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Prime Minister's East Asia Summit gaffe



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The Hon Julie Bishop, MP Shadow Minister for Foreign Affairs Deputy Leader of the Opposition Member for Curtin

Prime Minister’s East Asia Summit gaffe

Thursday, 03 March 2011

The Prime Minister today reinforced that she is out of her depth in foreign policy when her speech to a lunch in honour of the Malaysian Prime Minister contained a serious error of fact about the East Asia Summit.

“Malaysia has a proud role, proud record of its role in regional leadership and I look forward to continuing to work closely with you to ensure the success of the East Asia Summit with the US and China shortly to join.” (extract of speech by Prime Minister Julia Gillard 3 March 2011)

This is not correct. China was a founding member of the East Asia Summit in 2005.

It was decided at the East Asia Summit last year that the United States and Russia will join at the next Summit.

The Prime Minister compounded the error by repeating it in Question Time.

HANSARD 3 March 2011

Ms Gillard - I will be talking to President Obama about our region and the importance of the emerging new regional architecture including the East Asia Summit in which the US and China will participate—

Ms Julie Bishop - No, no—Russia! …

Ms Gillard - …The emerging regional architecture involving the US sitting at the table, bringing the US to the table with China and with the other major economies of our region and with Russia at the table, is a very important development.

This mistake reinforces the widely held belief that this Prime Minister is out of her depth in foreign policy and that she has still not developed an interest in this vital area of her responsibilities, particularly given her confession last year about her lack of passion.

““… I'm just going to be really upfront about this: foreign policy is not my passion. … if I had a choice I'd probably more be in a school watching kids learn to read in Australia than here in Brussels at international meetings.” (Prime Minister Julia Gillard, 7.30 Report, 5 Oct 2010)