NATALIE BARR, HOST: Defence Minister Peter Dutton has outlined the future of our Defence Force, confirming Australian troops will return to their core business of defending our nation's interests. As millions of Australians commemorated ANZAC Day, Mr Dutton thanked the more than 39,000 troops who had served in the Middle East, but said the focus was now back on home soil. Evolving threats, including foreign interference, cyber-attacks, and the militarisation across our region will now take top priority. I'm joined by Nationals MP, Barnaby Joyce, and Labor MP, Joel Fitzgibbon. Morning, gents. This marks the end of our 20-year engagement in the Middle East, which has cost billions of dollars, and also 41 Australian lives. Barnaby, what have we achieved and has it been worth the cost?
BARNABY JOYCE, MEMBER FOR NEW ENGLAND: 39,000 people have seeked out and closed to the enemy, that's – you want to, if you can fight engagements on other people's souls and not on your own. There isn't without a shadow of a doubt after 911 that there was the instance of basically a terrorist organisation having an incredible effect on global politics and your own freedoms. We saw that in Bali, we saw that New York, we saw that in London, Australians were killed because of it. And we got to thank these 39,000 people who served except – and remember the families of the 41 who were killed, and also the hundreds who unfortunately took their own lives when they got home. But our conflict is close to home. Australia's got only one job from this point forward, to get as powerful as possible, as quickly as possible, and take into account exactly what the regime in China is doing, what the Russians is doing in the Ukraine, and acknowledge it's going to be a different world. Let's concentrate on becoming as powerful as possible, as quickly as possible. I don't think zero emissions by 2050 is really what we should be focused on.
BARR: Joel, what do you think is the biggest threat Australia's currently facing?
JOEL FITZGIBBON, MEMBER FOR HUNTER: Well, there's nothing new here, Nat. Our focus has always been on our own region. Our priority has always been having the capability of independently defending ourselves at home soil. That's been the case with respect to the last two defence white papers. Nothing's changed. We will have deployments elsewhere in places like the middle east from time to time, but most of our money, most of our investment goes to the capability and the training required to keep us safe here at home. That hasn't changed and should not change.
BARR: Okay, the government has dismissed calls from WA Premier Mark McGowan to use federal facilities to house returned travellers. Barnaby, what do you think of McGowan over the weekend? Very strong, saying the feds need to help out here and hotel quarantine is not working.
JOYCE: Well, I like the way McGowan's tune changed after the election. I think maybe if he'd had this outbreak before the election, might have been a slightly different result. Before he was lauding himself as the reason why, you know, Western Australia was free. Now apparently, it's the Federal Government's fault. Now, he's got to decide which horse he wants to ride. If he wants to run the sovereignty of Western Australia as a sort of entity in its own right, then he should take responsibility for doing just that.
BARR: Well, he wants help from the Federal Government, Joel. He says the federal facilities should be used instead of the hotels. Pointing out, the AMA is pointing out that there was a report released on April the eighth that said this hotel had no independent airflow, the oxygen supply was leaking from other rooms. Should it have been closed down before now?
FITZGIBBON: On Barnaby's point, Nat, Mark McGowan has been nothing if not consistent throughout COVID and he's done an amazing job, but on the weekend, he was forced to cancel ANZAC Day and that's terrible. And businesses are now asking how many more lockdowns will we have and we risk more lockdowns until the Federal Government does two things – that is establish widespread vaccination, and helps the states with this quarantine issue, which is a Commonwealth Government responsibility and the only government that can provide isolated quarantine facilities is the Federal Government. That's what Mark McGowan is saying. His was a cry for help. Hotel quarantine is always going to be problematic for obvious reasons. You have people in confined areas right in the heart of our capital cities. We need to isolate these people somewhere else outside our capital cities. And that's what Scott Morrison needs to help the states do.
BARR: Barnaby, when the leaks come, they are coming from hotel quarantine, aren't they?
JOYCE: Yeah, they are, and obviously, there is a range of other things the State Premiers could do. They could set up their own form of remote quarantining, if that's what they believe is required. We've seen people such as the Wagner brothers in Toowoomba, saying that they can set up a facility pretty quickly if that's what you want to do. But I do think, I take on board what Joel has said, but I think it's a little bit cute that Premier McGowan now is blaming the Federal Government and before he was lauding himself as the reason they were free of the virus, now he's blaming the Federal Government they have got it. I mean, you know, listen to his rhetoric. It just doesn't stack up. It's not consistent.
BARR: Right. Okay. We thank you both. Thanks very much for your time. See you next week.
FITZGIBBON: Thanks Nat.