November 2, 2022

SUBJECT | Islamic State | 2 November 2022

ANDREW BOLT: Hello. Joining me is the Federal Opposition's Immigration spokesman Dan Tehan. Dan Tehan, always great to see you; you're a Victorian; should these Islamic State women and their children be sent to your state?

DAN TEHAN: Well, Andrew, with the information that we've got currently available, no, and there's a reason why the federal government and the state government don't want to tell Victorians that this is going to happen after the election because they know that the reaction from the Victorian people will be: we know nothing about what's going on, we don't feel that this will keep us safe. And the number one priority of any government, whether it be the Victorian State Government or the Federal Government, should be to keep its citizens safe. Now, we know that one of the women who was scheduled to come back to Victoria has had her citizenship stripped now; that's not something that happens lightly in this country. And we need to know the facts, and the facts are that this whole episode is not in Australia's national interest. And the reason that they're keeping us in the dark is because it isn't in Australia's national interest.

BOLT: It's so the Daniel Andrews style, though, he wouldn't tell Victorians, you might recall how who made the disastrous decisions that let the virus escape his quarantine hotels, he wouldn't tell Victorians whether he'd been talking - and he had - giving evidence to an anti-corruption hearing. This guy is so secretive, and I think it's very dangerous and very high-handed. But what's your mail? Are these Islamic State families going to Victoria? because neither the Albanese government nor the Victorian ones will say.

TEHAN: Well, everything that I've read and everything that I've heard is that they will come to Victoria, and they'll come to Victoria after the state election. Now that is treating the Victorian people as fools. And we know from the reports we've read in the newspaper that the public servants in Victoria, I think at the behest of the Victorian State government, are acting on a go slow on this issue so that they won't have to deal with it till after the Victorian State election, then as soon as the election is over, you can rest assured if there's a Labor Government still in Victoria that they will come back. And, once again, they'll keep you in the dark as to why one of the women has had their citizenship stripped. They'll also keep you in the dark as to whether they knowingly went to a declared area, which is illegal; it means that they've broken the law. They won't tell you whether they're going to face the full force of the law upon their return. You'll be kept completely in the dark, and when governments are doing that to you, you know it's not in your interest.

BOLT: Now I accept that there are some details it's best not to let loose. I mean, if we've brought these families back, they do deserve some anonymity in order to integrate better. They don't want the whole world looking at their every move and wagging fingers. I've got that. But there are other things we're not being told that I think do deserve to be known. Like the costs of bringing these families home and monitoring them for security reasons. The government says any costs are confidential because this is an ongoing operation. Do you buy that?

TEHAN: No, I don't, because they don't want to make the costs public. And you're right; there are national security aspects of this that shouldn't be made public. But what we do need to know is those things which are in the Victorian interest, and those things which are in the Australian national interest and things like cost are because these are all the things that governments have to weigh up when they make the decision as to whether we should allow these women and their children to return or not - and they're not being transparent about those issues. Because then the Australian people, the Victorian people, can weigh up all the cons and pros and can see whether they think it's ultimately in our national interest. And I think if all that information were available to the Australian people, in this instance, the Victorian people, they would say it is not in our interest for these women and children to return.

BOLT: Dan Tehan, you've commented before on the so-called racism scandal at the Hawthorn Football Club. These accusations both three unnamed Aboriginal players and unnamed partners. The former coach Allison Clarkson, and former assistant coach Chris Fagan, deny these allegations. Now two of the coaches’ accusers won't cooperate with this AFL investigation, and the lawyer of one said today that it was an insult for the AFL actually to check if the claims are actually true. This is becoming a farce, isn’t it? This is not justice.

TEHAN: No, it's not justice. And the presumption of innocence has to remain the key principle when it comes to the law in this country. If we lose that presumption of innocence, then we lose the fundamental premise on which our justice system is built, and we have to make sure we maintain that. Now the AFL has set up a process. They believe that it is a fair process which will enable everyone to be heard, everyone to put their point of view, and then for the decisions to be made as to what happened and whether the process should go further. Now that should be allowed to take place because if we start - especially by trial by media - taking away the presumption of innocence in this country, only hearing one side of the story, then we really undermine something that is absolutely fundamental to us. And now that the AFL has set up this process, it should be allowed to take its course because otherwise, Alastair Clarkson and Chris Fagan do not get to put their point of view, and that cannot be part of a fair process if they're not allowed to put their point of view.

BOLT:  Dan Tehan, thank you so much for your time.

Media contact | Cate Mercer-Grant 0408 564 232