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A former minister denounces the Coalition’s “policy of appeasement” towards China | Australian foreign policy

A former Australian Pacific minister has accused her own political camp of ignoring her warnings about China’s influence in the region, saying it is now up to the Labor government to “remedy the failures of its predecessor”.

Concetta Fierravanti-Wells, whose term as senator is due to end later this month, also took aim at ‘visceral factional relations in the Liberal Party of NSW’, saying the preselection saga contributed to an even worse outcome during the electoral defeat of May 21. .

Fierravanti-Wells, who served as minister for international development and the Pacific from February 2016 to August 2018, was reprimanded by Beijing when it accused him of burdening countries in the region with unsustainable debts and building roads to nowhere. Some Pacific leaders were also worried about the remarks.

In a farewell email to supporters and voters on Friday, Fierravanti-Wells said she had used her time as minister to engage “extensively with our Pacific neighbours, making approximately 35 trips to the region”.

“Unfortunately, my warnings about the influence of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) in the Pacific and elsewhere have been ignored in favor of a policy of appeasement,” she wrote.

Ahead of the election, Scott Morrison had sought to assert that Labor would be weak on national security and said the coalition would never pursue “the path of appeasement”.

Fierravanti-Wells, who was one of the more hawkish members of the Coalition’s party hall, said that in the first drafts of the 2017 foreign policy white paper provided to him, the Pacific was “hidden in the later chapters.

“‘Rivers of Gold’ seemed more important to those responsible for our defense, foreign and trade policies, rather than opposing the CCP’s belligerent and illegal actions, including their actions in the South China Sea,” he said. writes Fierravanti-Wells. .

She said it was unfortunate that after she resigned as a minister in Malcolm Turnbull’s government in August 2018, the post was downgraded by Morrison’s government to that of parliamentary secretary, only to be reinstated later as ministry in May 2019.

“While some colleagues have ended up changing their minds about the threatened security of the Pacific, it should not be forgotten that it was the Morrison cabinet that approved the visit of three Chinese warships to Sydney on the occasion of the 30th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre,” Fierravanti-Wells wrote.

Morrison defended the ‘reciprocal visit’ at the time, saying it ‘certainly came as no surprise to the government’ and that ‘any reading of the timetable could be subject to over-analysis’.

Fierravanti-Wells failed to secure a winning spot on the Liberal Party ticket for the NSW Senate ahead of the election. She launched an extraordinary attack on Morrison in parliament at the end of March, calling the then prime minister an ‘autocrat [and] a tyrant who has no moral compass”.

Morrison responded to that speech by saying he understood Fierravanti-Wells was “disappointed” with the Senate screening result. “I obviously don’t agree with his assessment.”

In Friday’s email, Fierravanti-Wells said she had been contacted by a slew of people, including liberals, to congratulate her on her speech.

“There is no doubt that in conjunction with the ‘captain’s picks’, the deliberate orchestration of delays in selecting candidates coupled with the pre-screening shenanigans contributed to an even worse outcome in New South Wales,” said writes Fierravanti-Wells.

“The denial of plebiscites and the democratic processes set forth in our constitution will weigh heavily on the heads of the cabal of so-called ‘faction negotiators’ and their puppets. The wheels of justice turn slowly, but eventually justice is served.

Fierravanti-Wells said it was up to the new Albanian Labor government to “remedy the failures of its predecessor and salvage some of our reputation in the Pacific and indeed elsewhere”.

New Foreign Secretary Penny Wong was in the Solomon Islands on Friday amid lingering concerns over the Honiara-Beijing security deal that was signed in April.

The Solomon Islands is the fourth Pacific island country Wong has visited since he was sworn in as minister four weeks ago.

She told reporters in Honiara that her meeting with Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare had been “constructive” and far-reaching.

“I welcome Prime Minister Sogavare’s assurances that there will be no military base, nor any persistent foreign military presence here in the Solomon Islands,” Wong said. “I welcome his assurance that Australia remains Solomon Islands’ first choice security partner and first choice development partner.”

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Wong said Australia “may not be perfect, but we are family”.

“Your safety and our safety are linked,” she said.

Wong used his visits to Pacific island nations to pledge the new government’s promise of stronger climate action and to argue that Australia is “a partner without strings attached” and does not impose “unsustainable financial burdens”.

The Chinese Embassy in Canberra hit back at the intervention, insisting that China had ‘never interfered in the internal affairs of island countries, nor sought a so-called ‘sphere of influence’ in the region. “. Beijing has repeatedly accused the United States and Australia of displaying a “cold war” mentality.

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Post expires at 3:22pm on Tuesday June 28th, 2022