Assistant Defence Minister Hastie seeks cash for combat

Assistant Minister for Defence Andrew Hastie at the 79th anniversary Battle of Coral Sea commemoration service held at Russell Offices, Canberra.
Assistant Minister for Defence Andrew Hastie at the 79th anniversary Battle of Coral Sea commemoration service held at Russell Offices, Canberra.

"We must be ready."

That was the message from the local federal member to supporters in an email referencing the threat of authoritarian states.

In an effort to build a $135,000 fighting fund, Canning MP Andrew Hastie called on his supporters to help the federal government confront states that threaten Australia.

The email to donors and constituents, obtained by the Mail, declared campaign cash would help Australia defend its sovereignty and uphold security.

"The biggest challenge right now comes from authoritarian states who are threatening our sovereignty and security," the letter stated.

"As the global order that has guaranteed Australia's peace and prosperity since the Second World War comes under increasing pressure, our sovereignty and resilience will be tested in new ways.

"We need a strong economy, sovereign industries and manufacturing, and a mission-focused defence force receiving clear leadership on their core business - protecting Australia.

"So it's vital to put the right voices in your parliament, at this critical moment in our history."

The letter sent to constituents.

The letter sent to constituents.

His comments come as Australia's relationship with China grows increasingly fractious, with other MPs also declaring that "drums of war" are beating.

The Secretary of the Department of Home Affairs Mike Pezzullo said Australia must strive for peace, but not at the cost of its liberty in a speech to mark Anzac Day.

"Today, as free nations again hear the beating drums and watch worryingly the militarisation of issues that we had, until recent years, thought unlikely to be catalysts for war," he said.

"Let us continue to search unceasingly for the chance for peace while bracing again, yet again, for the curse of war."

However, Opposition foreign affairs spokeswoman Penny Wong said MPs were using Australian tensions with authoritarian states to extract political gain.

When it comes to national security, Ms Wong said "words matter" as by fueling talk of tension with states such as China it undermined Australia's interests by making conflict appear inevitable.

"When it comes to issues of national security, when it comes to issues of foreign policy, when it comes to issues as sensitive as Taiwan, our language should be sober and it should be cautious."

As Mr Hastie was scrutinised whether it was common practice to ask for donations of this nature his spokesperson told the Mail the MP had been doing grassroots campaign fundraising via email for many years.

"All the necessary disclosures were made in accordance with Australian Electoral Commission requirements," the spokesperson said.

Read more:

Mr Hastie was sworn into his new ministerial role as Assistant Defence Minister by Prime Minister Scott Morrison in December.

As the dust settles on his new Assistant Defence Minister appointment, Andrew Hastie says he "feels like he's come home" given his previous career with the Australian Defence Force.

"Over the past few months I've visited military bases across the country, including here in WA," he said.

"I've dived with the crew of submarine HMAS Sheehan, taken to the skies in a RAAF PC21 and done physical training with soldiers in Brisbane. Our ADF sailors, soldiers and airmen and women are doing vital work to keep out nation secure."

We want to keep our region peaceful and harmonious, building as many friendly relationships with our neighbours.

Andrew Hastie

He said the Indo-Pacific region was currently in the midst of the biggest strategic realignment since the Second World War.

"Defence must be able to deploy military power to shape our environment, deter actions against our interests and, when required, respond with lethal military force," he told the Mail.

"They are our planning objectives and we remain focused on them. We want to keep our region peaceful and harmonious, building as many friendly relationships with our neighbours.

"But our no-fail mission will always be to fight and win Australia's wars, if necessary. We need to be supremely competent at the profession of arms."

Mr Hastie resigned from 13 years in the ADF when he became Canning MP in 2015.