Sunrise with Natalie Barr


NATALIE BARR, HOST: To hot topics now and there are renewed calls this morning for sweeping laws to jail non-citizens who resist deportation and block visa applications from specific countries. Labor has tried and failed to pass the legislation, with the Coalition blocking the changes over concerns about the scope of the powers. A new inquiry is now recommending the bill be passed, which would also allow the Immigration Minister to blacklist countries that refuse to accept return of citizens. Let's bring in Social Services Minister, Amanda Rishworth, and the Shadow Finance Minister, Jane Hume. Good morning to both of you. Jane, why won't the Coalition support this bill?

JANE HUME, SHADOW MINISTER FOR FINANCE: Well, let's remember, Nat, that this is coming to us in the context of yet another potential illegal boat arrival today. This is Labor scrambling to fix a mess of their own making. Now, they presented us with this legislation and essentially held a gun to our heads and said, you have to pass this within the next 36 hours. We said, no, take the time to have a look at it. Let's scrutinise the bill. That's the job of the Senate. And now we've done that. We've come up with 17 recommendations that will strengthen the Bill, put safeguards around it and address the concerns of multicultural communities, of legal experts and even those of Home Affairs that have said that potentially this bill could have a pull factor for more illegal boat arrivals. So, we've recommended some very sensible things that we think will strengthen the Bill, including things like, for instance, the designation or declaration of one of those removal countries, one of those countries that we would ban immigrants coming from that should have a sunset clause of three years and the Minister should have the power to review that declaration. We think that's a pretty sensible recommendation.

NATALIE BARR: Amanda, are you considering those amendments?

AMANDA RISHWORTH, MINISTER FOR SOCIAL SERVICES: The Committee recommended to pass the Bill and I'd just like to say that the Coalition has to stop playing politics with this, which is what this has all been about, because, of course, in March they voted for it in the House of Representatives and then they blocked it in the Senate, then they delayed the bill, then they wanted to recall Parliament to bring the Bill on. And now I'm not clear whether they will support the Bill or not. They've had many different positions, and it is still unclear about whether they support the Government's right to remove those on a removal pathway. It's a pretty simple concept and I hope that the Opposition will see fit and not play politics in the Senate with this Bill.

JANE HUME: Well, it's not simple, it's been rushed. It's a terribly worded Bill. We have very sensible recommendations, and we hope that the Government will consider them and then we'll consider passing the Bill.

AMANDA RISHWORTH: Well, Jane, why did you want to recall Parliament?

JANE HUME: Well, to give you an opportunity to pass it, but it needed to be scrutinised first. That's the job of the Senate. Amanda, I know you're not in the Senate, but that is the job of the Senate, to scrutinise legislation. This was so rushed; you gave us 36 hours. That's not enough.

NATALIE BARR: Jane, are you playing politics? What do you think the people of Australia want?

JANE HUME: The people of Australia want a strengthened border protection system. That's why one of the recommendations is a restoration of the original framework of Operation Sovereign Borders, which we know has kept our borders safe for the last decade. Labor have tried to dismantle Operations Sovereign Borders. We want to see it restored.

AMANDA RISHWORTH: That is absolutely not true. Jane. We have all the settings in place of Operation Sovereign Borders.

JANE HUME: Do you have temporary protection visas?

AMANDA RISHWORTH: Don't play politics with this. Don't play politics with this, Jane.

NATALIE BARR: Ok, moving on to another issue that affects everyone. Pressure is growing on both major parties this morning to declare their plans to make the supermarket sector more competitive and groceries more affordable for Aussie families. A final report calls for price gouging to be made illegal and to forcibly break up chains if they abuse their market power. Jane, will the Coalition support breakup powers to make sure supermarkets aren't taking advantage of suppliers and shoppers?

JANE HUME: Well, surprise, surprise, the Greens support their own bill. I hardly think that that's a news headline. What we want to see is some sensible changes to allow for protection of consumers, but also the protection of small businesses. Divestiture powers need to be used very carefully indeed. And we'll be announcing our own policy in this space. But quite frankly, if Labor was serious about reducing the prices in supermarkets, they wouldn't have a new tax on truckies, they wouldn't have a new tax on farmers, they'd be bringing inflation down, using every tool in their arsenal to do so.

NATALIE BARR: Yeah. Amanda, what do you say about this? I think the Greens are wanting to have a go at Bunnings and Ikea next. Do you support that idea?

AMANDA RISHWORTH: I think firstly would say that I am very keen, as is the Government to see fair prices for both suppliers and consumers at the checkout. And that's why we have had a review into the national grocery code that has said it is now voluntary - that reviewer said it should potentially be compulsory, having a look at penalties and fines for those that don't comply. And so that is something we're looking seriously at, along with the ACCC looking at it. But there have been examples in the past, and many reviews have recommended against divestiture powers because it can have a negative consequence.

NATALIE BARR: Okay, we'll leave it there. Thank you very much. We'll see you next week.