SENATOR THE HON PENNY WONG

LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION IN THE SENATE

SHADOW MINISTER FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS

LABOR SENATOR FOR SOUTH AUSTRALIA

MEDIA RELEASE

21 October 2016

WHITE PAPER CHAOS

TOPIC: FOREIGN AFFAIRS

The Turnbull Government’s Foreign Policy is tonight in chaos, after its promised White paper was downgraded, and then reinstated in the space of a single day.

In August this year Minister Bishop announced in a newspaper she would deliver Australia’s first formal White Paper in 13 years.

“This will be a government-generated document, it will go to cabinet.”

Fairfax Media, 19 August 2016

But just after 9am today, the Minister was repudiated by her own Department, with Senate Estimates told no decision had been made to produce a White Paper.

Wong: I think your evidence is Government hasn’t decided whether it will be a white paper or will be something else.

Adamson: I think that is still an open question, yes.

Senate Estimates, 20 October 2016

However, just over eight hours later, Estimates was told the White Paper had been reinstated.

Wong: What is the Government’s position?

Adamson: That we are preparing a White Paper.

Wong: I think I asked you this question this morning.

Adamson: You did ask me that question. I am now able to clarify. We are preparing a White Paper.

Senate Estimates, 20 October 2016

Today’s embarrassing developments simply highlight the complete lack of detail and planning behind the Foreign Policy White Paper.

Despite Minister Bishop promising “a contemporary and comprehensive foreign policy strategy for the 21st century” the White Paper announcement has come with no detail, no terms of reference, no consultation and not even a single media statement.

Foreign Policy is too important to be determined by thought bubbles dropped into newspapers.

A true “contemporary and comprehensive foreign policy strategy for the 21st century” requires hard work, proper consultation and most of all, substance.