The debate is now centered on the two politicians asking each other questions.
Wong asks the first question, which is about why the Liberal Party has been “inconsistent” in respecting the sovereignty of the Solomon Islands, accusing it of crossing a border in signing a security pact with China.
Payne says the prime minister has been consistent in working with security forces over his concerns about China’s pursuit of a greater security presence in the region, particularly in the Solomon Islands.
“All the time I’ve been in this role, and especially since, of course, the change in recognition of the diplomatic recognition of the Solomon Islands from Taiwan to China, because that has led to a much more forward-leaning assertive effort from China in relation to security engagement in the region,” says Payne.
“So that’s not just limited to the Solomon Islands, it extends to other countries in the region as well. These are concerns raised from time to time around the Pacific Island forum table regarding sovereignty and the implications of a non-Pacific partner or member being in a security-providing position.
Payne says Morrison’s government has never said the security pact between China and the Solomon Islands was not a problem and that “that is a misrepresentation of my position”.