Interview: Gary Adshead, 6PR





Topics: Unsafe interaction with PLA–Air Force


GARY ADSHEAD: Andrew Hastie is the Shadow Defence Minister, he joins me now. Thanks for your time, Andrew.

ANDREW HASTIE: Good morning to you, Gary.

GARY ADSHEAD: All right. Well, we have been here before with this kind of provocation. What do you make of it?

ANDREW HASTIE: I think what we're seeing from the Chinese military is a pattern, over the last two years, of very aggressive behaviour towards the Australian Defence Force. We saw it with our Royal Australian Air Force aircraft with the chaff that was released in front of it by a Chinese fighter. We saw it last year with our Australian divers being attacked by sonar from a Chinese destroyer. And now we've had this latest incident. This latest incident is very concerning – it was reckless, it was dangerous, it was foolish, and it could have resulted in a serious incident and potentially loss of life to Australian personnel. I think Peter Dutton is absolutely right in saying that the Prime Minister should pick up the phone to the Chinese president to express his dismay and put it on the table, man to man, as he should have done last year at APEC in the wake of the instance with our divers.

GARY ADSHEAD: The PM says that contact has been made with the Chinese government to voice Australia's disapproval. Is that not enough?

ANDREW HASTIE: It's not enough, no. It's weak – this is weak from the Prime Minister. This is the second time this has occurred and it's time to draw a line in the sand. The best way to put a boundary in place is to have a personal conversation with the leader of the country and I think this is what our Prime Minister needs to do.

GARY ADSHEAD : Just with your background, if you don't mind me asking, I mean if you are in a helicopter where a non-friendly jet would do something like deploy flares in front of you to make you evade very quickly, how challenging is that for the pilot?

ANDREW HASTIE: It's very challenging. They wouldn't have been expecting it and of course, this fighter jet had complete overmatch on our Seahawk. Best case scenario, this was calibrated, and it was calculated by the Chinese government. Worst case scenario, you've got rogue pilots out there clowning around, risking Australian lives. But in both scenarios, there's a huge risk and it could involve the loss of life to Australian personnel and that's why the Prime Minister needs to raise it with President Xi.

GARY ADSHEAD: Okay. What about the Chinese ambassador, should they have been summonsed?

ANDREW HASTIE: Of course they should be, yes. This is a pattern that has emerged over the last two years. The Australian Government is getting pushed around here, and it's time to push back, draw a line in the sand and say this is unacceptable, this does not build trust between our nations, and cease – no more.

GARY ADSHEAD: I said it's like a square dance earlier on. I used the analogy of, you know, two steps forward, two steps sideways, two steps back – that seems to be what it is with China. But we seem to be a little bit prisoner to the fact that they're our biggest trading partner and without them accepting our iron ore exports, we would have some serious financial issues. I don't think that the Chinese government or Xi or anyone will be quaking in their boots at what the Prime Minister has said today.

ANDREW HASTIE: We've got plenty of leverage, Gary. Plenty of leverage. We don't want to get into a game of tit for tat, we want to have a constructive relationship where our trade relationship continues, because, of course, we want to be a prosperous nation, but we also want to be a secure nation. It's probably not the forum here to talk about points of leverage, but sure, we're a smaller country but we are important to China as well. And if we're going to have a mutually beneficial relationship that the Chinese government often talks about, they need to know that there are boundaries and there are standards in that relationship.

GARY ADSHEAD: All right, Andrew Hastie. Thanks very much. I'm sure we'll be speaking about this again tomorrow. Appreciate your time.

ANDREW HASTIE: Thanks, Gary. Appreciate it.


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  • Andrew Hastie
    published this page in Latest News 2024-05-07 14:51:51 +0800