Foreign Minister Calls for Pandemic Review

Foreign Minister Calls for Pandemic Review
Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne, Canberra, Australia on Feb. 6, 2020. (Andrew Taylor/AFP via Getty Images)

Foreign Minister Marise Payne won't go as far as saying she doesn't trust China, but says her concern is at a "high point" regarding transparency over the outbreak of the coronavirus.

She wants an independent, international review of the pandemic over its handling and its origin.

"I think the key to going forward in the context of these issues is transparency," she told ABC television's Insiders program on Sunday.

"Transparency from China most certainly. Transparency from all of the key countries across the world who will be part of any review that takes place." Payne said.

She said an independent review should identify the genesis of the virus, the approaches to dealing with it, and addressing the openness with which information was shared.

It should also look into the interaction with the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the actions taken with international leaders.

Asked if the WHO itself should conduct the review, the minister said: "No ... that strikes me as a bit poacher and gamekeeper."

Senator Payne was pressed several times whether she trusts China.

"I trust China in terms of the work that we need to do together," she said.

"The issues around the coronavirus are issues for independent review, and I think that it is important that we do that. In fact, Australia will absolutely insist on that."

She believes relationships all around the world will change once the pandemic has passed, including that between Australia and its number one trading partner China, although she said she doesn't have a "crystal ball" to say to what extent.

"This is very much an unfolding situation," she said.

By Colin Brinsden