Federal election 2022: Mark McGowan says Anthony Albanese will make dealings with China more ‘sensible’

Headshot of Josh Zimmerman
Josh ZimmermanThe West Australian
Mark McGowan and Anthony Albanese.
Camera IconMark McGowan and Anthony Albanese. Credit: Ian Munro/The West Australian

The election of an Anthony Albanese-led Commonwealth Government will pave the way for a “more sedate and a more mature approach” to Australia’s relationship with China, according to Mark McGowan.

The Premier was repeatedly at loggerheads with the Morrison Government over its commentary over China, ramping up his attacks during the election campaign and accusing former Defence Minister Peter Dutton of “warmongering”.

Mr McGowan said he had little doubt Mr Albanese would continue to protect Australia’s interests but also expected a diplomatic shift.

“(My view is) we will become more diplomatic and more sensible in relation to our dealings with China,” he said on Wednesday.

“I just think that’s a sensible course forward. I think the balance went too far in terms of the rhetoric and the language towards China.

“It was hostile and you know, almost warmongering from people like Peter Dutton, and I suspect that sort of language will calm and a more sedate and a more mature approach will go forward in relation to China.”

Mr McGowan also said he held no fears for the future of Woodside’s Scarborough gas project following the change of Commonwealth Government despite Mr Albanese’s reliance on the Greens to pass legislation through the Senate.

The Greens – led by Adam Bandt – campaigned on a platform of freezing the 114 new coal and gas projects in development across Australia.

Mr McGowan said the approvals for Woodside’s $16.5 billion Scarborough liquefied natural gas project had already been granted.

“There are significant offsets of the emissions from that project and obviously those issues will have to be worked through but offsetting emissions, making sure that we have carbon capture and storage, they’re going to be an important part of what happens with gas projects in the future,” he said.

“So I doubt there’s any further action in relation to it but I do I actually support further action on climate.”

The Premier revealed he had spoken to both Mr Albanese and Scott Morrison this week, saying the new Prime Minister was “very grateful to the people of Western Australia for their support”.

“He was very focused and understood the gravity of the position that he now holds so I thought it was a very good and warm and cordial conversation,” Mr McGowan said.

He added he had rung Mr Morrison on Wednesday to “wish him all the best”.

“Obviously, you all know I got on well with him and I thought we worked reasonably well together and I liked him,” the Premier said.

Mark McGowan (left) and Scott Morrison (file image)
Camera IconMark McGowan and Scott Morrison. Credit: AAP

“So I wanted to pass on my thoughts to him. These things should be a bit above politics.

“He was pretty philosophical about it all which is good. And he wasn’t bitter or angry, which was a good sign. So all the best to him and his family.”

Mr McGowan renewed calls for more West Australian representation in Mr Albanese’s Cabinet, which is due to be finalised early next week following a meeting of Labor caucus in Canberra.

“I am very keen to see more (WA) ministers in the cabinet,” the Premier said.

“I’ve expressed that to my federal colleagues, that considering West Australia’s representation in the federal government and the number of MPs from Western Australia there should be additional ministers in the federal government. So that’s something that should happen.”

Mr McGowan also batted away suggestions the GST deal was in danger following Mr Albanese’s election, with the Commonwealth Government likely to come under intense pressure from Labor Premiers in Victoria, NSW, Queensland and South Australia to re-examine the carve-up.

“The arrangement is permanent as far as I’m concerned and that’s the assurance I’ve had from … Mr Albanese and (Treasurer Jim Chalmers) and other federal colleagues,” he said.

Mr McGowan said other states “need to manage their budgets” before savaging the Victorian Government’s decision to spend $2.6 billion to host the Commonwealth Games.

“If they want to spend that amount of money on the Commonwealth Games in Bendigo and then complain about not having enough money, well, maybe they should make different decisions.

“We decided not to go for the Commonwealth Games because I didn’t want to, in an uncertain world, go and spend $2.5 billion on something that is a nice to have.”

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