Interview: Nadia Mitsopoulos, ABC WA Mornings



NADIA MITSOPOULOS: I've got Andrew Hastie on the phone to react. Good morning, Andrew.

ANDREW HASTIE: Good morning, Nadia. Good to be with you.

NADIA MITSOPOULOS: What do you make of those comments?

ANDREW HASTIE: Well, first of all, it's nice to be living rent free inside Mark McGowan's head. But what I will say from the start is that he's out of his intellectual depth. You know, he's a prison guard looking for work now that the pandemic has finished and so he's travelled off to China and he's running down Australian MPs. And I think it goes to his character because in the end, what is he saying when the cameras aren't running? I think we've got a sense of that already. So look, I think he should read the Foreign Minister's speech, Penny Wong's speech, which was a strong speech that she gave at the National Press Club a couple of days ago. It was criticised a lot by Paul Keating, which is always an endorsement in my mind, and she has a pretty realistic view of the strategic situation. So for Mark McGowan to go to China to run down Federal Members of Parliament, I think is pretty poor.

NADIA MITSOPOULOS: Isn't his broader point, Andrew Hastie, that your comments on China haven't been especially helpful to the trade relationship over the years? Because you have been fairly openly critical of China. Is that the point he was trying to make do you think? And do you accept some of that criticism?

ANDREW HASTIE: I don't accept that criticism at all. I've always stood up for Australian sovereignty and in fact, my comments are no different to the sort of comments we've seen from the former Prime Minister and the current Foreign Minister where in her speech, I can point to it right here, she's talking about Chinese ballistic missiles being fired into Japan's exclusive economic zone. Now if pointing out the plainly obvious is somehow detrimental to our trade interests, you know, that's a ridiculous point. So, I think he's playing politics and I think he's playing footsie up there when he should be back here in WA fixing our crumbling health system, ramping is through the roof, a housing shortage - I've got people in my electorate who can't get a home, I've got kids living in caravan parks who some days can't get to school because they don't have a house to live in. These are the sorts of issues he should be focused on and he's not. That's my main beef with Mark McGowan.

NADIA MITSOPOULOS: Isn't there value though, in the trading relationship. I mean, there were people who were selling wine to China and that stopped and barley growers who could no longer sell their barley to China. I mean, they are an important trading partner. Do you understand the importance of that? So there will be people out there that are quite liking what they're hearing or seeing from Mark McGowan at the moment.

ANDREW HASTIE: Are you suggesting I don't understand the importance of trade?


ANDREW HASTIE: We are a trading nation we always have been. Our prosperity is born across the oceans, which is why the Labor government has supported on a bipartisan basis, the AUKUS deal that we struck with the US and UK because, as Richard Marles the Minister for Defence has said, we need to secure our sea lanes because our trade moves through the oceans. We have lots of exports out of WA, of course we do. A lot of my constituents, their prosperity is directly tied to trade with China. So, I'm not interested in undermining our prosperity. I'm interested though, in our national security. That's actually my job as the Shadow Defence Minister. I was also the Assistant Minister for Defence and so if he has a problem with me doing my job, well, he should also have a problem with Penny Wong and Richard Marles and everyone else who's part of the National Security Committee cabinet. He's out of touch. That's my point.

NADIA MITSOPOULOS: I'll leave it there. Andrew Hastie, appreciate your time. Thank you.

ANDREW HASTIE: Thank you, Nadia.