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Daniel Andrews defends trade trip to China and offers excuse why journalists weren’t invited

Daniel Andrews defends his secret trade trip to China and offers a surprising excuse on why he didn’t invite any journalists

  • Vic premier didn’t let journalists join him
  • Opposition leader criticised the decision  
  • WA premier will let journalists join his trip

Daniel Andrews has defended his decision to not invite journalists to China as he faces intense backlash over his secret trade trip. 

The Victorian premier returned to Melbourne on Saturday after spending the week meeting with senior officials in Beijing and the Jiangsu and Sichuan provinces.

He was criticised for not taking a press pack, with many raising concerns over transparency and press freedom.

Victorian premier Daniel Andrews (pictured) returned to Melbourne on Saturday from an official trip to China

But the premier on Sunday maintained he acted appropriately, noting journalists would not have been able to interview any of the officials he met.

‘Let’s be really clear about this – this trip was not about me and with the greatest of respect, it was not about you,’ Mr Andrews said.

‘It was about the success of Victoria and we stand by what was a full program and important program, one where we got a very warm reception.’

The Victorian premier said it was common for him to travel overseas without media.

‘I’ve travelled to China before without media,’ Mr Andrews said on Sunday.

‘In fact the last trip back in 2019 to China and Vietnam and there were no media with me.

‘I travelled to India without media. It’s not always true that the media travels with us.’

Mr Andrews said he had fruitful discussions about trade and international students, with a working group established between Victoria and the Chinese Ministry of Education.

The group will work towards attracting more Chinese students to Melbourne, with a focus on increasing student exchanges.

A standing working group has also been established with the Sichuan region to build on existing trade ties, while a task force has been set up with the Jiangsu Province.

‘Our relationship has always been strong because both sides have worked hard to deliver that,’ Mr Andrews said.

Andrews did not allow journalists to join him, saying there was no time for interviews (pictured Chinese President Xi Jinping)

Andrews did not allow journalists to join him, saying there was no time for interviews (pictured Chinese President Xi Jinping)

‘But after three and a half years, it’s important to get back there and say – we are open, we value your students, we value your partnerships with us.’

Mr Andrews said he did not discuss his state’s infrastructure projects or matters of foreign policy.

Victorian Opposition Leader John Pesutto has accused the premier of keeping secrets.

He said the coalition would push for an inquiry into the trip.

‘If the premier isn’t forthcoming with the full truth, then we can’t know how this trip will benefit Victorians,’ Mr Pesutto told reporters on Sunday.

West Australian Premier Mark McGowan on Sunday announced his own trip to China and confirmed he would take media.

The five-day trip will start on April 17 and feature high-level trade meetings.