House debates

Thursday, 17 February 2022

Questions without Notice


3:07 pm

Photo of Madeleine KingMadeleine King (Brand, Australian Labor Party, Shadow Minister for Trade) Share this | | Hansard source

My question is to the Prime Minister: Can the Prime Minister explain his 2017 trip to Beijing for the signing of an MOU, when he said, on 16 September that year:

There was also agreement today on third party cooperation about infrastructure and other investments as part of the 'One Belt, One Road' program …

Can the Prime Minister tell the House why his government has kept this MOU secret? Will the Prime Minister table the MOU today?

Hon. Members:

Honourable members interjecting

Photo of Andrew WallaceAndrew Wallace (Speaker) Share this | | Hansard source

Just before I call the Prime Minister—

Honourable members interjecting

I haven't called the Prime Minister yet, because there's no point, because I wouldn't be able to hear what the Prime Minister is saying. Prime Minister, I haven't given you the call yet.

Honourable members interjecting

I'm waiting for the level of interjections to drop. I'm so pleased the member for McEwen is right down the back there. The level of interjections is too high. The Prime Minister has the call.

3:08 pm

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

It is a matter of public record that the government's policy, under both the previous Prime Minister and me, has been not to sign up to the Belt and Road Initiative. We have not signed up to the Belt and Road Initiative. We never have; we never will. Where discrete projects have been pursued in parts of the world—which is the policy of those opposite, I note—where there has been co-investment in projects, that has occurred. But we have not signed up—and never will—to the Belt and Road Initiative.

I note that the reference is made to when I was last there in 2017 as part of the closer economic dialogue arrangements between our governments. Those dialogues have not occurred for many years. They have not occurred for many years, and a lot has happened in the last five years. Since then, Australia has been subject to economic cohesion by the Chinese government, and we have stood up to that more firmly than any other country almost anywhere in the world. But we note the bravery and courage of Lithuania, and we stand with the Lithuanians on those issues, and we've worked with other countries around the world to stand up to the economic coercion of the Chinese government, which has only been met with more retaliation on Australia.

I'm not the leader of the political party who was happy to trade away some coercion for other coercion. That's the Leader of the Labor Party. The Leader of the Labor Party is the Chinese government's pick at this election.

Photo of Andrew WallaceAndrew Wallace (Speaker) Share this | | Hansard source

Has the Prime Minister concluded his answer? Yes.

Honourable members interjecting

Did the Prime Minister make an unparliamentary remark? Having reflected on that question—it's a bit late now—it really did contain a level of argument. Anyway, we'll move on—

Honourable members interjecting

That it was secret. We'll move on.