Wong says Australia in ‘permanent contest’ with China over Pacific

Australia has to step up and become a more involved partner to Pacific nations as it faces a “permanent contest” in the region, the foreign minister says.

Jun 20, 2024, updated Jun 20, 2024
Minister for Foreign Affairs Penny Wong. (AAP Image/Lukas Coch)

Minister for Foreign Affairs Penny Wong. (AAP Image/Lukas Coch)

As senior ministers travelled to Port Moresby as part of talks with Papua New Guinea counterparts, Penny Wong said security would best be achieved if it was provided by Australia and other members of the “Pacific family”.

While China has approached Papua New Guinea with a policing deal, the PNG government has stressed Australia remained its security partner of choice.

The move by the Solomon Islands in 2022 to sign a security pact with China, allowing a Chinese police presence in the country, sent shocks through the region, with Australia seeking closer ties with Pacific nations following the deal such as PNG.

“We know that we’re in a permanent contest in the Pacific … we know we have to keep engaging in the Pacific. We have to be better, more involved members of the Pacific family, and that’s what we’re doing,” Wong told ABC Radio on Thursday.

“It’s best for all of us, for the whole region, if security needs are met by other members of the Pacific family, by the country itself, or by others working with each other, and that’s what we’ve been doing.”

It comes as the federal government unveiled a range of law enforcement and justice measures aimed at bolstering security in PNG.

Australia will help its neighbour store and secure firearms amid concerns police weapons are being used in tribal violence.

PNG experienced one of its worst massacres earlier this year following a clash between tribes in the country’s Highlands which left at least 49 people dead.

InQueensland in your inbox. The best local news every workday at lunch time.
By signing up, you agree to our User Agreement andPrivacy Policy & Cookie Statement. This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

‘We’ve seen increasing violence sporadically within Papua New Guinea, and that is something that Prime Minister (James) Marape and his cabinet colleagues have made clear their their first priority ,” Wong said.

The foreign minister also vowed Australia would provide further assistance to the country following a devastating landslide.

“It’s clear that one of the things that will have to happen is relocation of many of the people whose village was demolished as a result of this tragedy,” Wong said.

“Obviously, there will be ongoing assistance that will be required, and we’ll work through that.”

Australia had previously provided $2.5 million in humanitarian assistance to the affected region, while also sending in experts to assess damage.

Local News Matters
Copyright © 2024 InQueensland.
All rights reserved.
Privacy Policy