United Kingdom hits back at Australia’s Foreign Minister Penny Wong
Britain hits back at Australia’s Foreign Secretary Penny Wong after urging nation to face its colonial history: ‘The past cannot be erased’
The UK has hit back at Penny Wong’s suggestion Britain must do more to confront its colonial past, saying history cannot be erased or erased.
Earlier this week, Senator Wong gave a speech at Kings College, where she discussed her own family’s British colonial history and said that only by acknowledging the past can Britain truly attempt to modernize its relations, particularly with the Indo-Pacific countries .
“Tales like this can sometimes feel uncomfortable – for those whose stories they are and for those who hear them. But understanding the past allows us to better share the present and the future,” she said.
British Foreign Secretary James Cleverly dismissed proposals, saying the former colonial power was aware.
After the ministerial meetings in Portsmouth on Thursday (UK time), Mr Cleverly said the couple had “discussed the nature of the relationship between the UK and other countries which are now part of the Commonwealth but were previously British colonies”.
Australia’s Foreign Secretary Penny Wong (pictured) has urged Britain to face its colonial past in the Indo-Pacific
“(But) that wasn’t the mainstay of the talks we had,” he said.
Probing further, he pushed back, “You’re asking the black secretary of state?”
“The bottom line is that we have a prime minister of Asian heritage, a home minister of Asian heritage and a foreign minister of African heritage,” he said.
Senator Wong said the “modern face of Australia and the modern face of Britain are visible here in this room,” citing her Malaysian ancestry and Mr Cleverly’s African heritage.
“(It’s) one of the ways we can make ourselves stronger and more influential. In this time of strategic competition, we must ensure that we are not framed by others and that we frame ourselves,” she said.
Defense Secretary Richard Marles (pictured) said: “We want to see a Britain committed to our region.”
The earlier AUKMIN meeting confirmed that Australia’s nuclear submarine deal with Britain and the United States – the basis of AUKUS – would be announced “soon”.
Both the Australian and British Prime Ministers will travel to Washington next month to meet with US President Joe Biden.
Defense Secretary Richard Marles said possessing such technology would “transform Australia’s international personality”.
“It will dramatically strengthen our capabilities and therefore our sovereignty,” he said.
“The importance of the UK and America working together to help us have this technology is also significant on an international scale.”
His counterpart, Defense Secretary Ben Wallace, said any decision by the Australian cabinet on submarines was a “joint effort”.
“Whatever is chosen will be a collaborative effort,” he said.
All four ministers were delighted with their meetings and two-day trip, saying it was a “refreshment” to their 250-year relationship.
While in the UK, Senator Wong and Mr Marles accompanied their British counterpart to visit Australian and British troops training Ukrainian soldiers.
Australian Ministers Penny Wong (left) and Richard Marles (right) are in the UK for strategic talks with their British counterparts James Cleverly and Ben Wallace