Topics: Morrison Government’s support for victims of recent floods; Australian sanctions on Russia and coordination with Five Eyes partners.
PETER STEFANOVIC: Well, joining us live now is the Home Affairs Minister, Karen Andrews. Minister, good to see you. Thanks for your time this morning. So, Richmond Valley, Lismore, Clarence Valley, they were all given extra emergency assistance. But Ballina, Byron, Tweed ‑ just south of where you are ‑ they’ve missed out. How is that fair?
KAREN ANDREWS: Well, look, firstly, I think everyone right around Australia is absolutely horrified with what they’re seeing happening in those communities, particularly in Northern New South Wales, but also what we’ve seen in Queensland. As a Government, we have ‑ as you’ve just replayed by the Treasurer ‑ we’ve been in there, we’ve been supporting our communities, and we will absolutely stand with those communities and help them to get back up on their feet. We are working very closely with emergency services, we are taking advice from our federal agencies about the payments that should be made and the areas that those should go into. But let’s be clear about this – there are many areas that have been impacted and it is going to take a lot of work by many people to assist those communities – but as a Government, we will stand with those communities.
PETER STEFANOVIC: Right, but on the question of fairness, have those in Ballina, Byron and Tweed been dudded?
KAREN ANDREWS: Well, I think that we have to take advice as a Government ‑ every government has to take advice from its agencies ‑ about the areas that are most significantly hit, and that need additional support. Now, that’s not to say that other communities haven’t been affected – because we know for a fact that they have been – and support has gone into those areas. But we do need to take the advice from the likes of Emergency Management Australia, and other agencies, about where we need to provide immediate support and to get in there and support those communities. We are also continuing to support many, many other communities around Australia and we will continue to do that.
PETER STEFANOVIC: But we’ve, I mean, I had a business owner on the program a little earlier, who misses out on this funding, yet he’s at the mouth of the river, he was caught up for it, and he doesn’t get anything extra. So, I mean, it feels like he’s being dudded. Him, and many other smaller businesses have been duded, because a lot of this funding goes to, quote, “the three big anchor businesses”, according to the Prime Minister?
KAREN ANDREWS: Look, I absolutely understand the concerns of those individuals ‑ and no‑one wants to feel as if they’ve been dudded in the process either. Let’s be honest about this, this is going to take a long time for many of those businesses and individuals to be able to recover. Some of them have been left with virtually nothing other than the clothes on their back. So, it is going to take some time to support them. We’ve stepped in. We will continue to stand with those communities. State governments have supported, local governments have supported. The community has been in there. There are mud armies out there, trying to help people. That’s a very Australian way of doing things. But as a Government, federally, we will be standing with those communities and providing every support that we possibly can. But the reality is that there are parts of the communities that have been terribly affected and we’re providing support where it is most needed.
PETER STEFANOVIC: The Treasurer mentioned, on a call with Five Eyes partners this morning, that sanctions haven’t stopped Putin’s war machine so far. What other actions can be taken by us and our Five Eyes partners that hasn’t already been done?
KAREN ANDREWS: Well, sanctions have been having an impact and, look, the reality is that it hasn’t stopped what Russia is doing at the moment with its advances into Ukraine, but it has certainly slowed down progress and it has had an impact. The Treasurer has been speaking to his counterparts in the Five Eyes. I’ve also been speaking with my counterparts – we are collectively known as ‘interior ministers’, we focus on our homelands – we will certainly look at what else we need to do. One of the things that I have done with my counterparts in Five Eyes is seek to have Russia denied access to INTERPOL systems. As yet, we are waiting on a response from that, but we have collectively sought to make sure that Russia’s access to INTERPOL systems is certainly suspended. Now, we will continue to take action, we’ll continue to look at what we can do to assist Ukraine to stop the invasion by Russia.
PETER STEFANOVIC: Long term, I mean, Putin, as we know, he’s a pariah in all of this, very hard to see a way back for him to be brought back to the global community. Are we in a new Cold War?
KAREN ANDREWS: Well, look, that’s a very interesting point, and I think a couple of things are quite remarkable with what has happened with Russia and Ukraine. Firstly, the resistance that has been put up by Ukraine’s citizens has been just amazing and the world has stood by and watched, clearly, the Ukrainian people putting up an enormous fight‑back to Russia. Now, it’s not just a case of standing by and watching because we’ve just jumped in as well. And we have, as a nation, provided support ‑ about $100 million has gone into support with lethal and non‑lethal weapons, but also humanitarian support. We’ve seen many citizens from Ukraine crossing the borders, primarily into Poland, but not exclusively into Poland. We know that those people will want to return as soon as it is safe to do so, but they are in there, wanting to push back continuously against Russia. So, it’s just been amazing to see that happening. And, you know, all due credit goes to Ukraine for what they have done.
PETER STEFANOVIC: Karen Andrews, we’re out of time, but thank you for your time. We’ll talk to you soon.