Doorstop interview, Consular State of Play launch
Good morning ladies and gentlemen. Thank you very much for joining me here this morning.
We've been releasing the 2017/18 Consular State of Play, which gives us a snapshot of the consular services that are provided to Australians overseas by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade during the last financial year. But really, it's a pretty simple message. If you're going to take off overseas this coming holidays, then don't land in trouble. Do the basics: check Smartraveller, do your research, take out travel insurance. Make sure that if you're going to have a great time, that your great time doesn't end up as an unnecessary load on your friends and your family and frankly on yourself. So the tips as I said are very simple. Check Smartraveller, do your research and take out travel insurance.
All of that said, I want to commend the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade for the work they've done in managing through 10.7 million overseas trips by Australians in the last financial year, all the consular cases that have come to them. Some are relatively simple, some are extraordinarily difficult and complex and some concern significant family tragedies. So, it is a big load carried by our consular services. They form very important relationships sometimes with the people that they help and I very much value the work that they do.
And I'm very happy to answer any questions.
I do have questions on the citizenship terror legislative changes. Has Australia discussed the proposed terror laws with countries including Indonesia and Lebanon?
We always communicate with our partners on key announcements and decisions of this nature. But the most important thing about these laws and any proposals that we intend to introduce into the parliament is that they are about keeping Australians safe – keeping Australians safe by changing the Australian Citizenship Act so that dual citizens who are convicted of a terrorist offence in Australia lose their Australian citizenship irrespective of the sentence that they receive.
What happens if those countries don't want to accept people if Australia determines those people may have dual citizenship rights?
So our intention is to deport anyone who has citizenship elsewhere, if they are convicted of a terrorist act. And most importantly, I need to remind everybody that this is about protecting Australians and Australia. That is the government's first priority. So we're talking about people who have committed acts of terrorism and being convicted for those crimes against Australia of that nature. If there are issues with other countries in terms of their preparedness to accept individuals, then we'll obviously deal with those on a case-by-case basis. They may be matters for negotiation with those countries. They may end up in immigration detention self-evidently, but we will deal with those on a case-by-case basis.
On that point there, do you believe that convicted terrorists could remain in indefinite immigration detention if they're not able to be deported to another country as the Prime Minister suggested this morning?
Well I'm not going to go into a sort of hypothetical example of what might happen, because each case will be self-evidently different and they will be dealt with on a case-by-case basis. But most importantly, we need to be reminding ourselves that people that we are talking about will be individuals who have been convicted of a terrorist offence. That is of committing a crime of terrorism against Australia and Australians. And so for the government, it is about protecting our country, protecting our people and making sure that that sort of behaviour is not tolerated.
Are you comfortable with the potential possibility that some people will be held indefinitely?
Well that's an extrapolation that you are making and you are drawing. I am indicating to you that in our experience, we will be dealing with these on a case-by-case basis and those matters will be dealt with as they arise.
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