Press conference - Sydney International Airport

  • Joint transcript, E&OE

JULIE BISHOP: I'm pleased to be here this morning with MinisterMichael Keenan because today new passport laws come into effect that will stopconvicted child sex offenders from travelling overseas. About 12 months agoMichael Keenan and I promised to develop new laws that would tackle the childsex tourism trade. About 800 Australian registered child sex offenderstravelled overseas last year, about 40 percent of them did so in breach oftheir reporting obligations. People who are on the National Child Sex Registerhave committed the most serious child sex crimes, including in some instancesagainst children under the age of 13.

I can report thattoday a registered child sex offender was stopped here at the SmartGates andhas been prevented from travelling overseas.

As the Minister forForeign Affairs, I have the authority to deny a passport to a child sexoffender, cancel existing passports, or order the surrender of a foreignpassport. Registered child sex offenders have reporting obligations inAustralia because of the ongoing risk that they present to children inAustralia, but we are aware that they have a high propensity to reoffend ifthey are in a country where they are not monitored and where child sexexploitation is rampant. These laws are designed to protect children at homeand abroad, and I'll now ask Michael Keenan to say a few words.

MICHAEL KEENAN: Thanks Julie. This is the most comprehensive crackdown on child sextourism that has ever occurred, anywhere in the world. This is world firstlegislation and the rest of the world is looking to Australia to see how thisis going to progress.

From today, it is anoffence for people that appear on the child sex offender register to traveloverseas. That will mean that Australians will no longer be able to prey onchildren in our region. We know that in our region there are different levelsof law enforcement capability, there are different approaches to the abuse ofchildren, there are different community attitudes. We are making sure thatAustralians will not be able to leave this country to abuse vulnerablechildren, particularly in South-East Asia.

This is only part ofthe comprehensive approach that this Government has to tackling paedophilesabroad and here in Australia. In September, I introduced comprehensive newlegislation that will make the offender cycle for paedophiles more difficult inevery facet. We will have a presumption against bail, we will have apresumption against parole and we will ensure that the most serious child sexoffenders serve a minimum period of time in prison. That legislation is beforethe Parliament, but it has been opposed by the Labor Party. I call on them torethink their attitude towards this because what we are doing here today incancelling the passports of paedophiles and making it an offence for them totravel overseas and what we are doing about making sure they spend serious timein prison here in Australia is part of a comprehensive package to keep childrensafe in our region, to keep children safe here in Australia. I ask the LaborParty to rethink their attitude to make sure they join with us on thiscrackdown on paedophiles.

JULIE BISHOP: Any questions?

JOURNALIST: Where was the offendertravelling to?

JULIE BISHOP: The man is currently being interviewed by the FederalPolice, so I don't want to go into any more details, I don't wish to prejudicethe interview but he was stopped here at the SmartGate because of these laws,because his name appeared on the watch list.

JOURNALIST: Just a question on commentsmade today by Barnaby Joyce speaking to New Zealand radio. He said that JacindaArdern should stay out of Australia's business on refugees. He went on to saythat otherwise Australia would return the favour at a time they think is mostopportune to them. Is that a threat and is that appropriate language to use toNew Zealand?

JULIE BISHOP: The point our Deputy PrimeMinister was making is that we now have tough border protection laws that haveprevented the people smuggling trade from continuing the work that they weredoing under the previous Labor Government. We have stopped the boats and wehave also worked very hard to get children out of detention and to close downdetention centres. We will not allow the people smuggling trade to start upagain under a Coalition Government. The only risk to the people smuggling tradestarting up again is if Labor were to be elected and would weaken the laws asthey did previously. Under Labor's weaker border protection laws, 50,000 peopletried to come to Australia via the people smuggling trade, 1,200 drowned atsea. We have put a stop to that and we will not do anything to encourage thepeople smuggling trade to start up again.

JOURNALIST: But is that appropriatelanguage to be using to New Zealand?

JULIE BISHOP: The Deputy Prime Ministerfeels very passionate about this issue, as we all do. 1,200 people died at seaunder Labor's weaker border protection laws and we've worked very hard toinstil integrity and order back in our border protection laws.

JOURNALIST: Is it appropriate, just onSam Dastyari's resignation, that he continues to receive a Senate salary in themeantime?

JULIE BISHOP: I believe that Sam Dastyari's resignation from theSenate should be effective immediately.


Sam Dastyari should leave the Senate effective immediately. Whyshould the Australian taxpayer continue to fund his salary when he has resignedfor his appalling behaviour? Now he's admitted that he is unfit to sit in theSenate so his resignation should be effective immediately.


JOURNALIST: Is it possible to have an update on the investigationinto Border Force Chief Roman?

MICHAEL KEENAN: Ican't provide that update. We've already said what we can say about that on thepublic record. Obviously those matters are still ongoing and when theGovernment has something further to say we will.

JOURNALIST: Is he still on leave without pay?

MICHAEL KEENAN: There'snothing further that I can say about that. The Government said there werematters that required investigating. That investigation hasn't been concluded.Once it has been concluded, and once those matters are concluded then theGovernment will make a further announcement.

JOURNALIST: Is there an ongoing dialogue with Labor in regards to the mandatoryminimum sentencing?

MICHAEL KEENAN: Theywere very clear in the Parliament, when this legislation came before the Houseof Representatives, that they do not support mandatory sentencing for the mostserious child sex offenders in Australia. I thought that was quite remarkable.My expectation was that they would join with us in the same way that theyjoined with us on this legislation about cancelling passports and cracking downon child sex tourism. My expectation was that they would do the same thing andthat this legislation would attract bipartisan support. Yet they have refusedto provide that support and they have actively opposed mandatory minimumsentences for the most serious child sex offenders. I'm very happy to continueto talk to them. But they did make their position clear in the parliament whenthis legislation came up before it several weeks ago.

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