House debates

Thursday, 20 September 2018

Questions without Notice

Minister for Home Affairs

2:21 pm

Photo of Bill ShortenBill Shorten (Maribyrnong, Australian Labor Party, Leader of the Opposition) Share this | | Hansard source

My question's to the Prime Minister. Today I met with Captain Jason Scanes and Lieutenant-Colonel Damien Hick, decorated Afghanistan veterans. They're sitting in the third row of the gallery. For five years Captain Scanes has tried to secure a visa for his Afghan interpreter who has served with the Australian Army. These interpreters wore Australian uniforms and helped keep our diggers safe, at great risk to themselves. Some have been murdered since. When au pairs can get visas in a matter of hours, why can't Captain Scanes even get a meeting with the Minister for Home Affairs?

2:22 pm

Photo of Peter DuttonPeter Dutton (Dickson, Liberal Party, Minister for Home Affairs) Share this | | Hansard source

I thank the honourable Leader of the Opposition for his question. The reality is that this government has granted many hundreds of visas—almost 1,000, in fact—to people who have helped out the allied forces in the Middle East, in theatres such as Afghanistan and Iraq. There are many interpreters and others whom we have been able to help, and we have been able to settle those people here. I have not intervened in cases where there is advice to me—not advice that I can go into publicly, but advice that is received by me from the intelligence agencies—in relation to particular cases or individuals. I will not act against the national interest or against the national security of this country. My office has met with Mr Scanes. I'm happy to meet with him. But we've made it very clear, in relation to this particular case—and I don't know whether the Leader of the Opposition has sought any sort of briefing on this important national security matter before he's raised it in this place—there are always significant—

Opposition Members:

Opposition members interjecting

Photo of Tony SmithTony Smith (Speaker) Share this | | Hansard source

The minister will just pause for a second. I'm trying to listen to the minister's answer. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition, the member for McEwen, the member for Barker and others are making that impossible. I assure members that I'm going to hear the minister's answer and, if that requires me ejecting them, I will.

Opposition members interjecting

The member for Sydney and the member for McEwen are warned.

Photo of Rob MitchellRob Mitchell (McEwen, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

I was shaking my head!

Photo of Tony SmithTony Smith (Speaker) Share this | | Hansard source

You were interjecting earlier. We can get a video replay if you really need it. The minister has the call.

Photo of Peter DuttonPeter Dutton (Dickson, Liberal Party, Minister for Home Affairs) Share this | | Hansard source

So I assume that the Leader of the Opposition has not had such a briefing. I'm happy to arrange such a briefing and for him to be provided with as much information as is possible. But I can tell you that the government is proud, particularly through the advice of the ADF and some of our international partners, to help settle people who are worthy of support in our country. But, to finish on this note, there are some cases where I received advice from the intelligence agencies. In those cases, acting in the national interest of our country, I would not issue that visa.

Photo of Tony SmithTony Smith (Speaker) Share this | | Hansard source

Now that the minister has concluded: the member for Barker interjected again. He's now warned as well.