The Post-COVID World Order | Q+A

Where does Australia stand in this fast-changing world? It’s clear the global power balance is shifting during the COVID-19 crisis and we seem to be at the centre of it all Australia is attracting international attention over our push for an inquiry into the origin of the virus That is straining relations with China, and we’re facing threats of economic retaliation So, who can we turn to? Who do we trust? And can we rely on our allies, like America? We’re standing by here ready for you to share your stories and join the conversation wherever you are You’ve got the questions – now let’s get you some answers Welcome to Q+A Hi there. Welcome to the program Joining us tonight, Australian director of Human Rights Watch, Elaine Pearson, who worries some countries are abusing their power during this crisis, long-time diplomat turned politician, Liberal Member for Wentworth Dave Sharma, Shadow Foreign Minister Penny Wong, who believes it’s time for Australia to rethink its relationship with China, and the director of the Lowy Institute, Dr Michael Fullilove We’ve got plenty to discuss this evening, including today’s developments of a possible trans-Tasman bubble with our Kiwi cousins And we’ll also hear later from Nicholas Burns, who was the undersecretary of state to George W. Bush and he’s now advising Joe Biden The alliances will be far more powerful than what China can do on its own That’s coming up later in the program Remember, you can stream us on iview, YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and the Gram – all of them #QandA is the hashtag Please get involved from home Let’s start with our first question tonight from Subhash Bhargava in Lidcombe, New South Wales Hi. If you have a friend whom you know is cunning, clever, deceitful, opportunist, would you still like to keep its friendship because it’s feeding you? Why can’t you look for another friend who can be more reliable in time of need? COVID-19 has done one good thing – it’s going to make every country redefine their priorities, reliance, dependence, and choose their friends or enemies carefully for the future Shouldn’t Australia do the same? Penny Wong? Well, I certainly think COVID-19 is changing the international environment That’s self-evident And I think what it is doing is escalating the strategic competition between America and China I think it is demonstrating that multilateralism is weaker And all of those things, and many others, mean that this will be a world that I think will be harder for Australia to navigate We’ll have to work harder to protect and promote our interests, and that’s going to require leadership, it’s going to require consistency and discipline, and it’s going to require the Prime Minister, Mr Morrison, and the Foreign Minister to lead the discussion about how we manage our way in this very disrupted world You have said, though, Penny Wong, that we need to rethink our relationship with China What does that mean in reality? Well, look, I actually discussed this in October of last year, and I made the point that China is much more assertive in how it asserts its interests It’s obviously You know, it’s a great power – it’s a great economic power – and it’s asserting its interests There are differences at times between our interests, and we have to constructively and productively navigate those differences So, my point is, we do need to think through how we engage What we can’t do, though, is believe that, somehow, disengagement is an option Sometimes, we have a discussion – a political discussion – within the Australian domestic political context, which seems to suggest we’ve got some choice in which we can disengage from China Neither is that true economically nor is it true geopolitically I mean, China is an important part of Australia’s future It’s an important power internationally We have to work out how we navigate the relationship and manage differences and protect and promote our interests and values in the context of that relationship So, Michael Fullilove, if we’re rethinking that relationship, what does it end up looking like? Well, it ends up looking like a relationship where we need to cooperate with China where our interests overlap, and we need to be very clear and consistent when our interests diverge And I think the questioner is right that China’s behaviour in the last week or so has focused a lot of minds in Australia, and indeed around the world, about the kind of country we’re dealing with And I think we need to keep two things in our head at once China is both our most important economic partner,

a country with which we have deep economic interests – and we’re going to need those economic relationships even more as we come out of the coronavirus pandemic – but it’s also a superpower, a country of 1.4 billion people, very different from Australia, run by a Leninist political system And keeping both those things in our head at once is very tough But, given that importance, what’s happened in the last week? How do you describe this series of events? Diplomatic missteps, perhaps? What would you describe this moment as? Well, I think we are seeing I mean, the last week has seen pretty outrageous behaviour, I would say, from China’s diplomatic representatives in Australia I mean, let me put forward a thought experiment What if Australia’s ambassador and consuls general behaved in China in the way that Chinese diplomats behaved in Australia? I think they would be given short shrift Now, that’s not new We have seen this kind of behaviour over the last three or four years – China hardening its policy towards the world, wolf warrior diplomacy This is You know, many countries are feeling this What is wolf warrior diplomacy? Explain that Well, this is the new term to describe the diplomats who are, in an effort to impress Beijing and really impress President Xi Jinping, brooking no opposition, they are refusing scrutiny and censure, they’re pushing back very hard on their on the governments to which they’re represented, and it’s very uncomfortable behaviour Dave Sharma, as a diplomat representing Australia, could you ever have conceived of doing the types of things that Chinese diplomats have done in Australia in the last week? I think it’s been quite unconventional, as Michael said And I think, you know, the question you have to ask is, who are they speaking to here? And I think, partly, they’re speaking to a domestic audience in China, in Beijing – and this is their political masters – and only partly are they speaking to us But I think, more broadly – and Michael’s touched on this, and Penny has as well – I mean, the Chinese style of defining and putting forward its interests has changed pretty dramatically over the last several years, and at least since 2012, most notably under this new leadership in Beijing And I think there is still a tendency in Australia to think, if something is going wrong with the relationship, it must be our fault Well, I think the events of the last week have shown people that, no, it’s not necessarily Australia’s fault We are going to have differences with this country We still need to find a way to work with them, to trade with them, but there’s going to be points of friction Is this last week, though, an escalation? I’d say it’s more, on China’s side, a testing of strength and a testing of limits I mean, look, I think, in the broad sweep of history, we’ll look back on this last week in several months’ time and we won’t think much of it – it’ll be a footnote But if it’s a testing of strength, don’t we then need to push back? Well, I think we just need to be clear and consistent, and I think we have been, in stating what our interests are We have, I mean, to touch upon the premise here, we have an interest But how have we done that? Well, we’ve been quite clear and consistent in saying that we want to have, and we think the world deserves, an international inquiry into the origins of this crisis, the lessons that can be learnt from it and the sorts of measures we can put in place in future to prevent that Now, Beijing doesn’t particularly like that suggestion, or at least the way we phrased it, but we have no intention of backing down from it We think it’s not only in our interests, we think it’s in the world’s interests, and any country that takes seriously the health and welfare of its citizens would share that interest Look, I think there is a point about consistency, if I may jump in there, Hamish As you know And I preface this by, you know, making again clear that, you know, Labor supported, from the beginning, a call for an inquiry We think that’s entirely reasonable But in terms of I’d make two points about it One, it was, I think, a difficult thing to do, that the Foreign Minister announced that before we gained any support from allies and partners One would have thought it would have been preferable if we’d got a bit of support ahead of time And the second point about consistency I’d make is, you know, we do see reports that Australia has already conceded that the inquiry should await the abating of the current pandemic crisis So… You know, I’ve seen those reports in Foreign Policy magazine So I just made the point, the government does need to be clear and consistent – I agree with Dave – and it should ensure that it is saying the same thing internationally and diplomatically as it is saying to the Australian domestic audience Alright, the next question tonight is from Tim McLean in Wuhan, China Good evening I’d just like to ask the Morrison government why they’d like to cause so much tension with our largest trading partner, China, why they’d like to cripple our economy and cause mass unemployment throughout the country and destroy four of our biggest sectors – education, tourism, mining and agriculture – and how do they propose to come up with the shortfalls? Elaine Pearson, do you take the view that Australia just sees China

as being too big to actually stand up to in any meaningful way? Well, I think part of the reason why the Chinese government has reacted so badly is because we very rarely see Australia’s voice on issues in China, and I think that needs to change You know, I think it’s actually good that the Chinese government that the Australian government has stood up to the Chinese government in this way I think what Australia called for in terms of an independent investigation is what any responsible, you know, global power should…should want And so, you know, I understand from the questioner that he’s frustrated that, you know, this seems like, you know, missteps on the part of the Australian government, but I think, let’s be clear about where these missteps originated and why we’re in this predicament, and that’s because of the mishandling of this crisis in China But I suppose, in many ways, this is a question about whether Australia can afford to do it I mean, this is our largest trading partner Well, it’s true, and, I mean, I think, you know, China’s showing that it’s a bully And I think the way you deal with bullies is you don’t just roll over and, you know, pipe down You actually do have to stand up to them But I think the way that Australia needs to do that, this shouldn’t be an Australia-China discussion The whole world is affected by this pandemic, and I really think that it’s important that, you know, other countries come on board I think Australia should work with a coalition of like-minded governments who are also concerned about the impact of this pandemic and really want to make sure that a situation like this can’t happen again Michael Fullilove, is it clear where Australian business stands on this particular question? Because obviously the role of Twiggy Forrest over the last week has been somewhat central Kerry Stokes, the billionaire from Western Australia, has taken a fairly strong position supporting Chinese interests Is there a split here, not just between Australia and China, but between the Australian government and the business community in how to deal with China? Well, it’s a free country in Australia, unlike China, and so Mr Forrest and Mr Stokes are able to put their you know, they’re able to put their arguments forward And I don’t think we should demonise business leaders I think they have a legitimate case to make, and I think Tim’s right that Australia has strong economic interests in getting the relationship back on track and maintaining a good economic relationship But one thing I think it’s important to remember is that it’s in China’s interest that the relationship get back on track as well, because we supply many of the resources that fuel China’s economic growth It would be very costly for them to switch long-term suppliers And also, not only are we economically interdependent, but we’re politically interdependent, and as Elaine says, the world is watching how China behaves towards Australia here So, we often think that we are the ones who are vulnerable, but the truth is that both Australia and China depend on each other economically and politically So, what then is the case that Australian business leaders like Twiggy Forrest, like Kerry Stokes are actually making? I mean, some of the comments from Kerry Stokes are defending China’s right and Asia’s right to have wet markets Well, look, I’m not You know, I’m not here to defend what Mr Stokes said on wet markets or…or wildlife markets I would say that…that business leaders have a view to put, and it’s important that they be able to put that view The role of the Australian government is to stream together all the different interests that Australia has There’s the interests of the resources sector, there’s the rest of the economy, there are human rights issues, there’s national security concerns There’s the desire of a democracy to stand up for itself and not…not to be subject to political interference So, ultimately, it’s up to as Penny says, it’s up to the Australian government to stream all these interests together Dave Sharma, ultimately, this is a question for the government, and the government has been talking about diversifying our supply chains Where do you make up the shortfall from? Well, I don’t sort of accept the premise necessarily that there will be a shortfall I mean, countries trade because there’s mutual benefit in doing so We don’t trade with China because to do them a favour, and they don’t buy things from us because it’s a favour to us They buy things from us because it’s cost-competitive, reliable supply, good-quality goods If you look at China’s import mix, for instance, you know, the three countries from whom they import the most goods are the Republic of Korea – South Korea – Japan and Taiwan – not three countries with whom you’d think China normally has good relations, but they trade with them extensively because it’s in their interest to do so Now, what underpins our commercial relationship with China, what has always underpinned it, is the complementarity of our economies and this mutual interest But this government is seriously talking about having less students in the Australian tertiary education sector Where does the shortfall come in? Well, I mean, the truth is, Hamish, we’ve got less students and less tourists, full stop, because of the coronavirus crisis We don’t have people We don’t have international arrivals in Australia, and it’s going to be some considerable time until that situation returns to normal So, this isn’t just a China problem – this is a…this is a problem for the whole…the whole sector Penny Wong, do you accept

that there isn’t going to be a shortfall, necessarily? (CHUCKLES) Well, I certainly think our economy has taken a huge hit from the pandemic, and a number of our export industries will continue to take a hit Obviously, tourism is one of them I think the international education sector is is a major problem It’s, I think, our fourth-largest export industry The government hasn’t paid sufficient attention to it Some of the comments of the Prime…of Mr Morrison telling people to go home, I think, have not sort of boded well for the long-term health of that sector So, obviously, that is an important sector of the economy But I think the broad issue is this – we have to protect and promote Australia’s interests, and we have to be prepared to assert those interests And we have to be resilient in the face of a response that is negative when we do so We have to make sound judgements about that But as I said, you know, it’s a relationship it’s a bilateral relationship that is important, that we have to navigate constructively and productively, and we have to, you know, make sure we have a sensible dialogue within the Australian community for it…about it And may I say, I think it is unfortunate that some of the discussion ends up being driven by different parts of the community I would…I would hope at this time that the Foreign Minister, Minister Payne, would lead this discussion, because I think this is a difficult discussion for the nation It is a discussion where there are many interests and there are many views And frankly, it’s also a discussion where it’s very easy for issues of prejudice to become enlivened So, it is…would be much better, I think, if we had a more sensible discussion led by the Foreign Minister, whose job it is to…to, you know, explain Australia to the world and explain the world to Australia Are you saying As good as Dave is, you know, he’s not the Foreign Minister Are you saying that the Foreign Minister is failing to do that? Well, I just think…I think she needs to lead the debate And it is a difficult debate, you know It is a…it is a discussion about how we engage with this major economic partner whose set of interests at times causes differences As Michael said, you know, an authoritarian one-party state, we’re a democracy – that of itself is going to give rise to different interests and different views So, yes, I do think it would be better if we heard Marise Payne’s voice more on these issues in a measured and sensible way that engaged the Australian community about a relationship which is going to be very important, continue to be very important to us as we go forward Alright, the next question tonight is from Ming Zhang in Mitcham, in Victoria Since the pandemic began, there are reported cases of discrimination and racism against the Chinese and Asian people in the country, causing concerns and a sense of insecurity for immigrants like me Recently, our federal government is calling for an international investigation of the source of the virus around China My question to the panel is, shall we extend the investigation also to countries like the US, Italy or even the cruise industry where most of the cases have come from to understand a holistic picture on the spread of the virus, rather than picking on China only and reinforcing an already hostile linkage between the virus and the Chinese people? Elaine Pearson? Well, I think it’s a really good question I mean, if we think about, you know, where this virus originated, obviously, for many of us, we believe it’s in China, but there has been a lot of misinformation and propaganda from different countries casting aspersions either way And so, you know, I think it would be in the Chinese government’s interest to cooperate, but I think if we’re looking at the way in which this was handled, absolutely, I would agree that China is not the only country that has had, you know, a pretty disastrous response to handling this pandemic And so, if we’re looking at the handling of it, I would absolutely like other countries to also be included in that investigation Dave Sharma? DAVE SHARMA: Look, absolutely I mean, I think And firstly, I mean, I think it is very important here that we recognise our Chinese-Australian citizens and the immense contribution they’ve made to our society, and make sure that they aren’t caught up in any ill will or ill feeling because of this And, look, any international investigation is not about any one country – it’s about, did our international institutions serve us well through this? Did the World Health Organization perform as it should? Were information-sharing mechanisms as they should be? So, I mean Is that what an investigation would involve? Because there has not been a lot of detail offered by the Foreign Minister on on exactly what this investigation might include To my mind, it would be like any investigation, where you look at the causes of a crisis and the lessons you can learn for the future, including how you better prepare, you know, international institutions, international protocols, information-sharing mechanisms, that sort of thing

And I think…I mean, it should be a forward-looking investigation It’s not about the allocation of blame, it’s not a court trial It’s about how do we better prepare the world in future to deal with these pandemics, which are more than likely to happen again So, should it look at the way it was spread, as well as the origin? Absolutely. I mean Look, you know, where did it originate from? How did it move into the world so quickly? Did international institutions, and particularly the World Health Organization here, perform as it should have done in this crisis? Do we need some other mechanism to coordinate our management of this crisis? All those sorts of issues should be covered What about countries which tried to pretend this wasn’t the problem that it is? Well, I think Look, I’m sure that there are many countries around the world who have found deficiencies in their own systems through the management of this crisis – domestically and internationally And, you know, that’s again, I think we should all In Australia, I’m sure we’ll go through this exercise – we’ll want to look at what we did wrong But should that be part of the investigation? If we’re looking at the way this spread around the world, should it include countries like America, where the President was, for a time, denying that this was a serious problem? Well, I think we need to recognise what’s gonna be the domestic prerogatives of states I mean, if Italy chooses to manage the crisis in one way, so be it And if their institutions could have been better for it, well, that’s really a matter for them But we’re talking about how the virus moved across borders – this is a transnational threat – and how we coordinated the cooperation to help limit that spread and address it at source So I think, you know, it’s going to be limited largely to that set of issues Penny Wong, what’s your view about what this investigation should include? Well, I think it would be a good thing if the government could be clearer about what it was calling for But I can tell you why we supported it We supported the principle of an inquiry because this is the worst pandemic the world has seen in a century This is the worst economic crisis the world has seen since the Great Depression And humanity should work out how it happened so it doesn’t happen again Now, how we go about doing that is a matter for governments and diplomacy and I’ve already raised, you know, my view about how we might have handled this differently in terms of landing the announcement, but that is the logic behind it And I think that’s pretty unremarkable, isn’t it – that you would want to know how this happened, you know, so it doesn’t happen again and so we can deal with it better? I think one of the things this crisis also does show us, which I sort of alluded to earlier, is what’s happened to multilateralism I mean, if there was ever a time the world needed a strong international response, if there were ever a time the world needed international cooperation and countries to work together, this is it And, sadly and regrettably for the world, and also for Australia, which has benefited greatly from multilateralism, that is not as strong an aspect of the response as we have seen We’ve seen a lot more competition, a lot of pointing the finger, a lot of blaming And I think we, as a country that benefits from a strong international cooperation, should continue to argue for a strong multilateral system and should continue to argue for international cooperation on this and on other issues Michael Fullilove, was it a mistake to float this idea of an investigation by the Foreign Minister but then not offer any significant detail on how it might evolve and to do so without the support of any other nations, it would seem, before announcing it? Look, it’s easier to do these things in company and it’s less awkward if you do it that way and it’s probably more likely to succeed So, on the face of it, yes Who knows – perhaps the Australian government reached out to other governments and they found that other governments didn’t have the bandwidth to deal with this because they weren’t at the same position we are in dealing with the crisis I’m not sure – I’m not privy to those discussions But, you know, sometimes in international relations, as in life, you just have to do the right thing and, as Penny says, this is the right thing to say If I can jump in on the last question from Ming Zhang, I think, in many ways, having this investigation and doing it properly is in China’s interest as well, because we see at the moment, even in the last couple of days, some elements in Washington alleging that the virus came from a lab in Wuhan, rather than “Some elements” – you’re talking about the Secretary of State? I could be talking about the Secretary of State, yeah, a very senior element And I mean, I think…so I think actually it’s in China’s interest as well as humanity’s interest that we get to the bottom of how this thing that so far has caused a quarter of a million deaths and untold economic damage how it occurred Alright, our next question is from Edgar Lu in Roseville, NSW Hi. I’m a first-generation Chinese migrant who is very interested in Australian politics To many members of the Chinese community, the Labor Party has always been this pro-China and pro-migrant party Now, you can imagine how surprised they were to Labor’s support of the government’s proposal of a coronavirus independent inquiry and the consequential exchanges with China

And then there’s Kristina Keneally’s call for a migration program that puts Australian workers first – in other words, a program less welcoming to migrants So my question is, what drove these drastic changes of the Labor Party? Penny Wong? Mm Well, first Mr Lu, I think I’ve explained our position on the inquiry, which is not an anti-China position I agree with Michael – I think it’s in China’s interests, I think it’s in all of humanity’s interests to understand how this pandemic began, how it spread, and how we can prevent it occurring again In terms of migration, I would make this point – we’ve been talking for some time about the problems with temporary migrant workers And those problems really arrive as a consequence of the exploitation of those workers We’ve seen some very, very bad examples of exploitation of workers That is bad for those workers, but it also undermines wages and conditions in the broader Australian labour market So, Kristina Keneally was making the point, which is I think a sound one, that as we look to recovery from COVID-19, and we look to how the migration program will be reconstructed as part of that, one of the things we need to change is the balance between permanent and temporary migrants OK, but And I think that is a sound that is a sound policy position, a sound question, given what we have seen about the experience of those workers, which is in the Australian labour market Do you agree with your colleague Kristina Keneally, though, when she says we need a migration program that puts Australian workers first, and that governments relying on high levels of migration to fuel economic growth have at times arguably been a lazy approach? Do you agree with that? Well, I think what she was referring to in relation to the latter was the fact that this government has failed to adequately invest in education and training and, instead of doing that, has sought to deal with skill shortages by way of temporary migrants And, you know, there is an economic problem with that Look, the reality Do you agree with what she’s described, though? Do you agree with what she said? Well, I agree that there is a policy problem with that I would make this point, if I may, Hamish – the Prime Minister has already announced that as of next year we’ve got about an 85% reduction in our migration program as a consequence of what’s happening around the world and what’s happening Australia and the closing of the borders You know, so that is one of the consequences of the pandemic Obviously, as we go forward, we’re going to have to look at you know, the government and others are going to have to look at what does the program look like going forward? And I think the proposition that Kristina was putting was that we need to rethink the balance between permanent and temporary migration, and I think that’s a sound point to be making Elaine Pearson, do you think Edgar Lu is wrong to interpret Kristina Keneally’s comments the way he has? No, I don’t And I have to say, when I first read that article I had the same, you know, impression And then I read it more closely, and I understood that she was trying to make some salient points about migration, but I think the framing of it was and I don’t know if this was deliberate, but it certainly seemed like racist dog-whistling, this talk about Australians first, and I found that very problematic So what do you make of Penny Wong defending it tonight? Well, I think Penny has explained it, actually, in quite a sort of clear, you know, logical way But I think we need to think about this happening in this context of rising xenophobia in Australia We already had a question earlier about that And so I think it’s really ill-timed to be suggesting we should be, you know, reducing migrants, we should be putting Australians first, especially when we see that temporary migrants in this country are not able to access the care packages, the support packages that the government is providing, and so, you know, they’re really at risk here And so we don’t want to be in a situation where pieces like that are really used to appeal to a certain segment of the Australian population that, you know, might, you know, want to harbour, you know, discrimination or intolerance towards migrants Penny Wong, did you just not notice those things that Elaine Pearson did in the language in the article? (CHUCKLES) Look, I’m giving you an assessment of what I think the policy proposition is I mean, we’re a party that has been You have done that very clearly But hang on but this is a question Yeah, well…well, hang about whether you noticed the same things that Elaine Pearson did? Well, I can…I can say to you that I understood the policy proposition that Kristina Keneally was putting, and I would also say this – you know, we are a party that has stood against racism We’re a party that has stood for multiculturalism for many, many years, consistently And unlike, you know, the other party of government, for example, you know, we don’t do political deals with One Nation,

unlike the Coalition, and we have a very clear position about the benefits of multiculturalism So, you know, I hear what Elaine has said, I hear what Mr Lu has said and I’d say to them, you know, our values are clear, I think there is a reasonable question about the balance between temporary and permanent migration, and I hope this is a discussion the country can have sensibly, because it is a discussion we’re going to have to have, given the Prime Minister’s announcement about this very small migration program that we will be having next year as a consequence of the pandemic Dave Sharma? I mean, look, I don’t want to engage in a parliament here, but I found it an odd allocation of priorities that, of all the things we need to be talking about to secure Australia’s future out of this, we should be having a discussion about the composition of our migration intake I thought that was a strange contribution to be making to the policy debate right now Do you think it was dog-whistling? Look, I’m not going to characterise Kristina’s motives here But I think, you know, there was certainly some nationalist language in there And, look, that’s for her to explain I don’t intend to impugn her or allocate a motive to this But I just don’t think it was a wise contribution to be making to the policy debate at this time Still a diplomat, maybe. (CHUCKLES) Uh, the question…the next question is from Sadam Abdusalam in Adelaide, South Australia My wife has been trapped in Xinjiang for three years with my son, who is an Australian citizen Like many Uyghurs, they’re banned from travelling and not allowed to leave by the Chinese Communist Party Last week, she was taken by Chinese police station and questioned for six hours There has been no new development in our case for months And I’m really worried they did this as a punishment for Australian government calling for an international investigation into the origin of the virus This is hostage diplomacy, isn’t it? What can the Australian government do to save my wife and my Australian baby? Because I haven’t seen them for three years now Thank you Michael Fullilove, this sort of case goes right to the heart of this question of what Australia is willing to do to stand up to China, doesn’t it? Mm Well, first of all, I mean, just reflecting on the last question as well, I mean, you look at Sadam and the contribution he’s making to the country, and it reaffirms my own view on immigration, which is that it makes us stronger, wealthier, more productive, more vigorous, and we need more people like Sadam, not fewer people Especially as we go into difficult economic circumstances, immigration is profoundly in our interests It’s nation-building Now, on his particular case, I think it’s tragic, and I extend my sympathies to him And it’s very tough to see how he will see his wife and his child, because my understanding is the Chinese government would regard certainly his child as a Chinese citizen And so they tend to be quite impervious to consular demands from Austra…from countries like Australia To explain for our audience – the child is a dual citizen, but that’s not recognised by China His wife is not an Australian citizen but has a visa to travel here, and the Australian government has asked for her to have permission to come here Yes, and China, you know, tends not to be open to those sorts of pleas, as we’ve seen in relation to other Australians of Chinese ethnicity I would also say that this case, again, switches on and reminds us of the situation faced by the Uyghurs in China I mean, we’d forgotten about that circumstance, as we have about many issues in the middle of the coronavirus pandemic But it is shocking that, in 2020, a country – a great country like China – would detain up to a million Uyghurs in detention camps It’s really shocking that that kind of exercise would occur And I think Australia should be clear and consistent in expressing, not only looking after the interests of Australians like Sadam and his family, but also expressing our horror at that sort of circumstance Elaine Pearson, do you take the view that the Australian government can do any more than it has done to represent the interests of this family? Well, I think the Australian government HAS to do more And I guess my question is – has the Australian government actually sent someone to Xinjiang to try and bring back, um, you know, his son and his wife? And I think that really has to happen It’s completely unacceptable for the Chinese government to be using an Australian child, you know, effectively, as a hostage in this sort of political negotiation And, you know, this How do you use that term? Just explain what you mean by the child being used as a hostage Well, I mean, what we just heard in that question is that, you know, after Australia announced this international investigation, that his wife was hauled in for questioning by the Chinese police And as far as Sadam is concerned, nothing else had changed And we see this kind of behaviour, you know, with China in respect to other citizens

We’ve seen this kind of hostage diplomacy when it comes to Canada – you know, two Canadians were arrested after the arrest of a Chinese citizen in Canada So, you know, it’s no surprise, but I think So it’s your view that this is connected to Australia’s announcement about an investigation? Well, I mean, we don’t know, because, you know, we don’t have anyone actually on the ground in Xinjiang to know But it certainly looks like it And I think…I mean, I hope that the Australian Foreign Minister is asking questions about this case And I hope that the embassy there is really taking all steps that they can to address this issue Dave Sharma, hostage diplomacy – is that what this is? Look, this is a very tough situation, and I feel very much for Sadam and his family I don’t know the particulars of his case, but I’m sure, if it’s one we’re aware of, we are raising it through official channels with the Chinese I’d love to say we should send Australian diplomats to Xinjiang, but we wouldn’t be permitted, we wouldn’t be granted permission by the Chinese authorities to go That’s most likely to be the case Same for other parts of China, like Tibet, for instance, where we’re not given permission We do speak out on these issues, we joined a statement at the Human Rights Council with upwards of a dozen other countries as well And I know Elaine has written about other things we should be doing The question, I think, as a nation is, how can you be most effective in doing this? You can yell loudly and scream loudly sometimes, but you don’t actually make the material situation of the person better, and often you need to use quiet channels as well as public channels Now, I don’t pretend that there are any easy solutions, though, here in these circumstances Is it simply the reality that people like this fall victim to the broader geopolitical situation that’s at play right now? Look, I mean, it’s the reality around the world I mean, you know, there’s about 521, I think, odd Australians who are detained or imprisoned around the world Sadam’s case, his family, may well be one of those But people who are in separate jurisdictions, they’re not subject to the Australian law or oversight or anything else, and we’re reliant upon cooperation with those countries, and the goodwill of those countries, and their own view of themselves as responsible citizens – international citizens – to cooperate and look after these people And that isn’t always forthcoming Alright. Our next question is from Susan Hughes in Thornleigh, NSW I believe we’ve always looked at the United States as our big, strong, and powerful father And sadly, very sadly, nowadays, I feel we’re looking at this country like a drunken old uncle I’d love to hear, from the panel, their thoughts on how we can learn, perhaps together with our Kiwi cousins, to be stronger and stand on our own two feet a lot more in this brave new world Michael Fullilove? Well, it’s sad, isn’t it, especially for an Americanophile like…like me, to see the condition of the United States at the moment And we’re accustomed to thinking of the United States as the epicentre of global power, not as the epicentre of global disease And I guess the coronavirus is a stress test that is being applied to all of our countries, and some of us are doing better than others And, in the case of the United States, you see structural reasons where the country is not dealing with the pandemic in the professional, effective, successful way we would expect it to And then you see personal reasons I don’t know if Susan was referring to Mr Trump there, but his presidency has been really very difficult for the United States, and you’re seeing in the way he has conducted his administration’s response – late to the game, inconsistent, self-absorbed, ineffective in driving the testing numbers and the PPE and so on Very poor at managing the federation in Australia…in the United States as opposed to Australia So, it’s an awful thing to see, but we have to remember that, unlike China, the United States is a democracy The American people have a chance to course correct in November The United States remains, overwhelmingly, a benign force, I would say, in the world I think that Susan’s right, we do have to be an independent country, independent of the United States, independent of China But it’s too early, I think, to count out the United States, and it’s too…much too early to walk away from the US alliance And Susan asked in her question about our Kiwi cousins The fact that Jacinda Ardern will join the National Cabinet meeting tomorrow – perhaps not going to change the world, but it’s significant, isn’t it? Well, one of the interesting things out of the pandemic has been that the big superpowers like the United States and China, and even Europe, have done quite poorly in many ways Whereas the smaller countries, the more agile, well-run countries like Australia and New Zealand and Taiwan and South Korea have done much better So, yeah, if we can have a trans-Tasman bubble, if we can work more with some of those other effective, well-run countries,

a kind of ‘coalition of the competent’, I think that would be great Penny Wong, is that how you see our…our future? Well, first, can I just say something about the United States? I mean, I think all of us look at what’s happening in America, you know, with a great deal of grief Thousands of people dying, obviously a major public health crisis in the United States, and they’re, understandably, focused on that So, we hope that they can get this under control and can get an economic recovery as well as, you know, better public health outcomes for their people So I think that’s the first point I think that the second point is, really, the one I opened with, which I do th…is this – I do think that this world will be, post-pandemic, will be a harder world for Australia to navigate And part of that is increased self-reliance We are going to have to be more self-reliant, we’re going to have to be able to chart our own course, to express our views, to protect and promote our interests, which will be more challenging at times Now, the United States remains our ally and principal security partner, that won’t change There will be times we have differences of views We have a difference of view, for example, on international cooperation Australia needs multilateral cooperation, we always have The current administration has a different view around multilateralism So, there will be times we have differences of views But I think our first hope is that America can, you know, get on top of this crisis that is so tragic, and come through it Well, that leads us pretty neatly to our next guest Ambassador Nicholas Burns served in the Bush Administration at a senior level, and is now a campaign adviser to presidential candidate Joe Biden I spoke to him earlier from his home in Westport, Massachusetts If China perceives that the US President and the administration has its mind made up on this, what hope is there of ever getting an independent investigation into this? Doesn’t it damage the world’s chances of actually finding the source of the virus? Well, I think it does, and I think that both the United States and Chinese governments, frankly, have not acquitted themselves effectively and honourably in this crisis You’ll remember that the Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson said that, actually, the United States Army planted the virus in Wuhan, which is absurd And then, you have these return charges by President Trump and Secretary Pompeo Frankly, these are the two, as you know, Hamish, most powerful countries in the world They could do a lot to work together, to collaborate and to help themselves, their own countrymen, and the rest of the world, to get beyond the virus That’s what they ought to be doing in the middle of a crisis For a country like Australia, who are obviously looking, at a time like this, to see the value of our alliances, would a Biden presidency And of course, you’re working with Joe Biden, as a foreign policy adviser Would a Biden presidency support Australia’s push for an international investigation? Whether Vice President Biden would support Australia’s request for an investigation, I don’t know if he’s spoken about that, and I don’t want to put words in his mouth But I do know, and I know him, that he’s the kind of international leader that Australians and people around the world can count on because he understands the importance of working together, particularly on a pandemic, which is quintessentially international Can you see why a country like Australia might feel, at this point, incredibly isolated? We obviously look to our most important trading relationship with China, our most important alliance with the United States, and both, clearly, are found wanting It’s a clear leadership issue here, and I just would ask Australians and you, Hamish, and other friends of the United States, be a little bit patient with us Let’s see what happens on November 3rd So, I want to look ahead What does America see as its role in this part of the world longer term? Because, as you point out, America is not playing a role of global leadership at this time Post-COVID, what does that look like? Well, certainly, I think the Indo-Pacific is the region of the world of greatest importance to the United States in terms of our trade, in terms of our security alliances That’s where we’re working together with Australia, South Korea, Japan, India, so effectively, Vietnam, and many other countries It’s also where we’re contesting Chinese power, and trying to live in peace with China, obviously, but not be dominated by China Does America want to be the dominant power in this region? Well, I think the United States has been the dominant power, and with our allies, and especially with the Quad – with Australia, Japan, the United States and India – we can certainly be the dominant and most powerful military force, the four of us together China, obviously, in the region, is the leading manufacturer,

the leading exporter and leading trade partner with nearly every country in the region, including Australia So, the United States needs to up its game And as long as we maintain the alliances that we have, the alliances will be far more powerful than what China can do on its own Nicholas Burns speaking to me earlier Dave Sharma, do you buy that? The alliances that might exist in this region would be stronger than whatever China could offer up? Yeah, look, I think the broad point here is that we’d underestimate the United States’ resilience and strength and its fundamentals at our peril I mean, the United States is an incredibly resilient society and country and economy and people, and they will bounce back from this, I have no doubt And they have been, you know, since the end of the Second World War, a stabilising presence in the Asia-Pacific, in our part of the world, partly through their alliance and networks, and partly through their forward posture in the region – their bases, their access, their transit – and they’ve done things to help the region rise to prosperity, underwriting freedom of navigation on the high seas, underwriting the rules-based trading system, and those sorts of things So, it’s very much in our interests that the United States remains a strong actor, and remains anchored in the Asia-Pacific But you’ve got to maintain those alliances and invest in them, don’t you? Look, absolutely, and I mean, the hard thing, when you’re Washington – and, you know, I’d know this from having lived there for a few years – is there’s any number of parts of the world that are crying out for their attention We are one part, that have always been pulled back into the Middle East, often against our better judgement or better wishes But to get them focused on the Asia-Pacific is always a contest, and it was true through the Obama administration, it was true through the Bush administration before that, and it will be true for Trump’s second term, or whoever might follow him OK. The next question tonight is from Be-An Chew This pandemic has shown us that a little virus that knows no boundaries can bring rich and large economies lacking in true leadership to their knees It has also shown us that smaller players, like New Zealand, Singapore, Australia and South Korea, with true leadership, in the form of fact-based decision-making, compassion, calm communication, and clear direction can bring about better outcomes for its citizens For the new world order, is it time for us to look at new ways of doing things? For example, looking towards a coalition of smaller countries and global citizens with true leadership to take us out of the hole that we have dug ourselves into? What do you think of that, Elaine Pearson? Michael Fullilove was talking about a coalition of the competent Is this the sort of thing that Australia should be thinking more about? Yeah, I think so. And I mean, I think the questioner is right Like, we are seeing that Australia’s had a good response to this because we’ve seen politicians put ideology to one side, they’ve listened to expert evidence, and they’ve acted accordingly And that’s worked out, you know, so far, touch wood, quite well for us So, I think Australia’s got something really valuable to share with other governments I think we would like to see more coalitions of like-minded countries, and I think, rather than, you know, blindly following the US, or being scared about, you know, tip-toeing on eggshells with China, that’s actually going to be the best way to defend our interests, is to have more coalitions of like-minded countries to really promote human rights and promote democratic values Penny Wong, how does this all sit, this idea of more multilateralism, more complex alliances, with Scott Morrison’s speech, last year, about negative globalism? Do the two things fit together? Not at all And I was going to respond to the question by referencing that because I think it is actually very important You see, I think Scott Morrison’s reflex is often to the short term, it’s often to a bit of marketing spin, a bit of slogan, and that’s what negative globalism was in October of last year It was talking tough He talked tough against international organisations, and said we don’t want, you know, an unelected UN bureaucracy Now, he’s talking about the World Health Organization having weapons…an equivalent of weapons inspectors – that is, beefing up an international organisation So, they’re completely contradictory But more importantly, what is in Australia’s interests is more international cooperation You know, we’re not a superpower We are a substantial power, which has an open economy We have benefited greatly from international cooperation, through multilateral institutions and multilateralism more generally They are weakened, both in principle, and also in terms of the institutions So, we do need to think about how we renew multilateralism How do we renew international cooperation? Do we do it through a coalition’s full cooperation? Coalitions of the competent? Do we do it through better investment in terms of our people in international institutions? Reform of those international institutions? We need… As a nation, it is in our national interests

to have a stronger focus on multilateralism, and that will require, I think, renewal It will require different thinking about how we engender that international cooperation at a time when we do see the two great powers in competition, and less interested in working with each other cooperatively If negative globalism was a direction that we were headed in, Michael Fullilove, are we putting the car into reverse? Well, I’m in favour of positive globalism, definitely I mean, I think Look, I think crises clarify, and you’ll recall that a few years ago, when Mr Abbott was the Leader of the Opposition, he was opposed to Australia’s campaign for the Security Council But then, when he came into government, and when MH17 was shot out of the sky, he realised the value of us being a member of the Security Council and being able to make our arguments in pursuit of justice on behalf of the Australian dead And I think it’s the same with this crisis, that we’re all looking at this now We realise that, as Penny says, that for a country of our size, we want effective institutions, we want rules of the road that are widely observed and well established, and so the response, the appropriate response for a country like Australia is not to follow the United States in threatening to defund the WHO It’s not to step back – it’s to step in It’s to fund it properly It’s to seek to reform it It’s to make those institutions work better Our next question is on that It’s from Bala Sugavanam President Trump has announced that the US will be freezing the World Health Organization funding until their role into the mismanagement of the coronavirus situation is reviewed Australian politicians have also expressed similar views My question is, what would the role and significance of the World Health Organization look like in the aftermath of the coronavirus pandemic? Dave Sharma Well, I mean, to start with, if I could just jump back to the previous question, I think Scott Morrison’s speech at the Lowy Institute last year, has been much misunderstood I think people here are talking about a new form of multilateralism I think the point the Prime Minister was making was a valid one It’s that, ultimately, the legitimacy of multilateral institutions comes from states And multilateral institutions are accountable, not to people directly, but through states and to their parties accordingly And what the Prime Minister was talking about was a renewal of the system to make sure it has legitimacy and that international organisations So, what does negative globalism mean, Dave? I’m not sure you can hear Penny Wong ’cause you’ve just lost your earpiece I have. I’ll just pop it back in But she’s just put to you, “What does negative globalism mean?” I think negative globalism is the sorts of bodies and international institutions that have been, in the Prime Minister’s phrase, “a negative force”, which is they’ve sought to take away authority from people and their elected governments and their elected representatives So, which are they? Well, I think the Human Rights Council is a case in point, which has been hijacked by a large number You just referenced You referenced how important our statement was in relation to the Uyghurs’ experience in China, through the Human Rights Council, earlier in this program Yeah. As an expression of our national opinion But I don’t think anyone Correct could stand up here, including Elaine, and say that the Human Rights Council has covered itself in glory with the people that it elects to its bodies and the sorts of issues that it tends to dodge So, I’d… Look, I think, you know, we’re interested in building a positive multilateral framework, the government is But institutions that are accountable to states and So, how does the WHO change then, post COVID-19? So, firstly What does it look like? I think I’m certainly of the view, and I know the government is as well, that if we didn’t have something like the World Health Organization, we’d have to invent it The challenge is not to seek to replace it, the challenge is to renew it and to reform it and to improve it So what do these reforms look like? Well, I think the World Health I mean, I think this is what an international investigation would look at and would uncover, but I could see that you would need a World Health Organization with stronger political independence, a greater mandate to look into the affairs of states and a greater platform to speak out if they think that things are alarming, that the rest of the world needs to know about So you want these sort of weapons inspector-style WHO people that can go into countries, do you? Look, I’m not equipped to know what those solutions are and what those answers are but these are the sorts of questions we should be asking Is the WHO fit for purpose? Does it have the tools that it needs to do its job properly and protect the global public health of the entire citizenry So you’re not sure whether they should have inspector powers to go into other countries and see what’s going on? No, look, I’m not going to be prescriptive about what they should have But I think we need to look at what they’ve got now and what’s insufficient I think this is exactly the sort of thing that an international investigation would seek to address How do you, Michael Fullilove, reinstall broad global public faith in something like the WHO, after an event like this? Well, you probably have to look at the leadership of the WHO I mean, Mr Tedros, the director general, to use Dave’s phrase, hasn’t covered himself in glory I mean, I had my doubts about Mr Tedros when he appointed Robert Mugabe as a WHO goodwill ambassador,

shortly into his tenure I don’t think the WHO is guilty of all the sins that have been that it’s been accused of But I think it has…it does appear to have been too deferential to China It hasn’t lent forward into the mission, in the way that Mr Tedros’s predecessor, Gro Harlem Brundtland, in the 2003 SARS outbreak did She was a model, I think, of an agency head who was…you know, understood the prerogatives of state…of states but also understood that, in the middle of a crisis, you need to step in and you need to pressure states And I guess we haven’t seen that from Mr Tedros More of its funding comes from the United States than it does from China, so Significantly more, yeah if this was a question of influence, what changes then? PEARSON: Can I come in on that? Sure Because I think on the inspections question I mean, I think that was a nice sort of headline-grabbing thing but, I mean, it has zero chance of success When we think about weapons inspectors, we think of what happened in 1991 in Iraq and that required the UN Security Council And 1991 Iraq looks very different to China in 2020 It would require the negotiation of treaties It would require governments to come to the table That’s not going to happen I agree with Dave that it really should be about strengthening the independence of the WHO, so that they’re not so beholden to governments, to just take what the Chinese government tells them at face value And I think one way that you can do that is by, you know, strengthening their partnerships with civil society organisations, non-profit organisations, that actually work in the field in the midst of these public health crises and would probably be able to give them a more accurate assessment of what’s happening on the ground Alright. Our next question tonight comes from Kamalle Dabboussy The Australian government should be commended on making Australians safe throughout the globe through the current COVID-19 crisis I have three grandchildren – six years and under – and their mother in north-east Syria, that I too would like to be made safe and desperate to be reunited with They’re currently at Al-Hawl refugee camp, which the United Nations has said is one of the worst places on the planet for a potential COVID-19 outbreak The Australian government has already repatriated people from the camp Other countries continue to do so And as late as last week, France successfully so What obligation does the Australian government have towards my grandchildren and their mother to be made safe? And shouldn’t it take advantage of the international offers on the table available to it? So, a little bit of context here Kamalle has shared some images of his daughter and his three grandchildren Here they are at Al-Hawl refugee camp in North-Eastern Syria They’re the wife and children of a former ISIS fighter Kamalle has been lobbying the Australian government to bring them home for some time Elaine Pearson, what’s your view? Well, Kamalle, I mean, I really yeah, feel for him I mean, it must be so hard being a grandparent stuck so far away and knowing that the conditions in that camp really are horrendous I mean, we’ve had Human Rights Watch researcher teams go into those camps in the middle of the desert and I think the conditions have just gotten worse and worse in the midst of this pandemic I think the Australian government should do the right thing, they should bring these children home The Prime Minister has previously said children should not be punished for the crimes of their parents, and I totally agree with that I mean, these are many children, many of them are under the age of 12 years old And, you know, if the adults, if the women Many of these women, they were forced, they were duped, some of them did go willingly but then they suffered horrendously at ISIS They were raped, they were passed around between different ISIS fighters, forced to have children And I think if the women committed crimes, of course, you know, they should be investigated, they should be prosecuted on Australian soil But right now, just dumping them in a camp in the middle of the desert, it’s completely the wrong thing to do Dave Sharma, the Australian government’s position on this has been pretty clear Does anything change because of COVID-19 and the associated risks? Look, it’s a worry I mean, I’m worried about a number of Australians abroad There’s an Australian being held in an Iranian prison, Evin Prison, which has been a source of a known COVID-19 outbreak I’m not aware that this particular refugee camp in the north-eastern part of Syria has been affected by COVID-19, but of course it’s a risk Look, I mean, I’d love to see these people come home and I’d love to see them get them home But it’s a question of whether it’s safe to send Australians in there to do so They’re in Syria, they’re in the north-eastern part of Syria, it’s an active war zone We’ve got no Australian officials there present If I was a diplomat stationed in the Middle East, I wouldn’t be sending my own staff in there or I certainly couldn’t vouch for their safety in doing so This is the challenge here Alright The next question tonight is from Rod Cunich His question is for Dave Sharma Rod is one of your constituents I know Rod! Dave, your government’s response to the COVID-19 crisis has been effective largely because of strong leadership, bipartisan cooperation, acceptance of the science, and listening to the experts So, why can’t the government adopt the same approach

with climate action? The question is for you, Dave Sharma Thank you, Rod. Rod was one of these people who was stuck aboard one of these cruise ships that had to be brought home from Australia So you’ve helped him out, now he’s throwing you a curly question on Q+A! Look, I’d say I think there are two lessons for climate change to come out of this crisis The first is that no nation can go it alone when you’re dealing with these global challenges There’s… No nation is an island, even Australia, when it comes to these sorts of things Certainly, when it comes to a pandemic But also when it comes to CO2 emissions and other greenhouse gas emissions So I think…I’m always interested in us doing more in this area but it only makes sense if it’s part of a global effort And the second thing I’d say is that, you know, I’ve seen the statistics, the projections from this People expect that, this year, global emissions will be down about 5% from last year’s levels Now that sounds…you know, it is dramatic, it’s the biggest drop in emissions, but look at what the cost of doing that has been Look at how many people are out of work, look at the sort of human misery it’s caused To actually meet some of our targets, we’d need to have several pandemics over and over again And I think that shows you that the only way we’re going to do this is if we transition our economies to a more technology-oriented future We’re not going to do it by de-industrialising So I think this is… I’m getting to the answer here for Rod But it’s really…this is why we’re investing so much in things like the technology roadmap, the hydrogen economy, renewable energy, renewable energy storage I’ve got to bring in Penny Wong because she’s laughing in Adelaide Sorry! Well, it was the phrase ‘de-industrialising’ It reminded me of Nick Minchin, you know all those years ago, saying…I think on Four Corners or 7.30 Report that climate change was a left-wing conspiracy to de-industrialise the Western World And the reality is, in the last decade, the Coalition – large numbers of them – have not moved beyond that, you know, hard ideological position And the question that was asked of Dave, which he’s dodged, is if you can accept the science around COVID-19, why can’t you accept the science, as a government, around climate? We do accept the science around climate, fundamentally But you don’t I mean, the reality is You do not, because your response is never commensurate Your party room is divided And as a consequence, we have had no energy policy for a decade, which is driving up prices for Australian consumers and ensuring we don’t have an effective response to climate change, so it’d be pretty good if that would change A very quick final word to you, Michael Fullilove? Well, it’s tough because when we come out of this, all the emphasis is going to be on generating economic activity It’s going to be difficult to reorient towards these issues But I do think, to go to the questioner’s point, that we have seen governments listen to experts We’ve seen them take decisions that may previously have seemed unthinkable I think there is a bit of a sense, if we try to come up with a positive story out of COVID, there is a sense that we’re all in it together We’re very alert to everything that is happening overseas We’re all alert to all the developments around the world So, perhaps there’s a little kernel of solidarity that will help the world to come together, as Dave mentions, with some sort of global plan to reduce emissions Alright. Well, that’s all we’ve got time for tonight A huge thanks to our panel – Elaine Pearson, Dave Sharma, Penny Wong and Michael Fullilove And thank you to you at home as well We love seeing your videos and questions from all corners of the country and indeed the globe as well Please join me next week We’ll speak to some of the powerful leaders emerging in this crisis – of course, they’re the state premiers Daniel Andrews and Gladys Berejiklian will be here with me We’ll also talk to other states as we ease our way out of the lockdown Until then, stay safe, stay well, wash your hands and have a very good night Captions by Red Bee Media Copyright Australian Broadcasting Corporation