Interview: Sharri Markson, Sky News





Topics: Unsafe interaction with PLA–Air Force, Israel, upcoming UN vote.


SHARRI MARKSON: Joining me now is Shadow Defence Minister, Andrew Hastie. Andrew, great to see you again. Look, Anthony Albanese says he's made his disapproval very, very clear and yet we still don't have any information, and it appears that none of his ministers have actually spoken to their Chinese counterparts.

ANDREW HASTIE: That's right, Sharri. We're yet to hear from the Prime Minister that the Defence Minister, Richard Marles, has raised this, or the foreign minister has raised this – he hasn't raised it himself. I think this is at the point where it has to be raised at the ministerial level, if not by the Prime Minister himself. He should pick up the phone and put the call through to President Xi. Even if the phone is not picked up, he's done that on behalf of our uniformed personnel and that's a really important signal. It sends a signal that he's got their back in moments like this because I agree wholeheartedly with what the CDF said today – the actions of the Chinese were illegal, coercive, aggressive, and deceptive. Deceptive because the Chinese government is giving us a masterclass at the moment in gaslighting, flipping the tables and accusing us of spying.


SHARRI MARKSON: Andrew, I think this is something that not a lot of people have covered. You were in the SAS; you know what it's like to fight for your country. What do you think that Australia's armed personnel would be feeling now when they go out and put their lives on the line and they don't do so knowing that if there's an incident, because there's now been two – there was that incident last year with the sonar attack – that if there's an incident the Prime Minister is incapable of calling President Xi and defending them?

ANDREW HASTIE: Well, I think in Australia, as with other democracies, we have civilian control of the military, so our ministers, our Prime Minister and our defence minister, are the leaders of the ADF. And so when that happens to our personnel, with the divers, as you mentioned, and with our air crew with the Seahawk, I reckon they'd expect our leaders to stand up for them, particularly with this sort of coercive bullying behaviour that we're seeing from the Chinese military. The fact that hasn't happened, I think, sends a bad signal to our ADF. I can tell you now, Peter Dutton, if he was our prime minister, he'd be picking up the phone because he's not a guy you push around. I think that's the key message here. We're seeing weakness from this government, particularly the Prime Minister and the defence minister.


SHARRI MARKSON: Now you're shadow defence minister, so I just want to ask you about this story that I spoke about a moment ago. The Wall Street Journal has said that Joe Biden denying arms, denying bombs to Israel is basically an invitation to Israel's enemies like Iran, to take advantage not only in hostage talks, but also on the battlefield. What do you think about this?

ANDREW HASTIE: Look, I think the single objective is the defeat and the destruction of Hamas. This war has to end, and it only ends when Hamas is destroyed both as a military and a political force. If that's the objective, then Israel and its allies must be doing everything they can to reach that objective so this war can end, and we can enter into negotiations for a peaceful settlement. My fear is that this move by the US government slows that process down, it slows the march towards the defeat of Hamas and that's why, on the face of it, this is a very problematic decision.


SHARRI MARKSON: It also, you know, could leave Israel in a very vulnerable position if Iran, if Hezbollah, if Hamas decides to seize on this moment to attack Israel, and what if it doesn't have enough to defend its people? I mean, Israel has come under attack, and it feels like Joe Biden keeps forgetting that. Meanwhile, the Albanese Government is now deciding which way to vote on tomorrow's United Nations resolution on whether to admit Palestine as a full member state of the UN. Again, they haven't made up their mind. The best outcome would be Australia abstaining from this vote, but they could support it, they absolutely could. I know that for a fact – I've spoken to people this afternoon – as of this afternoon, they still were deciding. The Prime Minister hadn't yet made up his mind, they had concerns about a couple of clauses in the draft. That was it. So we could very well see them support it. But, you know, again, this would be rewarding Hamas for the terror attack, for the slaughter of entire families, for the rape and execution of young women. What do you think?


ANDREW HASTIE: I agree, Sharri, it's as simple as that. This is a time for strength, not weakness. In the face of evil, you've actually got to stand up for good and push back. Israel at the moment is under attack from Hamas, Hezbollah, Iran and if the free world shows weakness here, it only emboldens and incentivises them to do more of this evil terrorism. So it's pretty clear and I think every vote that we cast in the UN, every decision we make, must be about defeating Hamas and terrorism and upholding other democratic allies like Israel.


SHARRI MARKSON: If you do get into government at the next election, if the Coalition does win, I mean, it's a big ask but if that happens, how difficult do you think it would be to undo so much of this foreign policy, whether it's on China or on Israel, that has changed under Penny Wong?

ANDREW HASTIE: I'm a big believer in the power of leadership and all you need is good leadership at the head of this country. Right now, we don't have good leadership. Under Peter Dutton, I'm sure we will, I'll be doing everything I can as a member of his Cabinet, if we win government, to right the course and to make decisions that are in the interests of our country, the free world, and our allies.


SHARRI MARKSON: At the moment, they seem to be forgetting who our allies and who our enemies are. It's unbelievable.

ANDREW HASTIE: I think this Labor Government is captive to domestic political concerns, and they're sacrificing Australian interests on that altar and that's not good for this country at all. We'll fix that.


SHARRI MARKSON: Andrew Hastie, thank you so much.


Showing 1 reaction

Please check your e-mail for a link to activate your account.
  • Andrew Hastie
    published this page in Latest News 2024-05-10 10:06:37 +0800