Interview with Jim Wilson, 2GB Drive

  • Transcript
Subjects: Floods in NSW, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, International Women’s Day.

Jim Wilson: On the line is the Foreign Minister and Minister for Women, Marise Payne. Minister, welcome back to Drive.

Marise Payne : Good afternoon, Jim.

Jim Wilson : Okay. Now I want to begin first with the flood crisis. You're the Liberal Senator for Western Sydney. Once again, we're seeing the Hawkesbury, Windsor, parts of Penrith underwater, also parts of our southwest. It's absolutely heartbreaking if you had a chance to touch base with these communities.

Marise Payne: These are very big challenges for so many of our communities, Jim, and staying in touch with local leaders and staying out of their way is what I've been doing the last while. But I know that there are ongoing concerns, particularly about the Hawkesbury, Nepean and the amount of water that is coming down at the moment. I was across from Penrith to southwestern Sydney in Bankstown today, and I know that the impact that water is particularly having on our roads at the moment. So I do urge all our drivers, to take as much care as possible.

Jim Wilson: Yeah. Now, I understand this is not your domain. It's a state issue. But you're the Western Sydney Senator and a proud resident of Western Sydney. There's a lot of talk Minister. It's about raising the wall of the Warragamba Dam, but even if that happens, it will take years. So what do you want to see done in the next twelve months to make sure this flood crisis doesn't repeat itself. And what can be done in the immediate term to protect these people?

Marise Payne: Well, I think there are immense challenges to deal with here, Jim. I mean, it's a very significant river system. It's the Hawkesbury-Nepean, and it is in some ways the spine of that part of Western Sydney from the base of the mountains up into the Hawkesbury and down towards Camden. And it has been flooding for time immemorial, from time to time. I think the challenge is in building resilience in communities, in how we are able to protect ourselves and deal with floods. I know that there is a debate in relation to the dam wall, and I do think it is important to be having that conversation, because if it does assist us in protecting communities and saving lives, importantly saving lives, then it is certainly something that I think we should be contemplating.

Jim Wilson: Do you think it will mitigate the threat of floods?

Marise Payne: Well, I think it will assist in terms of the management of the water, as I understand, it will enable us to hold water for longer. And there are much more expert people than me in this area. But surely as a community, we have the ability to critically examine these propositions and determine whether State and Federal Governments, respectively, should be making these investments.

Jim Wilson: Okay. You're the Foreign Minister. Let's move on to the war in the Ukraine as we go to air, Russian troops continue to kill Ukrainian civilians while the west sits by hoping the conflict stays contained in the Ukraine, are you comfortable with the response to these war crimes?

Marise Payne: Well, of course, Australia has joined in the referral to the International Criminal Court, and that was with, I think at last count, 38 other partners. Those offenses have to be investigated. We strongly support that. I don't think anybody could say that they were comfortable with what is occurring in Ukraine. And we know Russia's behaviour is a complete, wholesale breach of international law and of the UN Charter. What we are doing, particularly with partners across multiple vectors, if you like, including sanctions, including the provision of humanitarian aid, including the provision of defence support and assistance, including lethal and nonlethal, is making every contribution we can to supporting Ukraine in this extraordinary battle against Russia.

Jim Wilson: I understand Australia's put more sanctions on the Russians today. We are targeting their propaganda and disinformation chiefs, Minister.

Marise Payne: We have posed sanctions on ten of what I would call Moscow's propagandists and those who would pervade disinformation and misleading and toxic disinformation, including things like perpetuating those false narratives about the denazification of Ukraine, making false allegations of genocide against ethnic Russians in Eastern Ukraine, particularly the promotion of the recognition of the so called Donetsk People's Republic and the Luhansk People's Republic as independent. These are blatantly false, these are blatantly unfounded, and it is very important for us to put every constraint we can on those who would seek to perpetuate that disinformation.

Jim Wilson: Are you aware of any Australian casualties in Ukraine?

Marise Payne: No, I'm not, Jim. I do know that we have been reaching out to our consular contacts through the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, our consular teams. We have crisis response teams on the ground in Poland and in Romania to support those Australians who may be trying to leave Ukraine. And, of course, we did indicate in January, some six weeks ago now that Australians in Ukraine should leave. But no, I have not had any notifications in relation to that, and I sincerely hope that that does not become an issue for us.

Jim Wilson: If Russia captures Ukraine, will the west arm the Ukrainian military to have them try to seize back their country?

Marise Payne: I think it's not necessarily helpful to engage in speculation on the ‘what ifs'- we have to deal with the reality that is in front of us and every country from the United States, the European members of the European Union, the UK and other partners are doing exactly that. There are ongoing efforts at diplomacy and support for small European Nations who are feeling very vulnerable at this point, countries like our friends in Latvia and Lithuania and Estonia, and I've spoken with their foreign ministers, all of them in recent weeks on these issues. But in terms of what support we are prepared to give, Australia has already delivered that defence assistance I spoke of, I know other countries are doing exactly the same, and we will continue to support the Ukraine in this fight.

Jim Wilson: Speaking to Foreign Minister Marise Payne, you're also the Minister for Women and today is a very significant day. It's International Women's Day. What does the day mean to you?

Marise Payne: I think International Women's Day is a very important day in the calendar and I'm pleased to have had the opportunity to meet with some pretty special women around my part of Sydney and some school students, particularly today, who of course, are our future. I think International Women's Day is a day to reflect, to celebrate our achievements for women in Australia and by women in Australia. And there are many of those. But it is also a day to redouble our efforts to create a more gender equal future for women in this country. So, whether that is in focusing on economic security, on leadership and development, on women's safety, and that unfortunately, is one of our ongoing focuses. That is what we are doing as a government and the work that I am very proud to support.

Jim Wilson: Do you believe your government has made life for women in Australia better than the previous Labor Government's?

Marise Payne: I think that we have, for example, been able, over many years, to have a nonpartisan approach on issues like women's safety. The first National Plan to Prevent Violence Against Women and their Children was absolutely nonpartisan supported by us in opposition and right through its implementation. I would hope that can continue to be the case from our perspective. We have worked hard on economic participation. We see women's workforce participation one of the highest levels ever at over 62 per cent. We've narrowed the gender pay gap. It's currently 13.8 per cent and had been 13.4 and that was damaged, of course, by COVID. I'm not saying that we have solved every problem, not by a long shot. There is more work to do, but we are very focused on that and pleased to see the extraordinary contribution that women are making in the economic recovery that women are making in leadership across this country, from local government to corporates to leading Indigenous Australians to our multicultural community everywhere you look. And in fact, I've challenged the audiences I've spoken with in the last few days to bring to mind a woman who inspires them. And as I watch their faces light up, I know every single one of them can.

Jim Wilson: Yep. Good on your Minister. Thanks for your time this afternoon.

Marise Payne: Thank you very much.


Media enquiries