Interview: Sharri Markson, Sky News





Topics: Defence Senate Estimates, AUKUS, Chinese Premier’s visit to Australia, Tik Tok.



SHARRI MARKSON: Let's bring in now Shadow Defence Minister, Andrew Hastie. Andrew, thank you for your time. What has concerned you about what unfolded in Senate Estimates there last week?


ANDREW HASTIE: There are a number of things, Sharri, which concern me. The first is the lack of commitment from the WA state government to deliver AUKUS on time. As your viewers would know, from 2027 there'll be a base, Submarine Rotational Force–West out in Perth, which will host up to four nuclear submarines – three from the US, one from the UK. We've got two years to get that ready. What we learned in Estimates is that we're behind on schedule with the building of the infrastructure and we've also uncovered that Premier Cook, the WA Premier, is not serious, he's only met twice, in fact, with Jonathan Mead, the admiral who heads up the Australian Submarine Agency. Whereas if you compare that to Premier Malinouskas in South Australia, he's met 16 times, so there's a lack of drive. AUKUS is a national mission. All local governments, all state governments, and the federal government have to be driving hard to make this happen in 2027, and then by the start of the next decade, when we get our first Virginia class submarines.


SHARRI MARKSON: And just how concerned do you think that the US is over the pace that Australia is moving?


ANDREW HASTIE: Well, I've had plenty of feedback from the US and the UK. There is an ambivalence about AUKUS, particularly in Western Australia from the state government. I think Richard Marles and the Prime Minister need to be doing more to drive this. Premier Malinauskas – I've got to give credit to him – he's mission focussed. He said a couple of weeks ago in Canberra that AUKUS is a single mission for the six states, that they all should be working to deliver it along with the leadership of the federal government and I think that's the message that we need to take going forward. So there is concerns. We've also uncovered last week that there's an offshore wind farm – well, we know the offshore wind farm has been proposed by Chris Bowen off the coast of WA, 8,000 square kilometres in fact – just the south of the base, which is also a problem.


SHARRI MARKSON: Alright, we'll keep coming back to that topic because it is incredibly important. Nothing more important for our national security right now than AUKUS. But I want to ask you about the Chinese Premier's upcoming visit, of course the Prime Minister announced that just yesterday. Do you expect Albanese will address the problems that exist with the aggression we've seen from Beijing, not just in the South China Sea, but to our Navy divers, to our recent fighter pilot jets? Do you expect Albanese will actually raise these things that he has failed to do so far at any sort of ministerial level?


ANDREW HASTIE: I think it definitely should be on the table. In any relationship there has to be boundaries and the Chinese military has breached a number of boundaries over the last year. We saw last year our Navy divers experience a sonar attack whilst under the water from a Chinese destroyer and just recently we saw a Chinese fighter fire flares at a Royal Australian Navy Seahawk, which was very, very high-risk behaviour in both instances, and the government failed to raise this at the appropriate levels. Anthony Albanese had an opportunity last year to raise it with President Xi, he didn't, and so I think this is a perfect opportunity to do that and also to raise outstanding cases – Yang Hengjun, who's still being held by the Chinese government. There are plenty of things that we can raise even while we talk about our trade relationship which is important.


SHARRI MARKSON: Exactly. We still have an Australian imprisoned in China, we can't forget that. Just lastly, before you go, the Prime Minister in his press conference late yesterday, was asked whether he'd follow our other like-minded allies, the US and UK, and take action against TikTok. Have a look at his response.




SHARRI MARKSON: Next question, Andrew! I mean, he didn't even seriously consider the question and it is a reasonable question, given the action that is being taken by the UK and the US.


ANDREW HASTIE: Precisely. I think it was a weak answer from a weak Prime Minister, particularly when it comes to national security matters. It's very clear that TikTok has a very close relationship with the Chinese government. There's a reason why the US is banning it and we know already that the Australian Government won't allow TikTok to be installed on Australian Government phones. There is a problem there and we need to think about how we're going to protect the data of young Australians, which will be harvested by Tik ok and potentially end up in the hands of the Chinese government. So these are really important questions and I think that was just a very offhand and [inaudible' response from the Prime Minister.


SHARRI MARKSON: He didn't even take the question seriously. Alright, Andrew Hastie, thank you very much for joining us.



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  • Andrew Hastie
    published this page in Latest News 2024-06-13 12:44:06 +0800