Doorstop: Press Gallery




JOURNALIST: The riots in Melbourne, what did you make of that?

ANDREW HASTIE: I thought it was an antisemitic power grab for a group of protesters to go to Caulfield and impose themselves on the Jewish community like that on a religious holiday, like Shabbat, was thuggish. It was anti-social, undermined the public good, the public safety and public order and that's why we condemn it unconditionally from the Coalition.

JOURNALIST: Are you concerned about this sort of behaviour, particularly in the wake of a war?

ANDREW HASTIE: Absolutely. I'm concerned for the Jewish people here in Australia and across the world, in fact, because we've seen a huge surge in antisemitism over the last month or so since the October 7 attacks by Hamas on southern Israel. So, it's really important that our political leadership is very clear on what is acceptable and what is not acceptable. These are political questions, they're law enforcement questions, but they're ultimately political questions, because it's in this place that our political leadership sets the tone for the country.

JOURNALIST: But what can you do to stop it?

ANDREW HASTIE: I think we can be very clear about what's acceptable, we can't be mealy mouthed and take a bet each way. It's the Jewish people who are being targeted in this instance, it was the Jewish people who it was too unsafe for them to go to the Opera House several weeks back. I think it's got to be very clear that these antisemitic protests are unacceptable.

JOURNALIST: What about the pro-Palestine attempted blockade of that ship in the port yesterday, is that acceptable?

ANDREW HASTIE: It's totally unacceptable. To deny a ship to come to port because of its origin is completely unacceptable and again, this is thuggish behaviour by one group asserting its primacy over the rest of us in the public square. That is damaging to our social cohesion, and I think this is the sort of thing that needs to be stamped out.

JOURNALIST: On the deal that the government struck with Tuvalu, strategically very important, I mean, it's hard to believe that Tuvalu would hand over control of their Defence to another country, what do you make of that?

ANDREW HASTIE: I think it's a good development in the region to strike this deal with Tuvalu. I think the great game is on in the Pacific region, China is very assertive - Belt and Road Initiative, for example, there's a number of Pacific Island countries that have signed up to it. It's important that Australia leads and develops strong relationships, that's why we welcome the development in Tuvalu.

JOURNALIST: In terms of the port hack, Australia is getting slammed with these sorts of cyber incidents all the time, is this just a fact of life now?

ANDREW HASTIE: Cybercrime is on the increase, not just from criminals, but also by state-based actors. The more sophisticated cyber-attacks generally originate from state-based actors. I think it's incredibly concerning. We saw what happened during the week with Optus where they had a huge network outage, could you imagine if that was a ransomware attack where a system is held ransom by hackers or a cyber actor? You can see the damage that can be done to our economy, to our cohesion to our society, so it's really, really important that businesses and government uplift their cyber defences and have a plan for when these things happen, because we just can't afford the Optus network outage to happen again, and we can't afford for our Courts to be closed down by a cyber-attack.

JOURNALIST: Just on the Optus issue, the Nationals are calling for mandated domestic mobile roaming in regional areas, similar to what you have when you go overseas where you can just roam across any network, but they want that in the regions because there's basically only Telstra. Would you be open to that idea?

ANDREW HASTIE: I think any sort of redundancy that we can build into our telecommunication system is something that we should consider - something that the government should consider. You can fine a telco for a failure, but you've also got to have a plan for when telcos fail, you've got to have redundancy in the system. The government should be looking at how they can build in redundancy and if they have to do that through the force of law then so be it. These are big public utilities which affect many Australians - millions of Australians. We saw the cost of the Optus outage and government has a direct role in making sure this doesn't happen again.


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