NATALIE BARR: A group of people have been arrested following a pro-Palestinian rally in Sydney overnight. Hundreds gathered at Port Botany protesting against the unloading of a ship owned by an Israeli shipping company. A number of scuffles, broke out between police and protesters after the group refused to move from the port entrance, resulting in 23 people being arrested. Shame, The protesters also called on the government to support a ceasefire in Gaza. Let's bring in Home Affairs Minister Clare O'Neil and Shadow Finance Minister Jane Hume Good morning to both of you. Clare, are you concerned about the rise in these violent protests?
CLARE O'NEIL: Yeah, I really am, actually. Nat And can I just say that I'm really disappointed to see this sort of conduct at a protest? And can I say particularly one that is targeting violence at police. We've got a law enforcement community around our country that put on a uniform every day to keep us safe and any attacks or slurs against them. I just really find that personally offensive. I know that people feel really strongly about what's happening in the Middle East at the moment, and I'm very deeply sympathetic to that. But we've just got to calm down and keep the temperature down a little bit here. It is fine to express your views on the street. Just don't do it with violence. I think that's the Aussie way of managing this.
NATALIE BARR: Jane, all this comes as students across this country prepare to skip school this week to attend rallies supporting Palestine In what can the government do to stop them? Because there are lots of calls for the government to do something to stop their kids going.
JANE HUME: Well, very little. And of course, the right to protest is a democratic right that we all cherish. What I'm most concerned about for these schoolchildren is that they are, in fact, being manipulated into going out and protesting about an issue that they don't fully understand. I think all Australians would be concerned if they felt that their children were being manipulated to propagandise an issue that they really didn't understand themselves. I would much prefer that the kids stay in school and perhaps learn to be able to point to where Gaza is on a map.
NATALIE BARR: Okay, moving on. The Albanese government is considering terrorist style laws to temporarily lock up immigration detainees freed by the High Court. Claire, obviously this is one option. It apparently only keeps these high risk offenders detained for two weeks. Is that right?
CLARE O'NEIL: Look, I told your viewers about this last week and let me just start by making one thing absolutely clear. I would not have released a single one of these people into the community if I had the power to stop it from happening. If it were up to me, they would all still be in detention today. But we've got a High Court ruling telling us that the Australian Government must release these people. Now the job for me is to implement the high court's decision and to do so in the way that protects the safety of the Australian community at every single step of the way. I'm thinking about your family. I'm thinking about my family. I'm thinking about Jane's family. We will be looking at every possible option to make sure that we can put in place better durable mores that get these people into a safe space if it's at all possible and preventative detention is one of those options.
NATALIE BARR: And so that preventative detention just keeps him behind bars for two more weeks. Is that right?
CLARE O'NEIL: Nat we don't have the legal guidance from the High Court yet about what form of preventative detention regime would be constitutional. And I just want to make this really clear that we can design any scheme that we work if it doesn't pass muster at the High Court. It's not keeping the community safe. So we've got to be careful here. And I just say to your to the to your viewers from the bottom of my heart. All that matters to me is keeping you and your family safe and doing that within the confines of the law and that is what is driving the government's decision making here.
NATALIE BARR: Okay, Jane, what would you do?
JANE HUME: Well, first of all, I don't have the resources of Clare's entire department. The Home Affairs Department is one of the biggest departments in government. They should be seeking every legislative response last week on this very program. I suggested to Clare that she come up with a legislative response to the decision from the High Court and she said that was impossible. 24 hours later, she was doing exactly that. Now, no need to thank me there Clare, but not only were you doing that, but you were doing it with the assistance of the Coalition. Essentially the Coalition was doing the Government's work because the Government had run out of ideas. This is a great concern to us. The fact that these detainees were released without the decision of the High Court would be explained so that you didn't feel like you could properly respond that they were released without a plan without any legislative response that should have been prepared months earlier. Now Clare, you said that your department gave you the wrong advice. That's not good enough. Your department isn't the only source of information. Certainly the Coalition came up with some ideas. I can't understand why you didn't.
NATALIE BARR: So Clare, hang on Jane, are you saying that the government's only working on this because you told them to?
JANE HUME: No. I think that the government has been entirely reactive and in the expectation of people, of all Australians, that your government is proactive not releasing hardcore criminals into the community without a planned response.
NATALIE BARR: Okay, Jane, are you just working on this because the Opposition said you should?
JANE HUME: I think that's Clare's question, not Jane's question.
CLARE O'NEIL: Yeah, thanks. Well, everything that Jane said there, I vehemently disagree with everything. I think the way she's characterized this is hyper partisan, hyper political. And can I just say when it comes to national security and community safety, could that just be the one part of Australian politics that we don't subject to this ridiculous Liberal Labor positioning,
JANE HUME: How about it's the one part of politics you get right? Because you didn't get it right last week.
CLARE O'NEIL: Jane, can I, can I finish my sentence if you wouldn't mind we've got what we have here is a really serious community safety problem for the Australian community and our government is working at pace we are working at speed and we are working to protect Australians. Now, we've got the Opposition, Peter Dutton is out saying one thing, Jane Hume saying another, James Patterson saying something else. I actually don't care much for the commentary and the politicking that's going on.
JANE HUME: We're doing your work for you.
CLARE O'NEIL: I've got one focus that's it's implementing, it's implementing a new regime that will help protect the community within the confines of the law. And that is my only priority right now. I'm just not going to play politics on this one.
NATALIE BARR: Okay. We'll leave it there. Well thank you. See you next week.