TV interview, Today

  • Transcript (E&OE)
Subjects: ASEAN Summit; Australia-China relationship; Sam Kerr; Taylor Swift concerts.

Karl Stefanovic, host: The Prime Minister is holding high‑level talks with some of Asia's most powerful leaders, with China's growing influence in the region under scrutiny. Let's bring in Foreign Affairs Minister, Penny Wong. Good morning to you, Penny, nice to see you. Do you ever wake up in the wee small hours of the morning, Penny, and think, "Why doesn't Paul Keating like me?"

Penny Wong, Foreign Minister: I can honestly say that I don't. Good morning to you, Karl, good morning everybody. It's great to be here in Melbourne, and it's fantastic to be here with all the leaders of ASEAN, Southeast Asia; so important for Australia's security and so important for our future prosperity.

Karl Stefanovic: All right. So are you rattling the China can, like he says?

Foreign Minister: I think you should ‑ I'd invite people to read what I said, and you know, what I said yesterday, and what this forum is about, is about how we work together to ensure peace, stability and prosperity in our region. That's what the Government's doing. That's what I'm doing.

Karl Stefanovic: So how is our conflicted policy with China, after what he called "The Goon Show" with spy boss, Mike Burgess?

Foreign Minister: Look, Mr Keating's entitled to his views, they're his views. What the Government is focused on is what we've been focused on from the day we were elected, which is, how do we work with countries in the region to ensure peace, stability and prosperity, to ensure security for Australians, economic security and national security. And that's what we've been doing, and that has included working with ASEAN, but also, as you know, stabilising the relationship with China.

Karl Stefanovic: Just for sporting purposes, why don't you just give it to him this morning?

Foreign Minister: Look, he's entitled to his views, I don't lose sleep over it, but I would say this, it was a new position to be lectured about the country of my ‑ whether or not I understood - the country of my birth in Malaysia, but you know, as I said, he's entitled to his views.

Karl Stefanovic: All right. It is a little tricky, isn't it, balancing trade with China's aggressive South China Sea push, and also those spy concerns. Asian leaders don't seem to have the same level of issues.

Foreign Minister: Look, I think there are a range of different views within ASEAN about great power competition. But one thing that does unite ASEAN, and which Australia shares, is a desire for a region which is stable, and you know, one of the things that goes to stability is making sure there are rules, things like the Law of the Sea, making sure that there isn't dangerous or risky behaviour at sea. And you know, that's something I spoke about yesterday, that the Philippines President spoke about, that the Philippines Foreign Secretary spoke about when we engaged on this issue.

Karl Stefanovic: They don't seem to have the same appetite as us for our concern with what China's doing is what I'm saying.

Foreign Minister: Look, I think all the countries of the region are navigating the changes in our strategic circumstances, and every country will bring its own national interest to that. But I do think we do share a desire for a peaceful, stable, prosperous region, and that's why so much of my diplomacy and the Government's diplomacy has been focused on what are the things we do share, what are the things we want to assure, and this conference, this summit, celebrating an extraordinary 50 years of partnership with ASEAN, is about that, and it's about how we can ensure Australia and Australian jobs and Australian workers and firms benefit from the extraordinary growth in the region over the next 10 years.

Karl Stefanovic: All right. No doubt some important topics being discussed. Can I ask a couple of other questions, what did you make of the Sam Kerr charges?

Foreign Minister: Well, look, I, like everyone, we were obviously surprised, but what I would say is, you know, this is a matter that's before the courts. I'll leave it to the legal system to deal with. It doesn't detract, obviously, from her extraordinary on‑field feats that Australia's been so proud of.

Karl Stefanovic: Matt Canavan raised some issues about the justice system in the UK. Do you have such concerns?

Foreign Minister: Look, I am not going to get involved in a discussion with Matt Canavan about the Rule of Law, you know, we have a view about the Rule of Law. That's a matter for the British legal system.

Karl Stefanovic: All right. And finally, I don't know how you've managed to do this, I mean of all the negotiations that you've been called upon to get involved with, this stoush between Singapore, Thailand and the Philippines over those naughty Singaporeans paying Tay Tay a bribe to have her concerts there; how did you sort that one out?

Foreign Minister: You know, obviously Taylor Swift does inspire a lot of emotion, and you know, everybody wants to be there and wants to be a part of it. But I can honestly say, as interested as everybody out there is, it's not been raised in any of the meetings in which I've been in.

Karl Stefanovic: All right. I see what you're doing behind the scenes. Good to talk to you, and let's see what happens with the outcomes of the ASEAN Summit.

Foreign Minister: Great to speak with you.

Media enquiries

  • Minister's office: (02) 6277 7500
  • DFAT Media Liaison: (02) 6261 1555