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October 3, 2022

SUBJECT | ISIS CAMPS | 3 October 2022

Paul Murray: Dan Tehan is the shadow immigration minister. Should we be doing this?

Dan Tehan: Well, Paul, obviously, the first priority of any government is to make sure that they put the safety of Australia first. Now the only way, and the only reason, we should be doing this is if we can have that guarantee. Now, my understanding— and we've only had this from media reports, and that’s why I asked for a briefing from the Government for the Opposition first thing this morning — my understanding is that our intelligence officials, ASIO officials, have been over to Syria and have started doing assessments of these individual cases. Now there will be some individuals who have knowingly broken the law by visiting a declared area, and they should face the full force of the law. My understanding is there are others who might have unknowingly been taken there as minors and are now adults who have had children, and in those situations, there might be a case where you can use control orders to bring them back to Australia, but you would only do so if the intelligence assessment says it is safe to do so and we just don't have access to that information yet. And we've now been offered a briefing, and obviously, Karen Andrews will take that briefing and will be in a much better position to understand what the Government is seeking to do.

Murray: When does that happen? When does the briefing happen?
Tehan: I'm not quite sure when the briefing will happen. My understanding is that the news stories broke unexpectedly today; the government wasn't expecting what they were up to be released in the media today, so it caught them by surprise. So, they at least have offered a briefing now that the media has exposed what is happening, and we look forward to that briefing and getting a greater understanding of what they're doing and what undertakings have been given and, in particular, what the intelligence assessment is of bringing these Syrians back to Australia— if that's what they're thinking about doing.

Murray: But this is the thing, if it's all been exposed, it means there probably was a plan to get this in train, and then just someone would find out after it had happened. That's not the way to do something like this. You have to have the conversation first because it seems like they wanted it to happen before it's actually been able to happen here, Dan.

Tehan: Well, that would be a very good question to put to the government, Paul, because I think you're absolutely right. And it's not how it should happen. What they should be is transparency unless there are very, very good security grounds for not having it done in a transparent manner. But it does seem like they wanted this to go along without anyone knowing, and the media have exposed that. Now they've been caught short, and it looks like we're now going to get that briefing, and we'll get a better understanding of what they have in mind.

Murray: All right, thank you very much, Dan.

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