Mon, 04 Dec 2023 - 12:37
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Shadow Minister for Science and the Arts

Shadow Minister for Government Services and the Digital Economy

Manager of Opposition Business in the House






KIERAN GILBERT: Welcome back to the program. Let's bring in the manager of opposition business, the Shadow Communications Minister, Paul Fletcher. And it's a sad day for the Labor Party today, Paul Fletcher, but a sad day for the House of Representatives. Peta Murphy losing her battle with cancer at the age of just 50.

PAUL FLETCHER: You're right, Kieran, It is a very sad day. Peta Murphy, well respected Labor member for the seat of Dunkley in her second term. She was in the Parliament just last week and the news, of course, has just come through now that she has died from the battle with breast cancer that she's been fighting for some years, very widely respected across the parliament for the courage and dignity with which she undertook that battle and simply got on with doing her work in a very no fuss way. And can I certainly express my condolences and sympathies to her family, her friends, her supporters, all who loved her. This is a very sad loss.

KIERAN GILBERT: Yeah, well said. And certainly our condolences as well to the family. But such bravery, as you rightly point out, the fact that she was here just as recently as last week, losing her battle today on the 4th of December. Let's move on now and talk about the challenge the government faces on this legislation to get the preventative detention orders applicable to those detainees that have been released in the wake of the High Court ruling. The opposition, obviously, you're starting point is you want these laws to be in place, don't you? That's your starting point, isn't it?

PAUL FLETCHER: Look, starting point the whole way along here has been that public safety is at stake. And we will work with the government to seek to maintain public safety after the government was caught flat footed when this High Court decision emerged, it was fairly predictable, but the government didn't seem to have a plan and as a result they started releasing murderers, rapists, other hard core criminals into the community. We're now up to over 140 have been released into the community. Now, for several days they were saying there was nothing that could be done. We said, well, yes, there is. You need to legislate. And so in the last sitting period, we joined with them. We supported them. When they finally changed their mind, brought in legislation on the Thursday morning, we suggested several amendments. Indeed, Peter Dutton, drawing on his own long experience as Home Affairs Minister, suggested a number of those amendments and that was finally passed by the Parliament, both houses about 10:00 that night. Then last week started the Government said that they had two more bills they wanted to introduce They briefed us on that on the Monday morning. They said they wanted both bills through both houses close of business that day, but it's continued to be chaotic. They've got one bill through the House last Tuesday, another last Thursday. Both of those have yet to go through the Senate. Now, one of those they've now announced some additional amendments to establish a preventative detention regime. So this is for people who've been, for example, convicted of serious crimes, don't have a visa to stay in Australia, but until it's possible to return them somewhere else, it's important that they're not out in the community. So as the Leader of the Opposition, Peter Dutton has said, of course we want to work with the Government on public safety, but we will still need to work through the details. We're only just briefed this morning some 70 pages of legislation, very complicated, so we will work through that. But we do so obviously with a mindset of wanting to facilitate outcomes that will improve public safety.

KIERAN GILBERT: The suggestion by Mr. Dutton that only a handful of those detainees that have been released might be affected or might be caught up with these changes. What's the advice directing the opposition to that sort of thinking? What's the background to that?

PAUL FLETCHER: Well, that's on our assessment of the legislation as drafted that we've now had the chance to have an initial review on. We do have a number of questions about that legislation. As I've mentioned, about 70 pages. We're only briefed on it this morning. One of the questions is the strategy here is that it will be state and territory courts within which an application for an order will be made, one of these orders, which, if granted, would mean that the person who'd been released from immigration detention would either go into a new form of detention or would be subject to ongoing supervision. Now, in our view, there's a real question as to whether there's been adequate consultation with the state and territory authorities in the development of this legislation. It appears to be based on some legislation that we introduced and successfully passed in around 2016 or 17 in relation to serious terrorist offences. But we certainly did engage in extensive discussions with state and territory authorities then. So that's just one of a number of questions of detail that we want to work through with the Government. Now. It's very unfortunate that they've been caught so flat footed on this. They're scrambling. Everything is late, it's chaotic. But nevertheless, we are doing everything we can as a responsible opposition, including suggesting amendments that will improve legislation. We did that a couple of weeks ago and we're considering that again now.

KIERAN GILBERT: Manager of opposition business, Paul Fletcher, Thanks. We'll talk to you soon.

PAUL FLETCHER: Thank you, Kieran.