Interview with Peta Credlin, Sky News

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The Hon Andrew Hastie MP

Assistant Minister for Defence

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Ella Kenny 0437 702 111

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8 June 2021

PETA CREDLIN: From Perth, the Assistant Minister for Defence, Andrew Hastie. Andrew, great to have you on the show.


CREDLIN: Setting aside the hypocrisy of Anthony Albanese standing up for Australia's fossil fuel industry – I mean, it wasn't so long ago, these guys were hitting the same industry with a mining super profits tax – what happened to the proud tradition of a bit of bipartisanship on foreign affairs?

HASTIE: Peta, it's very clear. The Australian people have a clear choice: you've got the Prime Minister who's standing up for our values and our sovereignty, and you've got an Anthony Albanese who is trying to score cheap political points by taking potshots at the Prime Minister. That speech was a dog's breakfast, and he is breaking five or six years of bipartisanship on some of these key issues. Last year, the Chinese Embassy briefed out 14 demands. It was a list of demands expressing their displeasure with Australia. And the question, we all have for Mr. Albanese – of those 14 demands, how are you changing your position to ours? because the Australian people deserve to know. In fact, the legislative measures on that list of 14 demands were passed with bipartisan support, and I know because I was the chair of the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security for four years. I worked closely with Anthony Byrne, Mark Dreyfus, Penny Wong, Kristina Keneally – and now you've got Albo attacking us for the very things that we did on a bipartisan basis. So, he is a risk of national security, and he's not standing up for our country at all.

CREDLIN: I want to ask you, going back to your time chairing that committee, but obviously, in your new role – a real concern is about cyber security. We've seen instances in the US, we've seen obviously now, on our own shore. We know the AFP are continuing their investigation into this massive Russian-based cyber attack on one of Australia's largest meat processers, ransomware we’re told, the attack was on JBS. It's also affected operations of the company in the United States and Canada. we could have price hikes as a result. What can you tell us about how significant this attack has been? And what's going on in terms of government support to private companies like this that are on the front line?

HASTIE: Peta, it is a very significant cyber attack because, potentially, it could compromise food security. Hitting JBS – one of the world's biggest meat processors – is a significant thing, but we're going to see more of this. We've been seeing a lot of it already. Last year, for example, the Australian Cyber Security Centre in Canberra – which is the government first responder to cyber attacks – fielded 60,000 cyber crime incidents last year. That's one every 10 minutes. And Australians need to start realising that we can no longer think of cyber security in personal terms – you know, in the context of our phones, our own iPads, our own laptops. We've got to start thinking about our digital sovereignty as a country, because an attack on a single Australian business can have devastating impacts. So, there are some basic things that we can all do and I'm trying to educate as many Australians as possible about these things; things like using complex passphrases; update your security patches for your phone, and your tablet, and your laptop; back up your data; use multi-factor authentication, which is just simply giving two pieces of evidence before you can access your online bank account or your email. Because if we all lift our security together as a country, our country gets more secure – and these threats aren't going to abate anytime soon. In fact, the Defence Strategic Update released last year says it's only going to get worse and so we need to prepare for the challenges ahead.

CREDLIN: Pretty lucky we didn't invite Huawei to set up our NBN there in the end. Well done to you in the role you had at the time. Tell me about this, this Brisbane defence conference. Eight protesters were arrested earlier in the week, massive disruption to the conference. They were anti-war demonstrators I’m told, caused havoc at the conference, which was the Land Forces Expo, allegedly smearing fake blood on the steps of the Brisbane Exhibition and Convention Centre and they climbed on top of a tank. Pretty ugly display, Andrew?

HASTIE: Very ugly display. We saw Australian Defence Force personnel in uniform harassed and we saw defence industry people harassed. It was a disgrace. It evoked images of the way our diggers were treated after, or during, the Vietnam War. Look, we're a country that is democratic, and we should always value minority voices including protesters, but these people have no respect. They were a disgrace, they were ratbags. We have a really good story to tell with the defence industry which is the point of the whole Expo. This government is investing $270 billion over the next decade to build a sovereign defence industry which will be critical to our sovereignty as a country, and it was an opportunity for Australian defence businesses and our regional partners to showcase what they are doing and so this was a very unwelcome distraction.

CREDLIN: I tell you what, it's an uncertain time with COVID, but it's an uncertain time in and around our region. I know I speak for a lot of my viewers when I say we're very happy to have you in this defence role. We're very happy that you report to Minister Peter Dutton. Andrew Hastie, thanks for your time.

HASTIE: Peta, thank you very much – and hang in there down in Victoria. Same to you, mum and dad.

CREDLIN: We will. We're doing our best.


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