SKY News Australia – PM Agenda
22 May 2013
TOPICS: Blaxland Community Cabinet
DAVID SPEERS: Well of course one of the other big issues that does come up when you talk to people around Western Sydney is the issue of crime. We see it on our TVs week by week, the sort of gang violence in particular that has, well, unsettled the nerves of so many families right across Sydney’s west.
Now the Federal Government has said that it’s keen to do something about what is traditionally an area of state government responsibility. What is it doing and how much impact is it having?
I’m joined now by the Minister for Home Affairs Jason Clare, thanks for your time.
JASON CLARE: Not at all, thanks David.
DAVID SPEERS: In fact we’re in your electorate, I should point out, we are in the seat of Blaxland, here aren’t we?
JASON CLARE: Welcome to my neck of the woods, it’s good to have you here.
DAVID SPEERS: Just on this issue of crime, I know that the Government talks about what the Federal Government can and will do on this. Give us an idea of what you are doing when it comes to gang crime.
JASON CLARE: Well tomorrow we’re launching a Crime Stoppers campaign encouraging people to anonymously dob in people that they know have illegal guns, and that are shooting at homes. We’ve had a lot of that here, in the area that I represent in Western Sydney, and a lot of people are worried that criminals that shoot at each other could miss each other and hit an innocent person.
People are afraid to talk to police because they’re afraid of retribution, so they don’t answer questions when police ask them who’s shooting at their home. This Crime Stoppers campaign is another way to help, encourage people to make a phone call, tell us who’s shooting at the homes, who’s creating trouble in the local area without having to put a name to it.
DAVID SPEERS: So basically if you go into someone’s house and you see they’ve got some guns lying around, you can make an anonymous call. Are there really going to be many people doing that do you think?
JASON CLARE: I think some people that are too afraid to tell police because they think that there’ll be payback if they say this person’s been shooting at my house, might feel a little bit more comfortable if they could make an anonymous call to Crime Stoppers. So we’ve spoken to police around the country, they think it’s a good idea.
DAVID SPEERS: Can’t they do that already though?
JASON CLARE: They can, but this’ll be a high profile campaign through television ads, community television ads, as well as other ways to get that message out to people over the next few weeks. Make this call, you can do it anonymously and dob in people that you think are shooting up the homes around here.
DAVID SPEERS: The other big issues of course in this seat, in Western Sydney in general, there’s the performance in the economy, and then there’s the issue of boat people as well. An issue in Border Protection that you have responsibility for as well. How much is that hurting Labor here?
JASON CLARE: Can I go to the economy first, I know David would have been talking to you about that. Five years ago when I got elected as the member for here we had 60 families getting their homes repossessed every month. Three families a day would have their home repossessed because interest rates were high. **
With the dropping interest rates it’s made a big difference here, it means that your loan costs a hundred bucks less a week. It means that fewer people are getting their homes repossessed. So that’s helpful. Cost of living is still a big issue, it’s still really tough.
DAVID SPEERS: The power bills have gone up a lot through various things, but the carbon tax included.
JASON CLARE: State government charges, is another thing.
DAVID SPEERS: They’ve gone up, that’s the point.
JASON CLARE: The point I’d make is cost of living’s still a big issue. In Western Sydney, people are on lower incomes, but the cost of living, whether it’s utilities, or whether it’s rent, or whether it’s the cost of buying a home, is still really expensive, and that makes…
DAVID SPEERS: [Interrupts] At least getting rid of the carbon tax will make an impact.
JASON CLARE: I think anybody you ask here will tell you the chances of electricity prices going down if Tony Abbott was to get rid of the carbon tax is zero. Making promises that you’re going to cut electricity prices or gas prices, would come back to haunt him.
DAVID SPEERS: On that immigration issue though, I mean, how much pain is this causing you, the fact that we are seeing record boat arrivals, and you have some responsibility for this in Border Protection, is it hurting you personally here?
JASON CLARE: Every time I talk to people about it in the local area I sense the same sort of frustration that I have doing my job. People see on television politicians yelling at each other about it, and they say well hang on a second, can’t you guys work it out?
We don’t want people to die trying to get on a boat from Indonesia to Australia. There’s a lot of people in my local community who are refugees themselves, a big Vietnamese community who saw thousands of people die 30-odd years ago, they don’t want to see a repeat of that, we see it all too often. The sad thing is we could work this out if the politicians would put politics aside and work together to get the legislation we need passed.
DAVID SPEERS: What about some of those arrivals that have come to the mainland? It seems to be a few more in recent weeks. You were looking at reviewing how our Border Protection vessels are placed, the latest on that?
JASON CLARE: That came after the boat arrived at Geraldton, and I asked Customs to conduct a review. They interviewed the master of the ship, the passengers on the ship, and they also looked at the GPS equipment on the ship, which identified that they were going to – trying to get to – New Zealand rather than Australia.
Because of rough weather and because I think a lack of provisions, they made the decision to head to Australia because they weren’t sure that they could get to New Zealand. That’s the reason that they went to Geraldton.
On the basis of all of that, Customs have decided that they think they’ve got their assets positioned properly, but they’re also looking at whether they need a flying squad for events like this to make sure they get in quicker and make sure that they do what’s necessary if people [indistinct].
DAVID SPEERS: So not putting vessels further south…
JASON CLARE: No.
DAVID SPEERS: …but having a ready-to-go team that get there if a boat does arrive?
JASON CLARE: That’s right, and the legislation that passed through the Federal Parliament last week is very important in this regard. We’ve got to make sure we don’t create an incentive for people to try and hit the mainland, and spend longer at sea and a bigger risk that they could end up perishing out in the ocean.
DAVID SPEERS: So those boats arriving in Darwin from now on will be treated the same as arrivals offshore?
JASON CLARE: That’s exactly right, yeah.
DAVID SPEERS: Jason Clare, thanks for joining us this afternoon
JASON CLARE: Thanks David and thanks for being here in Western Sydney.
DAVID SPEERS: It’s lovely to be here, just a pity about the weather.
JASON CLARE: Yeah, yeah.
DAVID SPEERS: Not much you can do about that one.
JASON CLARE: It’ll be sunny tomorrow.
DAVID SPEERS: I hope so.
**NOTE: Text changed from “It was almost one in three working days, someone would have their home repossessed because interest rates were high” because of factual mistake. Three families a day had their homes repossessed, not one every three days.