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‘Respect’ key to re-enaging with Pacific, Anthony Albanese says, as Tanya Plibersek apologises for Peter Dutton comments

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese wants Australia to be the main security partner for Pacific nations, amid revelations China is seeking to broker deals that would see it train local law enforcement agencies across the region.
Foreign aid will also be part of Australia’s step up in the Pacific region to improve relations, the prime minister said.
“It’s not just about funding it’s also about respect,” Mr Albanese told ABC News on Thursday.
“We need to re-engage with the region, they are sovereign nations of course and we need to respect that, but we need to be offering more support.”

New Foreign Minister Penny Wong has flown to Fiji to help solidify the government’s relationship with Australia’s Pacific neighbour.

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A day after she returned to Australia following a visit to Tokyo for the Quad leaders’ summit, Senator Wong will meet with Fijian Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama, along with the country’s foreign minister and senior leaders.
The visit comes amid heightened focus on the Indo-Pacific region following China and the Solomon Islands signing a new security pact.
China is also seeking security arrangements with other Pacific nations that resemble the controversial pact.

The details of the new arrangements are contained in pre-written joint statements Beijing officials plan to release after meetings with 10 island nations on Monday, documents obtained by AAP show.

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Anthony Albanese ‘will respond appropriately’ to message from China

Mr Albanese addressed Australia’s relationship with China after confirming Chinese Premier Li Keqiang offered a congratulatory message following Labor’s election victory on Saturday.
After returning from the Quad summit in Tokyo on Wednesday, the prime minister appeared on ABC News Breakfast on Thursday morning where host Lisa Millar asked whether the message was “an olive branch”.
“I will respond appropriately. I welcome all of the congratulations that I have received from around the world,” Mr Albanese said.
“We will act diplomatically and appropriately in all our dealings with other nations. You need not use a loudhailer. What you need to do is to be firm, we will stand up for Australia’s values.”

Mr Albanese said the sanctions that have been placed on Australian exports going to China “need to be withdrawn”

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“There is no justification for these sanctions which have hurt the Australian economy and hurt Australian jobs but I will respond appropriately. I welcome the congratulations which were received in a cable,” he said.

Mr Albanese also confirmed he had had a “very positive” exchange with French President Emmanuel Macron, but did not share details of what was said.

Tanya Plibersek apologises for Voldemort comments

Labor MP for Sydney Tanya Plibersek has apologised after comparing Peter Dutton to the villain from Harry Potter.
Ms Plibersek made the comments while appearing on Brisbane radio 4BC on Wednesday, where she was asked about Mr Dutton potentially taking up leadership of the Liberal party.
“I think there will be a lot of children who have watched a lot of Harry Potter films who will be very frightened of what they are seeing on TV at night, that’s for sure,” Ms Plibersek said.

“I am saying he looks a bit like Voldemort and we will see whether he can do what he promised he would do when he was last running for leader which is smile more.”

Close up of Tanya Plibersek in Parliament

Tanya Plibersek apologised after comparing Peter Dutton to Voldemort (AAP). Source: SBS / AAP

On Thursday morning, 2GB reported that Ms Plibersek had apologised for the comments.

“She said she’s contacted Peter Dutton already, she’s apologised unreservedly and acknowledges she shouldn’t have said it,” host Ben Fordham said.
Mr Albanese told ABC News Breakfast Ms Plibersek had done the right thing.
“It was a mistake. It shouldn’t have been said, we all make mistakes from time to time,” Mr Albanese said.
“What we need to do is to move on from them and it is how we respond to them. Tanya Plibersek responded appropriately.”

The prime minister also confirmed Ms Plibersek would “certainly” be on his front bench.

Liberal party to review its policies after being deserted by women

Outgoing Employment Minister Stuart Robert says the Liberal Party will review its policies after being deserted by women at the federal election.
Research from the Australian National University showed women had little confidence in the Liberal Party on gender equity issues ahead of Saturday’s election.

Mr Robert said his party’s job as the opposition was to hear the views of the community and would “own” mistakes made.

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“We’ll do a review in terms of policy settings to see where they were appropriate or not,” he told Sky News on Wednesday.
“From there, we’ll pull together a policy package coming into the next election that seeks to answer those aspirational questions and seeks to reach out to those aspirational Australians because that’s where we want to be.”
The admission follows the party suffering a rejection by voters, and a number of “teal” independents being elected in traditional blue-ribbon seats.
Following the Coalition’s defeat on 21 May, Simon Birmingham said the party needed to address issues of gender, diversity and climate change, saying it was time to start pre-selecting more women.

However, he said the party had paid the price for pre-selecting controversial candidate Katherine Deves in Warringah.

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“I think these are issues we will have to clearly address,” Mr Birmingham said.
“We want to make sure we improve the Liberal vote and are competitive to win back safe seats like Warringah and ensure that we hold seats like North Sydney and Wentworth and we have to have not just candidates who reflect those values, as Dave Sharma and Trent Zimmerman unquestionably do, but have to make sure that the party appreciates those values.”
Mr Robert said he would hold the Albanese government accountable, and accused Treasurer Jim Chalmers and Finance Minister Katy Gallagher of “crab-walking” away from their commitment to ease cost of living pressures.

“Australians will be expecting us to focus on them by holding the government to account. And there will be a lot to account for,” he said.

Liberal MP Stuart Robert

Stuart Robert at a press conference after visiting Woodside Karda Robotics on Day 9 of the 2022 federal election campaign, in Perth. Source: AAP / MICK TSIKAS/AAPIMAGE

“We’ve already seen Mr Chalmers and Ms Gallagher crab-walking away from their commitment to lower the cost of everything. So you can expect a very, very strong and robust defence of the Australian people from us.”

Mr Robert said former PM Scott Morrison is “doing well” since losing Saturday’s federal election.

According to the Australian Electoral Commission, as at Wednesday afternoon Labor was set to hold 75 seats to the coalition’s 61, with two Greens, and 12 other crossbenchers.

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