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DAN TEHAN MP
FEDERAL MEMBER FOR WANNON
SHADOW MINISTER FOR IMMIGRATION AND CITIZENSHIP
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INTERVIEW WITH KIERAN GILBERT - SKY NEWS

March 27, 2024

KIERAN GILBERT: Clare O’Neil says its common sense legislation, why aren’t you backing it?

DAN TEHAN: Well Clare O’Neil now has a stitch she’s run away from two press conferences today and hasn't been able to answer basic and simple questions. And the most basic and simple question is why the rush? Why the chaotic approach? Why not take a considered approach and methodical approach? Especially when it's about the number one priority of any government — keeping the Australian people safe. Now, we asked for an inquiry last night so that we could investigate, interrogate these issues. We couldn't get any type of answer as to why it needed to be put through the parliament today. We've seen at that press conference she hasn't been able to give any sort of response as to why it should go through the parliament today. That is why we've taken the sensible decision to send this off to a Senate inquiry so it can be looked at properly, scrutinized properly, especially for unintended consequences.

GILBERT: Are you risking though, jeopardizing, the government's chances in the courtroom when this case gets there next month.

TEHAN: Well, you've seen quite simply, the minister be asked that question at the press conference, and she has said she can't ask for it. We asked that question Last night, she couldn't — well, the officials couldn't answer. Now, we have said if there is a need for the parliament to be brought back then we would be happy to cooperate with the government in doing that. But what we want to do is properly scrutinize this piece of legislation. It is a serious piece of legislation. It deserves scrutiny and everyone in the Senate agreed that it needed scrutiny except for the government.

GILBERT: You're not just doing this for the political equation. You know, they're on the backfoot you just want to keep the pressure on them? It's all about the politics?

TEHAN: That made me absolutely laugh at the hypocrisy. I mean they accuse us of playing politics. What happened yesterday morning? 7.30 we were handed a piece of legislation by Minister Giles which had Friday’s date on it and we were told that we would have 20 minutes with Home Affairs officials…

GILBERT: So it was printed a number of days before?

TEHAN: It was printed a number of days before. He could have given us that legislation on Friday. We could have had a full day's briefing on Monday. None of that. They tried to play politics on this. We gave them the benefit of the doubt. We asked for a hearing in the Senate last night. They could not — and we tried to encourage them to — tell us why it needed to put through. They couldn’t give us any answers so we have done the right and responsible thing — remembering that this is about keeping Australians safe — to properly scrutinize this, especially when it comes to unintended consequences.

GILBERT: On the unintended consequences, can you elaborate on that for our viewers today? What are you worried about?

TEHAN: So there's two major things that we're worried about? The first is, is third country resettlement. What are the efforts the government is doing around third country resettlement? We don't think that we're doing enough. As a matter of fact, we tried to put through an amendment yesterday which would have the government highlight what they were doing in this area and we got nothing. And then the unintended consequences of it potentially leading to the people smugglers getting their business model up again and running, because if you block off all avenues for people to come to Australia, then they might be forced to get back on boats.

GILBERT: So if you don't give a visa to the people travelling out of, say Iran or Iraq, they're gonna say, okay, we didn't get a visa, we’ll throw our papers away and go with these people smugglers?

TEHAN: Absolutely. And the thing that worried us…

GILBERT: Was there anything that reassured you in relation to that from the official?

TEHAN: No. On those push pull factors there was nothing. And the thing that has worried us right through this process — initially, no ADF officials in the briefing yesterday morning, there was no ADF officials that went to the briefing last night in the Senate. Minister O’Neil stayed removed from this process the whole way and this is the first time we've heard from her. So, we need to know what ABF thinks of this. We want to interrogate them to make sure that there wouldn't be these push and pull factors. I mean, these are all things needed now that we can properly investigate through this Senate process.

GILBERT: In terms of the timing, you are open to coming back early if, maybe, if the government convinces you of the urgency, the need for urgency, in relation to this?

TEHAN: Absolutely.

GILBERT: So another sitting in the next month or so?

TEHAN: Absolutely. And you’ve seen that we’ve done that before. We did that before Christmas, we came back to help the government to keep the Australian people safe and we will do it again. This is something that the Coalition takes incredibly seriously, and we've demonstrated that through our nine years in government. Now, what we're trying to do is help the government because they have the most incompetent ministers I think Australia has ever seen in Clare O'Neill and Andrew Giles. I cannot think of two more incompetent ministers that I've seen handling an issue — and remember this issue now has been nearly going for 12 months. And the Prime Minister obviously won't act, which I've got to say is very disappointing. And I think the Australian people, one of the reasons that the Prime Minister's popularity continues to decline is his inability to act against these two incompetent ministers.

GILBERT: My colleague Olivia Caisley reported some exclusive detail in relation to how the secretary of Home Affairs Department was, was dealt with off the back of information being released after the High Court ruling. Information was released in terms of the numbers of people affected by the department, and apparently she's walked out of a meeting with the Minister Clare O’Neil, this is Secretary Foster visibly shaking and that Immigration Minister Giles gave the Secretary Foster, the head of the department, the silent treatment for a week. What's your reaction to that story?

TEHAN: Well, Minister O’Neil has questions to answer on this and I saw at the press conference as soon as a journalist raised that question that was when she said I've got to call this press conference off and started running for the door. So she needs to answer questions about that. With regards to Minister Giles, this is just another reason why the minister has the sack him. So, we now know that during a week when 149 detainees were loose in the Australian community without ankle bracelets, without proper monitoring, a week when we have a boat arrive off the coast of Western Australia, he wasn't talking to his Secretary. Now if the Prime Minister won't sack him because he didn't go to three legal briefings, because he botched the High Court decision which led to the detainees being released, surely now that we know that he wasn't talking to his Secretary when a boat arrived, when detainees were loose in the community he has to go.

ENDS

Media contact | Sandie Gustus 0408 564 232