Press conference, Parramatta, NSW
Parts of this transcript has been redacted in accordance with Digital Transformation Agency guidelines.
MINISTER PAYNE: Can I finally say, there are extremely concerning reports out of Ukraine this morning, in relation to the use of chemical weapons by Russia. If they are confirmed, that will be a further wholesale breach of international law. A further indication of President Putin and Russia's absolute violation of every single value and every single rules-based aspect of the rules based global order, which has stood us in such good stead for so many decades now. Australia will be working with our counterparts to determine the veracity of these reports and we'll have more to say on that later.
MINISTER PAYNE: I think the PM's covered the Solomons issues very broadly there, but in relation to my meeting with Secretary Blinken, we certainly did discuss the Pacific. And I think it's worth remembering that after Secretary Antony Blinken visited Australia for the Quad in Melbourne just six or seven weeks ago, he went from here to Fiji and met with Pacific leaders on the ground in Fiji. One of the first US Secretaries of State to do that, in decades, literally. So he's very aware of the importance of this part of the world. The US is a strong supporter of the Pacific Island Forum, and in that meeting, in Fiji, they also announced the establishment of a new Embassy in Honiara. I think that's that's walking the walk and talking the talk in terms of their engagement and investment in the region. And I know from my conversations with the Secretary of State, there's more to come in that regard, and they'll be establishing that Embassy as soon as possible.
JOURNALIST: If I could grab you just while you're there, on Moscow imposing sanctions on members of Australia's Parliament. What is your reaction to that? Does that mean anything to you?
MINISTER PAYNE: I made my reaction clear in a post on the day that that occurred. It will not deter Australia, in any way, from imposing the maximum possible costs on Russia for the unlawful invasion of Ukraine. A wholesale breach of international law and a wholesale breach of the UN Charter.