Doorstop interview, Canberra
QUESTION: Minister you have secured support from the Greens to pass pension changes through the Parliament. When do you expect that legislation to go to the House?
MINISTER MORRISON: That matter will be progressed in the House today and it is the plan for that matter to be also considered in the Senate this week.
QUESTION: On terror citizenship changes, Ministerial Discretion that’s off the table now, can we confirm that?
MINISTER MORRISON: Well they are matters for the Minister and the Prime Minister, the reports today regarding some of these measures. The clear focus of the Government has always been to prevent terrorists coming back to Australia. That is our objective. When I first mooted these proposals as Immigration Minister that was the objective and Minister Dutton has continued that process and I commend him for doing that with colleagues. There will be further details I understand released over the course of the week.
QUESTION: Would extending or modernising Section 35 as it stands take away that concern about whether it is constitutional?
MINISTER MORRISON: Well the report today relates to a declaration which is not dissimilar to some other powers Immigration Ministers have with respect to visas and things of that nature and there are very clear processes established. This has been a very exhaustive process to ensure that the specifics of these matters can be properly addressed and that they are robust and as I have said here before I always have a great deal of confidence about us being able to get these measures in a very robust format. What I am disappointed about is the sort of circus we have seen from the Opposition on this issue. We have the Shadow Attorney General, a formal Attorney General, basically running a ‘bring them home’ campaign for those fighting in Syria and Iraq. He seems quite keen to get on the silks I think and even defend them. So look that is where they sit on this issue I think that is very disappointing but it seems they are coming to their senses finally and that we will be able to pursue these measures very soon.
QUESTION: Minister you have done a lot of work on the pension trying to make sure that it is better targeted so that wealthier people are receiving less government pensions. Should public education funding also be better targeted so the wealthier among us would have to pay to send their kids to public school?
MINISTER MORRISON: Well they’re matters for the states as the Prime Minister has said today.
QUESTION: Christopher Pyne says he doesn’t support the means testing proposal, do you back his judgement on those matters?
MINISTER MORRISON: Well I am always backing Christopher Pyne.
QUESTION: With the Section 35 that is how you understand it though that it would be part of Section 35?
MINISTER MORRISON: Well the Minister and the Prime Minister will make the announcements at the appropriate time and I am pleased that the Government has been working through this issue as you would expect to do and in accordance with the normal process. This is a government that gets on with normal process to deal with these very difficult matters and we have had enormous success in these areas. Next week the Australian Border Force will be stood up, this is another big change introduced by this government and again I commend Minister Dutton for taking forward that work. This is a government that is in the business of national security, from day one, and we have got the runs on the board and we will continue to put these runs on the board because we have the conviction deep in our marrow about these issues and that is what we are delivering on for the Australian people.
QUESTION: On Friday you said you know what happened re the allegations of payments for turn backs…
MINISTER MORRISON: Actually Lane that’s not what I said my comments were in relation to my time as Minister. I am obviously aware of the matters in relation to my stewardship as Minister.
QUESTION: So you don’t know what happened?
MINISTER MORRISON: I’m no longer the Minister for Immigration.
QUESTION: But do you know what happened even though you are no longer the Minister for that portfolio?
MINISTER MORRISON: I am not even on the National Security Committee any longer so my comments were in relation to my time as Minister for Immigration and my office also made some clarification of that later that day.
QUESTION: Looking at your time beyond when you were Minister for Immigration are you aware of what happened?
MINISTER MORRISON: What I am very confident about, with the rules and the command of Operation Sovereign Borders is that our officers act lawfully. I am totally confident that our officers always act lawfully and they always act in the interests of safety of life at sea. Our officers who form part of the team of Operation Sovereign Borders had to pull too many bodies out of the water and suffer the severe stress that that caused to individuals not to always be acting in accordance with safety of life at sea and in accordance with the government’s policies – which are completely lawful.
QUESTION: Just on terror changes, Sussan Ley has indicated that they will come before the Cabinet not just the NSC. Is that your understanding as well?
MINISTER MORRISON: Well it will follow the normal process and I have been very comfortable with the process that the Prime Minister and the Minister for Immigration and Border Protection have been running on this issue. They have been consulting widely, they have been listening to people and I think that has been a very positive process.
QUESTION: And normal process is back to Cabinet?
MINISTER MORRISON: That’s the normal process.