Doorstop Interview - Australian Parliament House, ACT

25 Feb 2020
Prime Minister

PRIME MINISTER: I’ve just got time for a couple of questions. Fire away.

JOURNALIST: Prime Minister just on the ASIO speech last night, the Director General made specific reference of right wing extremism, what specifically is the government doing to counter right wing extremism in Australia? 

PRIME MINISTER: Well, the Director General last night I think was pretty clear that this is a priority and it's one of the things that they've been looking at not just recently but over a long period of time. I mean terrorism comes in, and extremism comes in, in many different flavours and many different colours and it's important that all of our efforts are keeping Australians safe. That's why we've been putting the funding into ASIO. That's why they are getting the support they need, the tools they need, to keep Australian safe every single day and that's what's been happening. I thought it was an outstanding presentation and it underscored the commitment that they're receiving from the government as a very high priority, to keep Australians safe.

JOURNALIST: [inaudible] responsible for foreign interference? 

PRIME MINISTER: We'll deal with this in Australia's national interest, in the way we believe that's best done.

JOURNALIST: Prime Minister is the biggest threat in terms of espionage, and foreign interference coming from China?

PRIME MINISTER: We deal with foreign interference in all its forms wherever it comes from, and each and every day we ensure that our agencies are well resourced to counteract that threat. The legislation we’ve put in place, the resources we’ve put in place, and we'll keep doing that, every single day to protect Australia's national interests.

JOURNALIST: You're spending billions of dollars on submarines, are you convinced that this will be delivered, this project will be delivered on time, on budget? Is the Defence budget now getting out of control?

PRIME MINISTER: This is an enormous program and it's a program that the government committed to and it's part of our commitment to bring defence spending back to 2 per cent of GDP and ensure that we have the capabilities within our navy, but not just there, I mean that's the Attack class submarines program, but there's the frigate building program, there’s the Land 400 program. I was just up at Tindal last Friday and that's ensuring that we have a strong Northern air base to support what Australia needs, to ensure that we're pursuing the strategies that we believe are in Australia's interests in the Indo Pacific region. So on all of these projects, Chris, what they are a demonstration of is our government's commitment to keep Australian safe, to ensure our defence forces have the capabilities that they need to keep Australians safe. 

Now, the previous government dropped the ball on this, I mean defence spending as a share of our economy fell to pre-second World War levels under the Labor Party. So, yes, we've taken on ambitious projects Chris, we've taken on big projects. I mean the naval building program is arguably one of the biggest any country has undertaken for a country of our size and it has its risks, and it has its challenges but I'm confident in the ability of our defence forces and our defence industry here in Australia, working with our partners, to deliver the projects.

JOURNALIST: Domestic violence was a really big focus yesterday... 


JOURNALIST: ...we had even parliamentarians like Anne Aly share her story, in The West today, are you going to do anything more in this space, even hold another national summit to put this on the priority or is it you know, exactly what we're expecting?

PRIME MINISTER: Countering domestic violence and dealing with family violence is a priority every day for my government. Not just on any one day. Every single day. Because every single day women are confronted, and children, with horrendous family violence. And so each and every day we are putting in place the plan, the fourth national action plan, a process that was actually started by the previous Labor government, and in a few weeks’ time COAG will be coming together again and this will be one of the many topics that will be on that agenda, working together. We have record funding going into this from the federal level and there will be a fifth action plan and a sixth action plan, and that will be done by working together. This issue doesn't know politics. It just knows that there is hurt and pain and tragedy and devastation to families and every day addressing that is a priority for me and my government. Thanks very much.