CHI­NESE SHIPS SPARK RE­VIEW

The West Australian - - FEDERAL POLITICS - EX­CLU­SIVE LANAI SCARR FED­ERAL PO­LIT­I­CAL ED­I­TOR

Fed­eral De­fence Min­is­ter Linda Reynolds says Aus­tralia is re­view­ing how it han­dles the en­try of for­eign ships into Aus­tralian wa­ters af­ter the un­ex­pected ar­rival of Chi­nese war­ships into Syd­ney Harbour last week.

“There is noth­ing un­usual about naval ves­sels from other na­tions seek­ing to make port vis­its,” Se­na­tor Reynolds said.

“How­ever, given some of the me­dia sur­round­ing these vis­its we are re­view­ing how we pub­li­cise and deal with those vis­its.”

Two Chi­nese war­ships en­tered Syd­ney Harbour last week in a visit that even sur­prised NSW Premier Gla­dys Bere­jik­lian.

It sparked pub­lic ou­trage that the ships were al­lowed to moor on the eve of the 30th an­niver­sary of the Tianan­men Square mas­sacre.

In an in­ter­view yes­ter­day, Se­na­tor Reynolds, right, said she would con­tinue to sup­port WA jobs and the lo­cal de­fence in­dus­try by seek­ing to make her home State a hub for de­fence projects, in­clud­ing the pos­si­bil­ity of bas­ing the fu­ture sub­ma­rine fleet en­tirely in WA.

The newly ap­pointed Cab­i­net min­is­ter hinted at WA get­ting more of a share of de­fence work af­ter South Aus­tralia was seen to be favoured dur­ing her pre­de­ces­sor Christo­pher Pyne’s ten­ure as min­is­ter.

“I have been a very, very strong ad­vo­cate for West­ern Aus­tralia and na­tional ship­build­ing and other de­fence ca­pa­bil­i­ties,” she said.

“WA has an im­por­tant part to play in our na­tional de­fence in­dus­try. WA is ideally placed to do a lot of (the sus­tain­ment and main­te­nance) work and that is some­thing we are work­ing very closely with (WA De­fence Is­sues Min­is­ter) Paul Pa­palia on.”

Se­na­tor Reynolds said she was “to­tally com­mit­ted to en­sur­ing we build up in­dige­nous Aus­tralian de­fence ca­pa­bil­ity right across the board”.

She said Aus­tralia was also “com­mit­ted to the fight against Daesh (Is­lamic State)”. But in re­sponse to ques­tions about New Zealand’s de­ci­sion to pull its troops from Iraq next year, Se­na­tor Reynolds would only say Aus­tralia “keeps re­view­ing all our com­mit­ments over­seas”.

“We re­main to­tally com­mit­ted to the fight against Daesh and our re­solve has in no way wa­vered,” she said. “Aus­tralian pol­icy has not changed but of course we keep re­view­ing all our com­mit­ments over­seas as our al­lies do.” Se­na­tor Reynolds, who came through the ranks of the Aus­tralian Army to reach the rank of brigadier, said she would be able to hold her own and ap­ply fis­cal pru­dence when De­fence chiefs came knock­ing. “Ab­so­lutely I will be able to push back,” she said.

She also talked up the cre­den­tials of fel­low West Aus­tralian Melissa Price, who was de­moted from Cab­i­net to the outer min­istry in Se­na­tor Reynolds’ old port­fo­lio of De­fence In­dus­try. “She has a great com­mer­cial back­ground and I very much look for­ward to work­ing with her,” she said.

And the re­volv­ing door of De­fence min­is­ters — five in the past five years — would be some­thing she was seek­ing to stop. “One of many won­der­ful qual­i­ties Aus­tralians re­sponded so well to in the Prime Min­is­ter is that he is a very calm pair of hands,” Se­na­tor Reynolds said.

“He un­der­stands the value in this port­fo­lio of calm­ness and de­ter­mi­na­tion, but also con­ti­nu­ity.”

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