Community Safety

Transcript | Sky News News Day | 10 May 2024

May 10, 2024

Friday 10 May 2024
Interview on Sky News News Day
Subjects: High Court hands down its verdict on ASF17

CHENG LEI: All right. For more on this, let's bring in Shadow Home Affairs and Cyber Security Minister James Paterson. Great to have you join me in the studio.

JAMES PATERSON: Great to be here.

LEI: So let's talk about the reaction to this ruling. It is, as we were chatting offline about something that, was expected.

PATERSON: That's right. All the independent legal experts said the government should prevail in this case. The government itself was very confident about this case and the implications if the High Court had made a different decision, would have been very serious. It would have been effectively the end of immigration detention.

LEI: Could you Imagine the outcry?

PATERSON: Well, exactly. And it would have sent the message to a would be citizen of Australia that all you have to do is fail to cooperate and you'll get to stay. So obviously, the High Court's made a very sensible decision here. What this does change though, and what it does demonstrate is that there was no urgency in rushing through legislation relating to this case the last time the Parliament sat.

LEI: Which many have said is flawed.

PATERSON: That's right. I mean, the government tried to ram it through in 72 hours. They said they couldn't possibly have a parliamentary inquiry into it. We now know why they didn't want an inquiry. Of the 118 submissions made, 117 opposed the bill. The only one in support of the bill was one from the Department of Home Affairs who you would hope would support their own legislation. And so now I think the government needs to take the time to get it right. We've made good faith constructive suggestions, 17 recommendations in our minority report. We want the government to look at those carefully and consider making amendments to the bill.

LEI: We just heard some very fiery comments there from David Shoebridge, talking about, you know, comparing the bill to a Trump like, legislation and so Labor is saying that they're closing loopholes. And David Shoebridge is saying that, these are the windows of decency that are being closed. Your thoughts?

PATERSON: Well, we think there is a genuine public policy problem here. There are people who have found not to be refugees, who refuse to cooperate with their own removal. And that means they languish now in detention indefinitely in Australia, or on an ongoing basis in Australia, until they agree to cooperate. That is a problem. We think the government does need powers to resolve that. But the Greens and David Shoebridge are partly right in that the indecent haste with which this was rushed and the drafting errors are very serious and we think must be fixed before it's passed.

LEI: So what do you think happens now?

PATERSON: Well hopefully – the ball is in the government's court – hopefully they go away and look seriously at the proposed amendments that we have made and are willing to sit down and negotiate and agree to those amendments so the legislation can be passed. But the urgency is gone. So there's no excuse for them trying to ram this bill through now.

LEI: As a result of all this discussion and some of the public controversy. Where do you think we stand as a nation on protecting Australian safety versus being very humanitarian and sympathetic nation?

PATERSON: I think Australians are generous people. I think they're willing to welcome migrants from all around the world in pretty significant numbers, based on two important things. One is compliance with the law and our values. And that's not negotiable. And also that it's done at a sustainable pace, that we can absorb them, that we can house them, that we have the infrastructure to support them. Once you've met those two conditions, I think Australians are very welcoming but the government is failing on both of those. They are bringing in three times as many people as we're building houses for. That's causing a rental crisis and a housing affordability crisis. And they've completely botched the handling of the previous High Court cohort, 153 of them now in the community, as Olivia Caisley just said, only half of them are being electronically monitored in the community. The rest of them have been released from that obligation. And we've already seen the consequences of just one person who wasn't being electronically monitored, allegedly committing a horrific crime against a Perth grandmother. Imagine what the rest could do if they're not being adequately monitored.

LEI: And to what extent do you think the discussion around these policies is being politicized? Especially as we head into an election.

PATERSON: Yeah, well one thing I'm very concerned about, as the Department Home Affairs themselves admitted, is this legislation could encourage people to get on boats again, and that's not in anyone's interest. I don't want that to happen for any reason, political or otherwise, because we saw the tragedy that happened last time. So it's really important that Operation of Sovereign Borders be restored to its original design under the Coalition. And that deterrent is again there for people coming on boats. We've seen

already 14 boats since the election, four which have made it through to Australian territory. That's a dangerous thing no one wants to see.

LEI: Thank you so much for your time.

PATERSON: Thank you.


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