Interview on the Project – 24 June 2012

Topic: Asylum Seekers

CARRIE BICKMORE: Jason Clare’s the Minister for Home Affairs. Minister, is it possible for both sides of politics to put aside the pettiness of it and just come up with a way together to stop these people drowning on their way to Australia?

JASON CLARE: Hi Carrie, I think it is. The people of Australia have had a gut full of this. They tell me they just want it fixed. Both of the major political parties support offshore processing. The Labor Party supports it in Malaysia, the Opposition wants in it Nauru. I think the solution is, just do both.

STEVE PRICE: So you will reopen Nauru based on the answer to that question. Despite the fact that you have, for months and months and months, been saying you won’t do it?

JASON CLARE: Well Steve, we made that compromise in December. We said that as well as doing Malaysia, we’ll open a processing centre in Nauru as well. When I talk to people about this in my electorate they say look, put the politics aside, just do both and fix the problem.

CHARLIE PICKERING: Obviously neither side of politics wants to say each other’s is a better or worse idea, but why not look at a long-term solution? Why not work with Indonesia, have a processing centre there where people are actually getting on the boats? When this has been tried in the past it’s been the most effective way.

JASON CLARE: Yes, it’s a good question Charlie. We work really closely with Indonesia. One of the limitations of just doing it in Indonesia would be that people who are found not to be refugees by a processing centre in Indonesia would still try and get on a boat, still risk their lives. That’s the risk that we would still have – more people drowning at sea getting on a boat from Indonesia to Christmas Island.

STEVE PRICE: But the biggest problem, of course, is your partners in government, The Greens, won’t wear offshore processing anywhere. I mean shouldn’t they be embarrassed when there are people dying at sea? The Greens are as much to blame for this as anybody.

JASON CLARE: Well Steve, I think we’ve got to remember what happened ten years ago when we had Tampa and September 11. John Howard asked for the support of the Opposition, and we gave it. He wouldn’t have been able to get that legislation through to have offshore processing then without Labor Party’s support. He wouldn’t have been able to get the legislation through to be able to tackle terrorism after September eleven without our support.

STEVE PRICE: Yeah, but I asked you about The Greens…

JASON CLARE: At times like this…

STEVE PRICE: I asked you about The Greens.

JASON CLARE: The Greens position has been clear – they don’t support offshore processing, they never will. The Liberal Party does. Both major parties support offshore processing, and when there’s so much at stake Steve, we’ve got an obligation to put our swords down and work together to implement offshore processing.

DAVE HUGHES: Jason, you sound like a smart guy. If you could put party politics aside and just focus on your own personal solution to this problem, what would it be?

JASON CLARE: I think you just answered it Dave. Get the politics out of it. People don’t want to hear politicians fighting about this; they just want the thing fixed. I think the best way to do it is get the Labor Party’s policy and the Liberal Party’s policy for Nauru, put them together. Just do both. That’s the way to do it.

CARRIE BICKMORE:Good to see if actually happens Minister. Thank you so much for coming on tonight.

JASON CLARE:  Thanks guys.

CHARLIE PICKERING: We’ve got lots more to come. We’ll be back after this.


– ENDS –