16 September 2021

SUBJECT/S: AUKUS Agreement on nuclear-powered submarines; Christian Porter’s Blind Trust; harmful effects of Instagram on mental health of teenage girls

KARL STEFANOVIC, HOST: In just 15 minutes, a moment of history for our nation, a joint press conference from President Biden, Scott Morrison and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson announcing a new defence pact which will see nuclear powered submarines coming to our shores. Let's discuss with Northern Territory Senator Malarndirri McCarthy and 2GB's Chris Smith. Good morning, guys. Nice to see you this morning. To you first of all Malarndirri, Australia getting a fleet of nuclear subs, possibly your reaction?

SENATOR MALARNDIRRI MCCARTHY: Well, we obviously have to see what the details are, Karl, given that it's going to happen in the next 15 minutes or so in terms of the announcement. But one of the things that Labor has been certainly examining over the last eight years under six defence ministers is the 90 billion dollar Future Submarines programme. We've been very concerned about that particular program. So it'll be interesting to see what the announcement is going to be in 15 minutes time.

STEFANOVIC: Do you have any problems with that, theoretically?

MCCARTHY: Well, we've had many problems with it. That's why we've asked so many questions. Senator Penny Wong consistently asks questions around it in the Senate estimates and Defence said earlier this year in its response to some of the questions that we were going to see around 300 submarines in 2035 in the Indo-Pacific region.

STEFANOVIC: Do you have any problem with nuclear submarines?

MCCARTHY: Well, let's have a look at what's going to happen this morning, Karl. I think it's really important that this is a significant announcement between three countries. We don't know the details of that announcement. And I'm certainly very happy to speak with you after I do.


CHRIS SMITH, 2GB: Yes, they do, Karl. Yes they do. Anthony Albanese in particular, has made his political career out of opposing nuclear at every single step. So it will be it'll be really interesting to see whether he comes on board. The fact is, as Gary Johnston, the late owner of Jaycar, campaigned for for many years, diesel submarines were going to be obsolete as soon as they hit the water. This is an outstanding result that nuclear capability can be used within this region and a great result to see that we're not going to sit back and allow Beijing to gobble up Pacific islands, including Taiwan. Great, outstanding decision

STEFANOVIC: Ok, aren't the issues going to be where you put them, where they're based. There's lots of security issues there. Malarndirri. What about Darwin?

MCCARTHY: Look, clearly, Darwin is an important defence, strategic point. We say that just with Larrakeyah Naval Base now, Karl, and certainly with Robertson Barracks in terms of the Army and the Air Force with Tindale. So we are at an important strategic defence base. And obviously we'd want to have input into any decisions for the North.

STEFANOVIC: And the good news is we can rent some space off the Chinese.

SMITH: Yes. Just send them a letter and ask them nicely.

MCCARTHY: I'll leave that one with you Karl.

STEFANOVIC: Just to settle it all though, Malarndirri. I mean, I'm trying to work it out. Do you do you actually have an issue with the nuclear side of this?

MCCARTHY: Look, I think we have to see what the detail is. I mean, this government has had form in terms of the submarines themselves, Karl. So I'm not going to answer that question because we've had we've examined this issue over the submarines over the last eight years and we're not satisfied with the responses that we've got. So we have to see what the Prime Minister is going to say in the next 10 minutes.

SMITH: It's in their platform, Karl, it's in their platform. No nuclear.

STEFANOVIC: It'll be interesting. It'll be interesting to see how that--

SMITH: We can't use uranium to power anything. It's in their platform.

STEFANOVIC: OK, let's talk about the other nuclear issue for the government right now. Christian Porter's ministerial career hanging by a thread. Does he need to go Malarndirri?

MCCARTHY: Absolutely. He should have gone a long time ago, Karl. I mean, this is just way too late. But of course, we have to ask the questions and push the prime minister to say, why is it that you know nothing about this blind trust?

STEFANOVIC: Chris, blind trusts. There'll be a few people in parliament, I'm sure, checking checking the figures on whether or not they use the blind trust. Did you know it existed? Surely he has to be off the off the, out of cabinet and off the front bench, rather.

SMITH: Yeah. Look, before the pile on begins on Christian Porter again, let's not forget it cost taxpayers $750,000 dollars to run that Four Corners story, which they had no direct evidence against Christian Porter on the issue that they raised. But putting that aside, yeah, he's in deep caca I think when you've got the Prime Minister saying that he will be examining this and putting it to the solicitor general, I think we'll hear a lot more about this. And it may be the end of Christian Porter's career in federal politics.

STEFANOVIC:  I agree. Now, I just want to ask you about this. This one I was really disturbed by this this morning. As a parent, it really concerns me. It's been revealed Facebook knew about the harmful effects its Instagram social media platform was having on the mental health of teenage girls for at least two years. But get this, they kept it quiet. Can you fathom how a corporate entity that pretends to be socially conscious and always there to protect kids against bullying and harmful posts can do the exact opposite? I mean, how many have lost their lives, how many are damaged forever, how many are battling this right now? Malarndirri. What do we need to do about this?

MCCARTHY: Absolutely agree with you. This is this is so alarming for every parent, but also for every child. I mean, and male and female. We see the body image issue just right through each generation. I mean, think of our generation, Karl, growing up. We would have seen it on magazines and the conversations around body image back then. And now we're seeing it through the medium of social media. But you're right, it was certainly very, very incorrect at Facebook to withhold that information when it went through that research. And I would like to know what is going to happen now. What did it do with that research to to implement a strategy to protect our young men and women around the world?

STEFANOVIC: They are culpable here and Chris, this makes me so angry. You?

SMITH: Well, yeah, the fact that it's been kept secret for so long. Mark Zuckerberg even knew about it. I must have missed that press conference. I might have been off that day, Karl, when he decided to change the way Instagram is formulated. They have said, oh, we've we don't compile the number of likes now on Instagram, big woop big woop.

MCCARTHY: It's not good enough.

SMITH: Like seriously, they can go ahead and look at Facebook. And if you come up with some kind of treatment for COVID, you're off Facebook but when it comes to threatening people and making people feel like as if they're worthless, they just let that ride

STEFANOVIC: And it's a silent killer. We know that.

MCCARTHY: It's so wrong.

STEFANOVIC: Guy's big day ahead. Appreciate your time today. Thank you.

MCCARTHY: Thank you.

SMITH: Thanks Karl.