April 19, 2023

SUBJECT | Immigration | 19 April 2023

RAY HADLEY: The Shadow Minister for Immigration and Citizenship is Dan Tehan. He's on the line. G’day Dan.

TEHAN: Ray great to be with you and your listeners.

HADLEY: I've been worried about boats arriving with the advent of the Albanese Government, it looks like I should be more concerned about planes arriving.

TEHAN: Well, that's right Ray, I mean, obviously, we, when in government, put a lot of attention on stopping the boats and our four pillars did a really good job in stopping that. And at the time Labor was criticising us for what we were doing with regard to planes. And Kristina Keneally and Andrew Giles actually held a roundtable. Now we were doing everything we can, of course, Labor were opposing us the whole way to try and address this issue as well. They made a big fuss about it. Now they're in government we've seen the numbers increase and they had no idea and no plan to deal with it whatsoever and it just shows their absolute hypocrisy when it comes to this issue.

HADLEY: By the time we get from June, shortly after the election last year, 1040 people claimed to be refugees, by the time we get to December that parachutes to 1633 now. Is this an orchestrated plan? I mean, I know we speak about people smugglers and we did under the previous Labor Government of Rudd-Gillard-Rudd, but are there people actually encouraging people and saying the best way to come now is not by boat, but jump on a plane when you get there, make sure you've got a visa of some description and then apply for asylum. Is that a-do you think it's fanciful to suggest that people are organising this and it's not just ad hoc?

TEHAN: Well, I’ll use Kristina Keneally’s own words. What this represents is criminal syndicates and illegitimate Labor hire companies trafficking people into the country. That's what Labor said when they were in opposition and we've seen that increase and they're doing nothing about it. Now, one of the things that you can do to address this is to change the law and especially the way our courts deal with this issue. We would give bipartisan support in opposition to support this because we think that what we need to be doing is having integrity in our immigration system. Where there are genuine refugees, obviously, we do have the humanitarian program, but these people, over 80 to 90% aren’t genuine refugees, yet they're coming in and clogging up our court system. We think this needs to be addressed. We think that if the Labor Party wanted to address it, and did it the proper way then we would support them. But we've seen nothing from them and it just shows it's all talk when it comes to the Labor Party. They're great at the talk but they won't act and we want them to start acting.

HADLEY: So if we look at the figures that James Morrow published, in March this year, now you can understand 53 Ukrainians seeking asylum given what Putin is doing in Ukraine. But then we've got 190 from India, 158 from China, 170 from Vietnam, Malaysia and Pakistan, 88 each, and you've got young people mainly making up the category, and I suspect mainly men between the ages- yeah it is actually - between the ages of 25 and 30.

TEHAN: That’s right so they're coming here for reasons other than seeking genuine asylum. And Ray, I'm sure you're getting this through your listeners: what we're not seeing is workforce shortages being addressed in this nation. We're hearing figures that there is going to be net overseas migration of over 650,000 in the next two years yet businesses aren’t getting the workers they want. The whole way that the Labor Party are running the immigration system at the moment is just a complete mess. There is no plan. We're seeing a housing crisis with shortages, we're seeing rents going up, congestions back, 600,000 additional people are going to be coming into the country not addressing workforce shortages. It's all because they’ve got no plan whatsoever. We even heard yesterday that they're calling on the universities to try and enforce integrity when it comes to international student visas. Why isn't the Labor Party doing this? I mean, they're the government and they made all this noise when they were in opposition yet we're seeing nothing now.

HADLEY: You see one of the problems that you confronted in government and they confront now is the due process in proceedings. Now it's reported by James again in March, the Admin Appeals Tribunal ruled on the case of an individual living in Parramatta who arrived a long time ago in 2008 from India on a student visa, then eight years later made a claim for refugee status on the basis he's a practising Christian who feared persecution, which is just nonsense. The tribunal rejected the man's claim of persecution. He's now appealing in the Federal Court and we're paying for it. I mean, look, and I'm not blaming the Labor Party for this process. What I'm saying is it's been flawed ever since we introduced, you know, the opportunity for people to go through the Admin Appeals Tribunal, the Federal Court, then possibly even the High Court if they’re given leave to appeal? It just goes on and on and on and we pay the bill for all of this.

TEHAN: We do, Ray. And the thing about it is what you need is actually a bipartisan approach to fix it. Now we were never given that when we were in government, Labor just opposed everything we did in this space. Now what we're saying to the Labor Party is if you seek to fix this and you do it in a proper way, then we offer our support. We're happy to make sure that this gets addressed because it's the taxpayer who is paying for this and it needs to be fixed. And we always battled doing anything in the Senate in this area, but we're saying that we'll support you. So pull your finger out Andrew Giles and get on with the job of coming up with a solution and as long as it's workable, we'll back you on it.

HADLEY: Well he said that they've inherited the problem from you, but what he's done not only inherited it but he's grown it. It's a growth industry. Congratulations, Mr Giles it's a growth industry. Other things are diminishing, but of course, interest rates are going up and so too are these figures going up because of you.

TEHAN: I couldn't have said it better myself Ray,  I couldn't have said it. I mean, it's just sadly typical of Labor. They, you know, they say they're going to fix the problem and what they do is actually make it worse. And that's exactly what we're seeing in this area.

HADLEY: Okay. Thanks for raising it with me. And we'll chase the story up.

Media contact | Cate Mercer-Grant 0408 564 232