October 3, 2022

SUBJECT | ISIS camps | 3 October 2022

Stefanovic: Joining us live now is the shadow immigration minister, Dan Tehan. Dan, good to see you. Thanks for your time this Monday morning. So, do you support the plan to repatriate women and children from Syria?

Tehan: Well, obviously, we still need a lot more detail, Pete. What is the arrangements that are being put in place when the women and children come back to Australia? Those who knowingly went to declared areas, what will happen to them? Have any of the people that are coming back been radicalised? Will control orders be used in those instances? These are all the questions which we need answers to, and we don't have that yet. So, it's very difficult to tell at this stage whether the right procedures, measures, whether the law is going to be abided by— we obviously put national security legislation in place to deal with these types of cases, and we need more answers to those questions.

Stefanovic: On principle, though, sounds like you're open to it?

Tehan: Well, obviously, keeping Australia safe has to be the number one priority of any government. So, if the government is making sure they're doing everything they can to keep Australians safe, if they're going to make sure that those individuals who knowingly went into declared areas will face the law and then they will use control orders, given national security assessments on the risk to Australia— all those things need to be put in place. Now we don't know whether the Government is doing that or what measures will be put in place when these individuals return to Australia. That's what we need to hear more from the Government on.
Stefanovic: Sure, sounds like you've got a little wiggle room there, which you haven't tended to have in the past because your former government, and I'll single out Peter Dutton here because he had said in the past that even the wives had posed a security risk if they were returned to Australia. So what's behind a change in position there or a seemingly changed position?
Tehan: Well, we don't know whether those individuals do pose a risk, obviously, from what we read in the paper, ASIO has been over to Syria and made an assessment. We haven't seen those assessments. So the problem is, until the Government willingly provides this information, we just don't know whether those assessments have been made. One of the things that always held us back was it was very hard to get over there and do those assessments. Now the security situation, it would seem, has changed. ASIO has been over there, according to the papers, and made those assessments, but we don't know that. I mean, one of the things that the Government could do is make sure that it is very transparent about these things. And if it can't be transparent because of national security reasons, then a full briefing of the Opposition, I think, is warranted.

Stefanovic: Okay. Well, if they were to come back if the women were to come back or even those older children, should they be charged?

Tehan: Well, if they've knowingly went to a declared area, then they've broken the law. Labor, with the Government, put forward national security legislation which said that if you went to a declared area, you were breaking the law. So, if they've broken the law, yes, they should be charged. Now whether there's the evidence for that, obviously, that's something that the assessments would be able to tell us. We haven't seen those, and, of course, for the children, what we have to do is make sure that they haven't been radicalised in these camps, and if they have, obviously, there’s control orders, which were part of that national security legislation, that can be used in those instances. Is that the government has in mind?

Stefanovic: Sure. And that would be a legitimate concern that a lot of people would have. Surveillance would have to be significant. You point out there the chances of radicalisation could be high. For instance, would you argue that contact with any kind of jailed husband or jailed partner would be banned?

Tehan: Well, obviously, we don't know whether they would have partners back here, but anything which could lead to radicalisation here in Australia, you would want to make sure are part of those control orders. It's why we put that legislation in place. So, what you would need is assessments done by ASIO and others, and when you put the control orders in place, obviously, anything that raised the threat of further radicalisation would have to be limited as part of those control orders.

Stefanovic: Okay, Dan Tehan, we're out of time, but appreciate your time this morning.

Media contact | Cate Mercer-Grant 0408 564 232