TV Interview with Sarah Abo - Today Show - 20/06/2024

20 June 2024



Subjects: Australia-Papua New Guinea relations; Nuclear energy; Strengthening security in the Pacific.

SARAH ABO, HOST: Australia has sent a diplomatic show of force to Papua New Guinea with the Foreign Minister holding high level talks with the island nation as China tries to assert control in the Pacific.

Foreign Minister Penny Wong joins us now in Port Moresby. Senator, thanks for your time and patience with those tech issues. Good to have you with us. Now we'll get to PNG in a moment but if I could first off start with

PENNY WONG, FOREIGN MINISTER: Good to be with you.

SARAH ABO: Peter Dutton. He seems to be dominating the debate on energy policy in this country with his proposal for nuclear reactors in Australia. It's being dubbed crazy bold. Is it enough to win him the election?

FOREIGN MINISTER: Well, this is a risky, expensive gamble that Peter Dutton's engaged in that won't give Australians the power they need at the prices that they want. That's the reality.

We're looking at decades of subsidy from taxpayers before on a technology which we know is risky. So, you know, what I'd say to Australians is this is more of the same from Peter Dutton. We know that part of the problem we've got in the energy sector is so much uncertainty. We saw so much supply exit the system. That's one of the reasons that is driving higher prices and now he's just doing it again.

SARAH ABO: There seems to be some mixed reaction and some support in those electorates, so we'll see how that plays out with the voters come the election. But let's get back to PNG, Senator, now.

A strong show of force there -


SARAH ABO: - yourself, the Defence Minister, the Attorney General. Is the new package you've announced to strengthen security in PNG really all about keeping China at bay here?

FOREIGN MINISTER: A safe and secure Papua New Guinea is good for Papua New Guinea, it's good for Australia and it's good for the region. So, we have an interest, Australians have an interest in making sure we work with Papua New Guinea, our closest neighbour, to ensure security and stability. You know, that's been the first concern of Papua New Guinean leaders and ministers, who have been engaging with us, as you said, a very substantial ministerial delegation from Australia, a very senior delegation for this ministerial forum.

SARAH ABO: As you know, Senator, this is something the government has been striving to get right for some time now. China has offered policing and training support to Port Moresby. Can you be certain though that PNG won't do a deal with China?

FOREIGN MINISTER: Well, I can be certain that, one, we are in a state of permanent contest in the Pacific. Two, that the Albanese Labor Government will ensure that every engagement, every effort we can make to secure Australia's interests, assure Australia's interests and the region's interests, we will do.

What I've said is that the chance to be the only partner of choice in the Pacific was lost under Peter Dutton and the Liberals. We are in a state of permanent contest, and we will continue to work with our Pacific partners, our Pacific friends to ensure that security is provided within the Pacific family. That's how we get a more stable region.

SARAH ABO: All right, Senator, thank you so much for joining us this morning. Really appreciate it.


Media Contact:
Foreign Minister's Office: +61 2 6277 7500

Authorised by Senator the Hon Penny Wong, Minister for Foreign Affairs, Australia.