National Security

Transcript | Sky News First Edition | 28 March 2024

March 28, 2024

Thursday 28 March 2024
Interview on Sky News First Edition
Subjects: Government migration bill blunder, AFL drug use scandal

PETER STEFANOVIC: Joining us is the Shadow Home Affairs Minister, James Paterson. James, it's been a wild week in Canberra when it comes to detainees, to put it mildly. So you wanted tougher legislation. Here it is. It does need proper scrutiny. But on the face of it, did you support what Andrew Giles submitted?

JAMES PATERSON: Good morning, Pete. Look, as we've all said this week, there's a legitimate public policy problem here which needs to be solved. It is an issue that people are refusing to cooperate with their deportation after they've been found not to have any lawful reason to be here. But if the government wants to justify ramming a bill through the Parliament in 36 hours, there better be some genuine, urgent need that they can point to, that they can explain. And despite our best efforts to drag that out of them in question time, in Senate estimates, in other forums, we just weren't given any good answers at all. We were hoping the government would have a good rationale for this and then we could support it. But when they didn't provide one, when they couldn't answer basic, factual questions about how this would work, who it would apply to, how many people would affect, when it would be used, what its interaction with the High Court cases would be, in good conscience, we couldn't ram it through. It has to follow the proper parliamentary process.

STEFANOVIC: But you liked what Andrew Giles had proposed, you were for that?

PATERSON: Well, we're not in principle opposed to it, Pete. We've been really clear about that. We think this is a problem. We think it does need to be fixed. But it's also not clear to us that the government has dotted all the I's and cross all the T's. They have made mistakes in the past with legislation like this. And it's also not clear that they've really anticipated potentially unanticipated consequences, unintended consequences, that they have planned for that, that they've done the work on things like third country settlements, that this won't have the perverse effect of encouraging people to get back on boats again. All of these are really serious and legitimate questions that will and must be asked in a Senate inquiry.

STEFANOVIC: Yeah I mean, the politics of this is flying everywhere. The PM certainly wanted clear air before the budget, but was it also political to ensure that he doesn't get that clear air?

PATERSON: Not at all Pete. We're really sincere about this. We want to protect Australians. We have led the way in this debate every step of the way. We have called for the government to act. They have been so slow and so incompetent in their responses. But the last time they told us that there was urgent legislation that needed to be rushed through the Parliament, it was the preventative detention scheme that was passed before Christmas. Now, four months on Pete, how many times has this urgent piece of legislation been used? Zero. Zero. Not one application for a preventive detention order has been made. So we're not going to take it on trust from this government when they say that this is urgent, unless they're able to actually prove that and they weren't.

STEFANOVIC: And just this morning, we're learning about the number of ankle bracelets that aren't being worn.

PATERSON: Well, we had another tortuous appearance by the Department of Home Affairs and Border Force before a Senate estimates spill-over hearing last night, and there were many basic questions again, that they couldn't answer. For example, of the ten visa holders who breached their visa conditions, who now can't be charged because the government stuffed up the issuing of their visas, they weren't able to tell us how many of them were wearing ankle bracelets. They weren't able to tell us how many of them were murderers or sex offenders. Of the 18 people who've broken state and federal laws, they weren't able to tell us how many wearing ankle bracelets or how many were murderers or sex offenders. But yes, we did get one very significant concession from the department, which is of the 152 people that the Albanese government let out onto the streets following the High Court decision, there are 73 of them, almost half, who are not wearing ankle bracelets at all. Now let's remember, the Immigration Minister, Andrew Giles, has repeatedly told us these people are being constantly monitored, that there are four layers of protection, that they've never been visa conditions as tough as this. But it turns out, actually, these people are roaming free without electronic monitoring at all.

STEFANOVIC: Just a final one before we go. James is a Victorian and AFL fan. I want to get your thoughts on this huge story out of Victoria over the past couple of days, that about 100 current players have secret immunity from that three strike, drug policy. What are your thoughts on what's going on?

PATERSON: Well, this is a very serious series of allegations against the AFL. It goes to the heart of their reputation as a clean and ethical and lawful sport. What is the point of a three strikes policy if it’s got a get out of jail free clause? And the AFL really needs to front up and make some explanations today about what has happened, about why they permitted this. It sounds to me like it's a three strikes rule unless you're a star player and that's a scandal, a major scandal.

STEFANOVIC: It is. You're right. James, thank you for your time, as always.


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