Subjects: Manus Island; citizenship.
KARL STEFANOVIC: Welcome back to the program. You are watching Today across the country. Well take a look at these images: mould-infested showers; no running water; filthy bathrooms and wells made out of wheelie bins – absolute squalor. These are the conditions on Manus Island. Close to 600 men refusing to be moved from the centre to new facilities, citing fears for their safety. Christopher Pyne and Anthony Albanese join us now. Good morning guys.
ANTHONY ALBANESE: Good morning.
CHRISTOPHER PYNE: Good morning Karl.
STEFANOVIC: Christopher, have you seen that footage?
PYNE: I have, yes.
STEFANOVIC: Disturbed by it?
PYNE: Well, Manus Island is closed Karl. All those people on Manus Island who are at that Detention Centre are effectively squatting there. They could go to East Lorengau or West Lorengau, Hillside House. They could go to Nauru, the United States, they could go home to their countries and many in fact have done so. The Papua New Guinean Government has closed Manus Island and those people who are still there are there illegally effectively squatting. Activists in Australia telling them to stay there and they will get to Australia are lying to them and that is unfortunately the situation they have put themselves in it.
STEFANOVIC: They do believe and they fear that they will be attacked if they are moved.
PYNE: Well the Papua New Guinean Government is protecting all of those people. Many people are already at better facilities at East and West Lorengau, at Hillside House. Many have taken the option of returning home. Some are in Nauru; some have gone to the United States. There are other options for them than the Manus Island Detention Centre. Those people who are still in the Manus Island Detention Centre have chosen not to take the options that the Government has made available to them and that is because many have been told by Australian activists to stay in Manus Island and they will get them to Australia. The message from the Government is very clear – anyone who has come via people smugglers will not end up in Australia.
STEFANOVIC: Do you have any sense of humanity?
PYNE: Of course Karl and I’m very sorry for those people.
STEFANOVIC: It doesn’t sound like it this morning.
PYNE: No. In fact, Karl, those people could be in new, fresh detention centres in West and East Lorengau and Hillside House. They are choosing to stay in those conditions. That is the fact of the matter.
STEFANOVIC: Anthony, these people, they could move. They fear for their own safety. The PNG authorities may well go in, in the next couple of days, and forcibly remove them. That has disaster written all over it. Will you support that move?
ALBANESE: The fact is that Manus Island was supposed to be a processing centre. Instead it has become a place of indefinite detention and it is no wonder that you have this frustration after years of indefinite detention, which for many of these people they don’t see hope in terms of a place of settlement in a third country. The Government looks at these people and doesn’t see human beings deserving of respect; they see a political opportunity and they have left them there for year after year.
PYNE: It is not true.
ALBANESE: Christopher in his response this morning has said that an option is to go to the United States. I tell you what, I bet you every single person there who was told, “You can leave now, get on a plane and go to the US’’ would do the just that.
PYNE: But they are not.
ALBANESE: But the truth is, the Government hasn’t provided options of third country settlement for these people.
PYNE: That is not so.
ALBANESE: New Zealand have made an offer and the Government rejected it. They would rather have this stand-off and it is time that the politics ended …
PYNE: It is not true.
ALBANESE: … and that the Government actually put in place a plan …
PYNE: You have to deal with the facts.
ALBANESE: … and took some responsibility.
STEFANOVIC: Talking of politics, let’s move on. Christopher, are you going refer to Labor MPs with citizenship issues to the High Court? Simple. Yes or no?
PYNE: Well yes, if they have citizenship issues we will.
STEFANOVIC: Are you going ahead with that now?
PYNE: I just said that if we have evidence that there are Labor MPs with clouds over their citizenship I don’t care if Labor wants to cooperate or not. Bill Shorten is trying to blow up the Parliament. We are trying to solve the issue that the High Court has created for us. If Bill Shorten thinks you can carve out Labor MPs from the same rules that apply to everybody else in the Parliament, he has another thing coming. We won’t be doing that. This is a situation he has created because he wants to blow up the Parliament. We’ve offered him an olive branch. He has rejected it.
STEFANOVIC: So the Prime Minister indicated that he might be doing this. You are saying this morning that you are doing this?
PYNE: If there are Labor MPs with citizenship issues that we have enough evidence to refer them to the High Court and Labor doesn’t intend to cooperate, we will refer them without Labor’s support. And if Bill Shorten refuses to cooperate, that is a matter for him. But we know that he is not a statesman. He is no John Curtin or Bob Hawke. We tried to work with him in a bipartisan way. He rejected that.
STEFANOVIC: OK, it’s now war.
ALBANESE: Well the fact is, this is a Government that is melting down before our very eyes. Malcolm Turnbull – we saw on the Today Show earlier this week the state that he is in. He is incapable of providing leadership. Labor has put forward a constructive proposal.
STEFANOVIC: But why don’t you put forward the documents on these MPs? What are be you hiding?
ALBANESE: We have said it should be done sooner rather than later.
STEFANOVIC: Why don’t you just do it now?
ALBANESE: We want to do it. We want to do it – table them in Parliament the first week back and then of course the Parliament will deal with it as appropriate. That’s our plan. Their plan is to bring Parliament back. Why they want the Parliament to look that there is an even bigger crisis than there is is beyond me. They want to on December 18. We are saying December 1.
STEFANOVIC: There’s no deal. Any kind of bipartisan relationship is now gone. It is now war.
ALBANESE: There is no leadership from this Government. Someone has to lead and Labor is showing leadership from Opposition.
PYNE: It is quite the opposite, absolutely the opposite. Labor’s wheels are spinning. Only a few months ago Bill Shorten refused to his release his own documentation about his citizenship. He said no other Labor MP …
ALBANESE: And did it on the day in the Parliament – tabled it in the Parliament after Malcolm Turnbull …
ALBANESE: …after Malcolm Turnbull had stood up and said that he had questions to answer and ran this whole game just like Malcolm Turnbull is the guy who stood in the Parliament and said “the High Court will so find’’ about Barnaby Joyce.
PYNE: He had to be dragged kicking and screaming.
STEFANOVIC: I think we’ve got resolution on this issue.
PYNE: We are the ones dealing with it.
ALBANESE: It’s all looking good under this Government.
PYNE: We are the ones dealing with it.
ALBANESE: It’s going well for you Christopher.
PYNE: Labor is just playing politics.
STEFANOVIC: Will you two stop yelling at each other?
ALBANESE: And we are friends.
STEFANOVIC: …and just get it sorted.
PYNE: We are. We are. We are the only two left. We are the last two friends standing.
STEFANOVIC: That’s the admission his morning from the Government. All right. Thank you guys.