PM Malcolm Turnbull says China is ‘uniquely placed’ to stop the nuclear threat from North Korea.
HE doesn’t have the international frequent flyer points of one of his predecessors, but Malcolm Turnbull today is confirming a remarkable commitment to global affairs.
The Prime Minister is off to Papua-New Guinea and India.
Not since Kevin Rudd spent more time filling out his international departure card than visiting voters has a prime ministership been so absorbed with foreign affairs.
It’s not a sign of indulgent yearning for the world stage by Prime Minister Turnbull. It’s a measure of the instability of the past few years, particularly since the arrival of US President Donald Trump.
So far this year Mr Turnbull has been host in Australia to the leaders of Nauru, Afghanistan, Indonesia, Israel, Sri Lanka and Japan, and the King and Queen of the Netherlands — all in a smidgen over three months.
In addition, his senior ministers have been widely flung. Foreign Minister Julie Bishop’s destinations this year have included the Philippines, South Korea, Ireland, Indonesia, the US, Singapore, while Defence Minister Marise Payne has been to Belgium, the US and Indonesia.
Mr Turnbull has been overseas to Indonesia and New Zealand this year, and last November went to APEC in Peru and on the way home to Washington to say farewell to Barack Obama.
His contact with President Trump so far has been only telephonic, but he is being strongly urged to meet him face-to-face, particular as the hotspot issues of North Korea and Syria add to uncertainty over US trade and security directions.
The current trip makes solid sense.
Papua-New Guinea is our closest neighbour and landlord of our Manus Island detention centre, from which we are being evicted. The nation deserves our continued support and the careful tending of its prickly government, which is sometimes quick to criticise us.
India is the booming economy of our region which will increasingly be buying our resources and our services as its middle class numbers and their incomes expand.
It is also a democracy of huge diversity — religious, ethnic and economic — which Australia intends to encourage and congratulate.
The Prime Minister said in a statement that in PNG he will meet Prime Minister Peter O’Neill and visit the Kokoda Track to commemorate the 75th Anniversary of the New Guinea Campaign in World War Two.
“The visit is an opportunity to build upon our bilateral economic relationships in the Pacific, and will involve multiple business events, including a joint Australia-PNG Entrepreneur and Innovation Showcase,” he said.
In New Delhi, his talks with Prime Minister Narendra Modi will include discussion of “the enormous opportunities for collaboration between Australia and India”.
He said India was the world’s fastest growing major economy and two-way trade with us exceeded $19 billion in 2015-16, with scope for significant growth.
“With the Minister for Education and Training, Senator the Hon. Simon Birmingham, I will address a dinner to celebrate our partnership in education, recognising how Australian expertise in skills training can help India to meet its goal of training 400 million people by 2022,” said Mr Turnbull.
“In Mumbai, meetings with leading Indian CEOs and business people will focus on growing two-way trade and investment. Australian energy and resources are helping to power India’s growth, while our collaboration on innovation and technology will open new business opportunities in the future.”