Minister Rishworth interview on Sunrise with Natalie Barr


Topics: Optus compensation, High Court Detention ruling

NATALIE BARR, HOST: For more on that story, let's bring in Social Services Minister Amanda Rishworth and Deputy Opposition Leader Susan Ley. Good morning to you, Amanda. What do you think of the 200 gigs of extra data being offered as compensation?

AMANDA RISHWORTH, MINISTER FOR SOCIAL SERVICES: Obviously that's what Optus has put forward. But as you heard from that small business owner, other people have potentially suffered some financial losses. So, I think most small businesses owners and Australians more broadly are best placed to be able to understand how much they've lost. I would certainly encourage anyone that has had a financial loss because of this to approach Optus. And if they don't get any joy from there to approach the Telecommunications Ombudsman – because this was a significant outage, it did affect many people. Telecommunications is essential. So, I would certainly encourage anyone that has had financial losses to approach Optus. If they get no joy, go to the telecommunication Ombudsman.

NATALIE BARR: Okay Sussan, when we saw train networks, hospitals, cancer centres, the medical alert system not working, what does this say about the lack of a backup system?

SUSSAN LEY, DEPUTY LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION: It says quite a lot, Nat. And we had that awful report of a Paralympian in specialist disability accommodation. Everything went down and she was completely unable to move from her bed or get anything to eat or drink for, I think, a full day. And that's truly awful. So, we've got that. We've got loved ones lost in the black hole that many of us have experienced, and meanwhile, we've just got a lot of toing and throwing. So, I just share the frustration of so many businesses and individuals. Now, our Senators amended the Government's inquiry to include looking at the Government's response as well. And it's important that the Government does have a look at itself because there is a link between the Federal Government, what redundancy, backup and communications it can provide in an event such as this. So, there's lots of work to be done. And I know that Australians are counting on all of us to back them in and not have long, complicated processes with no result at the end of them.

NATALIE BARR: Yeah, well, there's a Senate and a Government inquiry looking into it. Moving on. Hundreds of immigration detainees could soon be released into the community after a landmark High Court ruling found indefinite detention illegal. Amanda, some of these detainees have pretty serious criminal convictions. How will the Government ensure Australians are safe?

AMANDA RISHWORTH: Nat, community safety is at the forefront of the Government's mind. This decision by the High Court actually overturns 20 years of precedent. So, this is really significant. In saying that, this decision only applies to one person and the reasons by the High Court have not been published yet. We are working with our security agencies, of course, and other agencies. But we need to understand the decision of the High Court and then look at our response, because we can't respond in a knee-jerk reaction that could actually make the legal circumstances worse. Of course, in this individual's case, there's been very tight rules put around the visa, but we do need to look at this High Court case and make sure that community safety is absolutely front of mind.

NATALIE BARR: Sussan, the challenge was brought by this stateless Rohingya man who was actually up on child sex offences, as I understand it, who'd been in Villawood since 2018. And that's the test case that was run and won. What's the opposition's response?

SUSSAN LEY: This individual had child sexual offences to his name. And I've just listened to the Minister and I'm not reassured, Nat. I want a guarantee from Minister Rishworth right now that the Albanese Government will not allow child sex offenders or violent criminals out into the community. This is something Australians expect. You don't get a visa when you are of bad character. And character grounds are a very strong reason for visas to be cancelled. So, yes, there's been High Court action. Governments need to respond. The Coalition stands ready and willing to support anything that assists that response. But we don't need this wishy washy sort of language that says, let's look at the decision and let's get to the next legal decision.

AMANDA RISHWORTH: Sussan, you can't respond to a legal decision without knowing the reasons that the High Court has put forward. Otherwise you can make it open to more challenges. So, look, please don't play politics. This does need to be responded to in a careful way…

SUSSAN LEY: Someone needs to step up. Someone needs to step up and actually guarantee community safety because Australians take…

AMANDA RISHWORTH: Oh come on Sussan please don’t play politics. We have said community safety is absolutely at the front of mind.

NATALIE BARR: Sussan, you're right. On the surface of it, the stateless man who's up on child sex offences being let out is alarming. But as you know, the High Court's ruled and we have to look at it, and the Government will be looking at it to see the repercussions and then what happens next? We thank you both for your views this morning. We'll see you next week.