The Government has called an election and is now in caretaker. As this website is hosted by the Treasury, material released by Portfolio Ministers may not be available from this site. It may be available from the Minister’s personal website or the Liberal Party of Australia website, which are not funded by the Commonwealth of Australia.

15 June 2020

Interview with Andrew Bolt, The Bolt Report, Sky News

Note

Subjects: Foreign investment; State border restrictions; Black Lives Matter protests; Anti-Semitism;

ANDREW BOLT:

Treasurer, thank you so much for your time. Before I talk to you about this anti-semitism, can I just ask you about the economy?

JOSH FRYDENBERG:

That is important.

ANDREW BOLT:

You’ve got a new investment policy that would be much tougher on investment from China, you’re changing the Foreign Acquisitions and Takeovers Act. Now China’s not happy so why are you doing this?

JOSH FRYDENBERG:

Well this is not about any particular country. This is about ensuring that Australia has control over its foreign investment regime and that when foreign investment occurs in our country that it’s on our terms and in our interests. Now let me be very clear Andrew, foreign investment has served Australia well. One in ten Australian jobs relates to foreign investment. In fact, we wouldn’t have developed our mining sector or indeed our tourism sector or many other sectors across the economy without foreign investment. But increasingly we’re seeing foreign investment being used not for purely commercial gains but also for strategic objectives. And at a time when we have a heightened and more complex geostrategic and geopolitical environment, when technology is advancing very quickly, it’s important that our laws stay up with those developments and that’s why we acted the way we have and are putting in place a new national security test.

ANDREW BOLT:

Now meanwhile, of course, I think the virus, obviously, heightened some of these concerns about sovereignty risks etc. etc. with China buying up equipment and us not having some of the stuff we need. Meanwhile you’re also trying to get Australians back into work. Now these virus bans are so killing jobs. Do you personally want the states to move a lot faster than they’re doing now? Because right now, I think they’re causing more harm than good.

JOSH FRYDENBERG:

Yes. I fully agree that these restrictions on interstate travel should be lifted immediately. Closed borders costs jobs. We know for example tourism is a very big business in Australia but also particularly in Queensland and there is no medical reason according to the Deputy Chief Medical Officer as to why those border restrictions should be in place and that’s why they should be lifted. We know that those three stages of restrictions which National Cabinet agreed to lift, will lead to around 850,000 people getting back to work, and more than $9 billion being added to the economy each month. But if you put on top of that the lifting of the border restrictions, I think you’ll see our economy recover even faster.

ANDREW BOLT:

Well the fear, of course, for some that lifting the bans means more infections, how do you then feel about the race protests, the big ones that, particularly in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane that broke the law against mass meetings when we’ve just heard today that a second protestor at the Melbourne Black Lives Matter protests, a woman, she’s now tested positive too. Does that really grind your gears?

JOSH FRYDENBERG:

Well its certainly very disappointing, but more than that, it’s putting at risk the health of the broader population. And so many people have sacrificed so much Andrew, to ensure that we as a nation have flattened that curve. The number of cases in Australia of coronavirus was increasing in March by more than 20 per cent per day and we’ve got that down dramatically to the point that we can start easing restrictions in getting people back to work. But you know, diggers haven’t been able to commemorate ANZAC Day, people haven’t been able to send off loved ones at funerals or to celebrate their union at a wedding because of those social distancing and other health restrictions that we’ve put in place. So it is very irresponsible that people have gone out and demonstrated the way they have in these mass gatherings against the medical advice and indeed in breach of the law.

ANDREW BOLT:

Yeah, and they’ve delayed, I think, the recovery a little bit, freaking Premiers out. Now these race protests, for many people it seems the agenda now goes way beyond fighting racism. There’s been the looting, the violence, the pack attacks on whites, the attacks on journalists, the attacks on statues even of Winston Churchill, can you believe and navigator James Cook.  Taking a broader view, what do you really think is going on here with these protests?

JOSH FRYDENBERG:

Well they’re certainly for a broader objective where they want to challenge a leader of the stature of Winston Churchill. I mean, that is just crazy and nuts to be honest because Winston Churchill helped save the families of those people who were protesting in Britain. Indeed, he saved the nation and the world from Nazi tyranny. If you think, as it’s been said before, if you think Winston Churchill is racist, what about the guy he stopped in Adolf Hitler? Back in 2002, Andrew, the BBC did a poll in Britain as to who was the greatest Briton of all time and it’s a long list. It could be Darwin, it could be Shakespeare, it could be Queen Elizabeth. No, it was Winston Churchill…

ANDREW BOLT:

So what’s going on? Explain this. To me, what you’re saying, indicates, maybe an ignorance of history, but also its a front, it seems to me a power struggle, it seems to me an attack on western civilisation for some of the organisers. Is that how you see it? 

JOSH FRYDENBERG:

Well it’s definitely a degree of ignorance about our history, there’s no doubt about that. But also these are demonstrations that are morphing into much more than a protest about a tragic event in the United States. These are morphing into a much bigger movement and I think, potentially, it’s pretty dangerous because we in Australia and, indeed, around the world, we have a very tolerant, multicultural society and that is something I think we should celebrate. But people should not, in this case, in France, and I think you showed some footage of that…

ANDREW BOLT:

Let me told to you about France and ask you specifically about France, Treasurer. The stabbing of a Rabbi first in London and then the Black Lives Matter protest in Paris. People attacking Israel, shouting “dirty Jew,” how distressing was that to you personally?

JOSH FRYDENBERG:

I think it’s shocking to me, but it’s shocking to people who are Jewish and non-Jewish alike. That is the sign of intolerance. We know that the United Nations has singled Israel out. The General Assembly has moved more than 400 resolutions against Israel. The UN Human Rights Council singled out Israel for criticism more times than all the other countries combined and there are some countries there with some pretty bad human rights records. So, Israel does get a bad rap from the UN and clearly these protests are being used by agitators to also attack Israel and that is also very distressing and unfortunate. 

ANDREW BOLT:

There seems to be a sort of self-loathing hatred of the west that’s going to eat us up if people don’t fight back. Thank you so much indeed for your time.

JOSH FRYDENBERG:

We’ve all got a responsibility to call it out where we see it.

ANDREW BOLT:

Absolutely, absolutely. Thanks so much for your time.

JOSH FRYDENBERG:

Thanks, Andrew.