Statements by senators – Premier of Victoria, 29 March, 2023

Senator BABET (Victoria—United Australia Party Whip) (13:47): Something is different in my home state of Victoria this week. There is a sense of calm and order as the Victorian people go about their everyday lives. The media are silent. They don’t know what to say. What’s different? Our Premier has gone on a little holiday to visit, for the seventh time, his good friends to the north.

Premier Andrews has not truly disclosed the purpose of his travel to the People’s Republic of China. It has been left to us to speculate on his itinerary. I for one hope that our dear Premier has taken it upon himself to personally investigate the origins of the Wuhan virus or maybe to negotiate the release of the persecuted Uighurs from re-education camps. Maybe he could be standing up for hardworking Australian wine and barley exporters suffering from brutal tariffs. The cynics say he could be looking to rekindle the failed Belt and Road Initiative deal, or maybe he’s seeking to prop up our heavily indebted state, projected to reach around $170 billion of debt in just the next few years—more debt than Queensland, New South Wales and Tasmania combined. Not one Australian journalist was invited to accompany the Premier, but I’m sure the state run Chinese Communist Party press will do their best to reveal the truth.

I believe that the Premier should leave international diplomacy to our federal government. It’s not his job, and when it comes to previous experience there is no one more competent at international travel than our own Prime Minister, Anthony ‘Airbus’ Albanese. The people of Victoria are left to pray that our dear leader will return safely having not sold us out to the communists again.