PETA CREDLIN: First let's go to some international news and today is one week on since the Ukrainian President made an impassioned plea for Bushmaster armoured vehicles, made here in Bendigo, Victoria, and used by our Defence Force to be sent to Europe to help in his fight against the Russian army. Well, you ask and the ADF delivers it seems if you’re Volodimir Zelenskyy, and these Bushmasters have indeed started to arrive on the ground in Europe. Because of that, I want to just speak with someone who knows why they are such a lifesaver what makes them so sought after by soldiers around the world, and who better to do that than a man who's used them before in several missions in Afghanistan, former SAS troop commander, now Assistant Minister for Defence Andrew Hastie. He joins me now from Perth. Okay, Minister, you know, take your ministerial hat on put your old troop hat on, put your troop commander hat on. What made the Bushmaster so special?
THE HON ANDREW HASTIE MP, ASSISTANT MINISTER FOR DEFENCE: Well, good evening to you, Peta, and to your viewers. The Bushmaster protected mobility vehicle is an 11 tonne, four by four vehicle it can take a 4 tonne payload and it's the first vehicle that's been designed and built entirely in Australia since the Second World War. So it's something we can be very proud of in the work done in Bendigo. Put very simply, it's a vehicle that can take a blast, it's got a V-shaped hull, which means that a mine or an IED that goes off, the blast will be deflected out of the vehicle away from the troops inside, it can take 10 troops, it's got armour that can take 556 762 rounds, it can protect them from mortars and artillery bursts as well. So in terms of a vehicle that you want on the battlefield, it's a vehicle that can move infantry from point to point in a very protected way. And it's also a vehicle you can command out of, it's a pretty simple vehicle as well. They only cost I think about $500,000 to build and they've got run-flat - so if you get flat tyres the vehicle will keep running for a period of time, it can drive up to 100 kilometres an hour. So you can understand why President Zelenskyy when he made his historic speech last week asked for them. The Netherlands have used them, the Brits have used them, the Japanese have used them, the New Zealanders have used them, the Jamaicans have used them, the Fijians have used them. They are very popular vehicle.
PETA CREDLIN: We just showed some images there. They are your photographs from about 2009, I think they are, of a Bushmaster vehicle that your troops were in and using it was hit, and there were no casualties. Am I right?
ANDREW HASTIE: That's 100 per cent right, Peta. In 2009 we used the Bushmaster for the whole period of my deployment, which was six months, we sustained three hits from IEDs. All three of those vehicles were what we call mobility kills, they were unable to be used from that point on. The vehicle that was shown, that was August 2009 – a massive blast that blew part of the windscreen out and all my soldiers were able to get out of the vehicle, mount up into another vehicle and crack on. So, it's a lifesaver – and no wonder the Ukrainians have asked for it.
PETA CREDLIN: Just quickly, I want to go on to the cadets announcement you made today. But we're all watching what's unfolding in Ukraine, it's getting worse in terms of civilians. We're not talking about collateral damage. So you know, civilians killed by bombs. We're seeing civilians targeted, it's murderous - they're assassination-like attempts on life. We talk about war crimes, but that'll be dealt with down the track. What more can we do now to bring an end to Putin's reign, and save lives?
ANDREW HASTIE: The most important thing right now, of course, is to continue on with the sanctions. We've sanctioned 500 Russian individuals, 67 more today, we provided $65 million worth of humanitarian aid, $115 million dollars of lethal aid, these Bushmasters, but from the context of NATO and the other democracies involved in supporting Ukraine, we need to make this exceptionally costly on the battlefield for Vladimir Putin. The way we do that is by providing military support, anti-tank weapons, all those critical things that the Ukrainians need to defend themselves and impose delay, disruption, and ultimately defeat on Vladimir Putin and his murderous army.
PETA CREDLIN: Hey, I know you're a big fan of cadets, there's been an announcement today to enhance the ADF cadets program. Tell us why it's such a good thing?
ANDREW HASTIE: It's a wonderful opportunity for young Australians who want to serve their country, to have an opportunity to take risks to lead others, to serve their community and to grow as a person. So cadets are a great way to grow leaders – and we need leaders, Peta. The world is crying out for leaders, particularly here in Australia, and we want them to join the ADF and even if they don't, they'll serve the Australian community elsewhere. The new patron which we've announced today, General Sir Peter Cosgrove, he started in cadets. He ended up going to Duntroon, having a long distinguished career in the ADF culminating as the CDF, and as our Governor-General. It's great to have him on board. And we're going to grow the Defence cadet program. It's about 28,300 now. The next year, we're going to increase it by 10 per cent, and we're pumping a billion dollars over the next 10 years into Cadet and Reserve infrastructure so they have the facilities required to get on with the job.
PETA CREDLIN: Nice to get some positive news. Andrew Hastie, thank you for your time, Minister. Good luck in the campaign.