Labor’s Foreign Affairs spokesperson Penny Wong has claimed her Asian ethnicity would benefit Australia on the international stage if she becomes Foreign Minister. She also slammed Scott Morrison’s preference deals with right-wing fringe parties claiming they are harming Australia’s image.
Wong was addressing the Lowy Institute for International Policy on Wednesday night intending to lay out Labor’s foreign policy agenda. But her speech was full of appeals to identity politics and warnings about the rise of racists.
Wong said of herself becoming Foreign Minister that her skills are irrelevant when compared to her race “What is significant about that possibility is not my personal attributes — but rather what would be significant about an Asian-Australian being our foreign minister is what it says about us”.
She also alleged the that rise of nationalist politicians naming Pauline Hanson, Clive Palmer and Fraser Anning “(are) figures whose views hark back to the White Australia policy – harming the perception of our nation in the region”.
She argued when it comes to foreign policy “Narratives matter, as do perceptions,” and claimed “Those who have been willing to toy with the race card in recent times are not only damaging national cohesion and eroding our national identity, they also diminish our national power”.
She blamed Scott Morrison for the rise of nationalist parties in not condemning them strongly enough and his Coalition partners doing preference deals with them “We (also) see these trends in the failure of some of our political leaders, including the current prime minister, to take a clear and unambiguous stand against the politics of prejudice and division”.
Wong when her address turned to actual foreign policy priorities signaled a pivot to Asia, arguing for a new diplomatic approach to China stating Labor “don’t pre-emptively frame China only as a threat,” but conceded “At times our interests will differ” but the realities of the region were changing: “Those realities include the fact that China will remain important to Australia’s prosperity.”
Wong believes that Australia needs to project the image of an “independent, multicultural” nation who is “confident of our place in the world” because “Australia’s prosperity and security is shaped by the region in which we live – the Indo-Pacific,”
Based on Wong’s comments she believes that nationalists who want to put Australia’s interests first are harmful to Labor’s globalist goals, believing they are either racist or will make Australia appear racist. She also believes that having a Foreign Minister of Asian heritage is what is needed to engage in Asia