House debates

Thursday, 30 November 2023

Questions without Notice

International Relations: Australia and China

2:12 pm

Photo of Peter DuttonPeter Dutton (Dickson, Liberal Party, Leader of the Opposition) Share this | | Hansard source

My question is to the Prime Minister. Yesterday I met with the Chinese Communist Party's top diplomat, who was here in Australia, and I commented and made clear my remarks in relation to China's attack on Australian Navy divers and expressed a very strong view that it was totally unacceptable and unprovoked. Why didn't the Prime Minister raise the attack on the Australian Navy divers when he met with President Xi?

2:13 pm

Photo of Anthony AlbaneseAnthony Albanese (Grayndler, Australian Labor Party, Prime Minister) Share this | | Hansard source

The premise of the question is wrong—completely wrong. Yesterday, indeed, this official also met with the foreign minister, Penny Wong, in a formal meeting, and it was raised again by her, as was appropriate.

Can I make this point as well: I've put on the record a number of times the difference with private discussions, which the Leader of the Opposition himself said should not be disclosed, as have former prime ministers Abbott, Turnbull and Morrison, and I have been consistent with that. But we've been very clear about the government expressing our concerns about the HMAS Toowoomba incident clearly, directly and unambiguously. The event was unsafe and unprofessional, and we've communicated that very directly in a calm and consistent way.

There was a comment that is pretty important, I think, that was made on Tuesday. The Navy chief, Vice Admiral Mark Hammond was asked about this. The Leader of the Opposition, I would hope, has respect for the Chief of Navy in Australia, and this is what he said:

The government has raised this very effectively … I'm very comfortable with the way the government's dealt with it.

Opposition Members:

Opposition members interjecting

Photo of Milton DickMilton Dick (Speaker) Share this | | Hansard source

Order, members on my left! The Leader of the Opposition will cease interjecting so I can hear from the member for Macnamara.