Interview with Tom Tilley - Hack, Triple J

Release Date: 
10 November 2015
Transcript
E&OE

TOM TILLEY:

Alan Tudge, long time no speak. Thank you for joining us again.

ALAN TUDGE:

G’Day Tom, great to be with you.

TOM TILLEY:

Could all these countries be wrong, or is it more likely that we need a re-think?

ALAN TUDGE:

Everybody knows our policy in relation to offshore detention. In fact, there is bipartisan support in relation to that.

Because of that policy and other policies, we’ve managed to save hundreds if not thousands of people drowning at sea. We think that is a very positive thing.

We’re also in the process of getting rid of Labor’s backlog of people in detention so that there is now only just over 100 children left in detention and hopefully there will soon be none. Whereas, there was over 2,000 when we first came to office.

We’re getting on top of it. Soon there will hopefully be no one in detention.

The other thing I would say about these countries is that some of the countries who criticise us do not necessarily have the best track record themselves in relation to human rights. I think North Korea could be the most extreme example of that. You do not necessarily want to be a citizen in North Korea and think you have a great deal of freedoms there.

TOM TILLEY:

It was interesting to hear you talk about what you guys have achieved since you’ve been in power. You talk about stopping the boat arrivals and the lives which you’ve saved in doing that. You copped some criticism for that.

But a lot of the criticism really was about the conditions which people are living in, in detention, and how long they have been in detention, and the fact that women and children have been in detention.

Why has it taken you so long to process these people?

ALAN TUDGE:

We want to process them as quickly as possible but sometimes it does take a while because there needs to be security checks or because people have thrown away their papers or do not have any papers so we do not know exactly who they are.

Sometimes they might appeal through the court process so it does take some time.

TOM TILLEY:

But you have been in power for two years now?

ALAN TUDGE:

We have been in power for two year and you know what? There is now only 2,044 people in detention whereas it peaked at 12,000 when we first came to office.

So you are talking about one-sixth of the number who are now in detention. We hope that it will soon be down to zero because we have got through that backlog and because the boats are no longer arriving so there is no further people entering into those detention centers.

The other thing I would say though Tom is that by and large the conditions are very good on those detention centers despite what some of the critics say.

Indeed on Nauru, perhaps the most well-known, it is no longer a detention center. People can come and go from that facility as they please during the day. They have healthcare there, the kids have education, there are recreational activities [inaudible]people return at night.

TOM TILLEY:

People have died in these detention centers and we’ve seen countless stories of sexual abuse. How can you say they are good conditions?

ALAN TUDGE:

People also though die in Australia in our suburbs every single day unfortunately. There are criminals throughout our community sadly and we try to stop them. But there is also some criminals who manage to get into these detention centers.

Now, if they destroy property or commit crimes there then the full force of the law will come down upon them in those places just as it does in mainstream Australia.

TOM TILLEY:

Alright you’re listening to Alan Tudge who is a Government MP. We’re talking about the Government’s asylum seeker policy after it copped a shellacking in the UN meeting overnight in Geneva. Let’s talk about

Christmas Island Alan Tudge. We’ve seen dramatic scenes there over the last 24 hours. The Government says it’s now under control. Peter Dutton continues to lay the blame at the feet of the criminals that are in that detention centre that are awaiting deportation. Now if these people are such dangerous people, why are they in the same facilities as innocent asylum seekers?

ALAN TUDGE:

I don’t think that’s an accurate representation actually Tom.

TOM TILLEY:

Which part of it?

ALAN TUDGE:

Christmas Island has changed. It used to be just a normal detention centre. In recent times it’s become a centre for higher risk detainees. The border force protection assess every single person and determine their level of risk. For the higher risk people they’re now going to Christmas Island.

Unfortunately and sadly on that island there are people who have committed very serious offences. That’s the nature of the people there…

TOM TILLEY:

So all of the people there including the Iranian asylum seekers?

ALAN TUDGE:

If you’re a lower risk you tend to be sent to a different facility, including Nauru which as I said is no longer a detention centre as such but is more an accommodation facility where people can come and go as they please on the island of Nauru.

TOM TILLEY:

Alan Tudge, just lastly we’re about to talk to Bill Shorten whether 16 and 17 year olds should be allowed to vote. Do you think it makes sense to let younger Australians to participate in democracy in this way?

ALAN TUDGE:

I think that voting when you’re 18 seems like the appropriate age to me. 18 is when you are legally an adult, it’s when you can sign contracts, you can be a company director, it’s when you can drink etc.

That seems like the appropriate age and I think that even Bill Shorten’s key rival for the leadership of the Labor Party hasn’t backed Bill Shorten’s proposal to lower the age.

TOM TILLEY:

It sounds like you’re argument is just for the status quo. You’re not really saying why it’s a bad idea for 16 and 17 year olds to be able to vote. Do you think they’re not mature enough?

ALAN TUDGE:

No I just think you’ve got to draw a line in the sand somewhere.

TOM TILLEY:

Why not draw it at 16?

ALAN TUDGE:

We’ve drawn it at 18 because that’s when you are legally an adult for so many other areas and I think it makes sense to align it there.

If you say why not 16, why not 15, 14, 13? You’ve got to draw a line in the sand somewhere. I think 18 makes sense because that’s when you are legally an adult. I don’t think really that even Bill Shorten’s heart is in this, and certainly his main rival, Anthony Albanese, he’s not backing it either.

TOM TILLEY:

Alright we’re about to find out how much his heart is in it, he’s our next guest, Alan Tudge great to have you on the show, thanks for joining us.

ALAN TUDGE:

Thanks so much Tom.