SUBJECT: Biloela family.
DAVID KOCH: Albo it is good to see you. Peter Dutton is saying you are just taking a populist line when it comes to the Biloela family.
ANTHONY ALBANESE, LEADER OF THE AUSTRALIAN LABOR PARTY: Well the fact is, he might like to listen to his own LNP local member Ken O’Dowd who is also supporting the family. He might like to talk to Barnaby Joyce. He might like to talk to the community there in Biloela. The fact is that this family are making a contribution. Nades works at the local meat factory. The fact is that this meat factory is actually employing a whole lot of people from overseas because they can’t get Australian workers. And the fact is also that his wife Priya is also making a contribution, she volunteers for St Vincent de Paul. Peter Dutton intervenes in these cases three times a day. There have been over 4000 interventions by Peter Dutton in immigration cases.
KOCH: He’s saying that under Labor you guys sent 2600 Sri Lankan asylum seekers back to Sri Lanka. So, on those figures are you not being a bit hypocritical?
ALBANESE: Not at all. The reason why this ministerial discretion is for cases like this, it is for exceptional circumstances whereby there are circumstances, in this case the family is integrated in the Biloela. We want to encourage new migrants to move to Biloela and make a contribution. In this case there is a case for intervention.
KOCH: So you acknowledge that they’re not refugees?
ALBANESE: The courts have found that. Absolutely.
KOCH: So you’re saying they should stay because they are good community citizens.
ALBANESE: Because they make good contribution.
KOCH: What do you say to other people, asylum seekers who are claiming refugee status, who are doing the right thing and are in the line waiting to be processed properly?
ALBANESE: Well the fact is, David, that you do have to have restrictions on numbers. What we’re saying here is that there’s a case of a four-year-old and a two-year-old who were born here in Australia. That’s what the legal case is about today. Their parents are making a contribution. They’re in regional Queensland. They’re supported by their local community. What are the circumstances whereby Peter Dutton has intervened in over 4000 cases? Because these people don’t have Peter Dutton’s mobile and someone to ring him about au pairs or about other issues, shouldn’t mean that they are treated in this way. And what’s the cost of reopening Christmas Island just for this family?
KOCH: Good point. Anthony Albanese, it’s one of those things where you can see both sides. We appreciate your time.
Leader of the Australian Labor Party, MP for Grayndler, Rabbitohs Life Member. Authorised by Anthony Albanese, ALP, Canberra.