Transcript Interview with David Koch, Sunrise

  • Transcript
Subjects: New military strike force; Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

David Koch: Defence Minister Peter Dutton is fast tracking a new military strike force for Australia. The nation's fighter jets and naval vessels will be armed sooner with long range strike missiles. The guided weapons will be able to reach enemy targets up to 900 kilometres away.

Peter Dutton: The world's really been shocked with what we've seen in Europe and in the Ukraine, and why hope and pray that doesn't spread to other countries. I want to be very clear about this:

We're spending more money in defence than we ever have, and we have to. Because as you point out, the Indo-Pacific has changed and we need to be realistic about the fact that China is arming herself with more nuclear weapons.

David Koch: For more, let's go live to Foreign Affairs Minister Marise Payne from Penrith in Sydney. Minister, Peter Dutton says we need to be realistic about the threat from China. How worried should we be?

Marise Payne: Good morning, Kochie. And I think the Defence Minister has outlined the reason for bringing forward this acquisition. What our defence strategic update told us, though, was that globally we were living a more unpredictable and a more concerning and unstable world. And certainly Russia's actions in the Ukraine have absolutely confirmed that.

So the steps that we are taking to work very closely with partners in relation to the response to Russia's actions in Ukraine, the sorts of initiatives thanks the Defence Minister has announced today are all part of ensuring that from Australia's perspective as a government we are absolutely focused on national security and on our national interests.

David Koch: Yeah, we've got to keep our friends close, don't we?

Marise Payne: Absolutely.

David Koch: You're off to Brussels to attend NATO talks over Russia's invasion of Ukraine. What are you hoping to achieve there?

Marise Payne: This is a very important meeting of the NATO Foreign Ministers plus a number of close partners like Australia. And it is an opportunity to continue and to strengthen that international coordination which has been working very strongly in the past month in relation to Russia's invasion of Ukraine. We've seen an unprecedented level of coordination in terms of the application of sanctions, the provision of military assistance to Ukraine, to the provision of humanitarian support. And coming together with the NATO Foreign Ministers in Brussels is part of ensuring that Australia is in that conversation and is supporting those efforts in any way that we can. And, of course, we have already made significant contributions, as you know.

David Koch: Yeah, obviously we're not part of NATO, a member of it. We're sort of supporting them, though. How much more support will we provide them in terms of helping Ukraine defend itself? How much more do you think we need to do?

Marise Payne: We're an Enhanced Opportunity Partner with NATO and one of a small Enhanced Opportunity Partners. That gives us an opportunity to work very closely with them – no pun intended – with them in terms of the support that we can provide. And that's why we have been working over three tranches of support now. And as the Defence Minister has said, we will also be in response to President Zelenskyy's request when he spoke to the parliament last week making provision for the delivery of Bushmasters to Ukraine in the coming weeks.

David Koch: Just before we let you go, how horrified are you at some of the pictures, accusations of genocide coming out Ukraine and this global leaders demanding President Vladimir Putin be sanctioned for war crimes and prosecuted for war crimes? Are you on board that?

Marise Payne: It's difficult to find the words. It's beyond appalling. It's horrific. It's obscene. And it is absolutely the work of the International Criminal Court, to which we, Australia, and other partners made a reference on the 3rd of March for these actions to be investigated. Australia has offered two qualified professionals to work in that International Criminal Court process, and I look forward to reaffirming that offer when I am in Brussels this week.

What we have seen – the bombing of known civilian shelters –what we have seen in the last days particularly in Bucha – and that is the butchering of people in mass graves, the murder and the use of rape as a weapon of war – is completely unacceptable. It is appalling and it must be investigated in the context of the war crimes issues that have been raised. Australia stands very strongly in relation to that and we'll work closely with our international partners to ensure that that's the case.

David Koch: Good. Minister, thanks for joining us. Safe travels.

Marise Payne: Thanks, Kochie.

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