NEIL BREEN: Andrew Hastie is the Assistant Minister for Defence. He's on the line. Good morning to you, Assistant Minister.
THE HON. ANDREW HASTIE MP, ASSISTANT MINISTER FOR DEFENCE: Good morning to you, Neil. Great to be with you.
BREEN: Are you up here at the conference?
HASTIE: Unfortunately, no. I'm at Parliament House and we're all required to sit this week. I wish I could be, though.
BREEN: Oh right. Yeah, because I saw ministers from other governments. I saw Stuart Ayres – who doesn't like Queensland – because we take state of origins off them. He was there yesterday and everything, I think, this conference look, and you have to we have to admit, some people feel a little bit uncomfortable about a conference taking place that sells materiel for warfare and it's a bit of an unpalatable thing that we have to deal with in society, that these things are needed.
HASTIE: Sure. And look, we need to respect everyone's political point of view, including the protesters. But we won't apologize for defending our country. History shows us that Australia needs to be ready to defend ourselves, and over the next decade, we're putting $270 billion into defence industry, building a sovereign defence industry, which of course, will benefit Queensland. The Defence Strategic Update – which the Prime Minister released last year – says that we've got some big challenges on the horizon, and we need to be strong and that's why we're building it up. This exhibition is about showcasing some of the best of Australian defence industry, a good portion of which is up in Queensland, and also that of our regional partners. So, I think it's a good thing. But of course, you know, it's a democracy and protesters are free to express their point of view but what we saw yesterday was a disgrace: service personnel in uniform, defence industry people being harassed by those people, and fake blood being poured on the ground. It really was a disgrace. These ratbags showed no respect, and that's why I condemn it.
BREEN: My special guest is the Assistant Minister for Defence Andrew Hastie. Some of the things they said yesterday, Andrew Hastie, particularly upset you?
HASTIE: Look, it's been a tough year for Defence, and people would be well aware of all the issues that have been ventilated, but the people there in uniform yesterday are good, honourable Australians who are proud to serve their country through just going about their business. They didn’t deserve the treatment they received from the protestors. And look, I want to congratulate QPol for the work they did. From the footage I saw, they were in control and respectful whilst also doing their job, and we don't thank our police enough.
BREEN: Yeah, and I think look at the end of the day, there was vision of one of the police getting a little bit physical, but that's just the way it goes sometimes. Otherwise, they'll run roughshod all over the top of you. Andrew Hastie one thing that I was fascinated by because a couple of people, friends of mine contacted me yesterday and said, you know, there's some big businesses in Queensland that make material for warfare, and I suppose it is something we put the blinkers on about, and just don't really understand, but I heard about one business in Central Queensland, there a bloke started off selling fruit when he was a kid. Now he makes billions of dollars’ worth of weapons and it’s just a reality?
HASTIE: Yeah, look you've got some great businesses up in Queensland. I was up in Caloundra a couple of weeks ago, and Maryborough, and I visited a place called Helimods which does custom fit-outs for military and police helicopters. The bloke who runs that – Will Shrapnel – he started very young, and he built his business up and it's completely Aussie, and that’s something I'm very proud of and Queensland should be proud of. And then the Rheinmetall and Nioa investment up in Maryborough creating lots of jobs. I mean, Queensland is doing very well out of this. And you should be proud as a state that you're getting a great share, and more, of the $270 billion that we're investing in defence industry.
BREEN: Andrew Hastie, the states and the federal government, it's, well, it's not really the federal government who's throwing any punches but the state's just continually throw punches at the federal government over the vaccine rollout and aged care. But I think there's blame on all sides. And I think there's also blame on the sides of the public because if you want to get vaccinated, you can. It's up to the public to activate their vaccination as well and for the state governments just to calm down.
HASTIE: Yeah, Neil, it's a team effort. This is something we're in: we're in the pandemic together as a country. And that's why the Prime Minister formed the national cabinet because we can't defeat the pandemic on our own or if we if we retreat into our political corners. We actually need to work together. The federal government has a critical role in funding health and acquiring the vaccines from overseas but the states and territories are at the coalface – they're the ones who deliver the vaccines. It was only six weeks ago that we agreed at the National Cabinet with the states and territories to accelerate the rollout and the Commonwealth actually said – and will do so - we're going to contribute 50% of the genuine additional costs incurred by the states to set up COVID-19 clinics. Now, Queensland is actually behind. New South Wales, as of 24 hours ago, was something like 430,000 vaccinations. Victoria close to 500,000. Queensland is only at 228,000 or so. And so Queensland needs to lift its game and rather than getting into a blame game, I just want to encourage Queenslanders to go out and get your vaccinations – and to the Queensland Government: rather than getting front pages on the Courier Mail, just get on with the job of rolling out the vaccine.
BREEN: Yep, I agree and people can get vaccinated, get it done. Good on you, Andrew Hastie, thanks so much. The Assistant Minister for Defence joining us this morning. Let’s hope that the protest is quiet at the moment and have a good day in Parliament and Canberra.
HASTIE: Pleasure, Neil. Good on you, mate. Thank you.