SUBJECTS:The Biloela Family
DAVID KOCH: Lets bring in Nationals MP Barnaby Joyce and ALPs Joel Fitzgibbon for more on this right now. Good morning to you both Barnaby, is this a simple case of showing compassion towards a family whove done all they can to show their commitment to Australia?
BARNABY JOYCE: I think its a special case no doubt about it Koche. I mean, when you think about it, the kids, Kopika and Tharunicaa, theyre born in Australia their Australians as far as the community is concerned. Nev Ferrier, the Mayor of Banana Shire, which includes Biloela, has also endorsed support of the community for them. I know that Minister Dutton is in such a vex position because theyre both coming in from Sri Lanka the decision that has been made that the parents were not qualified as asylum seekers, but thats the parents not the children, and time has moved on and theres, you know policeman; constabulary right; ministerial discretion at times I think this should be exercised to, basically, bring a situation to a conclusion. These children were born in Australia, they are not their parents, and I think we have to consider this in a different light.
SAM ARMYTAGE: But this is tricky even though the kids were born here, theyre not citizens technically, and I guess this all revolves around legal wording Joel. This case has already gone all the way to the High Court; should their family and supporters just accept the previous Court ruling.
JOEL FITZGIBBON: Good morning everyone. I think the front page of the Australian newspaper today says it all, that big story about a boat heading our way is design to do one thing and that is pursue the Governments political agenda. My appeal to Peter Dutton is, and Barnaby and I are obviously on a unity ticket here, is to make a decision made on common sense, based on our humanitarian obligations, and based on the law gives which gives him the discretion, rather than the decision based on what is very clearly a political positioning on his part. The Government thinks that despite all the protests that the majority of people, or indeed at least their base, loves Peter Dutton talking tough on boat people and that is exactly what this is all about. Remember when on water matters were a secret; the Government couldnt talk about them? Well when its convenient, you get front page photographs like the one we saw this morning.
KOCH: Yeah it is a bit suspicious. But Barnaby, Peter Dutton would say: ok if I do this, then couples can then come on a boat, have children here, and then get to stay. Sort of he is between a rock and a hard place I understand the compassion issue and have a lot of sympathy for it, but hes saying it will start a flood.
AMRYTAGE: These two parents didnt come together, they met each other here. They didnt leave Sri Lanka together as a couple. Barnaby?
JOYCE: Seems theres a debate between Sam and Kochie on this as well, which is great. The issue is quite clearly that if Im driving home and Im going at 150 or 140 km/hr to get a child to the hospital, the policeman has a constabulary right and can say: Look, you should slow down, you are against the law. We are not going to change the law for you, but because other circumstances completely beyond what we would generally accept, we will let you off this time - dont do it again. I think its a case in this instance that this couple met in Australia; the children were born in Australia; the community accepts them in Australia; they are doing jobs that other people want to do; they are living in a regional town; theyre not blocking up your traffic in Sydney, Melbourne or Brisbane; they havent just gone and lived down in one of the suburbs and not really made an effort to become part of the community; they support the community; theyre part of community programs and community work in Biloela. I think these are other issues we should take into consideration. I hate, at times, going at odds with Peter Dutton, who is a great Minister, but I think this one is a special circumstance and I got to look after the regional people who are backing these people as well.
ARMYTAGE: Well you are right they do seem to be contributing wonderfully to the Biloela community, and Barnaby, Kochie and I often do disagree on things thats all part of the service. Joel what do you think, will we see, I mean if Peter Dutton relents on this, will more boats come?
FITZGIBBON: No of course not. The discretion is a discretion, it doesnt establish a legal precedent. Yeah, it might put Peter Dutton under some more pressure somewhere down the track, if a similar case, or cases, emerge. But thats why he is paid the big bucks to make hard but sensible decisions, and it is clear the right decision here based on common sense is to allow this family to stay.
ARMITAGE: We shall see over the next few days and weeks what happens here. We have to leave it there gentlemen, but thank you for your time today.