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04 August 2021

SENATOR KRISTINA KENEALLY

DEPUTY LABOR LEADER IN THE SENATE

SHADOW MINISTER FOR HOME AFFAIRS

SHADOW MINISTER FOR IMMIGRATION AND CITIZENSHIP

SHADOW MINISTER FOR GOVERNMENT ACCOUNTABILITY

LABOR SENATOR FOR NEW SOUTH WALES

  
E&OE TRANSCRIPT
RADIO INTERVIEW
BREAKFAST NOVA106.9/BRISBANE
WEDNESDAY, 4 AUGUST 2021
 
SUBJECT/S: Quade Cooper’s citizenship application
 
ASH, KIP AND LUTTSY, NOVA BREAKFAST CREW (HOSTS): Bledisloe Cup on this weekend, now Quade Cooper is going to be playing for Australia.

HOST: Yes.

HOST: We’ve all seen Quade Cooper play for the wallabies, many, many times before, and took us by surprise, a week or two ago We went Quade Cooper has been knocked back to citizenship for Australia.

HOST: Not just once, so quite a few times really, four times, it turns out, Luttsy now.

HOST: Extraordinary.

HOST:I would have, I don’t know the way it works out, but four times he’s been denied. Now, Senator Kristina Keneally who is the Shadow Minister for Home Affairs Immigration and Citizenship, former Premier…

HOST: Yes.

HOST:…of New South Wales. She’s done it all. She's advocating for Quade to be able to be an Australian citizen, and she joins us now. Good morning, Kristina, how are you?
 
KRISTINA KENEALLY, DEPUTY LABOR LEADER IN THE SENATE & SHADOW MINISTER FOR CITIZENSHIP AND IMMIGRATION: Good morning, how are you?
 
HOST: Good, thank you, now I mentioned, the amount of times that Quade Cooper has been rejected for Australian citizenship, why is that?
 
KENEALLY: Well I think it’s extraordinary, I think we would all agree they Quade Cooper is on ‘Team Australia,’ I mean this is the guy that has represented Australia since 2005, and in fact has helped us beat New Zealand in some pretty crucial matches including the Rugby World Cup Championship. Now, he has been rejected because the Morison government says he doesn't meet the residency requirements and how extraordinary. This is a guy who is often overseas, representing Australia, standing there as the national anthem is being played in the green and gold, and yet when it comes to giving him citizenship, the Morison government doesn't seem keen to let him call Australia home.
 
HOST: And it's not like he’s snuck through under the radar. He’s played seven tests for Australia, he's been around for a long time. He made his debut back in 2008. But you didn't answer the question, Why has he been rejected?
 
KENEALLY: *laughs* It’s hard for me to come up with an explanation. All I can tell you what the government says, well apparently, he's got to spend more time in Australia. He has apparently too much time overseas, and I think we all need to just remember why has Quade Cooper spent time overseas? He spent it overseas, representing Australia and playing rugby, something we applaud him for, we cheer him on, we value him for being selected for our team, yet we're not exactly ready yet to call him a citizen and honestly if someone like Quade Cooper isn’t  a part of ‘Team Australia,’ who is?
 
HOST: Exactly. think the important point to mention here is that it’s not as if Quade played 70 tests, back in the day and is now just like plying his trade overseas and has just disappeared. He’s back in the Wallaby training squad for the upcoming Bledisloe Cup, like he's still very much in the frame as a player that Australia wants to be in their squad to win this football game. I find it extraordinary that in that context, even as a PR exercise, that we could not be just giving him citizenship.
 
 
KENEALLY: You are spot on. He is going to be stood up in the green and gold this weekend, in fact the game, the first game of the series is in New Zealand. He’s actually going back to the country where he was born, wearing Australia's jersey and yet, with the knowledge, that we still haven't given him citizenship.
 
HOST: So, what can be done about it?
Yeah. What’s next?
 
KENEALLY: Well I have taken up Quade’s case.  I think it is ridiculous and I've written to the minister last week. I am also meeting with him this week. You know, look…, ministers for immigration have extraordinary discretion. They have extraordinary ability to change regulations and rules. And really, this is a case where some common sense just needs to apply, I mean if you're a Minister for Immigration, you make 1000s of discretionary decisions every year, you change roles in order to fit changing circumstances. Let's just, you know, call a spade a shovel, Quade Cooper is Australian and he should be given Australian citizenship and really the Morison government can make it happen. They just need to decide to do so.
 
HOST: Right.

HOST: Or maybe we should wait til after this weekend’s Bledisloe. *laughter*
 
HOST: If he kicks a field goal this weekend, let’s give him the keys to the country.*laughter*
 
HOST: It does seem absurd and I hope it’s not reflective of what a lot of people are experiencing who don't have the spotlight on them like Quade does to  highlight what difficulties you have might be to become a citizen of Australia, I mean if you played 70 tests for Australia, can’t we call you Australian?
 
HOST: Sadly, what it is and I think you're coming from political background, you'd have to agree, Kristina that it comes down to political, political …
 
KENEALLY: Political will, really, it does, you’re spot on.
 
HOST : It’s getting to the point where it's, it's getting embarrassing for the government to really do anything about it, I think it actually  getting to that level now like, oh politically, we could actually start looking like idiots.
 
Yeah.
 
KENEALLY: It is embarrassing. It is embarrassing that we have got this amazing rugby player, you know we take great pride in. We cheer him on. We dress him in the green and gold but we turn around and say ah ah, sorry, you’re not  really one of us. And you know Quade is, I understand, of the view that you know his failure to get selected for example for the Rugby Sevens squad in 2016 for our Olympic team came down to the fact that he didn't have citizenship, you know, we're a country of migrants, I’m a migrant, you know, many of your listeners listening will have come here and got permanent residency or citizenship. And we're made great by migration and you only need to look at our current Olympic team, to see how many migrants and people who’ve lived overseas and improved their skills overseas have improved our outcome.
 
HOST: And if you think about it, like you as a public servant, you are representing us and you came as a migrant. You ended up as the Premier of the State of New South Wales. That’d be like us letting you be the Premier but you can't be an Australian citizen. Effectively, that's what we're doing with Quade. We’re allowing him to represent us but not be a part of us.
 
HOST: It doesn’t make sense.
 
KENEALLY: That is 100% Correct. So I say, and the Australian Labor Party says, it's time to let Quade Cooper call Australia home, officially.
 
HOST: And I say, let’s just wait until the weekend and see what happens at the Bledisloe *laughter*
We’ll make a call Monday morning. Appreciate the fight though Kristina, thank you.
 
KENEALLY: Thank you.
 
 ENDS