Interview: Sharri, Sky News





SHARRI MARKSON: Shadow Defence Minister, Andrew Hastie, joins me now. Welcome to the program, Andrew. I reported at the start of the show that it appears that authorities in the Albanese government knew for a matter of days – potentially two days before we all found out on Friday – that there have been illegal boat arrivals. I tried to ask Border Force about this today, they said it was an operational matter. Do you think there's a lack of transparency here and there's a problem with the fact that the Prime Minister didn't know until Friday afternoon, when I was informed by someone on Thursday evening?

ANDREW HASTIE: It's a good question. I think there are two issues here – number one is transparency, as you rightly raise, and then the second issue is the effectiveness of this government on national security matters. We know that the Parliament rose on Thursday evening, and I wonder if this information was withheld from senior ministers in national security portfolios so as not to have it as an issue live within the Parliament on Thursday. But I do ask the question, how well is the National Security Committee of Cabinet operating? How well are they being briefed? We know in the Minister for Immigration, Andrew Giles', case he's hapless, he's shrinking under the crushing weight of office. He's unable to impose himself on the situation, as we've seen with the bungling of the NZYQ case and the release of almost 150 people into the community, some of which are murderers, sex offenders, paedophiles – there's even a contract killer. The key takeaway for your viewers tonight is that this is a very weak government on national security, but particularly border security.

SHARRI MARKSON: And what about the Prime Minister's excuse that he didn't know about it because he was traveling in a car. I mean, what, we don't have phones now in cars? How believable is that, that he hadn't been briefed?

ANDREW HASTIE: Well, his car is up armoured, and he certainly doesn't drive it himself, he has a security detail who does that for him. So, he would have had hands free, and I assume he would have had his phone as well. It would be easy enough for the Minister for Immigration, Andrew Giles, or the Minister for Home Affairs, Clare O'Neil to pick up the phone and say: “Prime Minister, we have another group of illegal arrivals off the northwest coast of Australia—it's important you know about it.” But instead he went blind into a press conference. So, you've got to ask yourself: who is the briefing the ministers, and why are the ministers not briefing the Prime Minister?

SHARRI MARKSON: Now, Andrew, I want to ask you about potentially the most important story that emerged over the weekend globally, and this is, of course, Navalny's – we should say – murder, because it can only have been murder. He was, of course, Vladimir Putin's main rival. He'd spoken in many interviews previously about what would happen if he died, if he was killed. We don't officially know the cause of death; his spokesman says it was murder – of course it was. Are you concerned about what's unfolded and the impact on democracy here? And also, just recently we've seen this element of the Republican Party kind of going quite soft on Russia and it's inexplicable.

ANDREW HASTIE: I think, Sharri, it's a really interesting question. I think what we're seeing on both sides of politics is what I call moral relativism – things are seen only through tribal lenses and that's why you're seeing some elements of the Republican right are drawn towards Vladimir Putin, who is a murderous thug. We know that, we know what he's done in Ukraine – thousands of people have died since he launched that illegal, unjustified war in 2022 – he has been responsible for ordering assassinations around the globe, but particularly in places like the United Kingdom. So sadly, Navalny's death, I think, looks like a murder or an assassination, and it goes to the very character of the Putin regime, which is authoritarian, anti-democratic, and absolutely hostile to minority voices.

SHARRI MARKSON: We're also seeing plans for our Navy here in Australia to invest in more equipment as the threat from China continues to loom. There's been chronic underinvestment in the defence space, do you think this latest plan announced by Richard Marles is adequate?

ANDREW HASTIE: We'll find out the details in the morning. I haven't been briefed yet but certainly, since April last year, we know that this government has not been serious about our Defence strategy or budget. There has been no new money since the Defence Strategic Review was handed down. This Surface Fleet Review was meant to be short and sharp, instead, it's been long and blunt. The minister has had it for five months on his desk and we now know, through leaks into the press, that the original nine Hunter-class frigates, which were to be built in Adelaide, will be reduced to six, which increases the cost per unit for each ship. We're going to wait and see, but I think this is another broken promise from the Albanese government and I think it also underscores the recruiting and retention crisis that we have in Defence. We're not recruiting enough people into Defence – I can tell you countless stories of people who want to serve but can't for a whole range of reasons which are ridiculous, and we're not retaining enough people. So, the question is, if we expand our fleet, which we would welcome, how are we going to crew them? How are we going to crew our AUKUS submarines? These are questions that government must answer.

SHARRI MARKSON: Such an important issue. Andrew Hastie, thank you very much for joining me this evening.



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  • Andrew Hastie
    published this page in Latest News 2024-02-20 09:04:22 +0800