National Security

Transcript | Sky News First Edition | 27 June 2024

June 27, 2024

Thursday 27 June 2024
Interview on Sky News First Edition
Subjects: Assange, reckless Labor spending putting upward pressure on interest rates

PETER STEFANOVIC: If you didn't know, Julian Assange is back. Let's go to Canberra. Joining us live is the Shadow Home Affairs Minister, James Paterson. James, good to see you, thanks for your time this morning. A real mixed bag of thoughts about Julian Assange's return. Depends who you ask, of course. Depends which country you're interviewing people. But how do you feel about his return this morning?

JAMES PATERSON: Good morning Pete. I've got great empathy for Julian Assange's family, for his friends, for his supporters, none of whom have done anything wrong, who obviously have been distressed by his long incarceration, and it who are also understandably very relieved by his release. And that's why the Opposition has welcomed his decision to plead guilty so that he can be released. But I think it is a mistake, as some have done, and including the Prime Minister, to make comparisons between Julian Assange and Cheng Lei, Sean Turnell and Kylie Moore-Gilbert. I mean, these were Australians who were innocent, who were persecuted for other reasons by authoritarian powers, and who under great difficulty, under two governments, releases were negotiated. That's very different to what Mr. Assange has done. Mr. Assange evaded lawful extradition requests first by hiding in the Ecuadorian embassy, then by using his legal rights in the United Kingdom to challenge them over many years. The reason why this is taking so long to resolve is because of his decision to challenge it in that way. And he is now someone who's pled guilty to very serious national security offences, which, you know, are not just offences against the United States. They're offences against the Five Eyes intelligence gathering alliance, including Australia, because they put the sources of that alliance at grave risk.

STEFANOVIC: Is he a credible figure?

PATERSON: Look, I don't really have a view on that. I mean, I think the Prime Minister's embrace of Mr. Assange might not age very well once Mr. Assange starts tweeting again and his contemporary political views are shared with the public again. I'm not sure all his supporters will embrace him as enthusiastically as they have been.

STEFANOVIC: Yeah. Hey, James, there's some talk, about him possibly seeking a pardon. Down the track, however unlikely that might be. Bearing in mind that Joe Biden, he won't even do that to his own son. But how would you feel about that?

PATERSON: Well, that's really a matter for the United States government if Mr. Assange and his legal team seek that. The US Justice Department, I think, has shown quite a high degree of leniency already, given that Mr. Assange has now admitted to committing very serious national security offences. That's not the leniency that we've received from, you know, many authoritarian states towards Australian citizens. I think it reflects well on the United States as a rule of law liberal democracy.

STEFANOVIC: Let's get to a bigger issue that's affecting more Australians this morning. Markets are now saying, James, there is a 67% chance of a rate hike in August. Now Jim Chalmers, he says things zig zag on the way down. It's not a straight line, but inflation has only gone up since December. So what in your view is driving this?

PATERSON: I'm not sure which is the zig or the zag, but there's been a lot more, zagging upwards than downwards in the last few months on Jim Chalmers’ watch because he has let loose the purse strings. Fiscal discipline has gone, and the upward pressure on interest rates of the reckless spending of the Albanese government is now being seen in this data. And I think, unfortunately, there is a very real risk of a interest rate rise, or maybe even two interest rate rises, between now and the end of the year or early next year. And for Australian households, that will be a body blow. That will be the thirteenth or fourteenth interest rate rise on this government's watch. And there are so many Australians out there who are desperately clinging on who are only now struggling to make ends meet, and a couple more interest rate rises will push them over the edge.

STEFANOVIC: Well, I mean, look, we've got rate cuts that start next week. You've got energy handouts coming from, Queensland Government, from the feds to, do you think that will fuel the fire and work directly against the RBA?

PATERSON: Well, there's no question that Jim Chalmers has been unable to say no at the Expenditure Review Committee and billions of dollars of spending, we calculate over $300 billion since the government first came to office, or about $30,000 for every Australian household, has been added to spending. And of course, that is fuelling inflation. And it's the reason why core inflation in Australia is among the highest in the developed world, when inflation has been coming down in all other-like democracies. We've even seen rate cuts in jurisdictions like Canada. Australia's interest rates look like they're at risk of going up. And that comes down to Jim Chalmers’ fiscal recklessness.

STEFANOVIC: Yeah, well there's a rate cut in Canada, but inflation has jacked back up again. So they might have gone too early on that. Hey James, we're out of time, appreciate your time as always. We'll talk to you soon.

PATERSON: Thanks, Pete.


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