Transcript: Interview With Peta Credlin, Sky News





PETA CREDLIN: Andrew Hastie joins us now from our Parliament House studio in Canberra. Andrew, welcome. A tough speech, hard to disagree with any of your assessments or the urgency of what you warned, how did it go down with your US audience?

SHADOW MINISTER FOR DEFENCE, THE HON ANDREW HASTIE MP: Good evening, Peta, good to be with you. I think it was well received, I think friends value honesty and what I was trying to do is be honest and give some feedback. And say, in a world that is getting more strategically challenging for many of the US’ allies, we want to see a strong US, a US that is leading and doing so with confidence. And they need to really look hard at how they can build a new social and moral consensus back home, which will then help them project abroad.

PETA CREDLIN: You talked about the toxic values fight and I'm 100 per cent with you, I mean, others call it the culture wars. You say let's get back to basics, let's talk about tax and welfare and foreign policy. Again, I agree with you, but it's not the centre right that is pushing all this self-hate is it? It’s the hard left. And if I was critical of the right on this, I'd say it's taken the right too long to get in the ring on some of these issues, you know, we should be fighting harder on values. You're not suggesting, are you, that the right vacate the field? What's the point?

ANDREW HASTIE: No, absolutely not. I'm absolutely not suggesting that at all. I'm suggesting that we go back to our values, go back to the values that have stood the test of time as our anchor for going forward. We must prevail in this contest with authoritarian powers. And the way we do that is through having strong, self-confident values. And the problem with the left at the moment is that they don't believe in a lot of the Western values that have built our democracies, and that's a big, big problem. So, I asked the question in the speech, if we can't agree on basic definitions of gender, even, how can we possibly do national strategy that outlasts as I said, electoral cycles?

PETA CREDLIN: You're so right. I mean, I made the point at the top of the introduction, you know, this feels a lot like the history we saw play out the 1930s. But back then we sort of knew who we were, and you looked at the leadership, the calibre of people like Churchill and FDR, we had some pretty amazing people in the positions that matter. It's hard to feel as confident now as perhaps we could then.

ANDREW HASTIE: And John Curtin, let's not forget, Menzies, then John Curtin in Australia back home who did great things as leaders of our country. Look, let's not, let's not gloss over history, though, there were very, very strident debates. And I think it was the Oxford Union itself, which voted to, you know, for appeasement, they supported the British policy, the policy of appeasement prior to the Second World War. So, there's always a contest at the heart of democracy and debate is what we do, but when we can't even agree on basic questions, like gender, then that does pose problems for other areas of our lives together in domestic policy and foreign policy and defence policy, which is what I'm really concerned about, because, as I've said many times before, the strategic situation for Australia in the Indo-Pacific region is deteriorating, and we need to take actions to protect ourselves over the next decade and beyond.

PETA CREDLIN: Right, you were always ahead of the curve on China. What did you make of reports today in The Australian that they're prepared to meet us halfway, there's a bit of an olive branch? If Penny Wong was picking up the phone and asking you for advice, should we trust them?

ANDREW HASTIE: Well, let's wait and see. It's always going to come back to what's in it for us and our national interest. And in the end, the 14-point demands, or the 14 demands that they gave to us through a Nine journalist back in the end of 2020, you know, those points are non-negotiables, they went to freedom of the press, they went to basic questions of sovereignty around our digital sovereignty, whether or not, you know, we should have Huawei in our future 5G network, for example. So, let's see what they put on the table, and I would urge the government to always put our national interest first.

PETA CREDLIN: Are we seeing that happen now with talk that the government has more of an open mind to take US-built submarines? I saw the South Australian Premier pretty cranky about that - he wants them built, of course, in Adelaide, but we've got to get the best subs we can, and we've got to get them in the water as quickly as we can. I think getting them from the US or indeed from the UK, built overseas, but ready to go is smart politics.

ANDREW HASTIE: Capability must come first - job second, capability first. And this is a plan that Peter Dutton argued for several months ago, one that he set in motion as the Minister for Defence. So whichever submarine we go with, whether it's the Astute-class out of the UK, or the Virginia-class out of the USA, we need to be ready to scale up those production lines and get boats in the water as quickly as possible, hopefully within the next decade.

PETA CREDLIN: This attack on Optus, this massive cyber-attack, nine-million Australians have got their information now out there on the dark web. How concerned are you? I mean, this is a telco technology company, you'd expect them to have the best defences you can have as a corporate citizen. Clearly, they did not. Is this a nation state do you think involved?

ANDREW HASTIE: We don't know, and that's why we need to hear from the Home Affairs Minister, who should be leading this effort. Yes, it was Optus who was responsible, but cybersecurity is a whole of nation challenge for us, and government must lead and provide direction. So, let's see what happens. But it took her three days and three quarters of the AFL Grand Final before she appeared on Twitter, and we're yet to see a press conference from her. So, we want to see action from the government, leadership and coordination, because this, as Peter Dutton said, is potentially the biggest data breach in Australian history.

PETA CREDLIN: Yeah, there's plenty of pressure from the Opposition today in Question Time. Andrew Hastie, thank you for joining us this evening.