Television interview, Sunrise

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The Hon Richard Marles MP

Deputy Prime Minister

Minister for Defence

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02 6277 7800

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11 July 2023

SUBJECT/S: Additional support for Ukraine; Operation Kudu; NATO; Polls; Cost of living

NATALIE BARR, HOST: Joining us now is the Acting Prime Minister Richard Marles, who's also the Defence Minister, good morning to you. Can you explain to us mere mortals what the E-7A Wedgetail, is going to do over there?

DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER, RICHARD MARLES: Well, actually, that's a difficult question. I'll give it a go, but I'm not sure I can do that. But it is one of the most potent capabilities that we have in the Defence Force. It's not unique to Australia. But we are one of the few countries which operate the E-7 Wedgetail at the level at which we do. And so it's been a capability that's actually been sought after by our partners, by Ukraine, the United States, the United Kingdom, for some time. And we're really pleased that we are able to make a deployment of the E-7 in this way to Germany in support of the effort in Ukraine. As you said, it won't operate in Ukrainian or Belarusian airspace. It doesn't need to in order to provide the capability that it does, but it enables through the eyes that it provides in the sky, through the communications node that it represents a really significant effect for those that are operating particularly around the support of logistics into Ukraine and the support of humanitarian supplies into Ukraine. And it really is going to make a difference. And I know Ukraine is very excited and grateful for the deployment that we're making.

MATT SHIRVINGTON, HOST: You speak about the operation of the plane itself. 100 Defence Force personnel will be based in Germany. Is that right? Is there any other commitment to having boots on the ground in Europe to be a part of this Ukraine-Russian war?

MARLES: Well, it's not the first deployment that we've made. You're right, it is about 100 personnel who will be deployed to Germany. But we already have a deployment in Britain right now of Australian personnel who are doing training of the Ukrainian Armed Forces. The Ukrainian army right now is really very much a civilian army and so there is a lot of basic infantry training which is required and that is occurring right now and I had the opportunity to see that in person earlier this year. So, both the deployment in Britain and the deployment in Germany are playing a really critical role in supporting Ukraine in its effort, along with, obviously, the platforms and the equipment that we've been able to supply to Ukraine. And we made an announcement, our latest announcement, in respect of that just a couple of weeks ago. I think the important point to make here is; it is so important that Ukraine prevails. It's important from Australia's national interest point of view that Ukraine prevails because the sanctity of the global rules based order is what's under threat here. And a large country walking into a small neighbour, not by reference to the rule of law, but by reference to power and might simply cannot be allowed to stand in 2023. So, we will be with Ukraine for as long as it takes for them to prevail.

BARR: Yeah and because it is so important and because they are struggling, we are being criticised for our involvement. That last announcement was heavily criticised. Is the Prime Minister going to announce more help to Ukraine after this NATO meeting?

MARLES: Well, actually, I think there's been a lot of gratitude from around the world, whatever the commentary has been from some in Australia. Now that Sweden will go into NATO at this summit in Vilnius, Australia will be the largest non-NATO contributor to the effort in supporting Ukraine. That fact is not missed by those in Europe, by Ukraine itself. It's well understood that Australia is punching above its weight in our support that we are providing to Ukraine and that is received with much gratitude. And we'll continue to do that. We've been really making announcements at kind of a drumbeat of once every four months or so, but we'll keep doing this to provide the support necessary to see that Ukraine does prevail in this. And we are part of the effort of NATO countries, but other countries from around the world in support supporting Ukraine. Because I think the global community gets how important it is that the sanctity of the global rules based order is maintained.

SHIRVINGTON: Okay Acting Prime Minister Richard Marles, thanks for your time.


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