Wake Up presses the PM on asylum seekers

Sometimes in television, location is everything.

For the second time in a week the Prime Minister has made an appearance on TEN’s Wake Up,.

After penning an open letter about Australia’s violent binge drinking culture in the press, Tony Abbott discussed the issue with the Wake Up hosts yesterday.

But it was questions on his Asylum Seekers policy from Natarsha Belling and James Mathison, particularly his media silence, that gained the most attention.

“In the end we are in a fierce contest with these people smugglers and if we were at war we wouldn’t be giving out information that is of use to the enemy just because we might have an idle curiosity about it ourselves,” Prime Minister Abbott said.

“In these situations I am not going to release information which will be exploited by people smugglers to the peril of their customers and to the tremendous disadvantage of our country.”

James Mathison asked about the lack of transparency and accountability while Natarsha Belling asked if he was comfortable with the standard of detention centres.

Yet while Abbott defended his policy there was something poetic about one answer given the picture postcard backdrop behind him.

“I can absolutely understand why people living in a pretty tough place, want to come to a terrific country like Australia,” he said.

“I can accept, indeed I can cherish, the yearning for a better life that beats in the hearts of every human being.”

It was a television moment that could never have been replicated on Sunrise, Today or ABC News Breakfast.

Abbott’s second appearance on Wake Up was a coup for the show which has been trailing its competition. But the location at Queenscliff Surf Club, where the PM enjoys a morning surf, has worked in its favour. Even Nine News had to doorstop the PM with the surf club behind him.

Yesterday James Mathison told TV Tonight after Abbott’s surprise appearance a week ago, producers put in an open invitation with his office for a chat.

“About 20 to 7 this morning we got a call that he could come in, I think on the back of the article. So we were very lucky,” he said.

After a quick surf Abbott changed out of his wetsuit for the studio chat.

“He’d agreed to talk about alcohol-fuelled violence so we talked about that, but we had had Paul Barratt on a couple of days before, who was the former head of defence under the Howard Government. He was talking about the Abbott Government’s approach to Asylum Seekers and specifically the non-reporting,” says Mathison.

“We knew what he wanted to talk about, but it’s our show and he doesn’t entirely get to set the agenda.

“It was something that had been topical for us.”

Mathison said while he didn’t agree with the government’s position on Gay Marriage and Asylum Seekers it didn’t stop them from having a robust and respectful conversation.

“We wanted it to reflect the programme as well which was topical issues, big questions but at the same time there’s a kindness and a light-heartedness to it. That’s been the whole theme for the show and I think that interview reflected that.”


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