National Security

Transcript | Sky News The Kenny Report | 27 March 2024

March 27, 2024

Wednesday 27 March 2024
Interview on Sky News Kenny Report
Subjects: Shambolic migration legislation, Youth curfews in Alice Springs

CHRIS KENNY: Let's go back to Canberra and catch up with Shadow Home Affairs Minister James Paterson. James, thanks for talking to us. I'll get into the politics of this in a moment. But first up, on the actual reform that Parliament is dealing with, I think many of us are surprised that it's not already a criminal offence for a non-citizen to be effectively trying to stymie their own deportation.

JAMES PATERSON: Chris, that's right. I have said and other Coalition MPs and Senators have said that in principle, we're not opposed to these reforms. We do recognise there's a genuine public policy problem here. But we're also not willing to rush something like this through without going through the normal processes of the Parliament to scrutinise it carefully, unless the government can provide a genuinely good reason as to why needs to be rushed. I mean, we have demonstrated in the past on three occasions before Christmas that if it is genuinely urgent, we will support the government to rush it through Parliament. But this time, when asked they can't provide an explanation for why this bill needs to be rushed straight through. And in the absence of that, we think an inquiry is the appropriate way to go.

KENNY: Yeah, well, they mentioned another High Court decision that's about to be handed down. But if this is a public policy problem, which it appears to be, it was one last week, last month, last year.

PATERSON: That's right Chris, this is not a new issue. We have had asylum seekers or would be asylum seekers who we have found not to be owed protection here in Australia, who have for many years resisted being sent back home to their country of origin, have refused to cooperate, have refused to do things like go to an embassy and have an interview to get a passport or travel document, for example. And that wasn't created this month or this week or this year. As you say, it's been around for a while. So why the urgency? Why the rush? Well, we asked the Department of Home Affairs at a special Senate hearing last night. They weren't able to explain what the rush was. And the Minister today in her press conference said it was blatantly obvious. But then when asked in a follow up question, well, what is it if it's so blatantly obvious? She couldn't answer the question. I know journalists walked away from that press conference none the wiser as we are as to why this is so urgent.

KENNY: Well, you obviously have the numbers to block this because the Greens are opposed to any reform in this area. They're pretty much the open borders party. So to get some sensible reform here, the government will need your assistance. So you expect with a proper inquiry, if there are any concerns, you'll be able to get through any amendments that you think make these, these changes safe.

PATERSON: Chris, to be candid, we were hoping to vote for it today, we voted for it in the House yesterday on the basis it would be sent to a Senate hearing, and that answers to our questions would be given that would satisfy us and we could support it. But because the performance at that Senate hearing last night was so shambolic, because so many of the questions we asked couldn't be answered, in good conscience, we couldn't have rushed it through and we had to send it to this inquiry. We'll be sensible about how we go through this inquiry, but we are also worried about some potential unintended consequences of this legislation. We are worried that the government hasn't done their homework, hasn't dotted their i's and crossed their t's, and we want to make sure that they've done so because other legislation that rushed through is either currently facing constitutional challenge or hasn't been used, like the preventive detention orders, which we helped them get through before Christmas. Four months on that urgent legislation hasn't been used even once.

KENNY: It seems like you're doing more to run this area of government over the past year. And Clare O'Neil and Andrew Giles, that's the way it looks at the moment, we will see how this plays out. But just while I've got you, James Paterson, I just want to get your thoughts on the imposition of a youth curfew in Alice Springs. It starts tonight for 14 days. Is this a strong and radical move that the coalition supports?

PATERSON: Well, Chris, my colleague, Senator Jacinta Price has been calling this out for a long time now, crying out for the desperate law and order attention that Alice Springs needs. We know that the Prime Minister has paid lip service to the seriousness of this problem, and really isn't interested at all. He spends more time with Katy Perry and other pop stars than in Alice Springs. Look, that is a radical move. But maybe that's what's needed. Because the scenes we have seen out of Alice Springs are totally unacceptable. Absolutely shocking. And frankly, I think if that had happened in Melbourne or Sydney, Chris, I'm not sure it would have been tolerated for as long as it has been in Alice Springs and I think it needs to come to an end

KENNY: Indeed, Thanks for joining us Senator.


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