Coalition has reservations about refugee convention | Connect Asia

Coalition has reservations about refugee convention

Coalition has reservations about refugee convention

Updated 18 July 2013, 16:39 AEST

Australia's Opposition's Immigration spokesman Scott Morrison says he has strong reservations about the United Nations Refugee Convention, but he won't say yet whether any Coalition government would remain a signatory.

Mr Morrison has indicated the Opposition Coalition would hope to change the appeals process for the Refugee Review Tribunal, if it can be done legally.

Presenter: Samantha Hawley

Speaker: Scott Morrison, Australian Opposition Immigration spokesman

SCOTT MORRISON: The thing with Kevin Rudd is it's him talking about this issue doesn't change anything. It doesn't put an end to the terrible traffic we're seeing on our seas. And frankly whatever he announces you can't believe he'll implement anyway. We've heard it all before from Kevin.

SAMANTHA HAWLEY: Do you think though that Australia should still be a signatory of that convention?

SCOTT MORRISON: Well, I've said pretty plainly that I have strong reservations about the way that's interpreted and how that is impacting upon how our policies operate here domestically.

SAMANTHA HAWLEY: And do you think we should still be a signatory to that convention yourself?

SCOTT MORRISON: Well, I said I've had very strong reservations about the …

SAMANTHA HAWLEY: But does that mean you think …

SCOTT MORRISON: … way it's interpreted.

SAMANTHA HAWLEY: That's right.

SCOTT MORRISON: And when I'm ready to make further announcements on that in the course of between now and the election then the Coalition will do that at a time of our choosing, not of Kevin Rudd's.

SAMANTHA HAWLEY: So can we read into that that you don't think Australia should be a signatory to that convention anymore?

SCOTT MORRISON: I don't think you can read anything into what I've just said based on that.

SAMANTHA HAWLEY: Do you think we need or would you commit to maintaining the Refugee Review Tribunal if in government?

SCOTT MORRISON: Well, that wasn't our policy when we were in government before and why people would assume we would do that again I don't know. What the Government has done by hard wiring appeals into our court system through the Refugee Review Tribunal I think has only added further sugar to the table.

SAMANTHA HAWLEY: So an end to that Refugee Review Tribunal under a Coalition Government is what you're saying?

SCOTT MORRISON: No, again. I'll choose the words that we use to describe our position on things and I don't think we should be verballed on that. What I'm saying is …

SAMANTHA HAWLEY: I'm not trying to verbal you. I'm just trying to understand what you're saying.

SCOTT MORRISON: Well, what I'm saying is we had a two track process before and that is the process that we think was the best way to handle those things when we were last in government. Last time we removed the appeals to the Refugee Review Tribunal and that is obviously an outcome that if legally can be implemented once again, that we would look kindly upon.

SAMANTHA HAWLEY: Okay. Do you agree with Bob Carr that most, if not all, of the asylum seekers coming here now are economic migrants, not refugees?

SCOTT MORRISON: Well Bob Carr has made that statement. He has referred to the arrivals and his knowledge of their specific cases, which I don't have access to. It has always been our concern that there has been a very significant economic motivation to this movement of people in choosing Australia in which to seek asylum.

SAMANTHA HAWLEY: Do you believe though that we or Australia should be sending home more of these asylum seekers, that is as we now do with Sri Lankans? Is there other groups you think that are coming here that aren't deserving of protection?

SCOTT MORRISON: Well of course there are people who are coming who don't raise our protection obligations …

SAMANTHA HAWLEY: Groups of people?

SCOTT MORRISON: … but that said, I mean let's take the Sri Lankan caseload for example. It's our policy to send everybody back - everybody.

SAMANTHA HAWLEY: You'll send everyone back and that involves the tow back obviously. Have you spoken …

SCOTT MORRISON: Turn back is our policy, not tow back. That's how the media describe it and the ABC in particularly. I don't know why they do that.

SAMANTHA HAWLEY: Okay.

SCOTT MORRISON: I don't know why they do that.

SAMANTHA HAWLEY: It's not tow back so does that mean that any policy that you bring in will never involve a boat being towed back away from Australia?

SCOTT MORRISON: Well turn backs involve a whole range of different operational arrangements and that's why …

SAMANTHA HAWLEY: But not towing?

SCOTT MORRISON: Well, I didn't say that. What I said turn, the tow back description has always implied that they'll be taken back across the Indonesian border, sea border. And that's never been the Coalition's contention.

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