Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews’ closely guarded trip to China has been slammed by Sky News hosts for its lack of transparency.
Peter Stefanovic and Laura Jayes, who present First Edition and AM Agenda, made the comments on Tuesday morning as Mr Andrews touched down in Beijing for the four-day trip.
No Australian media were invited on the trip and will only be informed of the Premier’s movements through a daily update.
“That’s not for him to decide and he should not get away with this at all,” Jayes said.
“A free and open fair media is a central tenet to democracy.
“And when you are dealing with China and you are not taking media along … that is not good enough.”
Jayes said the lack of transparency was a “really concerning” twist in Mr Andrews’ relationship with the Victorian media.
“It’s an arrogance isn’t it?” Stefanovic said.
“It’s more than that Pete, it’s really concerning and quite dangerous I reckon,” Jayes replied.
Mr Andrews appeared on Hong Kong channel Phoenix TV on Tuesday morning and told viewers the “Chinese story is absolutely central to the Victorian story”.
“You can’t imagine a modern Victoria without the Chinese influence,” Mr Andrews said.
Mr Andrews said that despite tension in recent years, the two countries’ relationship had the potential to grow again.
“Good friends can disagree. True friends do not disrespect, though, and that’s always the approach that I’ve taken. You can have an honest dialogue but it needs to be a respectful dialogue,” he said.
“We think the relationship and partnership with China is very, very important to Victoria, and very important to Australia as well.”
Mr Andrews is expected to discuss trade and cultural ties and the return of Chinese students to Victoria after pandemic-induced border closures.
It will mark the first visit by a state leader since the pandemic began.
The Premier will also travel to Jiangsu and Sichuan to meet with key senior officials from Victoria’s sister states.
The trip will be Mr Andrews’ seventh to China since becoming premier, with previous visits held in 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018 and two in 2019.
During his last visit in October 2019, the Victorian Premier signed a framework agreement with China’s controversial Belt and Road initiative.
It was later made null and void by the Morrison government under new laws that allowed the Commonwealth to cancel deals between states and foreign powers.
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