House debates

Wednesday, 16 February 2022

Questions without Notice


2:12 pm

Photo of Ted O'BrienTed O'Brien (Fairfax, Liberal Party) Share this | | Hansard source

My question goes to the Prime Minister. Will the Prime Minister please outline to the House why it is important not to appease or be intimidated from calling out those countries that seek to coerce and bully others; and how has the Morrison government led the way in not being intimidated, by standing up to bullying and coercion, including our region; and what has been the response to the government's approach?

2:13 pm

Photo of Scott MorrisonScott Morrison (Cook, Liberal Party, Prime Minister) Share this | | Hansard source

I thank the member for his question and his concern on these matters. The Australian government remains deeply concerned about the ongoing threats of terrible violence against the people of Ukraine from Russia, a country that faces no threat from Ukraine whatsoever, yet they face these terrible threats of intimidation and violence. Russia must unconditionally withdraw. There cannot be any dividend or concession provided in the name of appeasement to Russia. That is the view of my government.

Cyberattacks have been reported to be undertaken on the Ukraine, on its government, on its defence forces and, indeed, on its banks, and those reports run counter to the reports of suggestions of pullback, which are unconvincing and unconfirmed. President Biden said this:

If Russia attacks Ukraine, it will be met with overwhelming international condemnation. The world will not forget that Russia chose needless death and destruction.

There is one significant global power that pretends to international leadership that remains silent and even complicit when it comes to condemning the actions and the threats of violence and intimidation by Russia, and that is the Chinese government. That is deeply concerning to those who live here in the Indo-Pacific region. We have warned about these issues for some time, and as a government we have taken strong action to stand up to any coercion and any threats that have been levelled at Australia. We have been criticised for doing that as a government, including by those opposite. We have been further targeted as a country because of the strong stand that we have made, but we have also earned the great respect of nations around the world, such as those in Europe and the United States. They have seen what Australia has done, and they have been impressed by our resolve and our resistance.

My government will never be the preferred partner of a foreign government that has chosen to intimidate this country and has sought to threaten this country. They will not find a fellow traveller when it comes to threats and coercion against Australia in my government. I will never be their candidate.