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ABC Deletes Eastley’s Comments From Transcript And Tape

Tony Eastley, compere of AMAn “inappropriate” comment by Tony Eastley, compere of ABC radio’s morning current affairs program AM, has been excised from the transcript and tape on the ABC website.

Eastley’s interview with the Immigration Minister, Senator Amanda Vanstone, concerned the circumstances surrounding the deportation of an Australian citizen, Vivian Alvarez Solon, to the Philippines.

Eastley made a reference to Vivian Alvarez Solon being “dropped off” by Australian immigration officials. He interposed the remark, “the car was still moving perhaps”.

Vanstone seized on the remark and castigated Eastley.

The complete transcript of the interview appears below. The deleted portion is highlighted.

  • Listen to the UNEDITED tape of the AM segment.
  • Listen to the EDITED tape.
  • Listen to Eastley’s concluding comments.

This is the complete transcript of Senator Amanda Vanstone’s interview with Tony Eastley. The ABC has published an edited transcript and tape on the AM website. The shaded portion shown below has been excised from the ABC website.

EASTLEY

The Immigration Minister Senator Amanda Vanstone joins us now on AM.

Good morning, Senator Vanstone.

Minister, Vivian Alvarez Solon was found by all accounts – more good luck than good management, by the sound of it?

Senator Amanda Vanstone, Minister for ImmigrationVANSTONE

I think it’s tremendous good luck that somebody saw her photograph on television. The advice that I received from the embassy last night was that she in fact saw herself on television, but it may be that the local Australian priest saw her and drew it to her attention. I think that’s a matter we won’t know until we speak to both of those people this morning.

EASTLEY

How would you describe this? An Australian national is wrongly deported, she’s dropped off at a hospice for the ill and dying, no one can find her for years, and your department apparently has no record of where she was left. She turns up by, as we say, good luck rather than anything else.

VANSTONE

Well, as you say.

What I’d say to you with respect to that is this – she was sent back to the Philippines with an escort officer, and she was met in the Philippines by a woman from the, as I understand it, the Overseas Women’s Welfare Association.

We haven’t been able to locate that woman; she no longer works for that association. But that’s what our records show, that that’s who met her. It may well be that arrangements had been made with her, or subsequent, for her to be taken to this particular place. But what the file shows is that that’s who met her – the Overseas Women’s Welfare Association.

Now, the file does also show that there was some discussion about whether she would make contact with some nuns. We haven’t been able… the Department hasn’t been able to interview any of the people on the file who made those file notes, because as soon as the inquiry was given to Mr Palmer the request was made, and I think it’s a proper one, that the departmental officers, senior ones, don’t speak to the people involved, don’t muddy the waters in the investigation.

And so what the Department was, I think, properly doing was following the lead through the person who did actually meet her. Now, what arrangements had been made is another matter. But what we’ve been trying to do is find the person who met her.

I can say, on the advice that I’ve received, that it is not on the file that she was going to go…

EASTLEY

Why not?

VANSTONE

Well, you say why not, because when arrangements are made for someone to be met, it may well be that a view is expressed that the person may wish to be in contact with this particular group of nuns or another, and efforts may be made to do that.

But what the file would show is who actually met her at the airport. Now, that’s what the file shows. I can’t tell you any more than that. The file shows that she was met at the airport by a woman from this particular organisation…

EASTLEY

Father Mike Duffin says Australian officials dropped her off at the Catholic Mission.

VANSTONE

Well, that’s not what the file shows. I understand, from conversations that have been relayed to me last night that Mr Duffin recognised this was the woman, I think… or the woman identified herself to him, I’m not sure which that is, but from a TV program, on Sunday.

Mr Duffin… but let me just make this point, it is entirely up to Mr Duffin and the nuns and Ms Alvarez when they choose to contact the Australian embassy, but I’ll just make the point that if they had been contacted on Sunday, if Ms Alvarez wanted to be back in Australia and seeing her children, she could be here now.

Now, I don’t know what’s happened between Sunday and now with Mr Duffin or the nuns, or Ms Alvarez. And certainly the media reports this morning are very confused, but…

EASTLEY

So you’re criticising the way Father Duffin is handling this?

VANSTONE

No I’m not. No I’m not, I’m not, I’m simply making the point that apparently Mr Duffin did connect who this woman was, and that the Australian Government was looking for her. And we have… we have no record of him or the nuns or Ms Alvarez contacting us…

…and I’m simply making the point… that if Ms Alvarez…

EASTLEY

But the issue isn’t with Father Mike Duffin is it? This woman has been lost for four years. Your officials dropped her off, by all accounts, dropped her off – the car was still moving perhaps – and no records have been kept as to where she was left in the Philippines, Minister.

VANSTONE

With respect, with respect…

EASTLEY

It’s quite an extraordinary case.

VANSTONE

… to what you’re just – what you’ve just said is extraordinary. It is extraordinary. You said she was dropped off by all accounts. On your own admission it’s by the account of one person who realised two days ago who she was and has [indistinct] …

EASTLEY

So you’re happy with the way this case has been handled, is that what you’re saying?

VANSTONE

… conversations. No, I haven’t, I haven’t said that. I think it’s extraordinary that the ABC would make a suggestion that someone was dropped off when a car was moving. It is indicative of an attitude, but I’ll refrain from saying any more than that. The record does show what happened. The record shows she was returned to the Philippines and was met at the airport by the Overseas Women’s Welfare Association. That’s what the record shows.

EASTLEY

And from there, no record kept of where she went?

VANSTONE

I don’t have advice that there is a subsequent record from that. But of course at the time, when people were of the view that she was a citizen of the Philippines, there would not be a further record kept.

EASTLEY

All right, we’ll leave it there. Senator Amanda Vanstone, the immigration minister, thank you.

VANSTONE

Well I’d like to say thank you, but the suggestion from the ABC that the Australian Government would drop someone out of a moving car leaves me speechless.

EASTLEY

It was a comment said in jest, which was probably not appropriate.

VANSTONE

Jest? On a matter like this? Help me please. I don’t think this is funny.

EASTLEY

Well it’s unbelievable, the entire story anyway as it goes.

VANSTONE

It is a very difficult story. It is a very, very difficult situation.

EASTLEY

You’ve said you’ll do what you can to help this woman; what’s next down the track then, as far as helping this woman? Will you try and bring her back to Australia?

VANSTONE

Ms Alvarez – if she wishes to do so – will meet with consular officials that, as I understand it, arrived in Olongapu last night, this morning, and she, I think, will be with Mr Duffin at that point. We’re quite happy about that. She can have whoever she wants at an interview with us…

EASTLEY

And you’d like to see her come back?

VANSTONE

Well, no, I’d like to see Ms Alvarez get what she wants. If she wants to come back, of course, we will facilitate her coming back, we’ll facilitate assistance for her when she arrives, so that she’s got support and can settle in, and of course she’ll be entitled to Australian benefits.

But she’ll need more than simply money; she’ll need assistance to settle in, if that’s what she wants to do. And we’ll be making it very clear that that is not so much on offer, that is her entitlement.

EASTLEY

Immigration Minister Amanda Vanstone, thank you.


This is the transcript of the comment made by Tony Eastley at the end of AM.

  • Listen to Eastley’s concluding comments.

EASTLEY

And before we go, just a clarification on a comment made during the interview with Senator Amanda Vanstone: It’s of course no indication that Ms Alvarez was mistreated by Immigration Department officials when she was dropped off in the Philippines. I didn’t mean it in any other way.

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