ABC Radio Adelaide with Stacey Lee and Nikolai Beilharz

  • Transcript, E&OE
Subjects: Philippines–Australia Ministerial Meeting (PAMM) in Adelaide; Hamas-Israel conflict.

Stacey Lee, Host: Nikolai and Stacey with you for breakfast. It's 25 minutes past seven on ABC Radio Adelaide. I was going to say Penny Adelaide, because Penny Wong, the Foreign Minister, has just walked into the studio. ABC Radio Adelaide. Foreign Minister, good morning, thank you for your time.

Penny Wong, Foreign Minister: Good morning, good to be with you both, beautiful morning.

Lee: Yeah, we want to ask you about the crisis between Israel and Palestine that escalated over the weekend, but before we do, there are some, your equivalent from the Philippines, the Foreign Minister from the Philippines is here in Adelaide. What's that about?

Foreign Minister: Well, one of the things I've been trying to do as a South Australian and Foreign Minister is to bring some of our overseas friends and colleagues to Adelaide, rather than just going to Sydney or Canberra or Melbourne. So, we had the Malaysian Foreign Minister here previously and we have what's called a 2+2. So, we have the Foreign and Trade Ministers of Australia and the Philippines meeting here in Adelaide today, for what's called a 2+2, to talk about how we can strengthen our ties. Obviously, Philippines is a pretty important partner, very important partner for Australia, both in terms of our defence relationship, but also increasingly economy and trade. So, it's great to have them here, show them Adelaide.

Lee: Yeah, it's great. Now, we do want to move on to Israel and Palestine. We were just talking to Keith Suter about it, who gave us a bit of a rundown of the situation and the escalation over the weekend. You've been criticised for your response to this, saying that Israel should issue restraint in their response. I think I was reading on Sky News…

Foreign Minister: You were reading Sky News.

Lee: Some people have called it a half-hearted response. This is extremely difficult and it's been happening over, you know, many, many years.

Foreign Minister: Well what I actually said was, we unequivocally condemn the attack by Hamas and what I called for was the protection of civilian lives. And I would have thought that that is a pretty unremarkable thing for Australia to call for. We always seek that as a nation. We always call for civilian lives to be protected, as we should. And my response would be, well, what would the alternative be?

Lee: But did you say that Israel should exercise restraint?

Foreign Minister: No, no, I said that, I think the tweet said something like, we call for restraint and the protection of civilian lives. And I think that's an unremarkable point, frankly. But, look, this is, and I want to respond to some of what we've seen overnight, and this has been an abhorrent attack. I know that the images have been terrifying. We know that we've seen hundreds of Israelis killed or more. We've seen hostages taken and civilians targeted. So, Australia calls for hostages to be returned. We condemn Hamas' abhorrent attacks and we stand with Israel and we recognise its right to defend itself.

Nikolai Beilharz, Host: Just in 30 seconds, because we are very closely approaching the 7.30 news, we've also seen Peter Dutton suggest that we should stand by to provide munitions or equipment to Israel. Is that…

Foreign Minister: Well, Peter Dutton always seeks to find a bit of political difference, doesn't he? That's his way of operating. We haven't been asked, and I've spoken directly to the Foreign Minister of Israel and offered support. What we are doing is engaging with the Israelis, but also, as per their request, with others in the region. Because what we don't want to see is this escalate further.

Lee: With Palestine?

Foreign Minister: Well, with other countries in the region. So, I spoke last night to the Jordanian Foreign Minister, but you know, we would always say to all sides, we don't want this to escalate to a broader regional conflict, that's not in the interests of anyone.

Lee: Okay, Minister, thank you very much for your time.

Foreign Minister: Great to be with you.

Lee: We appreciate it.

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