ABC NEWS 24
SUBJECTS: Opinion Polls, Liberal Leadership, Peter Dutton
GREG JENNETT, HOST: Well, Peter Khalil welcome back. It’s obvious to everyone that the polls skewed instantly and heavily towards Labor after what happed with the Liberal leadership just after a fortnight ago, what will it take for the ALP to lose the next election?
PETER KHALIL, FEDERAL MEMBER FOR WILLS: Well interesting question, and interesting question about the polls because the one that really matters is the one on election day so I think you’re quite right about that, we have to keep, as a party, the Labor party, keep putting forward policies that are focused on the Australian people, around their education, healthcare, infrastructure, wages, these are things that matter to people…
JENNETT: You have to accept that you are the mob to beat at the moment?
KHALIL: Well look, clearly the government is in a shambles, absolute shambles, they’re all over the place and they’re focusing on themselves, they’re fighting each, they’re eating each other alive before our very eyes, but our job as an opposition is to stable and sensible and keep putting forward brave policies that make a difference to people’s lives, which we’ve been doing and in a very febrile and volatile atmosphere we’ve had a sensible stable opposition with one leader over five years, obviously we changed the rules so you couldn’t change the leader as easily, but to be fair, we’ve been very good, at being a united team. We have our disagreements, we’re a big party but we work through our policies and we get it right and we’ve been putting them out for the people.
JENNETT: Now clearly some people have underestimated Scott Morrison. Peter Dutton probably one of those, what do you asses are his political skills and strengths?
KHALIL: Well, I’m sure he has some political skills and strengths but I want to say this, Scott Morrison may be a new Prime Minister, but it’s the same old policies, I’ve seen no distinctive change, except for the fact that they’ve declared the National Energy Guarantee dead in the past week, so apart from that…
JENNETT: It was in effect wasn’t it under Malcolm Turnbull in those last days?
KHALIL: Well, there were four different policies on climate change that we tried to get up, we tried to provide some bipartisanship, and they ran away from every single one of them so, there’s no real difference in this government and the big question is why did they change? Why did they change the Prime Minister? And Scott Morrison can talk all he likes about his new government, but the fact is that the policies are the same and in some respects it’s even worse, I mean Scott Morrison is the guy who brought a pet rock of coal into the Parliament, so I don’t see any hope around a real, genuine climate change policy going forward.
JENNETT: What about his program generally? Do you assess that there will be much of a legislative agenda? And big arm-wrestles with the Senate cross-bench? or they might just run the clock down without anything too controversial in this Parliament?
KHALIL: Yeah, look, that’s a matter for them Greg, but I think, you know, it’s the same cuts to education, the same cuts to healthcare, the same failures on climate change policy, and on top of that, this is the same guy, Scott Morrison who voted 26 times against a Royal Commission on Banking, so I don’t see much difference in the government’s policies and Australian’s deserve, Australian’s deserve better.
JENNETT: Alright now, Labor went pretty close to the line in a state by-election in NSW last weekend, you’ve got the Wentworth by-election coming up, is Labor in any sense, a show in that seat? Blue as they come.
KHALIL: Yeah, well I think we are, obviously we got a good candidate there, I think his name is Tim Murray. I’m a Victorian, so you’ve got me on the hop on this one but we’ve got a good candidate there with Tim Murray, and I know that there’s a number of Liberal candidates vying for the position, they’ve got to go through their pre-selection process, but I think the people of Wentworth even are seeing what a shambles the Liberal government is, what is traditionally been a blue ribbon seat.
JENNETT: The pursuit of Peter Dutton has been an obvious tactic by Labor this week, there’s been a suggestion made in Parliament by Peter Dutton himself, that there’s some sort of collusion between an advisor in Bill Shorten’s office and the former Border Force Commissioner Roman Quaedvlieg, is there?
KHALIL: No, and the thing is Peter Dutton is using all, trying to throw all sorts of mud to deflect from the very serious questions that he has to answer, and frankly he’s got four things that he has to answer, one, he let an Italian nanny in, when he’s Chief of Staff called the person, and said my bosses’ mate, you know I need to get a result on this, he actually allowed the French au pairs in based on the fact that he got a call from Gillon McLachlan for his second cousin, whose father has been a major donor of the Liberal party, one-hundred and fifty thousand dollars since 1999, he’s a, been, obviously there’s been allegations around getting jobs for his mates from the Queensland Police Force, but also the fourth thing is under section forty-four, sub-section five of the constitution, he has questions to answer around the childcare centres his wife owns under a trust and whether he was a, indirect pecuniary interest under the constitution, which would actually mean he is ineligible to sit in Parliament and all the decisions he has made as Minister would be questioned as well.
JENNETT: But just on that, why hasn’t Labor, I’m not aware that Labor has sought to refer, or have the Parliament refer, that matter to the only jurisdiction that can deal with it, [inaudible].
KHALIL: There was a vote on this, and he, but he voted by one, his own vote, to make sure he wasn’t referred, and with all of these things self-referral should occur it happened with Barnaby Joyce as you recall with section forty-four, but he himself is trying to avoid at all costs going to the High Court where it should be looked at.
JENNETT: Now you’ve kept a close watch on the migration program over many years, these points you’re making Peter Dutton go to an established Ministerial power, it’s a decision making power they have. Do you think there’s a case now to have that power altered? Particularly in cases where people may make representations and they are known to the Minister of the day?
KHALIL: There are thousands of representations made on behalf of constituents, MPs do their job, they get it up to the Minister and the Minister looks, should look at them through a proper process, I know that there’s been talk about altering this Ministerial intervention power, but when it’s used properly, it can actually lead to good results, if there’s a doctor in a regional community which the community loves and hasn’t met all the sort of black letter laws of the migration act, the Minister can intervene in that on common sense, I know that Dutton has accused Chris Bowen and Tony Burke in the past of using this incorrectly, but the examples they use, they never actually used Ministerial intervention, it was the Department that allowed Alessandro Del Piero’s nanny into the country not the Minister, so he’s deflecting there basically.
JENNETT: You don’t have a problem, you don’t a problem there per say with the Act and those powers as they’re currently written?
KHALIL: Those, those powers if used correctly by the Minister are an important part of the process around the Migration Act. I do have an issue with the power accumulated by Peter Dutton under Home Affairs as a huge Ministry if you like where he’s basically consolidated so many of the intelligence agencies and all the other bits and pieces across many different Departments into one super Ministry, that’s too much power for one Minister regardless, so, I…
JENNETT: Ok so what would, or should I should say, what would, should a Labor government do about it?
KHALIL: I have said publically in the media as well on this, that we should be, with immigration particularly, it’s not just about security, it’s been securitised, immigration policy should be about the cultural, economic, social elements, the settlement services and I feel that’s being lost ah, under a huge Home Affairs juggernaut.
JENNETT: But under Scott Morrison that’s already been peeled out and given to David Coleman.
KHALIL: That’s a good, that’s a good step forward to, to lessen the power, and it doesn’t matter whether it’s Peter Dutton or Mother Teresa who’s the Minister, you want to make sure the Minister has accountability, and the questions that he has to answer around how he’s used his Ministerial powers and he’s dodging those questions right now
JENNETT: So you reckon keep this set up that Scott Morrison established with his first Ministry?
KHALIL: No, no we’ve got to look at all of those issues if we were to win government, if there was a Shorten Labor government, we’d have to look at all of these issues across all the Departments really.
JENNETT: Alright, Peter Khalil, we’ve covered a bit of ground today going to thank you for coming back, and we’ll talk to you again soon I’m sure on the News [inaudible].
KHALIL: Thanks for having me on Greg. Cheers.