Television Interview, Sunrise

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The Hon Richard Marles MP

Deputy Prime Minister

Minister for Defence

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02 6277 7800

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15 November 2023

SUBJECTS: High Court decision

MATT SHIRVINGTON, HOST: For more, let's bring in Deputy Prime Minister Richard Marles. Good morning to you. Well, first off, three murderers, several sex offender- I have to repeat that. How are you going to keep Australians safe?

RICHARD MARLES, DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER: Well, we're obviously very concerned about this and our principal focus is on keeping Australians safe. And I just remind the community that we argued against this in the High Court. This is not our decision. But in the decision having been made by the High Court, these people have been released, they've been put on bridging visas with the strictest possible conditions. That was something that the government did straight away. We are continuing to assess what options we have here, which include potential legislative responses, and we will be working on that very quickly. Obviously, and the other point is that the High Court has actually not released its full judgement yet, which makes the situation more difficult. But our primary focus here is on keeping the community safe and we will continue to do that.

SHIRVINGTON: Well, let's figure out how you're going to do that, because Sirul Azhar Umar is one of those detainees released. Malaysian national, sentenced to be hanged after killing a woman. He fled to Australia- detained for nine years. He's now out. Australia can't extradite anyone who is facing capital punishment in that country. So, that is what you call a rock and a hard place. How do you monitor someone like him?

MARLES: Well, you've described the difficulty of the situation. And obviously the difficulty of the situation is much greater now that these people have been released. And again, this is not what we wanted. The conditions that we are placing upon these people is around making sure that there is constant reporting, that they are constantly being monitored. That's on this day. But we are actually looking at what further options we can pursue. We clearly want to make sure that whatever step we take here is legally robust. This is a law which has been in place for 20 years, which was knocked over by the High Court. Whatever we do here matters- that is legally robust and is going to survive any legal challenge. And so that's in our minds as well. But what the community needs to understand is first and foremost, our number one criteria, our number one focus is community safety.

SHIRVINGTON: Deputy PM, are you worried that boats are going to continue to arrive with more asylum seekers whilst you're trying to overturn that court ruling?

MARLES: I mean, I don't want to be sanguine about the arrival of boats. We are very vigilant about our border. But again, I want people to understand there is an enormous effort which is put in place in relation to the security of our border and we will take every step that needs to be taken in order to have the strongest possible border protection. And that includes taking all the options that are available at sea. So, we are confident about that, not sanguine, but we are confident about that. We have dealt with boats that have arrived since we've come to power, as the former government did as well, and we've been able to handle those. But it is really important that we take every step possible to make sure that we have the strongest possible border protection in place, and that's what this government is doing.

SHIRVINGTON: Will you put monitoring bracelets on these serious offenders?

MARLES: Well, again, it's difficult for me to go into all of that publicly. There are legal issues around all of this that we are wrestling with and that is where we are looking at what options are available here in terms of what can be done. The strictest possible conditions have been placed upon these people and we are wanting to make sure that the steps that we take are legally robust and that they endure, that they don't get knocked over as this law has.

SHIRVINGTON: Okay, Richard Marles, thanks for your time.

MARLES: Thank you.


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