House debates

Tuesday, 23 May 2023

Statements by Members

Foreign Affairs

1:49 pm

Photo of Graham PerrettGraham Perrett (Moreton, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

We've witnessed some great changes in the first year of the Albanese-Marles government, but I want to particularly focus on our relationships with our Asian and Pacific neighbours and the wider world. No longer is foreign affairs used as a springboard for domestic politics—or, worse, a lobbying opportunity for jobs after parliament. I'm sure Australians recall former foreign minister Downer slotting straight into the board of Huawei, former trade minister Andrew Robb walking out of parliament straight into a lucrative job with a billionaire closely linked with the Chinese Communist Party or, even worse, former prime minister Tony Abbott going to work for the UK government to advise them on trade deals. And our Pacific neighbours will never forgive or forget the current opposition leader joking about our Pacific neighbours' homes being destroyed by climate change.

What a breath of fresh air Foreign Minister Penny Wong, Trade Minister Don Farrell and their teams—I see the member for Gellibrand in front of us, the minister at the table—have been, strategically and methodically going about repairing the relationships damaged by the coalition, re-engaging with our Pacific neighbours via diplomacy and significant financial support. A safe and secure Pacific is important to the future of Australia, and good trade relations with Asia are the key to our future prosperity—and I don't just mean for our barley farmers, wine exporters or crayfish exporters. One by one, the Albanese government is repairing our trade relationship with China. It was good to see the lifting of restrictions on our $700 million timber trade last week. Foreign Minister Penny Wong is doing a great job.