The Prime Minister and Foreign Minister must immediately clarify whether the Government is considering imposing trade sanctions against China.
This morning, in the usual media blitz he undertakes the moment Mr Turnbull leaves the country, the Acting Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce has repeatedly and deliberately failed to rule out imposing sanctions on our biggest trading partner.
This is not some backbencher on a frolic, this is the Acting head of the Australian Government who sits on the National Security Committee of the Cabinet.
Australian has a $22 billion trade surplus with China with exports worth $86 billion in 2015-16 – engaging in a tit for tat trade conflict with China would devastate the Australian economy, Australian jobs and Australian living standards.
Imposing trade sanctions on China would devastate Australian farmers. Agricultural trade with China is worth about $10 billion to Australia.
At a time of heightened regional and global instability Australia needs to work with other countries in our region, including China.
The only thing more concerning than the Acting Prime Minister freelancing on foreign policy would be if the Government is seriously contemplating imposing sanctions on China.
The Government must urgently clarify this, and one day into his overseas travel, the Prime Minister must pull his Deputy into line.