Subjects: Asylum seekers, US Presidential Election
LISA WILKINSON: Welcome back to the show. Reports this morning that the Government is close to sealing a deal to send the asylum seekers stuck on Nauru and Manus Island to the United States. The Australian newspaper claims an announcement is expected within days with the Obama Administration agreeing to take the 1800 boat people, effectively ending Australia’s offshore detention program.
We are joined now by Defence Industry Minister, Christopher Pyne, and Shadow Transport and Infrastructure Minister, Anthony Albanese. Good morning to you gentlemen. Christopher, I’ll start with you, are these reports correct?
PYNE: The Minister for Immigration, Peter Dutton, will make the announcements about Government policy in this area, obviously we already have a resettlement program for people on Manus to stay in PNG, for people on Nauru to go to Cambodia or return home. Many hundreds have. Our number one objective is to close another two of Labor’s offshore detention centres, we have already closed 17. When Manus and Nauru are empty and closed that will be 19, that will basically be the end of Labor’s legacy of 50,000 unauthorised arrivals and that will be good news.
WILKINSON: So we’ll take it that this is probably true, I mean a leak like this doesn’t happen to a paper like The Australian without it having some sort of concrete evidence. But the timing is really interesting on this. We’re about to have a change of leadership in the US, you’ve got a tiny window of opportunity before the inauguration and everything changes, all bets will be off at the end of January. Can this happen in time, if we take it as true?
PYNE: Well if it’s a true story then there is two months, over two months, two and a half months…
WILKINSON: But it’s 1800 people you’ve got to get there.
PYNE: Well, Peter Dutton and the Prime Minister will make the necessary announcements about Government policy in this area, but there certainly is time, two and a half months is plenty of time and if it’s the case it will be another great achievement from the Turnbull Government.
WILKINSON: Does it sound like a great result to you Albo?
ALBANESE: Well indefinite detention has been bad for the people on Manus and on Nauru. Labor has been calling for these people to be settled in a third country. If this occurs that will be a good thing.
WILKINSON: Do you think the US is a good place for people who are known as asylum seekers?
ALBANESE: These are people who are refugees, who have been found to be refugees, who, if they are settled in a country like the United States, that will be a good thing.
WILKINSON: All right, let’s move on. Of course this week will go down in political history with the election of a political outsider and reality TV star, Donald Trump becoming the President of the United States. Some are describing it as a complete political earthquake that no one saw coming.
Let’s take a look at what you two had to say last week:
WILKINSON: Trump or Clinton?
PYNE: I think Clinton will win easily.
WILKINSON: So, as political forecasters you two; big fail.
ALBANESE: No, no, to be fair he was a bigger fail. He said easily.
PYNE: I was trying to lull them into a false sense of security.
WILKINSON: So you are trying to say you saw this coming?
PYNE: Secret Republican supporter.
WILKINSON: Now Christopher, You’ve also described Donald Trump as terrifying, but you weren’t alone. Bill Shorten has described him as barking mad. Josh Frydenberg called him a drop kick and the Prime Minister used the word loathsome. This does make diplomatic relationships difficult.
PYNE: We have got off to a very good start, let’s face it. One of the very first phone calls Donald Trump has had as President-elect was with the Prime Minister of Australia, which only underlines the strength and the closeness of our relationship. We have very deep ties with the US, as the Defence Industry Minister I can tell you just this week we announced Australia as the regional hub for the maintenance of the joint strike fighter.
Three thousand joint strike fighters throughout the world; a big part of our defence establishment. I’ve only ever talked about the policies of Donald Trump. Bill Shorten denigrated him personally, I think that was foolish and shows a lack of judgment on Bill Shorten’s part. It’s one thing to say we don’t like someone’s policies, it’s another thing to denigrate them personally, especially now they are leader of the free world.
WILKINSON: Certainly is. Albo, unfortunately we’re going to have to leave it there, we have run out of time. Here is good news.
ALBANESE: I don’t even get a crack.
WILKINSON: Here is the good news; we have got four years to talk about Donald Trump.
ALBANESE: Four years, it’s going to be an interesting ride.
WILKINSON: Certainly is. Gentlemen, we will have to leave it there, I’m sorry, we are a bit tight for time. Good to see you both. A good win that you are both here in the studio.
Leader of the Australian Labor Party, MP for Grayndler, Rabbitohs Life Member. Authorised by Anthony Albanese, ALP, Canberra.