selfish because we have the room but won’t take the refugees. Do you think, as Home Affairs Minister, that this will damage our international reputation?

JASON CLARE: I don’t. Per capita, we take more refugees than any other country in the world. We’re a good country. We’re a good people. We care about others. We take a lot of refugees and we don’t want to see people dying trying to get here. If Australia wasn’t an island, this would be a different debate and a different issue. But we are an island and people are coming by boat and drowning on the way here. I think we’ve got an obligation to if we can stop people dying, make that happen, and that’s what this is all about.

COMPERE: Minister Clare, what do you know about the disturbances on Nauru tonight?

JASON CLARE: Danielle, I don’t have a lot of information about that at the moment. I’ve heard preliminary reports and I’ve asked the Australian Federal Police for a report on that which I hope to receive in the morning.

COMPERE: Well, Jason Clare, thank you very much for your time.