Minister Shorten doorstop interview at Parliament House, Canberra


JOURNALIST: [inaudible] ... distracted from other issues.

BILL SHORTEN, MINISTER FOR THE NDIS, AND GOVERNMENT SERVICES: I think the minister has done the right thing. He has cancelled the visas of people who he felt were undesirable. The Administrative Appeals Tribunal, the court system for these matters, has overturned those decisions, and the minister is now again cancelling some of those visas and reviewing the rest of the matters. This is the system which has been in place under both governments, and we accept that we need to, um, provide directions to the administrative tribunals so that we don't get these sorts of decisions. But that is our legal system.

JOURNALIST: That tribunal is going before Senate estimates today. What sort of an explanation are you hoping for about why it made those decisions? Are you expecting more clarity to come out of that today?

SHORTEN: Well, the Administrative Appeals Tribunal system is being overhauled by this government as well. And we've said that before these decisions. Um, they've got their function under the law and our minister has cancelled the visas, court has made a decision, and the minister is now reviewing the court's decisions in some cases and cancelling the visas of these people. Again, I'd just say to the opposition and their sort of their outrage factory that they're running. Um, this is the same system that they had under Mr. Dutton when he was the Home Affairs Minister. 1300 hard core criminals were released. And I think that his hypocrisy is startling and staggering.

JOURNALIST: We've seen the unintended consequences from Direction 99. Can you now admit that the deportation deal with New Zealand was a mistake? And is the Prime Minister responsible for that?

SHORTEN: Uh, no and no. The truth of the matter is that the Administrative Appeals Tribunal has its place in our system. It's made decisions that the government doesn't agree with. And the minister has cancelled visas again and is reviewing the others in terms of the directions, the direction isn't working well enough. So to. It's the same direction essentially, that previous coalition ministers had issued the court. But if the court needs to have it spelled out more clearly, well, then we will spell it out more clearly. These people, they're a small number of the total immigrant population, but they are completely undesirable and we don't want them. And we will do everything we have to keep the community safe.

JOURNALIST: Would it be beneficial for Andrew Giles to have a fresh start in a new portfolio, to take some of the heat off and maybe give him a fresh start? Something new to work on?

SHORTEN: I've heard the coalition calls about Minister Giles, but it really is one rule for one and another rule for the others. If you follow coalition logic, a court releases hardcore criminals. And that's Mr. Giles's fault, they say. But when Mr. Dutton was home affairs, he released 1300 hardcore criminals. He doesn't think he should be sacked. He thinks he should be prime minister. So that's coalition logic. Sack a Labor minister and with a coalition minister, make them Prime minister. It's just rubbish, isn't it?

JOURNALIST: Bill, sorry if you've got a question on this before, but, um, Mark Dreyfus’ office has been vandalised overnight. I think there's protest planned and a quite a few Labour MPs offices today. Quite possibly including yours. Um, what do you make of these protests? The message they're trying to send in, the way they're sending it?

SHORTEN: People have got a right to feel strongly about the distressing scenes in Gaza and in Israel. But there's a line and you don't cross it. The idea that you are say you're protesting for peace by being violent is like burning books for literacy. It's just rubbish. You know, if these protesters who have this sense of that their cause is so special that they're allowed to break the law in Australia, that's just rubbish. It's threatening coercive bullying, illegal conduct, and at a very pragmatic level, even if you just separate the fact that what they're doing is illegal. Who do they think they're persuading? And what worries me is the sort of, arrogant, minority, dictatorial view that somehow they think that they're above the law. That's exactly the direct opposite of social cohesion in Australia. Thank you.