Australia politics live: UN report on China’s treatment of Uyghurs ‘harrowing reading’, Penny Wong says; RBA tipped to lift rates

Key events

Australia’s reaction to human rights report

How will Australia react?

Penny Wong:

What we need to do is work with international partners, other members of the international community about how it is we respond to this report. And more broadly, I think the issue of how it is that in a world where we see a lot of human rights violations, how we can continue to promote and protect and assert the importance of human rights.

One of the things we said before the election that I’m very focused on, partly because of my engagement with NGOs, is to improve the modern slavery act, because if we have a domestic framework, which more strongly enforces a ban on products made from forced labor, I think that is one of the ways we can use supply chains to ensure we don’t promote we don’t condone and we don’t financially support forced labor.

UN report on China ‘harrowing reading’, says Wong

Penny Wong was asked about the United Nations accusing China of crimes against humanity over the mass incarceration and detention of Muslim Uyghurs.

Wong said the report made for “harrowing” reading:

I read some of that report overnight, and it’s it’s pretty harrowing reading and it confirms what Australia and the international community have held concerns about for some time, and that is it concerns in relation to human rights violations.

… Certainly, the report concludes that serious human rights violations have been committed in Xinjiang. The report states that the allegations of build treatment and torture are credible.

I want to start first before we get into some of your questions, to just acknowledge the courage of the Australian Uyghur community. You know, they have consistently spoken out, they’ve shown strength and determination. Many of them have been unable to be in contact with their loved ones.

And, you know, I think the fact that some of the stories have come to light demonstrates the determination of of Uyghurs around the world but certainly here in Australia.

Is Penny Wong disappointed the US is not exempt from the decision to ban foreign naval vessels in Solomon Islands waters (Australia and New Zealand are exempt)?

Ultimately, as I understand that, Solomon Islands is making as indicated publicly they’re making a decision on a case by case basis. They are a sovereign nation and they’re, you know, that’s a matter for them.

What I would say is that the US has a long history of presence in the Pacific going back to World War Two. We saw just recently Caroline Kennedy, visiting us Solomon Islands for the commemoration of the battles of the Pacific and the US is part of the history of the region and part of the present and future the region.

Wong asked if Australia is concerned China would step in if Solomons Islands election causes unrest

There was a little in that interview with Penny Wong to get through, so bear with me while I transcribe it.

Asked if Australia was concerned China would be asked to step in to restore order if the situation becomes unruly in the Solomon Islands, Wong says:

I’ve made the point that Prime Minister Sogavare has consistently outlined that Australia remains the security partner of choice. Australia maintains the position that we have for some time that security is the responsibility of the Pacific family of which we are a part you know, the [assistance] force that has assisted Solomon Islands previously, which included Fijian personnel, as well as personnel from Papua New Guinea and some support from New Zealand.

These partners are part of the Pacific family and obviously we we continue to engage with them on how we can continue to provide assistance to Solomon Islands.

Solomon Islands election funding offer

Penny Wong is speaking about Australia’s offer to Solomon Islands to help fund its coming election. Wong says it is not in response to Solomon Islands’ opposition’s concern the election will be delayed and is part of a historic partnership Australia has with the islands to support it.

Does the government’s offer to help fund the Solomon Islands election reflect concerns that PM Sogavare is planning to delay the poll?

“It reflects a long standing and historical commitment to supporting democracy and democratic processes in the Solomon Islands”


— RN Breakfast (@RNBreakfast) September 5, 2022

Penny Wong: “calm down” about diplomatic appointments

Penny Wong is speaking to ABC radio RN where she has congratulated Liz Truss for her elevation to the UK prime minister.

But pressed on when the government will make an announcement on the new high commissioner to the UK, Wong says her focus has been on the Pacific and people should “calm down” about appointments.

I know there has been a lot of speculation and people … should just calm down. We’re obviously working through quite a lot of appointments … over the coming year. There’s a few appointments coming up, but to be honest with you, my focus has been more on what I said I will do before the election, which is to prioritise engagement with the Pacific and south-east Asia, so appointments have not been the top of my list.

Good morning

It’s day two of this two-week sitting and it already feels like a month, so we are absolutely back in the swing of things.

Tuesday means party room meetings, so everyone will retreat back to their corners for a little bit before parliament resumes. The sitting always starts a little later on Tuesdays for that reason.

Shortly after it does sit though – smack bang in the middle of question time in fact – the RBA will hand down its latest interest rates decision. Most pundits are expecting a .5 % increase to the cash rate –which would take it 2.35%. Interest rates began rising in May from historic lows, but with inflation continuing to rise, so too will interest rates. September will be a tough month – the cut to the fuel excise will also expire at the end of this month meaning petrol will also become more expensive. Don’t expect that to be extended either – Jim Chalmers has been very clear that is not something the government is entertaining.

In the parliament, senators are hoping to amend the government’s climate bill to give it a bit more oomph, which means it won’t have a quick passage.

Last night, as Sarah Martin and Paul Karp reported, Anthony Albanese promised the resources sector an ‘orderly transition’ from fossil fuels:

Anthony Albanese has promised to work with the resources sector to “reduce emissions in a predictable and orderly way” as Labor comes under increased pressure from the Greens to ban emissions intensive projects.

Albanese made the comment to the minerals industry parliamentary dinner on Monday, suggesting the “cooperation and dialogue” Labor achieved at the two-day jobs and skills summit“should be the rule” not a “48-hour exception”.

The Greens want a climate trigger – which would mean any new fossil fuels project would have to prove it won’t increase emissions before being approved. Leader Adam Bandt promised that his party would keep pushing the government to do more on climate and this is just one of the first steps.

Sarah Martin, Josh Butler and Paul Karp will be all across it as usual (Murph and Dan Hurst are still on leave for those asking) and Mike Bowers will also be all over all the things, as this day unfolds. You have me, Amy Remeikis with you for most of the day. It’s going to be a four-coffee day at least – so I hope you’re ready.

Let’s get into it.

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