Live mic picks up WA Premier badmouthing shadow defence minister Andrew Hastie at Beijing lunch

“The truth is that he’s a prison guard looking for work now that the pandemic has finished,” he said.

“I’m not surprised he’s running down Australian MPs in China, but it is surprising from a former legal officer in the Royal Australian Navy.

“I’m not sure I’d want to serve alongside him on a naval ship in a crisis.

“Character is everything, what’s he really saying when the cameras aren’t running?”

Hastie criticised the premier for inserting himself in foreign policy debates and said he wished he would focus on domestic issues like fixing the Peel Health Campus in Hastie’s WA Canning electorate rather than trying to do Foreign Minister Penny Wong’s job.

Hastie pointed McGowan to Wong’s speech delivered at the National Press Club on Tuesday when she said China continued “to modernise its military at a pace and scale not seen in the world for nearly a century with little transparency or assurance about its strategic intent”.


Wong also said the Albanese government would approach its China relationship with calmness and consistency, recognising that it will remain Australia’s largest trading partner for the foreseeable future.

In a keynote address to the Beijing lunch, McGowan made comments about the previous government’s handling of the relationship, but the video provided to media cuts out before the topic is discussed in detail.

His office was unable to provide that section of the speech.

McGowan is the second Australian premier to visit China since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic following a visit by Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews earlier this month.

Controversially Andrews did not invite any media to join him on the trip.

McGowan’s office did invite WA media but visa issues prevented all but one journalist and one photographer from The West Australian newspaper from travelling with him.

In place, McGowan’s team has agreed to send videos produced by a Chinese videography outfit to Perth media outlets.

High on McGowan’s agenda is to boost international student numbers to Perth as well as bring more direct flights from the country to Perth.

McGowan told the lunch that foreign policy was not his responsibility, but he previously said he would advocate for the removal of tariffs on Australian exports caught up in a trade fight over the course of the pandemic including wines, lobsters and barley during meetings in China.

“I’m not responsible for Australian foreign policy, what I am responsible for is the economic health and social and cultural connection between the state of Western Australia and China,” he said.

“It’s about making sure that on our level we can advocate for a sensible and respectful, responsible relationship so that is what I will be doing during my time here.”

In March, a live microphone got the Premier in hot water after he told Deputy Premier Roger Cook in Parliament that issues surrounding a Perth Mint dilution scandal were a “storm in a f**king teacup”.

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