Wed, 27 Mar 2024 - 13:34



Shadow Minister for Science and the Arts

Shadow Minister for Government Services and the Digital Economy

Manager of Opposition Business in the House




27 MARCH 2024

KIERAN GILBERT: Welcome back to the programme Let's bring in now live in the studio, the manager of opposition business, Paul Fletcher. Question time in about 25 minutes from now, I guess the coalition's focus is all on this migration amendment bill. 

PAUL FLETCHER: Well, there's obviously a lot of issues that the government are deserving of scrutiny on. Certainly, migration issues, keeping Australians safe. And we've seen over the last few months this unfolding saga with Andrew Giles, Immigration Minister, Clare O'Neil, Home Affairs Minister, just not appearing to be on top of their portfolios at all. And of course, putting the safety of Australians at risk Uh, and we've certainly asked plenty of questions about those issues. And it's a totally proper use of question time, of course. Also, uh, the car and ute tax, uh, what will be the continuing impacts for Australians? Um, and a whole range of other issues as well. Uh, the cost-of-living crisis. So um, we will certainly be using Question Time today, as we have this week and as we have throughout the time we've been in opposition to hold the government to account. They're very resilient - 

KIERAN GILBERT: Are you happy to come back? If the government is able to convince the coalition of the urgency, the need for getting this Migration Amendment Bill done? 

PAUL FLETCHER: Look, we've been very clear. We think there is more scrutiny needed. As Dan Tehan has said, as Senator James Paterson has said. Uh, we had a very brief hearing last night, at our insistence, raised more questions than it answered. The coalition has consistently been very constructive on helping the government fix the mess it's created. Uh, look at what we did late last year. We turned up when required. In fact, it was drafting suggestions from Peter Dutton, the coalition team that helped the government get out of a mess it had created. 

KIERAN GILBERT: So you're not just trying to stir the mess right now. Stir the pot by not agreeing. 

PAUL FLETCHER: Not at all -

KIERAN GILBERT: Agreeing to what looks like a tougher measure. 

PAUL FLETCHER: Not at all. Um, but what we are saying is, quite properly, these are significant changes. There needs to be scrutiny. That's why we voted for a motion in the Senate this morning for there to be a proper inquiry -

KIERAN GILBERT: Clare O'Neil accuses you of basically just playing politics.

PAUL FLETCHER: Well, not at all. Not at all I don't think anybody could suggest that the coalition under Peter Dutton as leader, under any of our previous leaders and prime ministers, has been anything other than completely focused on how we keep Australians safe on border protection. This is absolutely central. Of course, what we want to know is that the measures proposed are going to work. We asked some questions last night. We've got further questions that we think need to be answered. If that makes out a case for urgency, of course we will work appropriately with the government. But the idea that our shadow ministers should be briefed 7:30 yesterday morning, when we know, the bill was actually prepared late last week, uh, you know if you look -

KIERAN GILBERT: So you think that was a stitch up, are you saying the timing of that was a stitch up to get it done late in the piece before Easter? 

PAUL FLETCHER: I'm simply saying, if I were the Home Affairs Minister, I would not be throwing around accusations of playing politics on this. When the coalition has a strong track record an unimpeachable track record over decades of taking border protection extremely seriously, we have always engaged constructively with this government. We'll continue to do so. But that doesn't mean you abandon the role of proper scrutiny. And there are questions that need to be asked.

KIERAN GILBERT: Manager of Opposition Business Paul Fletcher will stay in touch. Thank you. Appreciate it.