Tuesday, 27 November 2012
Questions without Notice
Foreign Affairs and Trade
My question is to the Minister for Trade and Competitiveness and the Minister representing the Minister for Foreign Affairs. Will the minister inform the House of the government's recent engagements with foreign leaders and ministerial counterparts in pursuit of Australia's trade and foreign policy interests? Why is this important, and is the minister aware of alternative approaches?
I thank the member for Kingston for her question on policy. The government has been very active on both the trade and foreign policy fronts. Recently in Phnom Penh the Prime Minister and I were at the launch of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership negotiations directed towards a free trade area for Asia and the Pacific. While we were there we attended a meeting hosted by President Obama on the Trans-Pacific Partnership, also directed towards the ideal of a free trade area for Asia and the Pacific. I have had the opportunity to meet with Indonesian trade minister Gita Wirjawan, coordinating minister Hatta Rajasa and agriculture minister Suswono.
I spoke personally very recently with China's commerce minister Chen Deming and with WTO Director-General Pascal Lamy. The Prime Minister and I met with Prime Minister Noda of Japan. I have met with Malaysia's trade minister Mustapa Mohamed, Russia's trade minister Andrey Belousov, the Deputy Prime Minister of Turkey, the South Korean trade minister and Michael Froman, Deputy National Security Adviser to the President of the United States of America.
Foreign policy has been prosecuted very effectively by foreign minister Bob Carr, who has met with Secretary of State Hilary Clinton, with Indonesian foreign minister Marty Natalegawa, with the Malaysian foreign minister, with the foreign minister of Japan and with the foreign minister of France. We have won a seat on the UN Security Council, we have co-hosted the AUSMIN talks with the Minister for Defence. All of these are directed towards pursuing Australia's national interest.
I was asked about alternatives. The only high profile meeting the Deputy Leader of the Opposition has had in recent days is with Ralph Blewitt. That is a great testament to their policy, is it not? The judgement on the Deputy Leader of the Opposition is not one that I cast; it is the judgement of the Leader of the Opposition who in a CEDA speech recently said in relation to the member for Kooyong, who was in attendance:
… I've got to say it's nice to have someone in the Parliamentary Party who understands foreign affairs at last.
What an indictment on the Deputy Leader of the Opposition—even the Leader of the Opposition regards the Deputy Leader of the Opposition as a policy-free zone.
This parliament is supposed to be a clearing house of ideas, not of smears, and the only party which is interested in ideas and policy is the Labor Party, the Gillard Labor government, and those opposite should be condemned for their 20 questions of smear.