Television Interview, Sky News

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The Hon Matt Thistlethwaite MP

Assistant Minister for Defence

Assistant Minister for Veterans’ Affairs

Assistant Minister for the Republic

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Ben Leeson on 0404 648 275

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31 May 2024

SUBJECTS: Donald Trump; Australia-US alliance; Peter Dutton’s hypocrisy. 

KIERAN GILBERT, HOST: First, though, I want to go to the Assistant Defence Minister, Matt Thistlethwaite, who joins us. And a massive day in news out of New York. And the Republican presumptive nominee found guilty. The first former president to be found guilty of a felony. How does that feed into the Australia-US alliance if he does win the next election? Is Labor able to work with a Trump presidency? 

MATT THISTLETHWAITE, ASSISTANT MINISTER FOR DEFENCE: G’day Kieran, you're right, it is extraordinary. It's the first-time a former president has been convicted of a crime. However, what happens in terms of the next steps in the United States is a matter for the American people and their judicial system. But what I will say is that the alliance that Australia has with the United States is fundamental to our security going back to World War II, and the alliance is much bigger than any one personality. And I'm confident, and the government's confident, that regardless of who is in the White House post November this year, the alliance between our nations, the people to people, links between our nations, and the strong values that we share will remain the same and the relationship will go from strength to strength into the future.

GILBERT: Does Australia need to consider and foster a more independent foreign policy, as many argue?

ASSISTANT MINISTER: Well, the ANZUS alliance has been the foundation of Australia's defence and security since World War II and it served us very well. And certainly it's the foundation of the AUKUS agreement that will strengthen our defence and our capability into the future. So, if anything, the relationship between the United States and Australia, particularly the security and defence relationship, is going to get stronger and is going to grow. And that's a positive for both of our nations and it's certainly a positive for the region in which we live.

GILBERT: Back home now. And the focus this week has been on the detainee issue in a big way. Andrew Giles has started to push back more forcefully later in the week. He did some interviews, including on this program. Is that a good thing? Do you like to see him pushing back and trying to say, well, these things happened on both sides of politics, because, quite frankly, he was a sitting duck before that, wasn't he?

ASSISTANT MINISTER: Well, Andrew Giles is a good Immigration Minister and he's certainly right to put out there the facts. And those facts are that Peter Dutton, as the Immigration Minister, released many, many detainees who, unfortunately did go on to commit some horrific crimes. So, the point that Andrew's made and the point that we're making is that it's hypocritical for the Leader of the Opposition to try and point the finger at Andrew Giles and the Labor Party on this when the exact same circumstances occurred when Peter Dutton was the Immigration Minister and we had similar outcomes.

GILBERT: Matt Thistlethwaite, thanks as always. Appreciate it. 


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