Doorstop, Parliament House, Canberra

  • Transcript E&OE
Subjects: PNG Prime Minister Marape’s visit to Australia; United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) investigations.

Journalist: So why do you think it’s so important to have the Prime Minister of PNG here today?

Penny Wong, Foreign Minister: PNG is a very important partner in the Pacific, a very important part of our Pacific family, but more importantly than that, I think this is a really important day, this is a day in which we really elevate our relationship with the Pacific. Prime Minister Marape is the first Pacific leader to speak to our Parliament, just as Prime Minister Albanese was the first Australian Prime Minister to speak to the Papua New Guinean Parliament. That says something about who we are to each other.

Journalist: Minister, the Prime Minister of PNG has described Australia as a big brother and we do have a long historical military ties, police ties. Why is it then that we are seeing China really expand its influence in the region?

Foreign Minister: Well, I think you've heard me say very explicitly over some time, we know we live in a region that is, where there is much more competition. We know that China is a great power asserting its interests. What we are doing is re-emphasising our part in the Pacific family and the importance of that engagement, and you’re seeing that today.

Journalist: How confident are you that Australia can stop China's further expansion into PNG?

Foreign Minister: I know we live in a different era and we're not going back to where we were. I also know we had a decade of inaction under the previous government. I know that we have to work harder, and that's what we’ll keep doing.

Journalist: Minister, are you aware of the reports that the dossier relied on to suspend UNRWA funding does not contain evidence to link the organisation’s staff with the October 7 attacks?

Foreign Minister: Look, I spoke with the head of UNRWA yesterday. Obviously, we recognise the importance of that organisation which is why we doubled the core funding and we, I spoke with him about the various inquiries and investigations they are doing. And we spoke about ensuring that donors such as Australia can have the confidence to ensure that the pause is lifted because this is important for the people of Gaza and the people of the Occupied Palestinian Territories more broadly. Thank you very much.

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