Television Interview with Matt Shirvington – Sunrise – Friday 8 December 2023


SUBJECTS: NZYQ High Court decision

MATT SHIRVINGTON: Yet another ex‑detainee has been charged following release from immigration detention. This time on an outstanding warrant for allegedly breaching parole.

William Yekrop, the fifth stateless man to be arrested as the fall out from the government’s handling of the High Court’s ruling keeps spiralling.

Legal experts say Labor jumped the gun on releasing nearly 150 people, saying they could have waited until the court explained its reasoning for the decision three weeks later.

Let’s bring in Education Minister Jason Clare and Deputy Opposition Leader Sussan Ley. Good morning to you both.


SHIRVINGTON: Jason, did the Government jump the gun?

CLARE: No. If we had our way no one would have been let out, but the High Court ordered it and you’ve got to follow the High Court’s orders. We had no choice here. You can’t break the law if the High Court orders it. You have to follow their instruction, but what you can do is change the law, and that’s what the Parliament did this week by introducing laws that allow us now to apply to a court to have these people locked up.

It’s a good thing that’s happened this week to help keep the community safe. But if the Liberal Party were serious about this, they would have read the legal advice that tells us this. This legal advice has been available now since Sunday in a secure room at Parliament House. It’ll astound people watching to know that not one member of the Liberal Party has walked into that room to read that legal advice. That tells us that this is all about politics rather than trying to keep the community safe.

SHIRVINGTON: Well Sussan, is that the case that your party didn’t fully understand the advice?

SUSSAN LEY: Shirvo, this has been an absolute disaster from the start, and it is all the Government’s fault. Now, they lost the case. They released over 100 criminals into the community without a proper plan to deal with them. They then said you couldn’t have preventative detention laws. We wrote those laws for them. Yes, Jason, they did pass the Parliament, with our assistance. And now we have a fifth person arrested who is out in this situation because they didn’t do the proper checks when they were let out. No proper checks on this individual.

Shirvo, there are people who are really worried out there. There is somebody in South Australia allegedly assaulted a woman. There are kids at risk in Victoria because a sex predator is one of these individuals.

I want to know from Anthony Albanese will he have the people who are a threat to our community locked up before Christmas? And I want to know today. And I want an assurance that the proper checks are being done on all of these individuals, because each day brings new anxiety. There is seriously not one political element to our response to this. Look at the way we have had to fix up these laws. Look at the hapless, hapless, Immigration Minister, the hopeless Home Affairs Minister. And where is the Prime Minister? Nowhere to be seen. Still, it appears in hiding in his office. He has not stepped up to reassure the Australian people about community safety going into Christmas.

SHIRVINGTON: Well, Jason, will we hear from the Prime Minister to reassure the public?

CLARE: We heard from the Prime Minister in Parliament yesterday. And the fact, Shirvo, is that if the Liberal Party were in power, they would be dealing with the same issue here. You can’t break the law. I know the Liberal Party broke the law with Robodebt when they were last in power. But governments shouldn’t break the law.

And if the Liberal Party was really serious about this, if Sussan is serious about this, she wouldn’t have been walking around the media yesterday with a cardboard cut‑out of the Prime Minister. She would have been downstairs reading the legal advice. Now this proves that this is all about stunts rather than safety, and that the Liberal Party is more interested in a fight than a fix.

I think the Australian community want us to be serious here, this is a serious issue, and not just trying to play politics for some sort of political advantage.

LEY: Your viewers know, Shirvo, that there is always different legal advice. But what they also know is that a government’s primary responsibility is to keep the community safe, not to lose a case, not to release criminals into the community, not to ignore the right checks that these people need. And what Jason described was me making I think a very visual point here in the press gallery that the Prime Minister has not fronted a press conference with questions, or questions from the press gallery since I think the end of October.

CLARE: Sussan, why hasn’t anyone from the Liberal Party fronted to read the legal advice?

LEY: He is hiding.


LEY: ‑‑ completely hiding from this issue. People are looking to their Prime Minister as we go into summer to keep them safe, and he is nowhere to be found.

SHIRVINGTON: Well, let’s see if we hear from the Prime Minister today. As you said in question time, we don’t all watch question time unfortunately. But this is going to continue on. Five detainees in five days. We don’t want to see another one at the moment.

Hopefully, these preventative detention laws do start working. Thanks for your time this morning, guys, appreciate it.

CLARE: Thank you.