Interview with Natalie Barr, Channel 7, Sunrise

  • Transcript
Subjects: Troops drawing down in Afghanistan; dance at Defence event.
16 April 2021

Natalie Barr: In the meantime, the Federal Government has announced the withdrawal of Australia’s remaining troops from Afghanistan by September. It follows America's decision to pull out its troops by the same time. Foreign Minister Marise Payne joins me now. Good morning Minister.

Marise Payne: Good morning Natalie.

Natalie Barr: This was of course a decades-long conflict. We lost 41 troops there. Would you call it a mission success?

Marise Payne: First of all, I want to acknowledge those 41 members of the Australian Defence Force who gave their lives in Afghanistan during that very long military engagement, as you said, and of course their families and the many other men and women who have been engaged in this process in Afghanistan during all of that time. One of the things that we have all been in pursuit of is peace in Afghanistan. And I, with Australia, join the international community in hoping that what we can now see is a durable and resilient peace. There is no doubt it’s challenging, brokering a peace arrangement between the Taliban, the Afghan Government. The work that the United States has done is very important to that. We will continue to work closely with our international counterparts in pursuit of that outcome.

Natalie Barr: Yeah. What will happen to the people of Afghanistan once all the troops leave? Because we went in, didn’t we, all those years ago for a very different reason.

Marise Payne: Well, indeed. The people of Afghanistan have endured, for a very long time, the challenges that this conflict has brought to their homeland. We have worked side-by-side with many of the Afghan people during that time, both in a military sense and in a humanitarian sense. An important part of the work that we have done, for example, over all of these years, is to support the provision of education to many, many girls who would otherwise never have been in schools – to support the development of female teachers in their system, to familiarise the communities through village education committees, with education for girls and for boys. They are the sorts of outcomes that I very much hope are enduring.

Natalie Barr: Before we go, we just want to ask you about this one. The ABC has come under fire for airing footage of a group of twerking dancers performing in front of high-level dignitaries at this naval ceremony this week. The broadcaster has since apologised admitting the editing was incorrect. How did this happen and will any action be taken?

Marise Payne: I do think it's important for that apology to have been issued. I acknowledge the ABC for doing that. But I also know that the group of performers who take great pride in what they do in the Woolloomooloo community have really been victims of extraordinary abuse as a result of this debate. I think that goes a long way to the importance of a discussion we have about respect and how we deal with each other when we have a difference of opinion or a difference of view. They are a Woolloomooloo community group. I know that they have strong support in the community, I know Fleet Base East, the location of the commissioning of HMAS Supply has a good relationship right across the Woolloomooloo community and with its cultural organisations. But I am sure that Defence will look at the way they put together the commissioning events and the commissioning process and make sure that they are addressing any concerns that were raised. But I don't want the participants in a performance group like that to have to endure the sorts of things that they have endured in the last week, frankly.

Natalie Barr: Exactly — you have got to feel sorry for the women who were in that group this week for what happened. Thank you very much Minister, we appreciate your time.

Marise Payne: Thanks very much, Nat.

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