E&OE - PROOF ONLY
JOURNALIST: Can I just get your reaction to John Bolton’s comments today where he said that he essentially wanted Australia and the US to do more joint patrols in the South China Sea, while at the same time we have China saying “don’t side with the US’. Is this a good idea?
SENATOR PENNY WONG, LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION IN THE SENATE: Let’s come up to the matter of principles first.
First, our alliance with the US is unshakeable and we are clear about that.
Second, Australia seeks a region where behaviour, disputes are governed by rules, by norms and by institutions and we seek a region where those rules are negotiated, not imposed.
That is the way in which we approach disputes within the region and that principle grounds our support for the Law of the Sea and for Freedom of Navigation and Overflight.
So, I would say more broadly, certainly to China, as I have said previously, you would expect Australia to advocate for our interests, including for the sort of region we want, just as China advocates for its interests.
JOURNALIST: Should we summon the Saudi Ambassador over the issue in Turkey and also should we still pursue a bilateral arms export deal considering the issue?
WONG: Can I make this first point, I saw overnight the French, German and British Foreign Ministers have issued a statement in relation to the disappearance of Mr Khashoggi and they have articulated a set of principles that Labor supports. And that is, we support freedom of expression, the freedom of the press and the protection of journalists and we agree with their call that light needs to be shed on this disappearance. So we support that collective call from those European Foreign Ministers.
JOURNALIST: It is sometimes said with the nuclear proliferation expanding and fragmenting the risk is actually greater now than it was since the Cold War. Where do you stand on that?
WONG: We’re talking about margins of risk, all of which are unacceptable for the reasons I outlined in the speech.
Authorised by Noah Carroll, ALP, Canberra.