Journalist: OPCAT having been ratified now, how does that change the way things like Don Dale will have happened, if you can sort of give me an example? So if it was discovered after the ratification later this year?

Attorney-General: OPCAT is primarily about prevention and it’s about oversight so it creates mechanisms where by problems can be anticipated before they arise and if they emerge they can be dealt with more swiftly. Had the OPCAT been operational at the time the events of the Don Dale Youth Detention Centre in Northern Territory emerged, then it may well be, that either they wouldn’t have happened at all or they would have been arrested at a much earlier time. I don’t want to say too much about Don Dale, because that’s not what this is about and there is, as you know, a Royal Commission underway at the moment, but it is a concerning example of the fact that even Australia, which is a human rights respecting nation, is not perfect and problems of this kind can arise. So we want mechanisms – legal mechanisms, oversight mechanisms – in place to prevent such situations arising or to arrest them if they do.

Journalist: And in the case of foreign detention that we outsource to contractors, would the Government then be oversighting that, or would the contractors be part of that oversight themselves?

Attorney-General: As you know, in relation to Nauru and Manus Island those facilities are conducted by the Governments respectively of Nauru and New Guinea. 

Journalist: This puts on a slightly different track to President Trump who has talked recently about using borders to reinstitute some kind of torture and black sites and we’re now pushing away in a different direction. Is there, sort of, I don’t know the right way to say this but, is America not going down a track that Australia wants to follow with human rights?  

Foreign Minister: Australia makes its own decisions and determines its own destiny when it comes to international treaties and we have made a decision to accept the recommendations that were made during the Universal Periodic Review on the Optional Protocol to the Convention Against Torture and we will continue to make decisions that we believe promote and protect human rights both at home and abroad. 

Journalist: Foreign Minister, what did you think of the Prime Minister’s comments about Bill Shorten in the House yesterday?

Foreign Minister: I thought the Prime Minister exquisitely defined the characteristics of the Leader of the Opposition and Bill Shorten has been so hypocritical in claiming to be a champion of the workers when we know that he’s much more comfortable hanging out with billionaires and the Prime Minister exposed a very real hypocrisy behind Bill Shorten’s approach to policies, his opposition for opposition’s sake, and we have many examples  where Bill Shorten has betrayed working people, working families, particularly with his opposition to some of our policies.  

Attorney-General: Every now and again you know, there are moments of blinding light in politics, where the truth is revealed for all to see and I think what Mr Turnbull did yesterday was expose Bill Shorten for what he is, to expose the truth about the real character, or lack of character, of the man who wants to be the Prime Minister of Australia. Thank you.

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