Transcript by The Hon Scott Morrison MP

2GB Ray Hadley

Program: 2GB


RAY HADLEY: I understand you have an announcement to make about the funding for a programme affecting Indigenous communities across the country.

MINISTER MORRISON: Yes that’s right today we will be announcing that there will be 25 additional places around the country where we roll out a programme called HIPPY. Now what that is it’s a programme where in home we support parents with their parenting and becoming their child’s first teacher before they go to school. The programme, which is run by the Brotherhood of St Laurence, gets great outcomes in preparing particularly indigenous kids for when they go into school and to ensure that when they do get into school they do a lot better than they otherwise would. Previously there were around 75 locations, now there will be 100 locations around the country and in particular in NSW – Goonellabah, Kempsey, Nambucca, Taree and Wyong. Up in Queensland – Cairns, Cooktown, Deception Bay, Doomadgee – all additional places and there are many other places like Port Augusta in South Australia and others around the country. It is a really great programme. The Brotherhood of St Laurence does a really great job and this will help young indigenous kids have a better start to life.

HADLEY: And of course it is about I guess what training parents as well as the children?

MINISTER MORRISON: Well it is really about supporting the parents to help their children in educating them before they go to school and really building their skills as parents and particularly from an educational perspective. So when their kids go to school they are going to have as good a chance as other kids and that is really what you want because as we know all kids are like sponges when they are young. If you can really increase the opportunity for them to boost their learning potential early then the only thing that is going to limit them in life is themselves and we want to remove some of those barriers early.

HADLEY: Well I know you are no longer the Immigration Minister but I know the Prime Minister has given you pretty much a free hand to talk about a whole range of issues on this programme every Monday. Now, stopping the boats and we don’t seem to be getting any answers about whether someone be it a spy agency or someone else had some sort of ATM on a boat to pay the crew members of an Indonesian vessel to take people back. They are now saying it wasn’t $30,000 or $40,000 they are saying it may have been $5,000. They are saying the spy agency ASIS may have been involved. You will have to forgive me here, ASIO I know about, ASIS does what?

MINISTER MORRISON: ASIO works domestically, ASIS works internationally. But on all of these things I mean Ray as you’d expect me to I’ll say exactly the same thing as I used to say when I was Immigration Minister when it comes to these operations. What Australians know is this government stopped the boats. That’s what happened, we said we would, we said how we’d do it, we have done what we said we would do and we have got the outcome the Australian people asked for. What I noticed on the weekend is you’ve got the Labor Party thinking that Australia’s border protection policy should be run by the Indonesian Government. Now that is how they made the mistake when they were last in government. Now we respect Indonesia but we will protect our borders the way that we believe we should.

HADLEY: Would you – if it were to be true given that the international spy agency is apparently, with no proof, doing this wouldn’t it be a pull factor as opposed to a push factor? You know all of a sudden someone says “there is a bit of money to be earned here, we won’t take them to Australia we will pretend we will but we will get some money off a spy agency who is acting on behalf of the Australia government.”

MINISTER MORRISON: Well Ray it would be foolish of me to speculate on speculation and to feed the speculation that is out there. Some people have made some unfounded allegations to the best of my knowledge and it’s not the first time that has happened in this space and what I do notice is that our critics on border protection are always quick to jump in here because they just can’t stomach one simple thought and that is that they said that we could never stop the boats and guess what we did. It just sticks in their craw that we were able to achieve what they said couldn’t be achieved. They said turning boats back would be illegal, well that wasn’t true. They said a whole range of things which the High Court has since upheld. They said that legislation could never pass the Senate and it did. We stopped the boats and we will continue to stop the boats and one thing is for sure any vessel leaving Indonesia won’t be coming to Australia. If it has come from Indonesia – well if people don’t want the boats to be turned back don’t let them leave Indonesia.

HADLEY: I mentioned earlier – you may not have caught up with it, there has been a statement made by the Red Cross CEO the former Federal Labor Minister Robert Tickner about some sort of poll that he has done, or survey, of 1,000 people. Now I also shared with my listeners what the principles of the Red Cross are, be it the Australian Red Cross or the International Red Cross. It appears that the former Labor Minister has crossed quite a number of boundaries in releasing these details about dealing I guess with your Government on refugees and asylum seekers.

MINISTER MORRISON: Well look I have worked with Robert Tickner in two portfolios now and in the vast majority of those dealings – in fact universally I have found him a pretty decent bloke to work with, very committed to the principles of the Red Cross and I haven’t found him crossing these lines in the past. I am not au fait with the specific things you are referring to Ray so you might have to enlighten me but I have found Robert and the Red Cross generally to be a very reputable and good organisation to deal with.

HADLEY: Well let me enlighten you and that’s why – I mean I sit here regularly and implore people to help the Red Cross, raising money for you know places in other parts of the world that are in crisis, simply giving blood as we need to. He said: “Australians are misinformed when it comes to some basic facts on refugees and asylum seekers. Most people think it is a crime to come by boat without a visa. Our survey of 1,000 people in 18 places across Australia found the public don’t really know the scale of the issue nor the realities refugees and asylum seekers face. Further women are more likely than men to get the facts wrong. The quiz style survey questions included facts based on the most recent data from the United Nations High Commission. It is not a crime to come to Australia by boat without a visa and ask for protection yet almost seven out of ten people think it is.” Well of course what Mr Tickner fails to mention is that many of these people do have papers, do have visas and are not refugees, they are economic refugees who come via Indonesia or Malaysia in a bid to have a better lifestyle.

MINISTER MORRISON: Well it is not legal to enter Australia without a visa, we all know that. But there are arguments and issues that we canvased widely when we were in opposition and I remember that debate. But frankly, it is time for country – I know the country has wanted to move on from this for a long time. They wanted it solved, it has been addressed and others can argue the toss forever and a day but what the Australian people know is this government stopped the boats, the previously government were incapable of doing that – in fact under them the people smuggling trade flourished and what I do know is that if Richard Marles or Bill Shorten, who refuses to turn boats back where it is safe to do so, were ever to get anywhere near government the happiest people would be the people smugglers because they just don’t have the ticker for the job. They demonstrate it every time they go out there and carp and complain and it is based on a deep seated resentment of the fact that this government has achieved what they couldn’t.

HADLEY: I can only imagine those polled by Fairfax today where the government trails the opposition 53-47 and the Opposition Leader has once again moved in front the Prime Minister as preferred Prime Minister with one point lead, they must have been sheltering in some sort of cave and not read the evidence of the Royal Commission into unions over the past week or two if they think that Bill Shorten would make a better Prime Minister than anyone let alone Tony Abbott.

MINISTER MORRISON: Well there is a lot more distance to travel on this issue and the Leader of the Opposition I think has been very shy in talking about these issues. He says he wants to wait till he goes to appear before the Commission. There are lots of issues for him to address and that’s all for Labor to do. I think that is fairly reasonable for people to expect him to be upfront about these matters and I will leave that for the Australian public and the media to continue to quiz him on but he doesn’t seem to like answering the questions on it.

HADLEY: No he certainly seems to defer to other matters. Now the Prime Minister and the Immigration Minister, who I will talk to on Thursday Mr Dutton, are pushing ahead with plans to strip citizenship from dual nationals involved in terrorism despite claims the High Court will rule them invalid. Given that you’re the velvet glove man that deals with those in the Senate who are almost impossible to deal with, how will you get it through the Senate – if at all?

MINISTER MORRISON: Well let’s remind ourselves what we are doing here. This is less a debate about citizenship as it is a debate about how we stop terrorists coming back to Australia after fighting for Daesh in the Middle East. That is what this is about. The government wants to stop these people coming back to Australia by being able to cancel their citizenships where they have been doing that. Now there is some debate around the issues for people who are onshore and some of the legalities around that and I am quite confident the Attorney General George Brandis has all of those matters in hand when it comes to the constitutionality of these things. But there is a very simple question here; do we want to allow people who have been fighting for Daesh with terrorists to come back to Australian on an Australian citizenship? The Australian people have a pretty clear view about that; the government certainly does. We have got to get it right and we have got to make sure that the details are accurate and I have absolute confidence in the Attorney General and Minister Dutton and the Prime Minister in rounding those issues off. But let’s not forget what this is about, some like to sort of drag this over to a legal debate about citizenship – this is about protecting Australia’s national security interests and protecting Australians from terrorists coming back to Australia. That’s why we are doing it.

HADLEY: Ok, good luck with your endeavours we will talk again soon.

MINISTER MORRISON: Thanks a lot Ray good to be with you. Go the Blues.