E&OE - PROOF ONLY
JOURNALIST: What do you make of Mr Joyce’s comments on China and North Korea?
SENATOR PENNY WONG, LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION IN THE SENATE: Mr Joyce is being utterly irresponsible. What he needs to recognise is that the empty threats he makes would only serve to punish and harm Australian businesses, Australian exporters, including agriculture, and damage Australian jobs.
He really needs to start thinking before he speaks when it comes to Australian foreign policy and Australian trade policy.
JOURNALIST: What do you think would be running through Mr Turnbull’s mind at the moment as he’s opening the newspaper or the websites?
WONG: You almost feel sorry for Malcolm don’t you? He goes away and Barnaby, again, puts his foot in it.
JOURNALIST: Senator, the Chief of the Joint Operations says Australia is not at immediate risk because most of North Korea’s missiles are of the short to medium range variety. Is he playing down that threat?
WONG: I always take the advice of our military and security agencies seriously, and I take his advice seriously, and I think we all should.
I think the broader issue is this, we have an interest in a peaceful, stable region. North Korea’s actions are risky, they are dangerous and they are in flagrant contravention of international law and UN Security Council resolutions. So Australia and the whole of the world has an interest in dealing with what is a global threat. North Korea is a global threat and it will require a global response to be dealt with.
JOURNALIST: You mentioned in your speech that you would like to see China flex its muscle and go a little bit further in terms of influencing North Korea. What specifically would you like to see China do?
WONG: We have to maximise all pressure on North Korea. China does have a greater capacity to do that, but they are not the only player. This is a challenge for the whole global community. It is a challenge to global peace and the global community as one needs to respond.
JOURNALIST: What would that response look like?
WONG: It does require greater coordination between all nations to ensure that pressure is maximised on North Korea.
JOURNALIST: If China fails to act and meet some of these calls, would you support Australia imposing trade sanctions, for example, on China?
WONG: I think that would be an own goal, wouldn’t it, given the extent to which our economy is dependent on China’s?
I think it is also the wrong way of looking at it. We should be engaging China. We should be working on encouraging China and urging China to do more. China has an interest in global peace, China has an interest in a stable region and let’s recall, China has an interest in being a constructive player in the global framework.