Doorstop, Parliament House, Canberra

  • Transcript, E&OE
Subjects: US-China balloon incident, Voice to Parliament.

JOURNALIST: Do you think the US took the right action in shooting down the Chinese suspected spy balloon?

PENNY WONG, FOREIGN MINISTER: We share the US concerns about the violation of international law and the importance of the protection of US sovereignty. And we appreciate the measured way in which the US ensured that this was brought down safely and over its territorial waters. What we would now urge is continued engagement. Obviously, it's very important that the US and China continue to engage. We don't want competition to escalate into conflict, and we welcome Secretary of State Blinken's indication that the US remains open to diplomatic engagement. We'd encouraged China to respond positively.

JOURNALIST: Do you believe there's any risk here of this affecting relations between Australia and China?

FOREIGN MINISTER: Look, we have come to government with a very clear view about the importance of stabilising the relationship with China and we've taken many steps to seek to achieve that. But as I've said, many steps will have to be taken. We will cooperate where we can, we will disagree where we must, but we'll continue to engage in our national interest.

JOURNALIST: On that note, do you expect trade to resume this year for lobsters?

FOREIGN MINISTER: Look, ultimately, we believe it's in China's interest to remove the trade impediments. We believe it's in both countries interest to remove the trade impediments. Obviously, there are many steps which have been taken and many steps which will be taken.

JOURNALIST: Is the balloon a step back?

FOREIGN MINISTER: As I said at the outset, we share the US concerns about the infringement or the violation of international law, but what we would now encourage is continued dialogue because the world wants a peaceful, stable, prosperous world. And that means the great powers will need to continue to engage.

JOURNALIST: Can I just ask on Voice since that will be a key issue this year. Do you believe that The Voice should have an advisory role when it comes to National Cabinet?

FOREIGN MINISTER: Well, the National Cabinet is made up of First Ministers and I'm sure they take advice from many sources, but ultimately they make their own decisions and Parliament makes its own decisions. But look, can I just - let's go back to why we want to do this. We want to do this because First Nations people have said this is a way forward. We want to do this because we want to constitutionally recognise our First Nations people in order for them to have a say. And to my way of thinking, I think it's a pretty good thing if you give people a say.

JOURNALIST: Thank you.


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