National Security

Transcript | Sky News First Edition | 11 April 2024

April 11, 2024

Thursday 11 April 2024
Interview on Sky News First Edition
Subjects: Penny Wong's irresponsible Israel-Palestine speech, PM’s unconvincing Made in Australia plan

PETER STEFANOVIC: Let's go to Canberra now and bring in James Paterson, the Shadow Home Affairs Minister. James, good to see you. We'll start there this morning. So those comments from Penny Wong yesterday about Palestinian statehood. On top of that, you've got the Australian overseer, if you like, to the Israeli investigation of the seven aid workers who were killed. There's certainly been a rapid change in approach in the past week or so. Are we in danger if we haven't done so already, of cutting ourselves adrift from a key ally?

JAMES PATERSON: Well, I think that's exactly what's happening right now, Pete, and I'm deeply worried about it. I thought it was grossly irresponsible and cynical behaviour by the Foreign Minister, putting at risk our relationship with Israel, a very important intelligence and security partner for Australia, and a like minded democracy in a very tough region. And one which is clearly playing to domestic politics over our international security interests in a way in which you would hope a foreign minister would never do. But this has been all laid out for us very openly Pete, in The Australian, yesterday we had a state New South Wales Labor MP, openly saying that the Labor party had to change its position on Israel-Palestine, otherwise it would lose seats in south western Sydney to pro-Palestine independent candidates and that, that Labor needed to shift away from its support for Israel if it wants to hold those seats. I mean, that is what this is about. And our national interest, our national security is being sacrificed to save those seats.

STEFANOVIC: So if they support a two state solution and then the Coalition supports a two state solution, I think most reasonably minded people do support a two state solution. And what should they have done?

PATERSON: Well, everyone supports a two state solution, as far as I can tell Pete. But it's very important how that occurs. It can't be imposed unilaterally from the outside. And the problem partner here that's refusing to engage in negotiations and refusing to have a two state solution is not the state of Israel. It's a state of Israel, which has, over the last two decades made repeated offers of peace to the Palestinian Authority, offered repeated offers to recognise a Palestinian state. And every single one of those offers has been rebuffed and rejected by Palestinian leadership. The pressure that needs to be brought to bear is on the Palestinian Authority and on Hamas. For Hamas to release the hostages and to lay down their arms, and for the Palestinian Authority to come back to the negotiating table with a reasonable approach that is achievable in our lifetimes. Now, those are the intransigent actors in this. Everybody who's studied this, everybody who's involved in this understands that. It's been very well documented by historians, by Bill Clinton and others who were involved in the extensive peace efforts over many years. That's where the problem lies. And this government got that completely wrong. And it's obviously because of domestic political pressure.

STEFANOVIC: Yeah, you've just got Hamas who only just recently rejected the latest cease fire attempt. But we'll move on to this Made in Australia plan. The Prime Minister's speech coming up a little later on with the extra details. Some have been leaked already this morning. James, what do you make of it so far?

PATERSON: Well, we all want a future made in Australia, but I've got absolutely no confidence at all that this government or the policies that it has will deliver that. In fact, everything that this government has done the last two years has taken us in the opposite direction. It has made it harder to make things in Australia. It's made it harder to do business in Australia. Just look what they've done to energy. Energy prices are out of control and among the worst in the developed world. And how on earth can you be internationally competitive? How on earth can you make things here if you're constantly driving up energy prices with an ideological approach to our energy system, ruling out reliable baseload, affordable power like nuclear energy and instead having a renewables only approach, and we've seen the devastating consequences of that. This is a government which is rewarded its union allies at every step of the opportunity, of course, making us less competitive in the process. This is a government that can't control spending, that has increased taxes. But how on earth are we going to be internationally competitive, if you are pilling all this pressure on business and on those who actually do make things in this country?

STEFANOVIC: Governments all over the world are intervening aggressively post-Covid. You got the US, UK, Japan, South Korea, European nations among them too. So on the face of it, do we need to do the same to catch up?

PATERSON: Pete, I'm deeply sceptical about the merits of centrally planning your economy to try and make it competitive. Politicians and bureaucrats are not the best placed to choose where scarce resources like capital are allocated in an economy. That's what markets are for. And history shows us how often it fails in the past when that happens. But it's particularly the case for a small open trading economy like Australia. We just cannot deploy anywhere near the level of subsidies that our major competitors can. We shouldn't try and compete that way. We should we try to compete with our ingenuity with our innovation, with our competitiveness, with our entrepreneurship, with our creativity, by backing business and industry, with the policy settings that they need to succeed like a affordable energy, a flexible labour market, light touch on regulation, low taxes. They're the kind of things that will make Australia competitive internationally. They are the kind of things will help us make things make us prosperous. Not this top down, Canberra-centric politicians-decide approach, which is just going to be littered with failures like it has always been in the past.

STEFANOVIC: All right, James Paterson. We'll leave it there. Appreciate your time as always though, we will talk to you again soon.


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