SENATOR THE HON PENNY WONG

LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION IN THE SENATE

SHADOW MINISTER FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS

SENATOR FOR SOUTH AUSTRALIA

MEDIA RELEASE

22 October 2018

MORRISON’S OWN OFFICIALS CONFIRM EMBASSY PLAN WAS RUSHED AHEAD OF WENTWORTH

Officials from Scott Morrison’s own Department have today confirmed they were advised of his decision to junk longstanding bipartisan policy and consider moving Australia’s policy on the location of our embassy in Israel, and to reconsider the Iran nuclear deal, just a day before the October 16 announcement.

The revelations have come tonight in evidence before Senate Estimates from some of the most senior officials in the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet.

 

SENATOR PENNY WONG: Ms Millar, when were you first aware of the Government’s decision to canvas the possibility of relocating Australia’s embassy in Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

CAROLINE MILLAR (Deputy Secretary, National Security and International Policy): Senator, we were advised on the 15th of October.

WONG: By whom?

MILLAR: By the Prime Minister’s Office

WONG: Were you also advised at that time of the decision on the JCPOA?

JUSTIN HAYHURST: (First Assistant Secretary, International Division). That’s right.

WONG: This was by phone Mr Hayhurst?

HAYHURST: That’s right.

WONG: About what time?

HAYHURST: In the morning of the 15th.

 

The evidence confirms Tuesday’s announcements were rushed, made with no consultation and no thought to the consequences for Australia’s standing in the region, or national security.

As we now know the announcement, made just five days before the Wentworth by-election, prompted a furious response from Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi to her Australian counterpart, and prompted the unprecedented leak of ASIO advice relating to the Government’s proposal.

Foreign policy, and Australia’s national interest are far too important to be played with for domestic political purposes.

The Australian people deserve a leader who puts the national interest ahead of self-interest, and governs in the best long-term interest of the nation, not one prepared to play games with long-standing foreign policy positions in a desperate bid to cling to power.

Authorised by Noah Carroll, ALP, Canberra.