The Australian foreign minister, part of the country’s Labour party, has demanded Britain confront its colonial past on her inaugural trip to the UK. Penny Wong, 54, said the country must be open about its “uncomfortable” past if it wants to get closer with countries in the Indo-Pacific region. She has been criticised at home for “woke diplomacy”.

Ms Wong, who was born in Malaysia, suggested if Britain talked more openly about its past imperial activities it would give leaders more “common ground” with the distant countries in the region.

Speaking at King’s College London, she said Australia is more distant from Britain than it used to be. She said the “modern, multicultural country” now identifies as “being of the Indo-Pacific”.

Wong said: “Today, as a modern, multicultural country, home to people of more than 300 ancestries and the oldest continuing culture on Earth, Australia sees itself as being in the Indo-Pacific and being of the Indo-Pacific.”

The politician said connection between the UK and the region couldn’t be achieved while the UK remains “sheltered in narrow versions” of its history.

“Such stories can sometimes feel uncomfortable; for those whose stories they are, and for those who hear them. But understanding the past enables us to better share the present and the future,” she said.

Ms Wong is daughter of a Chinese Malaysian father who she said descended from Hakka and Cantonese.

She mentioned how many of these peoples worked as “domestic servants for British colonists, as did my own grandmother”.


Back in Australia, Wong’s comments appeared to spark outrage with one commentator accusing Wong of “woke diplomacy” during her London trip.

Bella D’Abrera, head of the Institute of Public Affairs in Australia criticised the politician for her attacks on UK during a time when Australia is seeking help from its allies in what she called “arguably the most dangerous situation that we have in the Asia Pacific”.

She told Sky News Australia “I can’t quite believe the speech that Penny Wong gave in London she’s got one job at the moment and that job is to go and get England to engage in what is arguably the most dangerous situation that we have in in the Asia Pacific.

“But she’s not done that she’s gone to London to tell everyone how terrible the British Empire is how ghastly colonialism is.

*This story has not been edited by The Infallible staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.