Interview: Caleb Bond, Sky News





CALEB BOND: Andrew, thank you for joining me, and a warning to viewers, some of what they might be about to hear may be distressing and graphic. What did you see in this video?

ANDREW HASTIE: Good evening, Caleb. Well, the Israeli Ambassador offered to show the video to members of the Parliamentary Committee for Intelligence and Security, and we thought it was a special obligation on us to watch it. It is important that we understand the true character of a listed terror organisation like Hamas. All Coalition members attended, and I've got to say, it was horrific. It was brutal. It was 43 minutes. On it, there were 130 murders, which is less than 10 per cent of the Israelis who were murdered that day by Hamas, and can I say having seen it, evil truly did walk the earth on October 7 in southern Israel.

CALEB BOND: I mean, obviously, the lay person is not privy to that video, and probably nor should they be. But having watched that, when you hear people like Francesca Albanese, for instance, who last night was on The Project more or less suggesting - and she's the UN Special Rapporteur on Palestine human rights - and she was basically suggesting, last night, that Israel should not have retaliated after the events of October 7. For anyone who has watched that video, as you have, I'm sure you'd have a very different view.

ANDREW HASTIE: She's absolutely clueless. In fact, she's outright wrong, and what she's saying is just appalling, because, frankly, we saw female IDF soldiers cowering under a table, gunned down by Hamas in cold blood. We saw two young boys, with their father, have a grenade thrown at them. The father was then gunned down in cold blood in front of them in his underwear. One of the little boys lost an eye -

CALEB BOND: - You can see the impact.

ANDREW HASTIE: It was tough. The point I want your viewers to understand is that Hamas started this and those who call for a ceasefire don't understand how ruthless, and how brutal these people are. And so, for Israel, they have to act. They can't be weak. Hamas can end this right now by surrendering and handing over the hostages, or the only alternative is for Israel to destroy, politically and militarily, Hamas. That's the decision that they're facing and so they're pressing on. I've got to say, it's Hamas who are using hospitals and civilians as human shields. The blood that has been spilled is on Hamas. But there's a reason we watched it, and that is so that we can communicate directly with the Australian people, the true character of Hamas on October 7, so that we can repudiate the comments made by Miss Albanese at the National Press Club as just foolish and outright wrong.

CALEB BOND: Andrew, you are a military man. You know the realities of war and you, having watched that video, are emotional about it. That speaks to the humanity of what has happened and that is what is missing from a lot of this discussion. I mean, people talk in abstract terms, as Penny Wong did last Sunday on Insiders, and Anne Aly did this week on this network, about the idea of a ceasefire or a humanitarian pause, as they wrap it up in their pollie speak. But the reality of that, as you note, is that you can only have a ceasefire if both parties come to the table. Now, when you're dealing with a terrorist organisation like Hamas, that is not going to happen. The only situation in which you reach a ceasefire is either to write Hamas off the face of the planet, or to scare them into submission. There's no other way.

ANDREW HASTIE: That's right. Every tyrant who's ever walked the earth preys on weakness. This is a time to be strong. This is a time to stand up to evil. As I said, Hamas can surrender and hand back the hostages, or they have to be destroyed, both militarily and politically, and that's the path they have chosen. War is incredibly messy, I've seen it firsthand myself, and decisions are very, very difficult and mistakes are made. There is a cost to war, there's no question, but this war was started by Hamas and again, they have agency here - they can surrender and hand back the hostages.

CALEB BOND: Before we move on, Andrew, the Chinese President, Xi Jinping, has met with his US counterpart today, in his first trip to America in six years, and both leaders have pledged to reduce tensions at the APEC forum. Xi said that turning our back on each other is not an option, but he's also warned Biden that Taiwan's reunification into China is "unstoppable", and that the US should stop arming Taiwan and support China's, in his words, 'peaceful reunification'. Bizarrely, Biden appeared to agree - take a look.

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CALEB BOND: Why would he do that?

ANDREW HASTIE: That's a good question for President Biden, Caleb. But can I say, it's a good thing that President Xi and President Biden are meeting. It's unremarkable that there is geopolitical competition between the United States and China. Of course, Australia is a very close partner of the United States, we also have trade ties with China. This is a very difficult situation for us to navigate, but I do want to remind your viewers that Australia has taken a position through AUKUS. We have taken a position through the investment that we're about to receive from Microsoft - $5 billion worth into the Australian Public Service for artificial intelligence, which the Prime Minister announced in San Francisco today. We know who our friends are, at the same time, we need to maintain good relations with all our neighbours, and that's the challenge of this government, without giving away our sovereignty and without being weak into the bargain.

CALEB BOND: Andrew Hastie, thank you so much for your insight tonight, I really appreciate it.