Subjects: Labor’s slow roll out of support for Australians in the Middle East; the barbaric attacks on Israel; the Prime Minister’s lack of leadership; Labor’s offshore wind proposal in the Hunter region that will decimate the local environment and economy.
We talk every Thursday to the Opposition Leader Peter Dutton, and the conflict in the Middle East, Mr Dutton, is becoming a major issue for the Prime Minister. He’s resisting calls to visit Israel on his way home from the USA, going to China instead.
Good morning to you.
Well, it’s a worrying situation. I guess a lot of Australians would say, ‘well, you know, why do we have an interest in this?’, and ‘it’s the other side of the world and why do we care about it?’, but as you point out, Hamas is a terrorist organisation – the same as ISIS, as Al Qaeda – and they’re involved in attacks, and Australian citizens as they travel abroad, and our interests otherwise in the Middle East, come under threat when you don’t challenge these terrorist groups.
Obviously, there’s a very significant equity for us in supporting the only democracy in the Middle East, in Israel. They have a right to exist, and as the Ambassador rightly points out, and as you said in your words, Ray: the fact is that Hamas would drive the Israeli people into the ocean. They’ve never accepted their existence or their legitimacy as a race, and the terrorist attacks that we’ve seen, the brutality gives you a sense of the hatred that they have toward Israelis.
We’re a country based on many values that people have fought for over a long period of time, including in that part of the world, and we shouldn’t shy away from who we are as a country, who our friends are, and in our hour of need, we would want people to come to support us, and that’s why it’s right and just for Australia to be in a position to provide at least that moral support, which is why the Prime Minister should visit and stand alongside Prime Minister Netanyahu, in the same way that the President of France has, the German Chancellor, the UK Prime Minister, the US President – that’s the company that we keep – we don’t keep company with Iran and North Korea and Russia and people of that ilk.
Now, just in relation to the Prime Minister, there’s been a fairly bipartisan, I guess agreement between you and him in relation to dealing with this matter – and that’s refreshing – but to a certain extent, the Prime Minister has trouble concealing his true feelings because of history – and I know we all change as we get older – but as a young parliamentarian, he spoke in support of Palestinians and Hamas, virtually.
In 2014, when Hamas were definitely in control, he spoke in support of them condemning Israelis, and I’ve checked, right up until – and that was, you know, nine years ago, but right up until 2018, right up until 2018 he was a fervent supporter, or, well supporter’s a bad word – a fervent opponent of the Israelis – and all of a sudden he’s found some statesmanlike qualities as Prime Minister and he’s changed tack. You’ve dealt with him, do you think he’s sincere in what he’s saying about Israel now?
Well, I always think Ray, judge somebody, not just by their words, but by their actions. When the 7th of October terrorist attacks happened, I think the Jewish community here spoke in an honest way, and that is that they were truly shocked by the words of Penny Wong talking about Israel having restraint, and they were shocked about the hesitancy that the Prime Minister had in making a statement, a definitive statement.
Now, the Prime Minister’s natural instinct, I think, was on display in the first instance, and you just refer to that. He can’t deny the fact he’s been the leader of the hard left of the Labor Party for his entire life. I mean that’s the reality.
He’s spoken against Operation Sovereign Borders and our border protection measures for many years, and in his heart he doesn’t believe in any of that, but he’s being pragmatic and he’s now the leader of the nation, so he’s had to recalibrate and I think he’s done that.
But the fact that Prime Minister Netanyahu hasn’t yet taken his phone call, there would be very few leaders in the world who have reached out to provide support that the Israelis haven’t accepted the call, and frankly, publicised the fact, because they want it to be seen that they’re standing with friends and friends are standing with them.
It’s quite remarkable actually, that the Prime Minister’s call, even though he’s put a request in well over 10 days ago to speak to the Israeli Prime Minister, that they haven’t taken that call. I think that says as much as anything about the Israelis view on where Anthony Albanese is on these matters.
When we caught up with 10,000 people from the Jewish community and other supporters of the community in Dover Heights post the 7 October attacks, there was a lot of anger and understandable anger at the Prime Minister’s positioning.
So, I think that’s just a statement of the facts and the Prime Minister has to live with his past comments and his positioning, and I think you know to be honest, he was also completely distracted by the Voice, which he has been for the last 17 or 18 months. It was in the run down to the 14th of October Referendum, so he was distracted by that, but that to be honest, is really no excuse. He should be able to govern the country and to deal with these issues as well.
One of the things I’ve noticed in some rather vile postings on social media and rants and stuff directed towards me because of the position I’ve taken, and as a person who was previously in charge of this type of thing about who comes here, do you have any grave concerns about the possibility or safety risk of people being repatriated from Gaza, Palestinians who may be sympathetic to Hamas and bringing them here and their possible associations?
I mean, it appears to me that many people who may have been here and born here, have an undying allegiance to that part of the world that they can’t separate from their Australian citizenship, and I hate to think that all of a sudden, at some time down the track, we start to repatriate people from that part of the world because of the damage that’s going to be caused, that they come here and bring with them ill will.
Well Ray, when we lifted people from Kabul, and your listeners will remember the scenes of that evacuation, of people falling off the aircraft that the Americans flew out, I mean that was a tough time. We had SAS troops on the ground, and that was a very significant operation.
We staged people in Al Minhad where we’ve got our people based and military assets there, screened them before they came to Australia, and that was a more predictable environment in a sense, and we had a better picture on many of the applicants who ended up settling here in Australia, and thank goodness because many of them would have been slaughtered because of their assistance to Australia’s campaign in Afghanistan, etc.. But the Government would need to be very wary about bringing people out of a very difficult, war-torn environment at the moment.
Ultimately, the Prime Minister’s got to act in our country’s best interests and I don’t believe it’s in our country’s best interests to be increasing that intake at the moment without certainty around who individuals are and the fact that they’re going to be perfect Australian citizens, or as best as we could hope for. So, I think the circumstances and the conditions at the moment are precarious, and I’d be surprised if the Government’s considering that – to answer your question.
But look, I said this yesterday; we were at a business, third generation Italian business, they’re fruit growers – orange growers – and package up squeezed juice, etc…an incredible story Ray. I mean, we’re proud of our indigenous heritage – we should talk more about the migration picture and the way in which we’ve brought good people here, they’ve done the right thing by our country, they’ve worked hard, they’ve educated their kids, and it’s part of the reason we’re the best country in the world – but we’ve done that in a responsible, measured way, not in a knee-jerk reaction over the course of history, and we should be guided by that experience.
Okay. Have you heard our tribute from the Robertson Brothers to ‘Bowen and the wind’?
I did get a sneak preview, but I’d be very keen to hear it again, if that’s alright?
Well, I’ll just do it just for you:
CHRIS BOWEN (SONG INTRO):
Wholesale prices are down around 43 per cent from their peak in July. You can reduce your power bill very substantially by putting solar panels on your roof.
How many coal fired plants must a man shut down before you can call him quite mad? And how many boats do you let sail in before your immigration goes bad? How many solar panels can you build anywhere before for your electricity bill expands? The answer, my friend, is Bowen and the wind, the answer is Bowen and the wind.
How long can Casanova Bowen be a dribbling specialist and pretend that he just doesn’t see? Yes, and how many green wokey enthusiasts do you please by putting wind farms out at sea? And how many sea creatures will then fail to exist if you build this monstrosity? The answer, my friend, is Bowen and the wind. The answer is Bowen and the wind. Yes, the answer is Bowen and the wind.
And of course, Hollie Hughes is doing her best to get Casanova Bowen entered into Hansard, but Peter Dutton, I never thought I’d see the day that you were feted in a Labor stronghold like the Hunter Valley, but they’ve come to you on bended knee to fight to get these offshore wind farms abandoned. Are you any hope of achieving it?
Well firstly, I just want to do justice to that song Ray. I mean, it may be better than the first version – I think the first point to make – and I don’t know who scripted that, but there’s a special talent that’s been utilised there to come up with those words. So, well done to whoever that was.
Thanks very much. I appreciate the praise. Thank you.
Oh, is it you, Ray? Is it you?
No, look, I do have, I do have part of the writing credit, but not entirely. The music belongs to someone else, but I’ll take some of the blame or some of the credit.
Okay, no, no – it’s a masterpiece, so well done.
Look Ray, we had the second visit to the Hunter coast in just a few weeks, and I honestly think this is developing into a really significant national story. The wind turbines; they’re talking about 300 to 400 of them out between 20 and 35 kilometres off the coast, just before you get to the shelf. There are 40,000 whales a year who migrate through that region, it’s one of the busiest shipping channels in the country – so the ships likely will come closer to the coastline – it’s a huge area for marlin fishing, there were dolphin pods that we saw out there on the water yesterday. The fishing industry is a $300 million local industry, they’re worried about what the cables running along the seabed will mean for the rock lobster industry and, you know, these are multi-generational family businesses who are at risk. The tourism industry is $660 million local industry, and it obviously feeds a lot of mouths on shore in cafes and other businesses where people, accommodation, businesses, etc., where they come and stay.
What’s happening here is Chris Bowen’s got this 82 per cent renewable target by 2030, and he’s like a mad man running for the line, approving all sorts of projects which aren’t in our country’s best interests, which are driving up power prices, and every time you get your electricity bill and there’s an increase, it’s because you’re paying for this madness.
There are other alternatives and ways in which you can reduce emissions and support renewable energies, but these things are anchored into the ground, onto the seabed by, tonnes and tonnes of concrete per wind turbine – so you’re talking about something the size of a small ship on the seabed for each one of these 400 wind turbines. They’re anchored there, they’re 260 metres above the water, and there are lots of studies now coming out of the UK and elsewhere that show the detrimental impact on the environment and on bird species, etc..
They don’t operate if there’s a wind less than 15 knots, they have to be turned down because they become too dangerous if it’s above 35 knots and the wingspan is the size of the wingspan on an A380 aircraft – and there’s no environmental studies that have been done in relation to them – I find it unbelievable.
Somehow, the Prime Minister’s allowing Bowen to run off and approve these projects where they don’t have local community support, they’re going to destroy local jobs and essentially destroy the environment to save the planet, which is a complete nonsense from our perspective, and they’re reliable only about 14 per cent of the time. I think the billions of dollars being wasted here and the crushing of these local communities is going to come back and haunt the Prime Minister.
I think you’re right. We’ll talk again next week. Thanks for your time.
Thank you Ray. See you mate.