Community Safety

Transcript | Sky News The Kenny Report | 04 June 2024

June 4, 2024

Tuesday 04 June 2024
Interview on Sky News The Kenny Report
Subject: PM can’t sack Giles for following orders

CHRIS KENNY: Let's go to Canberra now and catch up with Shadow Home Affairs Minister, James Paterson. Thanks for joining us, James. I want to go back to Andrew Giles and that astonishing video where he talks about Australia having an obligation to foreign criminals. Can you explain that obligation to me?

JAMES PATERSON: Chris, I can't. It's one of many things I can't explain to you, I'm afraid, when it comes to Andrew Giles. I have been wondering why it is that the Prime Minister is showing such a high level of tolerance for this weakness and incompetence from his Immigration Minister. These are the obvious answers, like they're friends and he's a factional mate and he controls numbers. But surely even those things have limits that we've well and truly pushed past. And what I've come down to after watching this Refugee Council video today is that Anthony Albanese can't sack Andrew Giles because Andrew Giles is only doing what the Labor Party always does when it comes to border protection and community safety. They soften the successful policies of the previous Coalition government because they don't have the strength and the stomach for the tough decisions required. And how can you sack Andrew Giles, when all Andrew Giles has done is exactly what the Prime Minister wanted him to do and instructed him to do? That would prove that it's the Prime Minister that's responsible for all of this mess.

KENNY: Yeah, I think it's pretty clear that the Prime Minister wanted this sorted out. The Prime Minister gave a commitment to Jacinda Ardern, and so therefore, Andrew Giles is just implementing what his Prime Minister asked him to do. Yet surely you can still be sacked for doing that incompetently. Surely it's not Albanese's direct fault for doing this so incompetently. That has to be on the head of Andrew Giles.

PATERSON: Well, Chris, it's clear to you and it's clear to me, that Anthony Albanese is ultimately responsible. But it's not clear to the Prime Minister, because every time we ask him about it in Question Time, he says, what? Me? Oh, it's not my direction, it's the Minister for Immigration's direction, which is a very ominous sign for Andrew Giles. I don't think the PM wants to have a reshuffle in the middle of a sitting fortnight, and maybe not ahead of another sitting fortnight, which is coming up in June and July. But come that winter break, if I was Andrew Giles, I think he can pretty safely book a holiday at the end of that winter break.

KENNY: Yeah, I think you're right. I think you're right. he can plan a holiday and he's winter break, but he shouldn't be planning any parliamentary study tours or the like. He should be just staying home. Now just getting back to this change though, there's a fact that I keep pointing out that I think is sometimes missed, but mainly because Labor's spin. But Labor sort of talk about all these unintended consequences. But it's very clear that the whole idea of this change was to make sure that some foreign criminals who otherwise would be deported, actually get a chance to stay here. Now obviously they're looking to implicate New Zealand on this. They really thought if given an opportunity to prove a connection to Australia, it's only going to be New Zealand criminals who apply? Criminals from Uzbekistan and Tanzania and America won't apply? It seems naivety in the extreme.

PATERSON: Well, exactly right Chris. And actually, the Department of Home Affairs warned the minister about this in writing, in black and white. They said as a result of a desktop exercise which they ran, that if you introduced direction 99, with its new primary consideration of ties to the community, which applies to citizens of all nations, not just New Zealand, at the very least, it will lead to a 25% drop in the number of visas that are cancelled on character grounds after serious criminal offending. And new language that the government inserted into that direction even said that regardless of the level of offending, if that person has been here in the community since their formative years, that should be given considerable weight. And the AAT has referred to that provision time and time again now, in about 80 different cases that your colleagues at The Australian newspaper have identified, which apparently the Minister for Immigration and the Department of Home Affairs are just getting around to having a look at.

KENNY: Well, there's another bloke, another criminal, who's had his deportation overturned in the AAT yesterday on the back of Direction 99. It's still in place now. Giles says he's going to scrap it and bring in a new direction, now my understanding is this is just a direction that's tabled. It doesn't have to go through Parliament, does it? I mean, what can you do to make sure that there is parliamentary oversight of the new direction so that they actually get it right this time?

PATERSON: Well, you're right, Chris, after spending about a week defending themselves and saying it wasn't their fault - it was the AAT's fault, it was Home Affairs fault. Late last week, they finally admitted in fact, maybe there is something wrong with direction 99 and it has to be changed. But it hasn't been changed yet. And the Minister for Immigration is saying at best case scenario it will be changed by the end of this week. So in the meantime, more foreign criminals are being allowed to stay on a daily basis, including by the AAT because of this direction. So they really need to get their skates on here and fix it. But I'm quite worried that they will stuff it up again. They got it wrong the first time, there is no guarantee they'll get it right this time. And as you say, it's not a bill. It's not legislation. They don't have to pass through the Parliament. It's just a direction signed by the minister which applies to his department and the AAT. So we'll be scrutinising it very closely. But ultimately it's going to be on Andrew Giles whether this succeeds or fails.

KENNY: Thanks for joining us, Senator, I appreciate it.


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