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Tuesday, 13 November 2018
Page: 7929


Senator PATRICK (South Australia) (16:10): I move:

That the following matter be referred to the Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade References Committee for inquiry and report by 1 April 2019:

(a) Australia's engagement with China's Belt and Road Initiative including, but not limited to, the Victorian Government's Memorandum of Understanding with China signed on 25 August 2018; and

(b) any related matters.

I seek leave to make a one-minute statement.

The PRESIDENT: Leave is granted for one minute.

Senator PATRICK: This motion flows from the Victorian government's secret MOU negotiations with the state of China. The motion arises from the obvious need for Australia to develop a consistent approach to China's Belt and Road Initiative. This is, of course, the President of China's signature initiative.

Australia's engagement with this initiative is a responsibility of the Australian parliament and the Australian government. We need to bring together the full range of strategic, diplomatic, economic and trade perspectives on this complex issue. Some senators are apparently reluctant to support this motion. Some would prefer there be no reference to the Belt and Road Initiative or, indeed, to China. It seems some senators are afraid of the C-word—'China'. In fact, that represents part of the problem here: we're being captured by design not to talk about this issue.

The PRESIDENT: The question is that business of the Senate motion No. 3 be agreed to.