THURSDAY, 28 APRIL 2022
SUBJECTS: Scott Morrison’s triple whammy hitting Australians – interest rate rises in the near future, skyrocketing costs of living and falling real wages; Yesterday’s inflation figure adding to the pain being felt by Australian families; Labor’s team; Alan Tudge in hiding; Labor Leader’s Covid isolation ending; Labor’s plan for a Better Future; China-Solomons security pact; Labor’s plan for a stronger Pacific family; Fowler campaign; Immigration policy.
JASON CLARE, LABOR CAMPAIGN SPOKESPERSON: The only two things that the Liberal Party pretend to be any good at are national security and the economy, and this week we’ve seen them stuff up both. On national security, Aussies are less safe today than they were a couple of weeks ago because of the stuff up on the Solomon Islands. And on the economy, Aussies have now been hit by that triple whammy that Jim Chalmers talked to you about this morning. You’ve got interest rates knocking at the door next Tuesday. You’ve got inflation through the roof. You’ve got wages through the floor, and you’ve got interest rate rises knocking on the door for Australians right around the country. We’ve been telling the story for the last few months that everything’s going up except people’s wages, and yesterday we got the undisputable proof of that with the worst rise in inflation in 20 years. If you go to the shops, you know that’s true. If you’ve been to Woolies or Coles, you see it with your own eyes. I was speaking to somebody the other day that said “when you’re pushing the trolley through Woolies, and you get to the counter and it adds up to more than 200 bucks, you know prices are going up”. And what did we hear from Scott Morrison about this today? ‘It’s not my fault’. That was basically what Scott Morrison said, it’s not my fault. Well, next time you’re at Woolies and Coles and you’re swiping your goods, and you hear the beep, beep, beep, ringing in your ears will be Scott Morrison. Not my fault, not my fault, not my fault. Well, it’s not good enough. And it’s not just increases in the price of food. It’s increases in rent. Hot off the press today there’s a report from Anglicare that says that only 1.6 per cent of rental houses are now affordable for people on low incomes. I’m not surprised about that either. I was in Coffs Harbour last year, I went and saw a place where there were 50 people lined up to try to rent a place. The woman that was successful in becoming the tenant there had to pay the rent 12 months in advance, and she took out a personal loan to do it. I went further up the road to Byron Bay speaking to some homeless organisations there. They told me they spoke to the police, who told them there are 400 women sleeping in cars around Byron Bay. Just think about that for a minute. That’s the housing crisis in Australia today, and you’ve got Scott Morrison saying ‘if you can’t afford to rent, buy a house’. You know, Scott Morrison to Planet Earth, we have a cost of living crisis here. We’ve got a housing crisis. Every time Scott Morrison says ‘strong economy’, Aussies see him on TV and say, ‘it ain’t that strong for me, mate’. Scott Morrison, you are out of touch, and you are out of time. Kristina.
KRISTINA KENEALLY, SHADOW MINISTER FOR HOME AFFAIRS: Well Jason’s right, we do have a cost of living crisis in Australia. And we know because Mathias Cormann told us that low wages are a deliberate design feature of this government’s economic management. We also know a deliberate design feature of their budgetary management is rorts and waste. This is a government that has wasted taxpayer dollars while Australians are struggling to make ends meet. This is a government that has perfected the art form of slush funds and rorts. $100 million on Sports Rorts. Just across the harbour here, we’ve got a $10 million swimming pool in North Sydney rorted out of funds that was meant to be for the regions. We’ve got a car park rort, $660 million for car parks promised to Coalition seats, never been built. They’ve wasted almost $20 billion on JobKeeper to companies that turned a profit. And they’re spending $12 million a year to deliver jobs for their mates. For Australian families who are seeing the cost of petrol, and bread, and milk, the things they need for everyday life, go up and up and up. Up 6 per cent, the cost of necessary items, and yet they see the government wasting their money, taxpayer money, treating it like it is Liberal Party money. We can’t afford three more years. This profligate spending must end. That is why yesterday, when Labor announced its approach to Budget repair, one of the key aspects is an audit of the rorts and the waste. Because it’s not just the quantity of the spend. It is the quality of the spend. These are scarce taxpayer dollars, and every dollar we spend should be in support of improving opportunities, improving the quality of living, and attacking the cost of living crisis that has developed on Scott Morrison’s watch. Happy to take any questions.
JOURNALIST: The government has said that it’s looking at immediate cost of living relief like they did in the budget, $250. Like you said, it’s not going to do much, maybe one grocery shop –
CLARE: Well, we support that. Look, let there be no confusion, we support that.
JOURNALIST: So, would you support more cash handouts if Labor is elected later in the year, or whenever, to support Australians that are still struggling through what will be this ongoing crisis?
CLARE: What we’re saying is Australians need help right now, and those cash payments are welcome because they help people right now. But we need more than just short-term help. You need long-term help. So, if you’re at a child care centre today, this is a big part of providing help to more than a million Australians. I think Amanda made the point in the press conference, that the changes we make there will help an average family cut the cost of childcare by $1,600 bucks a year. That’s a lot of money. For people watching at home the prospect of –
JOURNALIST: Should there be another one-off cash handout?
CLARE: I think Jim was asked that question and said that we’re not proposing to do that. What we’re saying here is there’s short-term help in the budget, the Australian people are screaming out for a government with a long-term plan. Scott Morrison has a short-term plan that gets him through the budget. The cuts to petrol end in six months’ time, what happens after that? What we’re saying is that you need a government with a plan that lasts more than six months. So, you’ve got to make changes to childcare, to cut the cost of childcare. You’ve got to make changes to the electricity market to cut the cost of electricity. They’re two real practical examples here, you can really help Aussies that are struggling to pay the bills, and at the same time, take steps to make jobs more secure, to help people work more and to raise their wages.
JOURNALIST: Senator Keneally, would you like to be Home Affairs minister if Labor is in government? And Jason, as Campaign Spokesman, when Albo was first diagnosed with Covid, you came up here the next morning and said that we’re going to see all these really talented Labor frontbenchers speak (inaudible) but we haven’t seen Tanya, we’re all wondering why that is, can you explain to us why that is?
CLARE: You’ve been so busy on the bus, you haven’t been watching The Project or Sunrise –
JOURNALIST: But where is she for us? This is about us asking questions of frontbenchers, where is that talent?
CLARE: I know these press conferences, get a lot of people watching on TV, but I guess the audience on Sunrise is even bigger and so is The Project. Tanya’s been out there, if you watch the things she’s been saying, she has been making a real big impact on this campaign. I think what we’ve seen over the course of the of the last week are two things. One, we’ve seen the government stuff up on the things that they tell people they’re good at, national security and the economy. The other thing is we’ve seen Albo’s team. You’ve seen that we have a strong, united team, and that we’re ready to govern. We’re ready to earn your vote, and we’re ready to get started on fixing the problems that Australians want us to fix. Now compare and contrast that with the other side. Scott Morrison talks about his team, where are they? Most of them are in hiding. Some of them are in witness protection. Where’s Alan Tudge? Can anyone find Alan Tudge? I don’t think Scooby Doo could find Alan Tudge at the moment. This is important, right. Here’s a bloke who it seems is responsible for half a million dollars of taxpayers’ money being paid to a former staffer in compensation. On the first day of this election, the Prime Minister said that he’d be upfront with Australians. He gets asked a question by Karl Stefanovic on The Today Show, and he refuses to answer why the money has been spent. Then a week later, we find out there’s all these WhatsApp messages which indicate that Alan Tudge might have broken the law by encouraging a former staffer not to tell the truth to security agencies. Now this bloke is running for Parliament. If you’re running for Parliament, then you’ve got to stand up and answer questions from journalists. So, if there’s an enterprising journalist in Melbourne, try and find Alan Tudge. There’s a second question.
KENEALLY: What was your question again?
JOURNALIST: Would you like to be the Home Affairs Minister, if Labor wins government in a few weeks?
JOURNALIST: Can I ask you in response to the comments Karen Andrews made yesterday suggesting that China’s deliberately timed this deal with the Solomons to disrupt our election campaign, and I know that you wrote a letter to her, has she responded?
KENEALLY: No, is the answer to that. So, yesterday we saw Karen Andrews indulge in conspiratorial fantasies and unhinged commentary about foreign interference in our election campaign. Offered with no proof, offered with no reference to intelligence, and I make this point, if Karen Andrews does not have intelligence briefings suggesting that there has been attempts at foreign interference in our election campaign, then she needs to clarify that to the public right now. If she does have such briefings, we are in caretaker mode, and I remind her that the ASIO Director-General has already made clear that such briefings should be provided to both the Opposition and the Government during the caretaker period. This is not the first time Karen Andrews has done this. Just a few weeks ago, she made another suggestion that she had some kind of intelligence relating to another matter. I wrote to her then and asked for a briefing. We’ve repeatedly requested such a briefing. Nothing has been forthcoming. What I expect in this circumstance is nothing will be forthcoming either, because Karen Andrews can’t substantiate her claims. If she can, then she needs to ensure that the Labor Opposition, as the alternate government, is briefed.
JOURNALIST: You mentioned that you want to be Home Affairs Minister if Labor wins government. On that issue, why then did you tell Labor for Refugees in a 2021 conference that you welcome the approach by that group, Labor for Refugees, to end the offshore processing regime if Labor wins government?
KENEALLY: Well, I haven’t seen that information that you’re sharing there with me, and I said this this morning on Sky News. But let me be clear, our policy is Operation Sovereign Borders, regional resettlement, boat turn backs where safe to do so, and offshore processing.
JOURNALIST: Did you tell Labor for Refugees this?
KENEALLY: No, I did not.
JOURNALIST: Then why are they saying you did?
KENEALLY: I don’t know, you’d have to ask them. But let me be clear, if you attempt to come to Australia by boat, you will not make it, you will be turned back or you will be sent for offshore processing in Nauru.
JOURNALIST: Just in regards to the Solomon Islands, should China allow the Solomon Islands to release that security pact? And if there are Chinese troops in the Solomon Islands, what does that mean potentially for Australian security detail in the Islands?
KENEALLY: Well, first of all, the Solomon Islands are a sovereign nation, I’m going to let them make their own decisions about what they release and don’t release. But I make this point. The Australian Government, the Morrison Government, was warned that China was seeking to strike a deal with the Solomon Islands. We saw yesterday extraordinary commentary from the head of the Office of National Intelligence, Andrew Shearer, saying this was not an intelligence failure. That means it was a government failure. It was a failure by Mr. Morrison not to seek to speak to Prime Minister Sogavare. It was a failure by Mr. Morrison not to send his Foreign Minister to the Solomon Islands. Mr. Morrison dropped the ball here in what has been the most significant national security failure since World War Two, and as a result Australia is left less safe. Now, China does have a foothold now, just 1,600 kilometres from Cairns, and all the chest thumping and empty rhetoric we saw yesterday from Mr. Morrison about red lines is just tough talk with nothing behind it. That’s why Labor this week announced our plan to strengthen Australia’s relationship with our Pacific family. Mr. Morrison has been caught asleep at the wheel, and as a result, Australia is less secure.
JOURNALIST: Just on another issue, Indigenous leaders have spent more than a decade advocating for a referendum on constitutional recognition. Labor recently said it wanted a referendum in its first term if elected. But is that an election commitment? And will you see yourself as having failed, if that doesn’t happen?
CLARE: I think Indigenous Australians have been extraordinarily patient. They’re desperate for this to happen, and we want this to happen. I think Linda’s made that point. Albo’s made this point. The first and most important change we want to make to the Constitution is to recognise our Indigenous brothers and sisters in it. But not just that, to create an Indigenous Voice to Parliament. This is long overdue. This is the party of Native Title. This is the party of the Apology, we want to be the party of the Indigenous Voice to Parliament.
JOURNALIST: And the time frame?
CLARE: Well, as soon as possible. The Prime Minister made the point this morning, and I think it’s a fair point, that you’ve got to make sure that you’ve got bipartisanship, you want to make sure that you’ve got Indigenous Australians and non-Indigenous Australians together in this task. The worst thing that could happen would be for Australia to vote no. But I’ve got extraordinary confidence that Australia will vote yes to this. It takes a bit of political will. Lean into this and make it happen. We can make this happen and Labor will make it happen.
JOURNALIST: Under doctor’s orders, Mr. Albanese can’t hit the campaign trail fully when he leaves iso tomorrow, so what can we expect to see? Job sharing arrangements between him and you guys? What’s the vibe?
CLARE: What are the medical rules that you’re referring to?
JOURNALIST: So he said on radio that the doctor said that he shouldn’t be working those 16 hour days –
KENEALLY: I think he said he should take it a bit easy, I just want to be clear –
CLARE: Yeah, look, as somebody that went through Covid A couple of weeks ago, I know as well that it took me about a week before I was fully recovered, before the Covid cough disappeared, and before I felt like I was 100 per cent, but Albo’s out of iso tomorrow, and here’s a hot tip for you, we’re heading west to Perth. So we’re heading west, we’ve got the campaign launch on Sunday, and that is going to be a key moment in this campaign, a fantastic opportunity for Albo and the whole team to make the case to the Australian people. Not just why this rotten, old, incompetent government needs to be thrown out, but why we have a better plan for Australia’s future.
JOURNALIST: Do you welcome One Nation preferencing Labor above the Liberals in key seats? Are you grateful to Pauline Hanson, or are you worried that progressives may punish you?
CLARE: I’ll just make three points on that. We have had no negotiations at all with One Nation on this. We’ve got a long-standing principle of preferencing One Nation last, and that has not changed. Now what One Nation does in terms of who they preference, frankly, that is just a matter for them.
JOURNALIST: What have you pledged or promised for Fowler if you win?
KENEALLY: James, there’s a lot I can talk about here. It’s good to see interest from The Daily Telegraph, finally, in South West Sydney, and I welcome that. Because this is an area of South West Sydney that’s got double the unemployment rate. It has people who are earning about $500 a week, when the national average is about $660 a week. And yet they’ve got the same housing costs as the rest of Sydney. It’s an area of Sydney where only 8 per cent of the population has achieved university education, where the cuts to apprenticeships, and TAFE, the cuts to university, and the failure to act on flat wages and rising cost of living bites really hard. The housing affordability crisis that we’re seeing in this country bites exceptionally hard in Fowler, which is ranked fourth out of 151 electorates for houses where they need more bedrooms. Housing overcrowding is a significant problem. Now, as we come to this election, there is a choice to be made between an Albanese Labor Government, or three more years of the same tired, out of puff and out of time Liberal Government. So this is what I say to you, James. If people want action on housing affordability, they need to vote Labor. If they want 465,000 fee-free TAFE places, they need to vote Labor. If they want 20,000 more university places, they need to vote Labor. If they want cheaper childcare, they need to vote Labor. If they want cheaper electricity costs, they need to vote Labor. James, I know you’re going to say, ‘oh gosh, but is that specific to Fowler’? And I say to you, hell yes it is. Because the people of Fowler and South West Sydney have been done over by this Liberal Government, and they deserve a strong and experienced voice in the heart of government. And that’s what they’ll get in an Albanese Labor Government.
JOURNALIST: I was talking to your fellow Western Sydney candidate, Andrew Charlton, the other day, he’s pledged $6 million for the Richie Benaud Oval, $12 million for the Maronite community in that electorate. Have you pledged any specific projects in the seat of Fowler?
KENEALLY: Yes. In fact, we announced, and I’m sorry you missed it, we announced half a million dollars to the Assyrian National Committee. And we have some more announcements coming.
JOURNALIST: You’ve said that you want to be Home Affairs Minister, have you spoken to Mr. Albanese about that? Has he given you assurances that you will be Home Affairs Minister under a Labor government?
KENEALLY: Of course all of these decisions are made by the Leader, but yes, I’ve had every indication that the portfolios I currently hold are the ones I will take into government.
JOURNALIST: Two Issues. First issue, NDIS. Actuary reports are showing it’s going to be $64 billion by 2030. When you’re sitting around the Cabinet table after May 21 if you win the election, the cost of this scheme is getting bigger and bigger, is $64 billion affordable, or will tough decisions have to be made about reigning in the NDIS? Secondly, on debates. Labor wants to do a debate at the Press Club last week of the campaign, the PM wants to do one on Channel Nine, Channel Seven wants to do one as well. The ABC wants to do one. What is the ALP’s position, Mr. Albanese’s position, on doing debates?
CLARE: So I’ll deal with the first one, NDIS. I think Bill talked about that last week, he made the point that there are costs that you can take out through consultants and lawyers and so forth. We need to make sure that we’re helping the people who need the help. I told this room the story last Friday about people in my own community, who get cut after cut after cut. At the risk of labouring the point, the boy’s name is Jacob, he’s got autism, and Angelman syndrome. He’s had his funding cut three times in a row. His dad can’t get a carer to relieve him on the weekend so he can take the other two boys out to soccer, or footy I think it is. And Mum’s not there because Mum died of a brain tumour three or four years ago. This is serious. This is not about numbers, this is about people. Right, we set up this scheme, the things that this government is doing to it at the moment are hurting real people. Okay, so you can manage it properly, and you can make sure that you don’t hurt people along the way, and that’s what Bill was talking about last week, that, frankly, that’s what that woman at the debate was talking about last week as well. There are two types of people when it comes to the NDIS. There are people who’ve had their funding cut, and there are people who are terrified of having their funding cut. Now on the debates, there are going to be more debates. I can’t wait for them. I’m sure Albo can’t wait for them either. There’s a bit of back and forth that’s happening at the moment between the parties. We’ve written to the Liberal Party recommending a debate at the Press Club. They’ve knocked that back. I expect that over the course of the next few days we’re going to get a result here so that we can sort it out and organise these debates, and get them get them together head to head. We won the first debate, of course, you’d expect us to want more debates. I’m surprised Scott Morrison does want debates, he’s been knocking them back in the Parliament for the last three years. You know this if you watch parliament, every time we move a motion to have a debate, up pops Peter Dutton and moves that the Member be no longer heard. I was surprised during the Sky debate when Albo started winning the debate that Peter Dutton didn’t run in and move that the Member be no longer heard. So yes, there will be more debates. Can’t wait for them.
JOURNALIST: Just for KK, I know you’ve said that the Solomon Islands are a sovereign nation, but they’ve basically said that they won’t be releasing the details of the security package unless China gives the green light. If elected, how will you push China to see those details, because it is in Australia’s interests. And just secondly, you’ve pledged to boost foreign aid but in the wake of this pact, should Australia be making a more concerted effort to strengthen defence and security ties with its Pacific neighbours?
KENEALLY: Well, two parts to that. First, the Solomon Islands are a sovereign nation. And I think the very point that you raised in that question is why Australia should be quite alarmed. We’ve already now got China dictating terms to a member of our Pacific family, and this points to the failure of the government to act when they became aware that this deal was potentially in the offing. They should have acted, Marise Payne should have gotten up from her desk and gone to the Solomon Islands. Now, all of the nine Pacific Island nations and Timor-Leste are sovereign nations. And it used to be the case that Australia was the first country of choice for them. We are at risk of losing them. And so the package we announced this week, is about strengthening the institutional relationships in terms of our Defence forces and the police forces in the Pacific nations. It is also about projecting Australia’s voice to the region through increased broadcasting. It’s also about providing financing for climate change infrastructure. It’s also about the people-to-people links. And, if I can say, one of the big announcements we made this week that I think people didn’t notice enough, is a real first in our migration program. 3,000 dedicated spaces per year in the permanent intake for the Pacific Islands and Timor-Leste, to be conducted as a lottery apportioned to each of those nations based on population. Last year, there were only 720 permanent arrivals from the Pacific Islands to Australia. 3,000 a year. It’s an opportunity for us not only to provide significant economic boost, because we know that those people when they come here to work from those nations, they send money back to their communities, $2,200 every six months. But 3,000 people having the opportunity to come here with their families, permanent residents, creating those people-to-people links, those ties, that is a fundamentally important offer. It it’s a fundamentally important chance for us to grow closer to our Pacific Island neighbours.
JOURNALIST: Can I go back to cost of living please, because, like you said, we’re in a crisis. Is child care the only policy that Labor has to alleviate this cost of living crisis? What are you going to do for pensioners, for example, that will continue to struggle to pay for essentials?
CLARE: The answer is no Jen, and have a look at the answer I gave you to your first question in this press conference. Yes, we support the immediate cash help that people are getting. Yes, we support the cut in petrol costs. They help everybody that has a car. But you but you need medium and long-term changes here that are going to help people with their longer-term challenges. Now, don’t underestimate the child care policy in terms of the impact that it’s going to make for more than a million Aussies. You know, I know myself as the father of a child who has just moved from child care to primary school, it felt like you got a pay rise when they leave child care. It’s expensive. Now, if you can have a policy in place that does two things, Amanda made this point in the press conference, this policy, ticks two of the big boxes, to tackle two of the big challenges in this country, cost of living, and getting skilled workers into the workforce. You talk to employers who will tell you all the time, you can’t find skilled workers. The child care policy will give the average family on a hundred grand another 1,600 bucks back in their pocket every year. But it also means they can go back to work. If you’ve got a woman with a child, you know, a man and a woman with two kids maybe, like my house, and one person is working full time, the other one’s working two and a half days a week, and you can change the cost of childcare, then that two and a half days might become three and a half or four. The impact for that young person of being in child care is amazing, I gotta tell you. The impact for that family in terms of the extra money is terrific. And the impact for that business is extra productivity because you got a skilled worker, already trained, back in the workforce. That’s why this is a big deal for cost of living and skilled workers for employers who desperately need it. We’ve got to cut the cost of electricity too. Anybody who pays an electricity bill, whether you’re 18 or 80, knows it’s too expensive. So you asked me about pensioners, pensioners ask me about the cost of electricity all the time. And we’ve been banging on in this country about how we can fix it, and try to scare the pants off people about how you might fix it for the last 10 years. The Liberal Party have been telling people that if you invest in renewable energy and you try to do something about climate change, your bills will go up. Well, now the opposite is true. If you invest more in renewable energy, you’ll cut the cost of electricity. That’s why we’re saying we will do this. If you want your electricity bills cut, you’ve got to vote Labor at this election.
JOURNALIST: Are you ruling out one off cash payments in the future?
CLARE: Again, have a look at Jim’s answer. He answered this question this morning.
JOURNALIST: But what will you do in the future?
CLARE: What we said is we support the payments that are there now. But what we’ve said is we support the payments that are there now, but you’ve got to do more than that in terms of long-term support. To cut the cost of living, as well as to make wages stronger, and jobs more secure. Now, if you can do all of that, you can help people to pay the bills. The problem here is the last decade has been the worst decade for wage growth in Australia’s history. Full stop. This is not an accident that this has happened. This is deliberate. The government has deliberately set itself on a path for the last 10 years of keeping people’s wages low. Wage growth here is lower than the United States, and we are reaping the whirlwind of that right now. Okay, it’s not just that you’ve got inflation through the roof, you’ve got wages through the floor. And that makes it harder and harder for Aussies to make ends meet.
JOURNALIST: To Ms. Keneally just on border protection, would a Labor Government keep in place Temporary Protection Visas, and if not, what would you replace them with? And on offshore detention, you’ve repeatedly spoken about how you wouldn’t want it to be permanent, you want it to be temporary, right? What would you do to enable it to be temporary and not indefinite, considering that the New Zealand deal is only for the legacy caseload? It’s not for anyone that might come from now.
KENEALLY: First, I’m not sure you understand the phrase legacy caseload, but we’ll set that aside. So let me explain. I’ve been through this several times, including this morning on Sky News, but I’m happy to repeat it here for you, James. When it comes to Operation Sovereign Borders, we do support boat turn backs, regional resettlement, and offshore processing. In terms of Temporary Protection Visas, the only people in Australia on Temporary Protection Visas came before Operation Sovereign Borders. Nobody goes on a Temporary Protection Visa anymore because if you attempt to come to Australia by boat, you will be turned back or you will be sent to Nauru. Even the people who come from Nauru and PNG for medical treatment, do not go on Temporary Protection Visas. They are either on no visa, because they’re here with Ministerial permission, or they’re on a bridging visa. So the only people in Australia on Temporary Protection Visas are people who have already been recognised as refugees by a Liberal government. They have lived in Australia for more than 10 years. They work here, they pay taxes, they run businesses. I met a family in Adelaide, they’re all on Temporary Protection Visas. They own a café, a successful café, survived through the pandemic. They were denied JobKeeper, but they were paid JobKeeper to pay to the Australians that they employ. So, this cohort of people, about 20,000, every three or five years the government demands that they go through a bureaucratic process to apply for protection status. It’s unnecessary, and it’s costly. It clogs up the Department of Home Affairs, which has got 100,000 backlog of citizenship applications, 54,000 backlog for partner visa applications, businesses telling me it regularly takes 12 months or more to get a skilled visa approved. At a time when we have a skills shortage, we have got a skill shortage, we’ve got a clogged up department of Home Affairs, and we’re making them go through this process for no good reason.
JOURNALIST: What visa would you give those 20,000 people?
KENEALLY: A Permanent Protection Visa.
JOURNALIST: On offshore detention, what would you do there?
KENEALLY: Labor’s platform has a 90-day rule. And we would take up the New Zealand deal, we would implement the New Zealand deal. You can’t believe a word Scott Morrison says. Scott Morrison said for years that taking up the New Zealand deal would restart the boats. Peter Dutton said for years that taking up the New Zealand deal would restart the boats. That was not true. And we know it’s not true, because Scott Morrison backflipped just a few weeks ago and took up the New Zealand deal. He took up the New Zealand deal to sandbag inner city Liberal seats. Make no mistake about it. You can’t believe a word he says. We will implement the deals in the future. We will implement the deal. Anyone who has attempted to come to Australia by boat will not settle here. We will negotiate through other countries, as the government has been doing. People have been going to Canada, people have been going to other countries. There will be third country resettlement.
JOURNALIST: There’s a backlog in the processing of visitor visas given that the government’s prioritising –
KENEALLY: I think every visa category has a backlog of some sort.
JOURNALIST: Under a Labor government, would you increase the workforce (inaudible)?
KENEALLY: The announcement we made yesterday is an important one, because we got rid of the public sector cap. It’s an artificial cap. We need to unclog the visa processing system.
KENEALLY: I’m not going to start canvassing numbers here. Because the other thing that’s happened under this government is that the Immigration portfolio has been outside of Cabinet for most of the decade. There is one portfolio in one area that the government has complete and utter control over that directly affects economic growth, and that is migration.
JOURNALIST: How would you improve the process?
KENEALLY: Well, there’s a couple things in that, and we are going to have more to say about our migration setting. So it’s my sad duty to say to you that I’m not going to announce that here today. But we do have an approach where we’re going to address our migration policy, and you will hear that before the election.
CLARE: All right. Thanks for coming along guys and we’ll see you in Perth.
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