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24-02-2022 09:20 AM


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24-02-2022 09:20 AM


Prime Minister Scott Morrison MP media address on Russia Ukraine crisis


24-02-2022 09:41 AM

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2022-02-24 09:20:27

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(generated from captions) close to finding the body. They say the huge operation will continue for as long as it takes.The Prime Minister, Scott Morrison, is stepping up for a media conference. Our thoughts are with the people of Ukraine. Our thoughts this morning are also with the 38,000 Australians of Ukrainian dissent who are decent and who face the threats of intimidation and violence from a nation in Russia that is seeking to bully them for their own ends. I've just returned from a meeting of the Executive Council with Governor-General where my government has signed the amindment amendment to the sanctions regulations which creates the framework to target sanctions against individuals and I stress individuals who are in a situation where they are able to support a regime and act in the interests of Russia to the ends that they are supporting the measures that we're seeing in the Ukraine. This is important legislation. It is targeted legislation. It adds a whole new tool to our toolkit when it comes to dealing with this illegal, unlawful behaviour. It is a tool that we're implementing in partnership with our allies and like minded countries particularly the United States and the United Kingdom. This will be the first tranche of measures that we expect to take. We are taking actions against eight members of Russia's Security Council, a series of banks and financial institutions that I indicated yesterday and extending existing sanctions on the transport, energy and telecommunications and oil and gas and mineral sectors to Donetsk and Luhansk. This is getting us the scope to cover people and entities of strategic and economic significance to Russia. So that gives us a broad remit in order to take targeted action. So, the sanctions we're putting in place aren't just what you would have seen in the past against a nation more broadly. This goes direct to those individuals who are at the heart of this bullying and aggressive behaviour. It targets their financial interests. It prevents them from travelling. It stops them from moving money around. It stops them from coming and having holidays in countries such as Australia or going shopping in Harrods or doing the things of that nature and trying to live their lives as if they have nothing to do with the violence and bullying and intimidation that they are supporting from the Russian regime. The sanctions will become law tomorrow and they will take effect at the end of March. This is important under legislation because that gives the opportunities for businesses that have had legitimate operations and business interests in Russia and in the affected territories of Ukraine to be able to make changes to their arrangements. So these are significant sanctions, but we obviously have to give Australian companies and individuals the time to go and make changes to their arrangements in an orderly way. We are working very closely, especially with the United States and the United Kingdom on our list and our list is longer than the eight that I've just mentioned and we will be working closely to develop the case that will enable us to take further actions against others. We won't hesitate when we're in possession of that information to take that extra step. We've already had a wider package of sanctions on persons and entities in reserve. Now, I note that many have said do you think that this will lead to Russia pulling back? I would hope so, but I don't expect so. The reason we're doing this is there must be a price for the unprovoked, unlawful, unwarranted, unjustified attacks and threats and intimidation that has been imposed by Russia on Ukraine. This cannot be a consequence-free action by Vladimir Putin and the Russian regime. It should send a message to any other regime out in the world that if you go down this path, if you seek to coerce and bully others then the world should stand together in targeting those who are directly at the centre of these activities and this is incredibly important. There must be consequences for violent coercive and bullying behaviour. Last night I spoke with the Ukrainian Prime Minister to reaffirm our unwavering commitment to Ukraine's sovereignty and Territorial integrity and denounce Russia's aggressive behaviour towards Ukraine. The Prime Minister was deeply grateful for two things. First of all, obviously, our support for them and the rule of international law and the protection that should afort Ford them, but equally, he was very appreciative of the support and encouragement that was being provided by the Australian people and the support for people of Ukrainian decent in Australia. There is about 40,000 of Ukrainian dissent. This isn't an issue about the Ukrainian people. I understand that so many of you, if not all of you, would be appalled by the actions of what we're seeing Russia and the Russian government do in Ukraine and all Australians are united whether they be of Russian or Ukrainian dissent, that's why they have come to Australia. Australia is a country that values the rule of law and does not bully our neighbours and in fact, we stand up to those who do so. I was able to update the Prime Minister of our immediate action on sanctions which he welcomes and on banks and organisation and he was appreciative for the support that we're providing in the cyber domain. We discussed a number of issues about where Australia can be helpful. Within of the particular issues that I discussed with him was the actions we're taking for Ukrainian citizens who are currently in Australia and he was appreciative we will be extending the visas by 6 months, of those whose visas will conclude by 30th June so that provides room and space for those who are in Australia to remain. The second pot, we have put to the top of the pile all Ukrainian applications for visas to come to Australia of 430 outstanding visa applications and the Immigration Minister is addressing those as a matter of priority. We also spoke of the support we're prepared to provide in concert with other countries in relation to displaced persons and other humanitarian support that may be necessary. Later today the Minister for Immigration, Alex Hawke, will be meeting with members of the Ukrainian community here in Australia to further discuss any issues of concern to them and I spoke to the leader of the community yesterday on those matters. I also want to make a few comments about the statements made by the Russian ambassador. The Russian ambassador cas was called in to speak to the secretary of Foreign Affairs. The suggestion that somehow Russian soldiers crossing the border and entering Ukraine is deeply offensive to anyone who has pulled on a uniform as a peacekeeper across the world which so many countries in the Pacific have as well. They're not peacekeepers. They're invaders. That's how we see and we'll call it out. If they don't like it, that's tough. There is no justification for Russia's aggression in Ukraine and any attempt to create some pretext for it is offensive. On the issue of cyber security, there has been a pattern of cyberattacks against Ukraine and that continues now. Malicious cyber activity could impact Australian organisations through unintented interruption or unmaintained cyber activities. We are not aware of any current or specific threats against Australian organisations, but are adopting an enhances cyber security posture and we been for sometime now and increased monitoring of threats will help reduce threats to Australian organisations. The Australian Cyber Security Centre recommends that organisations urgently adopt an enhanced cyber security posture. This should include reviewing and enhancing mitigation and measures. Log-in and detection systems should be fully updated and apply additional monitoring that their networks. Organisations should assess their preparedness to respond to any cyber security issues. To mitigate either security incidents as a baseline. That baseline makes it

Happen hi to take questions. REPORTER: (SPEAKS INDISTINCTLY). As I said before. I don't necessarily expect it to deter an authoritarian autocratic leader which is intent on taking opportunity to pursue their own interests by violating another country's borders. Someone who's clearly been preparing to do that for some time, I doubt necessarily will step back as a result of sang sanctions imposed. You do them because anyone who seeks to do this must face a cost. There will be a cost to Russia's actions. That's why I continue to stress it is important for all country around the world to denounce this behaviour, join other countries in imposing sanctions and apply a very severe cost, particularly on those directly benefiting from this violent behaviour and ensure that they have no place to run and no place to hide. Any country that is allowing those who are at the heart of perpetrating this to be able to go about their lives and spend their money and make investments and do all of that is only encouraging this behaviour and they will get no comfort here in Australia.REPORTER: How much are the sanctions expected to impact Australian businesses? Do you know how much investment we have with Russia? Rex Patrick this morning said diplomats are conducting intelligence operations out of Russia, why not expel, given some of the cyber threats if not the ambassador?Firstly, our trade with Russia is quite minor compared with many other countries. In making the decisions yesterday, the Treasury secretary attended that meeting and gave us advice we could impose these sanctions with minimal impact on Australian businesses but it is important under the autonomous sanctions legislation there is a period of time for businesses to make adjustments to their arrangements as appropriate. We are not overly concerned when it comes to the direct impact of sanctions. Why? Sanctions are intended to impact those they're directed towards, not towards those imposing them. That's the point of sanctions and how they're conducted. The most potent form of those sanctions are the targeted ones to the individuals that is now possible because of the stronger laws my government passed tone able us to do just that. I've seen the commentary that has come from others who don't sit in national security committees of Cabinet and don't have the benefit of the intelligence and advice and information and the staged reresponses the government is engaged in. They're at liberty to make their contributions and comments but I would simply say that Australia will continue to take a very careful, strategic and staged response to this crisis. We have plenty left in the tank when it comes to further actions we would take if and when the violence is escalated by Russia. We will continue, I think, to follow a very disciplined path on this, not reactive. We've been discussing this with our partners and allies for some time and will be in lock-step with them in terms of how we go through.REPORTER: Has introducing sanctions prevented Russia from escalating to this point, both from Australia and our allies?I wouldn't say that, again, sanctions are intended to impose a cost on their behaviour. It is pretty clear, I think to those who had access to information that we have had access to could draw anything other than the conclusion that President Putin has been intent on thising aion for some considerable time and that his face is very much set towards this action. That only should strengthen our resolve to impose a heavy cost and burden and not just for the moment, but over time.REPORTER: potentially
What would those further sanctions potentially look like, if we were to go to the next stage?If I was in a position to be announcing what they were, I'd be doughing that. I tend not to telegraph what our next actions r but I can awe sure you that we have all options on the tail when it comes to our diplomatic and other economic sanctions.REPORTER: Unlike other countries, India has said they're remaining neutral, there will be no sanctions. They're a QUAD partner of ours R are you concerned the Indians may through lack of action aiding, abetting or encouraging in your words Vladimir Putin?I wouldn't refer to them in the same context I made remarks about China. China joined up - voted with Russia - in the National Security Council of the UN. India did not do that. The debate that China and Russia voted to prevent preceded and was not obstructed by India. All countries have different levels of engagement with Russia. Other countries in our own region and so I'm respectful of that but my position is very clear - I think it is important for like-minded countries to take the strongest possible action because one day it's a country like Russia threatening the border and seeking to invade Ukraine and the next it could be countries in our own region seeking to do the same thing. My response and Australia's response will always be principled and consistent. REPORTER: Prime Minister, with cyber security - without bringing up regional matters, do you feel the Government has the ledge lay tive framework and settings right to allow it to insist private holders of critical infrastructure, banks and that sort of thing to fend off cyber attacks should they come in more concerted action from Russia? Certainly the enhancements and strengthening of those laws we put in place under our critical infrastructure legislation and there are further will continue to strengthen that position. Cyber security threats are a constantly... (PLANE NOISE) P A helicopter... Dealing with cyber security threats is a constantly escalating task. So, that job is never complete. John Howard used to talk about issues that have ever receding finish-line. I would put dealing with cyber threats certainly in that category. That's why you want a government that takes it seriously, takes the initiative, that doesn't his theyed in strengthening these laws which we have always been prepared to do. We set up the critical centre, we reformed investment rules and put the tools and enforcement sanctions in place, we called out malicious cyber activity by state and non-state actors, organised criminals and we built our capability through our investment in the Australian cyber security centre and a cyber strategy to equip Australian companies as well as government instrumentalities, we've briefed state governments territory governments constantly about the risk to their own assets. I would say it's an issue in which we need to be constantly vigilant upon. REPORTER: Do you expect petrol prices to go up as a result of this? Our advice from the International Energy Agency is we do expect there to be a short-term - they say a temporary - impact on world oil prices. I think that is to be accepted with the uncertainty and instability that can follow an event of this magnitude but there is nothing to suggest that at the moment that would necessarily be a prolonged event. That could change. Oil prices go up and down and for many other reasons. Those events are pretty much completely outside of the control of the Australian Government in terms of what happens to world oil prices, but we are working with other partners about what collective action that we can take in relation to oil prices and mitigating the shocks that can occur. That's on the issue of oil prices. I would note that our gas security mechanism and the memorandum that we have for the required supply of gas into the Australian domestic market, has proved highly effective - highly effective - in keeping gas prices in Australia under control to the tune of up to about 75% lower than they might have otherwise been as a result of what we're seeing in Europe. What does that mean? That means electricity prices are lower. What does that mean? It means that the price of gas feed stock into manufacturing which means those businesses which could otherwise be completely overwhelmed by such a surge in gas prices and put them at great risk, have been able to continue their operations and remain highly competitive and so we are monitoring the impacts on energy prices and working with the IEA and Minister Taylor will have a bit more to say about that later today. You know, there are some things within Australia's control, and we're taking action on those. The ACCC, for example, is already tasked and they already have the powers and laws have had had more powers and laws to strengthen their arm provided by this government than any other and anyone who seeks to exploit or take opportunity from rising oil prices at the bowser on con seemingers, well, they can expect the ACCC to respond to them, I think, very quickly.REPORTER: Prime Minister the Ukraine Council for New South Wales said Australia should provide lethal military assistance to Kyiv. At what point would something like that be considered?That's not under contemplation by Australia, never has been, never been requested. The support we provide in relation to that type of assistance is done a long way away from Ukraine. It doesn't involve the deployment of those types of forces. It never would be in that con texts. Thank you very much, everyone, ta. That was live from Sydney. The Prime Minister talking about the sanctions initiated against Russian companies and individuals who the PM says are at the heart of the action against Ukraine. Russia said it's recognising the breakaway areas of Ukraine as independent states and says Russia will send in troops. The sanctions that Australia is initiating don't take effect until the end of March. The PM says he doesn't expect the action also stop Vladimir Putin, but Scott Morrison says the Russian actions on Ukraine