Interview: Chris Kenny, Sky News





Topics: Unsafe interaction with PLA–Air Force, Willetton stabbing attack.

CHRIS KENNY: Andrew Hastie, who is the Shadow Defence Minister joins us from Western Australia. Thanks for joining us, Andrew, always good to talk to you. This is very disturbing, the aggressive action by a Chinese fighter plane against the Australian Navy helicopter on Saturday night. Has the Prime Minister been strong enough in his response to China?

ANDREW HASTIE: The answer is no. The Prime Minister has been weak in his response. This latest incident is part of a pattern of aggressive behaviour that we've seen from the Chinese People's Liberation Army towards the ADF over the last two years. We had an [aircraft] lased in the Arafura Sea, we had an aircraft which had chaff released against it 18-months or so ago, we had divers last year experience a sonar attack by a Chinese destroyer, and on Saturday, we had a Chinese fighter drop flares over the top of a Royal Australian Navy Seahawk. Very, very dangerous, very, very reckless, very, very foolish. I think it is high time the Prime Minister raised this with President Xi – this is exactly what Peter Dutton has said. He needs to have a man-to-man conversation, set a boundary and draw a line in the sand.

CHRIS KENNY: Let's just remind viewers of what the Prime Minister has said on this today.


CHRIS KENNY: Interesting stuff because he calls it unprofessional, something that's obviously provocative, it's intimidatory, it's dangerous – he just calls it unprofessional. When making diplomatic representations, we don't know what level they're made. Is that just ambassador to Ambassador? Do you think – you're saying, and Peter Dutton is saying – this is worth trying to place a direct call to the President?

ANDREW HASTIE: Well, they could be doing it military to military, they could be doing it through DFAT, we don't know. We think it's reached the level where it has to go to the President because if we allow this to keep happening – and clearly they didn't get the message last year with our divers – if we allow this to keep happening, there may well be a consequence where we lose Australian lives. So the Prime Minister has to act now because it's in our national interest, but it's also important to establish a boundary to protect the ADF in the future. We can't have this sort of behaviour any longer.

CHRIS KENNY: Do you give the Prime Minister any credit at all, and his defence minister, for at least speaking publicly about this and talking about it now? Because when there was that sonar attack last year, it seems that the government sat on that quietly for a number of days because they didn't want to upset a planned meeting with Xi Jinping. This time with a visit in the offing from the Chinese Premier, at least they're out there talking about it and making representations.

ANDREW HASTIE: Well, I think it's a good thing that this is in the open. I think transparency is really important, I think sunlight is a good disinfectant and I think by bringing this into the open, it puts pressure back on the Chinese government to respond. But nonetheless, we still have to act in our interests, and I think it's reached a level where the Prime Minister should step up and raise this directly with President Xi. This is what Peter Dutton has said, I stand with Peter Dutton, it should be done.

CHRIS KENNY: Tell us what China's big picture play is here. This is Australia, as part of an international force, enforcing international law through UN sanctions, and yet our aircraft helicopter is targeted in this way by China. Is China hitting back at the international global order? Is it trying to intimidate Australia specifically? Is it making claims on international waters that don't belong to it?

ANDREW HASTIE: Chris, I've asked for a brief on the specifics of this and I'll wait until I get that. But just generally speaking, the Chinese are seeking to disrupt the US rules-based order – if that's what we want to call it – they're disrupting it and they're picking on US allies. We are a close ally of the US. They're pushing us around and they're seeking to normalise this sort of behaviour. So if we don't push back, if we don't raise this at the appropriate levels, it will become normal, it will become the normal pattern of behaviour. I think over the last two years or so we've seen this aggressive pattern of behaviour and it's got to stop. The way to stop it is for the Prime Minister do his job and act in the interests of the Australian people and the ADF specifically.

CHRIS KENNY: Just on another matter, we've got you, Andrew Hastie, in your home state of Western Australia. You have a lot of experience in combating Islamist extremism, the most violent kind in the field as a soldier – you must be very alarmed about the Islamist extremist terrorism and radicalisation that's occurring in young people in Australia including now in your home state.

ANDREW HASTIE: I am. Perth is a beautiful part of the world, it's a sleepy part of the world, but just 40 minutes north of here, that attack happened over the weekend. It's distressing to read the particulars of it – a young 16 year old boy who's been radicalised, apparently online and potentially in the prayer room at school. It's got to stop. Parents need to know what their kids are seeing online because parents can be at home and everything can seem normal and safe, yet they can have toxic sewage being pumped into their kid's bedroom and their kids getting radicalised. We've seen how ISIS operated around 2014, 2015, 2016, recruiting many young men around the world to their cause through the internet, and that's why parents really need to be alert to the threats online to their children's wellbeing and safety.

CHRIS KENNY: Andrew Hastie, thanks so much for joining us again.

ANDREW HASTIE: My pleasure, Chris. Thank you.



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  • Andrew Hastie
    published this page in Latest News 2024-05-08 08:30:08 +0800