Interview with Chris Smith, Radio 2GB

Release details

Release type

Related ministers and contacts

The Hon Andrew Hastie MP

Assistant Minister for Defence

Media contact

Ella Kenny 0437 702 111

Release content

6 February 2022

CHRIS SMITH: We get a lot of requests from our listeners to catch up with Andrew, and we do chat with him from time to time - right now he's in Perth and I'm not sure when his Premier will let WA open up, but we're having happy to have him on the phone if we can't have him in person. He's on the line right now. Andrew Hastie, thank you very much for your time.

THE HON ANDREW HASTIE MP, ASSISTANT MINISTER FOR DEFENCE: It's really good to be with you and your listeners, Chris.

CHRIS SMITH: Yeah. Can I just ask a little bit about human life at the moment, you've got a serious bushfires situation going on, I know, it's a lot cooler today, you've had temperatures in the very high 30s, low 40s. In the last couple of days, more than 2500 hectares have been burned out already. What's the latest situation in the southwest of your state?

ANDREW HASTIE: Look, I haven't caught up with it this morning. But yesterday, Bridgetown, a historic beautiful town in the Southwest was being threatened and people were being evacuated. So these are very serious fires, and our firefighters, both professional and volunteer are onto it. And I'm sure the state government has it in hand. But look, we’ve had a very hot summer yesterday, it was about 41 - 42 degrees. And the conditions were unfortunately very favorable for strong and dangerous bushfires.

CHRIS SMITH: Yeah. I also want to talk to you about other federal things. But you've just released a cyber guide, which I have found quite fascinating flicking through this morning. It helps children use the internet securely. It looks very user friendly, got lots of games and quizzes, probably something that parents and grandparents haven't seen before. Tell me a little bit about your concern for children online?

ANDREW HASTIE: Yes, well, as you know, Chris, we're using the internet so much more than we ever have. Especially over the last two years with the pandemic, we've had to move banking online, shopping online, and schooling online. And our children are using all sorts of devices, from phones to tablets to laptops, and many of them are using them without supervision, and so we want to encourage parents, teachers and children to use the internet more securely and more safely. There are dangerous people on the internet - cyber criminals who are trying to scam children, who are trying to groom children and they need to be secure in when they're gaming or doing schooling. And so we've put out through the Australian Cyber Security Centre, a new manual, which is a kid's guide to internet security. And we've got some great tips in there to educate children and also to start some conversations around the dinner table, how families can protect themselves from cyber criminals.

CHRIS SMITH: It's great. Now for those families who want to have a look at this, they go to cyber That's the website?

ANDREW HASTIE: That's the website, it'll be there to download. There are also hard copies in each capital city. But generally speaking, go online, and download it, and it's very easy to follow tips. And it's stuff that I think we've talked already about, Chris on previous programs, and that is you know, make sure your software is up to date, if you've got the latest security software it's very hard to hack, make sure you backup the data, use complex passphrases, and for kids, especially if they if someone approaches them online who they don't know asking them for their personal information or photos or whatever report it to a teacher report it to a parent, then we can then report that to And a disturbing statistic Chris is that last year, over 90% of cyber crimes reported to the Australian Cyber Security Centre were from families. And there were more than 1,100 reports from people on the under the age of 18. So kids who had to experience some sort of cyber criminality, so it's a real issue. Parents really need to be on top of this. And that's why I encourage them to download this cyber manual.

CHRIS SMITH: Yeah, and parents need to not be scared to intervene and put certain child friendly filters on the internet, which isn't hard to do?

ANDREW HASTIE: No, that's right. If you use Apple, or Android, your software - it's very easy to update the latest software and I use iPhone, we use Apple in this house, the patches or the software updates are pushed to you by Apple all the time. You've got to make sure you upload them and there's if you go into settings, you can set up your phone so that they upload automatically. And these are the sorts of basic tips that people need to be aware of so that they're set up for success and it's harder to hack your devices.

CHRIS SMITH: Yeah, very, very true. Barnaby Joyce made an apology yesterday following his disparaging text messages regarding the Prime Minister, do you think this whole issue will cause ructions within the National Party? Interesting to see that he gave his own job - he put his own job in the hands of the Prime Minister not into the hands of himself?

ANDREW HASTIE: Look. Yeah, Barnaby was very contrite about the text. He apologised, he offered his resignation, which says how serious he was and the Prime Minister accepted his apology and is moving on. And that's the reality of politics. So it'll be last week's news, we have to move forward - there are massive issues for this country whether it's the pandemic or the geostrategic environment around us. I know many in the press gallery would love to talk about texts all the time, but we've got a much bigger task ahead of us as a government.

CHRIS SMITH: They love the salacious, don't they the Canberra Media Gallery, they love the salacious?

ANDREW HASTIE: They do love the salacious. And, you know, that's politics, but for people across Australia, who are just trying to make ends meet, raise a family, get on with life, navigate the challenges of the pandemic and ensure our future, collectively, is secure. It's pretty dull sort of stuff I think.

CHRIS SMITH: You mentioned, the geopolitics that’s playing out, especially in our region, we've got two conflicts simmering away. They both have the potential to get ugly, Russia - Ukraine, China - Taiwan, with Russia and Ukraine, it's not really about territorial claims, and Russia wanting to begin a takeover of new territories. You can't say the same thing about China's intentions, can you?

ANDREW HASTIE: Well, I think both China and Russia want to weaken Western strategic strength. And that means weaken traditional alliances that we've had since the Second World War. So NATO in Europe, particularly. And then in the Indo Pacific, what we call the rules based order, they want to weaken those two things, which by the way, Australia enjoys the benefits of through our security arrangements. I think they also want to shore up their approaches. So for Russia, Eastern Europe has always been really critical, Ukraine is part of that, and they want to, I think, provide themselves more of a buffer zone against the rest of Europe. And then, of course, China's got a claim over Taiwan, they've moved into Hong Kong, and Taiwan, and the South China Sea are important approaches to China. So there's a lot going on. It's very difficult, and hence why it's important that our federal Cabinet is focused on the big issues, not on things like text messages.

CHRIS SMITH: Yeah. There’s a great deal of doubt about the true position of the Labor Party when it comes to China. I think they tend to play both sides of the political fence and that doesn't augur well, for the circumstances that we're in at the moment.

ANDREW HASTIE: No, that's right. I think it's very hard to pin down Anthony Albanese, a potential Prime Minister on his position on China, look I've been pretty clear eyed about this for some years Chris, I wrote an op ed back in 2019, which led to me getting a fair bit of criticism, but when I read it back only a couple of weeks ago, it's actually quite benign given that China is undergoing the biggest peacetime militarisation since the Second World War. They've been very aggressive. Russia is being very aggressive in Europe. We have some serious issues with these two authoritarian powers. And I think one of the biggest policy challenges for my generation and the generations to come will be how to deal with authoritarian regimes, maintain our sovereignty, and maintain our resilience as a country. And so if that's not something that people are thinking about prior to the coming election in May, they should be and they've got to decide whether they want someone like Scott Morrison who's got a proven record who managed to ink AUKUS, the biggest foreign and defense policy achievement since ANZUS seventy years ago, or they want someone like at Anthony Albanese, who's never actually held a national security portfolio in his limited time in government.

CHRIS SMITH: Very true. Appreciate your time. Andrew this morning, all the very best for the rest of your weekend and of course, Parliament back next week, will you be doing things virtually?

ANDREW HASTIE: I will be doing things virtually Chris. As you know, I've got a new three month old baby…

CHRIS SMITH: And how's that going?

ANDREW HASTIE: It's going great. Look, family is what we're all about in the end. Politics is important, but families are very special as your listeners would well know and so we're just really enjoying having a little COVID surprise in Jemimah.

CHRIS SMITH: Yeah great.

ANDREW HASTIE: And the Premier - I don't say this very often, but he canceled my snip back in 2020 and now we've got a little girl so it’s a wonderful blessing.

CHRIS SMITH: That’s great stuff. Three months old. So you're starting to get smiles and a little bit of feedback now, it's not Groundhog Day?

ANDREW HASTIE: It's not at all, it’s a lovely, it's a lovely time.

CHRIS SMITH: Good stuff mate. Thank you very much for sharing your morning with us and thank you for your time.

ANDREW HASTIE: Thanks, Chris.


Other related releases