SENATOR THE HON SIMON BIRMINGHAM
Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment
TRANSCRIPT – Doorstop, Parliament House CANBERRA
22 July 2019
REPORTER: Can we ask we’ve got the Prime Minister for Papa New Guinea here. He said he wants a timeline for the closure of any offshore processing on Manus Island. When is the Government going to get on with this?
BIRMINGHAM: Well what we’ve been able to do is to clear thousands of people out of the system that Labor left in place and we are committed to bringing down, as close to zero as possible, those who are left in terms of the people that came in under Labor’s watch, where the boats flooded in and people flooded in. What we’re going to keep doing is working constructively to ensure we get that down as close to zero as possible, having already dealt with the case load that started in excess, of course, of 50,000.
REPORTER: But as Trade Minister it must be difficult when the Papa New Guinean Government want something and you haven’t been able to deliver it.
BIRMINGHAM: We welcome and thank Papa New Guinea for their cooperation over many years in dealing with this and their cooperation along with that of Naru has been essential to our success in being able to stop the boats, stop the illegal flow of arrivals and we look forward to continuing to work as closely as we can with PNG to preserve those policy fundamentals that have allowed us to stop those boats.
REPORTER: But aren’t you continuing to make our problem theirs?
BIRMINGHAM: No, and this has been a cooperative approach, which we warmly thank and welcome PNG for their assistance along with the Government of Naru –
REPORTER: But it’s obvious they’re sick of it, right?
BIRMINGHAM: Look, we all want to make sure that we get everybody resettled, clear those who are in detention but do so in a matter that doesn’t restart the problem and what’s critical here is to make sure that we fix the backlog and do it in a way that doesn’t restart the problem. That’s been the whole focus of our Government and that’s what we’re going to continue to do in terms of the way we apply policy.
REPORTER: Do you understand the position of the Papa New Guinean Government? That want it over and done with.
BIRMINGHAM: The PNG Prime Minister is here as a guest of ourGovernment, a guest of Prime Minister Morrison. It is the first overseas trip that the PNG Prime Minister has made since his appointment. It’s the first official guest of Government visitor that Prime Minister Morrison has received since he became Prime Minister, that just shows how close we are collaborating and how warmly we’ll continue to work together into the future.