SUBJECT | VOICE REFERENDUM | 19 June 2023
SHARRI MARKSON: Joining me now is Shadow Minister for Immigration Dan Tehan. Dan Tehan, thank you very much for your time. Now, this will be the first referendum since the 1999 vote on whether or not we should be a republic. What do you think? Do you think the Voice referendum is going to have a similar fate, or do you think it could get up?
DAN TEHAN: Well, ultimately, it will be a question for the Australian people, Sharri, but one thing I know is the Australian people like to have all the information before them before they vote. And what we saw today in Question Time, and what we've seen from the Albanese Government right through the debate on this referendum, is their failure to provide basic information to the Australian people about what the Voice will mean, how it will operate in principle, and I think if they continue down this path, it's getting more and more unlikely that it will get up because the Australian people don't like being taken for mugs.
MARKSON: What are the specific areas that you are looking for from that Albanese Government? I mean, we heard Sussan Ley in Question Time today say that we need to know which areas of public policy it would be applied to; Linda Burney said she'd already answered that.
TEHAN: Well, with due respect to Linda, she hasn’t. The only thing we heard today was that it was unlikely that it would have its reach, would extend to a road project in Melbourne, and it wasn't even 100% certain as to whether that was completely ruled out or not. We're just not getting the details on that. We know from previous answers that it could reach the RBA. So when interest rates decisions are taken, now that's been ruled in, it's been ruled out, now it's just like we don't know. We're told that it could be to do anything where it's relevant to Indigenous-Torres Strait Islanders, but that could be anything, as you know, and as your listeners would know. I just think that the government are trying just almost to sneak this through. They want to make it about constitutional recognition, but this is about Labor's Voice, and both sides have said that we could work together on constitutional recognition. The big issue is Labor's Voice.
MARKSON: Yeah. All right. I want to move on.
TEHAN: We’re just getting nothing on that.
MARKSON: Yeah, I want to move on and ask you about a couple of other important issues. David Van, former Liberal senator, now there’s pressure on him to resign from the Senate completely. He's resisting calls to do this. Do you think he should quit as a senator over the allegations from Lidia Thorpe and also our Sky News host Amanda Stoker?
TEHAN: Well, Peter Dutton had discussions with David Van last week, and at the end of those discussions, he said that it was in David Van’s best interests if he left the Senate, and left the Parliament. And I support Peter; he’s obviously had very long and detailed discussions with David, and he thinks that that would be in the best interests of David Van. And I think after those discussions and what allegedly has occurred, I think it would be in David's best interests, as Peter has outlined, for David to leave the Senate.
MARKSON: All right. Just before we go, I'd love to get your thoughts on this story. James Morrow in The Daily Telegraph revealed that nearly 2000 applications for asylum status that have been received by the Department of Home Affairs just last month; 26 cases were dealt with in May and were found to be genuine, but thousand-odd bogus cases were discovered by the department, only seven of them were apparently deported. What do you think is happening here? Do you think there has been a shift in policy under the new government?
TEHAN: Well, what we've seen is a Labor's big Australia approach, this 1.5 million people that we know are coming, this now seems to be extending to those who are coming by plane and seeking asylum. And the extraordinary thing is, of those only seven that left, six of those left voluntarily, one might assume, perhaps, that they couldn't find housing, and only one seems to have been escorted to the airport to leave. So, we've had nearly 2000 seeking asylum in one month, taking the overall figure to over 102,000, and Labor managed to be able to escort one out of the country and the other six left voluntarily. And this is happening at a time when in Brisbane, there was one room in a share house that was advertised, and 120 people turned up to see if they could get that room. Labor's Big Australia policy it now seems, not only to those 1.5 million people but in another area, these asylum seekers coming by plane, which they said was a crisis when they were in opposition, is getting worse, and there is no plan to deal with it.
MARKSON: Very worrying. Dan Tehan, Shadow Minister for Immigration, appreciate your time. Thank-you.