Interview: Sharri Markson, Sky News



Topics: Anzac Day, charges laid over Wakeley church attack.


SHARRI MARKSON: Let's bring in now Shadow Minister for Defence, Andrew Hastie. Andrew, you are tonight at a war memorial in WA. Look, my colleague, Peta Credlin, I think said it the most eloquently earlier this evening when she said that Australians have always answered freedom's call. We've never ignored a call to fight and defend our peace.

ANDREW HASTIE: Anzac Day, Sharri, is the most important day on our calendar for a number of reasons. Number one, it's the day where we celebrate Australia stepping out onto the world stage for the first time and being tested in the most extreme circumstances at war. It's important because we celebrate the highest human virtues – sacrifice, service before self, duty, teamwork, courage, perseverance. All those virtues are critical to democracies and their health. And then finally, Anzac Day poses a challenge for us all. As we look sacrifice in the face, and we see 100,000 faces of the fallen staring back at us, it poses a challenge – are we living up to the heritage that they have given us and are we living up to the virtues they've showed in what they did?

SHARRI MARKSON: Such a good point. Tens of thousands of Australians have given up their lives, sacrificed their lives to defend the values that so many of us hold so dear. Do you think those values are at risk? Do you think we are doing enough to defend these Australian values of free speech, of empathy, of compassion, of respect?

ANDREW HASTIE: I think it is. Every year we have to refresh those values and recommit ourselves to them because democracies are fragile. Australia is only an experiment, starting in 1901. It's been tested before and it will be tested again, and it will be the values that see us through the next challenge. So, Anzac Day is really important. What I'm detecting from a lot of people is that they're tired of the constant politicisation of our institutions, whether it be our schools, our universities, our sports, and now Anzac Day – people are very tired of it. And that's why we saw a big turnout today, people getting back to basics, celebrating our Anzacs and the virtues that they have shown us.

SHARRI MARKSON: Well, you just referenced the politicisation of Anzac Day so what do you make of these pro-Palestinian protesters who tried to hijack the day today?

ANDREW HASTIE: Look, I think Australians are tired of radicals hijacking all areas of our life with politics. Anzac Day is a day of unity, not of division. These people are trying to divide us and Australians are just tired of being divided. The comments I picked up during the day, people had very little regard for these protesters. Sure this is a democracy, sure people are entitled to express their view, but it was disrespectful and it was a poorly chosen time. Indeed, it was designed to hijack the very day where we come together.

SHARRI MARKSON: Look, let's turn to the major counter terror raids that we saw unfold in southwest Sydney yesterday. Today we learned five of the seven juveniles arrested have now been charged with a range of terrorism and extremism offenses, and The Daily Telegraph has revealed that the alleged youth terror cell was nabbed by police through a WhatsApp group that was found on the phone of the teenager accused of the Wakeley church stabbing attack. And then the Sydney Morning Herald reported this afternoon that allegedly two of the teens arrested had graphic videos of Islamic State beheadings, with one also allegedly possessing bomb making instructions. Andrew Hastie, this is concerning that these teenagers – 15 to 17 year olds – had been enticed by this sort of material.

ANDREW HASTIE: That's right Sharri. These teenagers will have their day in court and these offences are alleged, but I think what it really highlights is that there's a contest of ideas out there. And the contest is largely happening out of sight, possibly online, and through areas of the community where we don't have visibility and transparency. That's why I'm concerned about another terror attack. If there is this contest of ideas happening, and we're losing, how many other people do we know out there who are planning an attack? That's why we've got to support our security agencies. We've got to support the local leadership in these communities and make sure that these young people who are being radicalised don't go down the path of this teenager who tried to kill Bishop Emmanuel.

SHARRI MARKSON: Yeah, exactly and you know, ASIO boss, Mike Burgess, said just yesterday that there's a 50 per cent chance of a terror attack in the next year. It's so concerning. Andrew Hastie, thank you very much for joining us this evening.

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