Interview with Oliver Peterson, Radio 6PR

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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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4 February 2022

OLIVER PETERSON: I was reading an opinion piece on WA Today, and in fact the author of that piece is Andrew Hastie, the Assistant Defence Minister. The title: “Small phone, big threats – school your kids (before someone else does).”  I’m pleased to say that Andrew Hastie joins me live on the programme this afternoon. Welcome to 6PR, Andrew.

THE HON ANDREW HASTIE MP, ASSISTANT MINISTER FOR DEFENCE: G’day, Oli. Good to be with you and your listeners.

OLIVER PETERSON: These devices are not just for entertainment and play – they’ve become a lot more prevalent in education?

ANDREW HASTIE: That's right. Our lives are so integrated online now, and with the pandemic over the last two years, we've moved a lot of the functions we’d normally do in person to online: whether it's banking, shopping, and now schooling. Kids are using all sorts of devices, from phones, to tablets, to laptops, and they need to know that it's a dangerous environment. There are a lot of good things on the internet but there are also predators out there, cyber criminals, who are looking for vulnerable people to take advantage of. And so what we're doing – through the Australian Cyber Security Centre – is educating families, schools, and kids about how to better protect themselves.

OLIVER PETERSON: The AFP put out some really confronting material earlier this week, which we shared with our listeners, Andrew, just about how easy it is. In the example that we used, somebody posing as “Ariana Grande official” on Instagram, went to a young dancer to say how good her moves were, “when I come to Australia, I want to be able to dance with you, can you send me a few more videos?”, and all of a sudden, you've got a predator just trying to groom a very innocent child.

ANDREW HASTIE: That's right. There are predators out there grooming children, on social media, through games, you name it, and so we need to be aware and we just can't take anything for granted. There are a number of different ways that parents can make sure their kids are on secure devices: number one, by uploading software updates; number two, backing up their data; using complex passphrases; and then, giving them permission to share with them when they encounter someone who seems suspicious, or when they come across material that really is inappropriate for children. And, you know, if you're a parent in the car listening on the way home, this is something that you really need to pay attention to. You can go to, which is the Australian Cyber Security Centre’s website, and you can download our brand new document to help parents educate their kids.

OLIVER PETERSON: Yeah, and it can get away from you very quickly, Andrew, particularly at the start of a new school year because you might be in the shoes of the school student who all of a sudden their mates, their peers, are online and all of a sudden you think well, I need to get online as well. I need to get on a phone or a tablet, or I need to start playing these games.

ANDREW HASTIE: Exactly right – and Oli, I went to Foundation Christian College down in Mandurah yesterday and had a chat with the Year 6s and I couldn't believe how advanced they are with their understanding of IT, and the lingo around computers. One of them could describe perfectly what a ransomware attack is. So the kids are well aware but it's time parents caught up as well, and I certainly don't want my kids in their bedrooms at night communicating with strangers and they're the sorts of things that this report addresses and gives parents the tools to look after their kids.

OLIVER PETERSON: Really important. While I have you today, Andrew Hastie, what did you make of the police entering St. Bernadette's in Mount Hawthorn during Mass last night to check exemptions and inspect people not wearing masks?

ANDREW HASTIE: I found it a disturbing development, actually, and I think it's an insight into the character of the McGowan Government and its priorities, and I think this is a government that's getting addicted to executive power. I think when you govern by emergency powers for an extended period, you can start to take people for granted. You start sending cops into the middle of church services, you start co-opting small businesses in to conducting vaccine checks, you deny people freedom of movement – so I don't like it. I think the law should be applied to everyone. I don't think religious groups should get a special treatment before the law. But, certainly, I think it's a worrying trend when we're policing all aspects of civil society.

OLIVER PETERSON: Talking about denying people the freedom of movement, the border was meant to be opening tomorrow. Should it still be?

ANDREW HASTIE: Look, of course I want the border open – I'm an Australian. But I want it to be opened safely. The Prime Minister said today that the Premier can’t open the border safely because the WA health system can’t absorb the caseload that would come with Omicron at this point, despite the best efforts of our nurses and hospitals. I'll put it less delicately, Oli: I think the hospital system is a mess – and how is that the case? WA Labor has been in power for five years now. The Premier has had two years with a front row seat at National Cabinet to learn the lessons from the eastern states. He's got a flush state budget, a massive amount of funding from the federal government, and yet our health system is not ready. That's why we're frustrated. In some cases, people are fearful. They don't have confidence that the WA Government is ready. We've done what what's been asked of us. We are double vaxxed at 92% 16 and over. I’m triple jabbed, Oli, and I think you are, too…


ANDREW HASTIE: …if I heard correctly…


ANDREW HASTIE: …and people have complied with government directions, but there's no certainty and we're living from press conference to press conference – and that's a problem.

OLIVER PETERSON: It’s not a way to live. Will our hospital system ever be ready though, Andrew?

ANDREW HASTIE: Well, look, if I was in the WA Government Cabinet, I'd be cracking the whip. It's their job to drive the bureaucrats to get it in order. Political leaders are responsible, so they need to start really whipping this thing in to shape. Down in Mandurah, for example, we've got a very senior population. Not much has happened to the Peel Health Campus under David Templeman. He's a Cabinet Minister and in the last five years we've not seen much happen at all in the Peel Health Campus. That's just one example across the state. So I'm calling on the state government to get on with the business of fixing our hospital system so we can get back to living with the rest of the country as one people.

OLIVER PETERSON: Andrew Hastie thanks for your time. Have a good weekend.

ANDREW HASTIE: Thank you very much.


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