SUBJECT | Andrew Giles failure to look at Mark Green's Visa Issue | 6 December 2022
PETA CREDLIN: Joining me now, Immigration Minister Dan Tehan here at the desk in Melbourne. This is the sort of family that you want to have in Australia. English is great, educational attainment is great, Dad’s got a trade, and daughter wants to be a nurse at university - can't get there because they're on a bridging visa. And, of course, they’re in a place like South Australia, which is crying out for people to move there, unlike, you know, the congested parts of Sydney, Melbourne. What's the problem?
DAN TEHAN: Well, we don't know; Peta and I spoke to Mark today, and he doesn't know either. And the Department won't give him any advice, the minister's office - or the minister himself – won’t give him any advice. He's asked for ministerial intervention now, the proper process needs to take place when that occurs, and we want that looked at and examined as it normally would be. But the thing I find strange is Andrew Giles has been to six fundraisers for the Andrews’ Labor Government since he's been minister, plus other events supporting Labor Party candidates during the state election here in Victoria. Yet he hasn't been able to find the time to delve into this, to look at the intricacies of it and make a decision. And now we've got Mark and his family waiting to see whether they're going to get a present for Christmas or not. And if you look at what they've done over the last ten years, including with the hard work, not one cent of welfare, everything that he’s earnt he's put back into his family into staying here. Surely the minister could take the time to review the case and make a decision.
CREDLIN: I can't believe he spent $150,000 of their own money. I mean, sparky’s are well-paid, but that's a lot of money for anyone to find. Yet you look at the Biloela family who came the wrong way - they came on boats, the mum and dad separately - and then they've spent countless time and money from activist lawyers from elsewhere and charity organisations to appeal all the way to the High Court, for the High Court to say they are not refugees. They've been allowed to stay. I just can't see why Andrew Giles doesn't get behind his desk and pull up the file. You know what it's like to be a minister; you get your staff to bring it in, get the briefing required and make a decision.
TEHAN: That's right. Ask the department to give you the advice, then look at it, and that's what ministerial interventions are there for. Check the facts, check the background, and do your due diligence because we always want integrity in our system. But surely then make the decision and let this family get on with their lives. Talking to Mark today…
CREDLIN: You gave him a ring?
TEHAN: I gave him a call today and spoke to him, and it's the uncertainty that he's dealing with at the moment and the fact that no one will reach out to him and give any certainty. And as I've said, meanwhile, the minister is finding all this time to go and do all these events to get Dan Andrews’ re-elected. I mean, your priority as a minister should be to deal with your caseload. You know that from your time as chief of staff to the Prime Minister, that's your focus. And this idea, ‘oh, I was doing it after hours', but when you're a minister, there's no after-hours. You are working literally 14, 16 hours a day. So I just would say to the minister, enough's enough. Now Andrews has sadly been re-elected due to your help and support; get back to your desk, look at this case and make a decision. That's what we want, and that's what Mark and his family want, and they want one for Christmas.
CREDLIN: I mentioned the Islamic State brides coming back to Australia. They're not brides; they’re sympathisers - I think brides make them look like they were sort of just dragged into it, unwilling. We know Neil Prakash; I'll use the word alleged terrorist because he's facing six counts before Australian courts, but from everything I've ever read and been briefed about this bloke in the past, he's a shocking piece of work, I'd love not to see him come back to Australia. The Morrison Government changed the rules and allowed people to be stripped of their citizenship; he had his citizenship stripped, and he was meant to just die a lonely death in a Turkish or Syrian jail. He got that back, or there's been doubt about the legislation via a court decision, so he's back in Australia. Surely, we've got to fix this loophole.
TEHAN: Absolutely, we've got to fix it. And the court made its decision, so we've got to respect the court's decision, and we need to update the legislation to address the fault that they found. And it's quite simple. It would get bipartisan support, and we've said to the government now since they've been elected that we would give them bipartisan support in fixing this loophole. But it seems, once again, they want to go soft on being able to strip people of their citizenship. And in this instance, Neil Prakesh wouldn't be coming back to face the full force of the law. Now, at least, that's what is occurring to him, but, as you've said, we could have stripped his citizenship, and that would have been the end of it. So we need to fix this. We need to fix it now, and we stand ready as an opposition to giving bipartisan support to the government to do it.
CREDLIN: Just a quick one. You're a country Liberal MP. If people at home want to know where your electorate is, it's basically all of Western Victoria, really. It's a big seat. You've been out visiting flood-affected communities today. Good on you, and thank you for coming down to Melbourne to see me. But how is it that the Libs struggled so much in the Victorian state election, but the National Party - you know the National Party well - had the best result since 1943? What are they doing right that the Liberals are not doing right?
TEHAN: They’re selecting good candidates for local communities, and that's what we need to start doing as the Liberal Party. Understand our community and understand the type of candidate that will represent those communities well and make sure we preselect them and preselect them early so they can get out and convince the electorate as to why they should vote for them.
CREDLIN: Do you reckon they’ll listen to you?
TEHAN: I hope so because if we don't, we've got, I think, two years till the next federal election and, obviously, a little under four to the state election. If we don't, we're going to face tough times again. And I want to see the Liberal Party back in government. We are better at it at the national level and, I think, at the state level. So we have to make these decisions now to ensure that we will put a very strong case to the Australian people and the Victorian people into the future, and if we get the right candidates, it’s the best way to do it.
CREDLIN: Thanks, Dan Tehan.