The Hon Peter Dutton is the Minister for Home Affairs and Minister for Immigration and Border Protection. Mr Dutton was sworn in as Minister for Home Affairs in December 2017. The new department of Home Affairs has responsibility for national security, federal law enforcement, border protection, emergency management, immigration, citizenship, refugees and multicultural affairs. To discuss the work of this new and enlarged department with key national responsibilities, Peter Dutton addressed The Sydney Institute on Wednesday 16 May 2018.
HOME AFFAIRS: OUR ACHIEVEMENTS AND VIEWS TO THE FUTURE
Well Gerard thank you very much. Thank you all very much for being here tonight.
Can I firstly; to Gerard, you and Anne, say thank you very much for the work that you have done over a long period of time – sometimes as a glib line in a speech to acknowledge decades of work – but the work of the Institute since 1989, and in particular the individual effort, both within the Institute but within public debate across Australia, and importantly on the ABC as well, Gerard and Anne really have made a significant contribution to public debate in this country – and there is no better time, no more important time for people to step up and to be heard in Australia’s public debate.
You saw some of our welcoming party at the front steps here – I’m sorry that you had to walk through the protestors, it’s a regular event wherever we might travel in the country – and it’s a wonderful thing that people on the Left can have their say without being infringed upon, without being attacked, without being vilified by people on the Right and people of a conservative view in this country. It’s an essential part of the political debate.
I’m sorry that you had to walk through the protestors, it’s a regular event wherever we might travel in the country
This year for me started when I was trying to have a holiday with my family on the Gold Coast and there was a raging debate around Victorian law and order issues and Daniel Andrews denial that there was a problem with African gang violence in Victoria. I was sure that I had read accounts of people who had been out to restaurants and had been confronted by people who had broken the law, who had followed people home, who had taken keys and stolen cars and the rest of it and I contributed to that debate because I thought it was an important debate to contribute to.
There was a denial, as if these accounts had been fabricated, as if people had made up that they had been victims of crime. It was a surreal debate, but it’s not an isolated one in modern Australia and the point that I make is that we need to be heard, we need to make sure that our voice is heard – not just on that topic – but on many, many others.
In universities we don’t expect much of the right wing view to be heard in this country and that’s been the case since I was at university, others in the audience have been at university – certainly the case in 2018 – but we can’t allow that disease now to infiltrate boardrooms across the country and at the moment that’s exactly what has happened. I think we need to send a call and a very strong call to CEOs, to chairs, to shareholders, to stakeholders within companies across the country to say that more than ever they need to step up and be heard in the public debate today.
we need to send a call and a very strong call to CEOs, to chairs, to shareholders, to stakeholders within companies across the country to say that more than ever they need to step up and be heard in the public debate today
A generation ago, even a decade ago, many champions of business, CEOs, chairman of companies publicly listed were contributing to public debate in a way that they are not today. When you speak to some high net wealth individuals who might be considering listing their company, proceeding toward an IPO to take their successful company to market, many of them will tell you that they’re retreating from doing so because they are concerned about the infiltration of their boards by advocates, shareholder advocates at AGM’s, two strike rules. People are worried about the infiltration of industry superfunds onto boards now and the direction to those boards to take part in all sorts of debates except for a defence of, what we believe in, in the Liberal Party in our DNA, at our core, that is that business deserves the opportunity to make a profit. It deserves the opportunity to spend its capital as its shareholders direct.
It is good to employ people to provide reward for effort and at the moment there is a retreat on some social agendas. CEOs are happy to be out there spruiking a particular side of the debate, but rarely the other side of the debate – we’ve seen that recently in Australia – but it doesn’t stop there and so the responsibility for all of us on the conservative side of politics now, is to make sure that we encourage those business leaders into the debate because at the moment the unions, the universities and now the boardrooms are being dictated with one stream of thought and it’s unhealthy for public debate in this country.
the responsibility for all of us on the conservative side of politics now, is to make sure that we encourage those business leaders into the debate
My initial point tonight is to thank the Institute for the work that it does for the sponsorship of ideas, for the presentation of public policy – both for and against particular issues – and they’ve done that over decades and I commend the Institute for that.
Now we meet in the shadow of the federal Budget, which was only handed down a week ago, but I want to come to some detail in that regard in a moment. Many of you would have joined with me and many others last May, only 12 months ago at the dining room in the Old Parliament House to celebrate the 75th Anniversary of Sir Robert Menzies Forgotten People Speech and many of you participated in that discussion. There was a fine rendition by Peter Cousins, a wonderful celebration of the messages within that speech.
There are many people that in this Budget we have reconnected with who had forgotten about us as a Liberal Party. People who had worked hard who believed that we had abandoned them when we made changes to superannuation in Budgets past, people who believe that we had as a Party abandoned some of our core principles, but in this Budget we deliver to those with aspiration in our country; young people, people in small businesses, people who want to see reform of our taxation system and we deliver for those people that wanted to see a Liberal Budget that dealt with the debt and deficit that we inherited from the Rudd and Gillard Governments and they rewarded us, I believe, for putting us on a sustainable path back to getting the Budget into surplus and starting to pay down that debt.
Only a Liberal Government could have provided for a situation over recent years where we’ve taken 140,000 people; 140,000 people off welfare and put them into work – that’s a raw $2 billion a year save just in terms of the welfare payments – and those people are now contributing tax to our system, not drawing down from other tax payers to receive their own benefits. Those decisions and many more have underpinned the success of this Budget.
we’ve taken 140,000 people; 140,000 people off welfare and put them into work – that’s a raw $2 billion a year save just in terms of the welfare payments
We have, yes, favourable conditions, but there are many conditions that we have created ourselves over the course of the last six years with tough decisions that we’ve taken in the Budget that have provided us with significant support to make positive decisions now and over the forward estimates.
In my own portfolio we’ve been able to invest some $294 million in aviation security because last July, as many of you will know, there was an attempt by a terrorist cell within Sydney to put an explosive device onto a A380 headed for the Middle East. Had that Etihad A380 fallen out of the sky, not only would we have had 400 or 500 people tragically killed, but the impact would have been in the multibillions in terms of our economic growth in this country, international students withdrawing because they had thought that our market was a safe place for them to study. We had a look at the aviation security settings across our domestic airports and we deemed that they were not sufficient enough.
So in the $294 million we provide for an additional 140 Australian Federal Police Counter-Terrorism Unit officers to respond to an incident, another 50 officers to collect tactical intelligence to make sure that we can defeat the next attempt to attack – and we know that we’ve already been able to thwart 14 attempted terrorist attacks in recent years – and it builds on the investment that we’ve made at our airports to keep Australians safe because in this Budget we build faith again because we deliver economically and we have credible path to continue to keep Australians safe.
we know that we’ve already been able to thwart 14 attempted terrorist attacks in recent years
We’ve already stood up Counter Terrorism Unit officers at our Australian airports. They’ve conducted over the last three and a half years some 700,000 real time assessments, they’ve offloaded 890 people from planes and they’ve been able to recover about $12 million in undisclosed currency – where that money would have headed of course is up to your own imagination – but much of it destined for the hands of ISIL in the Middle East.
We already have a track record of having kept Australians safe. We build on our record in relation to border security. This is an incredibly important equity for the Coalition and it’s an equity that will be fiercely discussed at the next election. At the moment there is a majority within the caucus of Labor Party who believe that the way forward is to unbundle Operation Sovereign Borders and the success that we’ve had and to go back to a Rudd-Gillard model which would be disaster.
there is a majority within the caucus of Labor Party who believe that the way forward is to unbundle Operation Sovereign Borders and the success that we’ve had and to go back to a Rudd-Gillard model which would be disaster.
The problem hasn’t gone away, even though it might have gone from people’s minds in our country. The 50,000 people who came on 800 boats; we are still processing over 20,000 of those people in our country, trying to establish their identification, trying to establish their background, trying to establish whether or not they have a bone fide claim to make. There were 1,200 people who drowned at sea and we just stopped, as you are aware, a vessel coming out of Malaysia which had 131 people on board and the most alarming aspect of that was that it was a steel-hulled vessel marketed as bound, either for Australia or for New Zealand – perhaps with no intention ever to get to New Zealand – but nonetheless with the capacity to do so and had that vessel merely been tracking toward Christmas Island or toward the west coast of Australia, the problem restarts.
We’ve turned back 32 boats and we’ve been able to deal with that scourge at least for the time being, but we know in the calendar for 2018 already, in the order of 26,000 people have sought to come by sea across the Mediterranean. In fact, since 2014 there have been almost 1.8 million people that have made that journey across the Mediterranean and we know that hundreds of people, 600 plus, have already died this calendar year on the Mediterranean.
We’ve turned back 32 boats
Now it’s incredibly important for us to highlight the success here because the problem has not gone away. Fourteen thousand people in Indonesia are waiting to get onto boats now, but they don’t believe that they…if they pay their money, that they will successfully arrive in Australia. But had those 32 boats got here – as I believe they would have under a Labor Party government – then we would have seen the hundreds of boats follow.
We need to make sure that we keep Australians conscious of the fact that yes, we have had success, but that the problem and the people smugglers have not dissolved and that this issue will be with us for a long period of time.
Whilst we’ve been able to keep our borders secure, I am proud of the fact that we’ve been able to deal with many of the criminals who are onshore who would be here as guests in our country on a tourist visa, people who may have come to work in our country, people who may be visiting for family reasons otherwise. We’ve been able to cancel the visas of 181 outlaw motorcycle gang members – the biggest distributors of ice and amphetamines in our country. Many regional towns across the country are feeling the impact of that drug, in particular ice, on the young people within that community wrecking families, wrecking communities and the fact that we’ve been able to deal such a significant blow to that distribution network is quite significant.
Whilst we’ve been able to keep our borders secure, I am proud of the fact that we’ve been able to deal with many of the criminals who are onshore who would be here as guests in our country on a tourist visa
But, in addition to that, we’ve been able to cancel the visas of some 260 paedophiles and people who have committed sexual offences against children and women. In this Budget we build on that work because we’ve invested $70 million in a child exploitation centre where we can stare down the threat online, in particular given the cyber threat now of those messages and of that content of children being sexually abused being conveyed online.
But, in addition to that, we’ve been able to cancel the visas of some 260 paedophiles and people who have committed sexual offences against children and women.
The Australian Federal Police estimate that we will save 200 children in our country each year from being exposed to that dreadful crime and I think that is a significant outcome in and of itself in this Budget.
There’s more that we have done in this portfolio with the stand-up of the Department of Home Affairs. We have brought together many of the agencies – and this has been built on the success of the Home Office in the United Kingdom, and in part on the success of the Department of Homeland Security created in the United States post 9/11, but predominately out the UK the model that we have adopted reflects the Cabinet process in a similar system of government of course as we find in the United Kingdom – but we’ve been able to bring together, whilst still retaining their autonomy and independence, we’ve been able to bring together the Australian Federal Police, the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission, ASIO and a number of other agencies, including Austrac into one portfolio so that we can have coordination across those portfolios because it gives us the best opportunity to deal with the threats – whether it is in the counter terrorism space, whether it’s in the organised crime space, whether it’s in child paedophilia – and we’ve already seen runs on the board.
The cost to our economy each year of organised crime is about $36 billion and we know that the research indicates that 70 per cent of organised crime in this country is committed offshore. The global reach, the international reach, of our agencies is incredibly important because if those cells are organising crime and running syndicates from places across South East Asia or in Europe or the United States or wherever it might, we need to have that global footprint and we do.
The cost to our economy each year of organised crime is about $36 billion and we know that the research indicates that 70 per cent of organised crime in this country is committed offshore.
The Australian Federal Police has recently appointed, as you may have seen, a new Deputy Commissioner to deal with transnational and organised crime and that will be a dedicated role both onshore and offshore to defeat the scourge of importation of illicit tobacco, for argument sake, profits of which end up in organised crime figures hands, in terrorist cells hands, so these are very important aspects of the portfolios work.
I want to finish just on a couple of notes because I think we are almost out of time Gerard, but there are a couple of important points to make; one is that in this portfolio we have been able to create success over the course of the last several years because as a government we’ve been unified, we’ve been of one message and we’ve been able to stare down a recalcitrant Senate in many aspects. We’ve been able to build on the migration program, we’ve been able to bring people in the right way into our country and there is a debate around immigration in this country – there always has been, there always will be. I was a junior Minister in the Howard Government, the immigration debate raged in those years and it has ever since.
as a government we’ve been unified, we’ve been of one message and we’ve been able to stare down a recalcitrant Senate in many aspects
Our net figure though, which is projected to be a maximum of 190,000 in terms of the NOM this year – and we won’t realise the actual figure of course until June 30 – that figure is estimated to come in lower than 190,000 and the concentration for us is not so much on the number in my judgement, but on the quality of people; making sure that people adhere to our laws, making sure that people live our way of life, making sure that people honour their culture and their customs, but that they adhere to one set of rules in our country.
We need to make sure that we put Australians first into jobs and if those jobs can’t be filled by Australians, then the purpose of the migration program is to provide an economic benefit – that is to bring young people in to fill those jobs so that they’re paying tax for a long period of time – they are the fundamental underpinnings of the immigration aspect of this portfolio and they will continue.
We need to make sure that we put Australians first into jobs and if those jobs can’t be filled by Australians, then the purpose of the migration program is to provide an economic benefit
The settings under the Howard Government provided for two thirds of that program to come in through the skilled stream and about one third coming in through the family stream. Those settings continue today and it’s important for us to remind ourselves of that fact.
Ladies and gentlemen, there are a number of aspects no doubt that we can cover during the course of questions and I’m very happy to take them on whatever topic you care to raise.
Thank you very much for being here tonight. Thank you again to the Institute for the work that you do.