13 April 2022

Zed leaves campaign trail for Solomon Islands trip

| Lottie Twyford
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Senator Zed Seselja

Senator for the ACT Zed Seselja has left the campaign trail, for now, to travel to the Solomon Islands. Photo: Michelle Kroll.

Senator for the ACT Zed Seselja has been forced to leave the campaign trail only a few days after the election was called, citing an urgent mission to the Solomon Islands amid mounting concerns China is preparing to secure a military base off Australia’s coast.

As Minister for the Pacific, Senator Seselja left Australia yesterday and will be in Honiara for the remainder of today to “further strengthen Australia’s relationship” with the Pacific nation.

“My discussions will include the proposed Solomon Islands-China security agreement. The visit follows recent dialogue and visits between the Solomon Islands Government and Australian officials,” he confirmed in a statement yesterday.

Earlier this month, drafts of this agreement between China and the Solomon Islands were leaked, sparking some security concerns in the region and as far away as the United States that China may establish a military presence in the nation.

READ ALSO Zed warns voters of ‘extreme green’ risk after Pocock polling shock

Documents had also shown the Chinese embassy had tried to import weapons to the country following violent riots in November last year, partly fuelled by anger over the prime minister’s decision to switch the country’s diplomatic allegiance from Taiwan to China.

But the riots were also somewhat fuelled by economic and ethnic tension.

“For many years, Australia has stood strongly as a partner and a friend of the Solomon Islands,” Senator Seselja’s statement read.

“Australia has worked with other Pacific family members to support the Solomon Islands, including as part of the Solomon Islands Assistance Force (SIAF) and earlier through the Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands (RAMSI).

“I look forward to meeting with members of the SIAF deployment whilst in Honiara,”

READ ALSO Greens candidate Tjanara Goreng Goreng says change in the Senate is “very close”

Senator Seselja confirmed that the Australian government respected the Solomon Islands’ right to make sovereign decisions about its own national security.

“We look forward to ongoing engagement with the Solomon Islands, and with our Pacific family members, on these very important issues. Our view remains that the Pacific family will continue to meet the security needs of our region,” he said.

According to some recent polling released earlier this month, Senator Seselja is facing a tough fight to retain his seat in this election with the Greens’ Dr Tjanara Goreng Goreng and Independent David Pocock attracting large proportions of the vote.

David Pocock

Senator for the ACT Zed Seselja identified high-profile Independent candidate David Pocock as a threat. Photo: Michelle Kroll.

Senator Seselja was well short of a quota, only mustering 24 and 25 per cent of the primary vote in both polls.

The incumbent Senator identified Mr Pocock as a real threat and labelled the former Wallaby skipper and climate campaigner an extreme “green Independent” candidate.

“It is not the time to risk handing over power to an extreme Labor-Greens-green independent alliance and make no mistake, Pocock sits on the Extinction Rebellion end of the extreme greens,” he said.

Senator Seselja also warned Australia is facing threats from an increasingly complex national security environment and that now is not the time for change given this and an economy that was still recovering from COVID-19.

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HiddenDragon8:00 pm 14 Apr 22

There’s something particularly ironic about the people who are pretending that this issue is really about anything other than “who is the highest bidder” when many of those individuals are also (apparently) fraught about the fact that we don’t yet have a federal ant-corruption commission.

Likewise when so many of those people think nothing of the fact that the Pacific island elites have turned the running of climate change guilt trips on Australia into an art form but have nothing to say about the scale and trajectory of China’s emissions.

The big truck poster showing the Chinese premier urging you to vote Labor was right.

Sbogom Sdenko

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