Topics: Bring them Home campaign; Labor’s immigration chaos; Chinese jet incident;

08:00AM AEDT
Tuesday, 28 November 2023


Simon Birmingham: Out the front of Parliament House this morning are gathered. Representatives of Australia’s Jewish community and indeed supporters and their friends as part of the Bring Them Home campaign, a worldwide effort to seek to ensure the release of all those held hostage by Hamas. While it is welcome news to see that further hostages will be released as a result of the extension of the pause in hostilities in Gaza at present, all hostages should be released and Hamas should be expected to release them all, and they should be released unconditionally as part of a surrender that sees Hamas lay down its terrorist campaign. That is what would be the ultimate step towards a ceasefire. Now, of course, we welcome what is being achieved in terms of seeing the release of some hostages is very welcome to those families and also acknowledging the enormous suffering of many individuals, those families, but also many individuals living in Gaza. And the important flow of humanitarian support for people who are suffering from the loss of relatives, the loss of homes, the displacement from their homes, and other enormous challenges being faced in Gaza and the humanitarian supplies are important to them as well.

Here within the Parliament, today the Albanese Government will have the opportunity to get the High Court statement of reasons for its decisions that upended the approach in relation to detention of dangerous non-Australian citizens within Australia, and the fact that they have been so flat footed and so chaotic in their approach to date. Finally, the Albanese Government can have a chance with those statement of reasons to put in place a comprehensive, proper preventative detention regime and to get that through the Parliament before the end of this year to ensure the safety of Australians from some incredibly dangerous individuals who are acknowledged as having committed murders, rapes and other crimes as part of their background.


Journalist: Why did the Opposition help ram through these immigration laws a couple of weeks back when you don’t support them, you don’t think they’re strong enough?


Simon Birmingham: We want to make sure that we have as much as possible put in place to keep Australians as safe as possible. So, in working with the Government a couple of weeks ago, we sought to take their advice and build upon it. What you saw a couple of weeks ago was that the Government in the morning said, this is as tough as it gets. But by lunchtime was accepting every single Coalition amendment to those proposals. But we do believe there should be a more comprehensive response, a more systemic response that enables a preventative detention regime to be applied. That’s what we’re calling on the Government to put in place, and it should be acting as quickly as possible following the High Court’s statement of reasons today to bring an appropriate preventative detention regime that keeps Australians safe to the Parliament.


Journalist: Senator, are you concerned that that statement of reasons today could lead to more detainees being released?


Simon Birmingham: We know that there are potentially a few hundred. There are potentially 300 plus individuals who could be released, and more than 100 have already been released. But we could see even more dangerous people released into the Australian community and at present, without there being appropriate safeguards in place. Which is why the Albanese Government, who has been so flat footed and so chaotic in their response to this to date, must take that statement of reasons and act to put in place a comprehensive, proper response to keep Australians safe.


Journalist: I’ll just follow up on that. Those monitoring bracelets and those curfews, you don’t think those are safeguards, enough?


Simon Birmingham: The safeguards that we’ve worked and forced the Albanese Government to apply to date are important steps, but there’s absolutely more that should be done. And there should be a comprehensive preventative detention regime that enables the government to act to keep Australians safe from dangerous individuals.


Journalist: Are you confident that the preventative detention regime is constitutionally sound?


Simon Birmingham: This is why the Government should act following the statement of reasons from the High Court. It can be fully informed, fully developed, properly developed to ensure that it is constitutionally sound and keeps Australians safe.


Journalist: So, you’re calling for something that you don’t know is constitutionally sound?


Simon Birmingham: We have confidence that there are ways that this can be pursued and applied. The Government needs to work with the best lawyers in the land. The Government should have at its disposal to apply the greatest protection for Australians.


Journalist: Do you think Parliament’s going to have to be extended to deal with this?


Simon Birmingham: If we have to sit beyond this week, next week and further, then so be it. Keeping Australians safe needs to be the Albanese Government’s top priority no matter how long it takes for the Parliament to sit.


Journalist: Just want on the Chinese jets if you don’t mind. So, there’s video that has emerged online. It shows Chinese jets circling a Philippine aircraft. How concerning is it to see this sort of activity from China so soon after its recent activity?


Simon Birmingham: We continue to see a pattern of dangerous behaviour in the way that Chinese People’s Liberation Army engages across the region. That’s why Australia should be standing firm in our principles, making clear our concerns about the way China engages. The way it is endangered the lives of Australian service personnel, the way it endangers the lives of other service personnel from other nations across our region and in doing so, the way it creates a risk of accident or miscalculation that could lead to an escalation in conflict across the region. These are dangerous activities in the way the Chinese military operates, and they should be called out. They should be part of discussions at the highest levels of government to try to get China to change its behaviour, to ensure the peace and stability of our region. Thank you, guys.