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Joyce slams Labor foreign policy rhetoric

AAP logoAAP 19/11/2016 Lucy Hughes Jones

Acting Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce says the people of Darwin remember when war came to Australian soil, and won't appreciate Labor's "naive" attempts to shake up defence ties with the United States.

The leader of the federal National Party criticised Labor Senator Penny Wong's calls for Australian foreign policy focus to shift toward Asia, reflecting growing uncertainty about US President-elect Donald Trump's protectionism.

"It's the people of the Northern Territory who can walk through their parks and see the memorials of the people who have died protecting this place," he said in Darwin on Saturday.

"This is a city that was bombed. They get it."

Next year will mark the 75th anniversary of the Japanese bombing of Darwin, which drew the top end of Australia into World War II.

"People here are very pragmatic about their foreign policy," Mr Joyce said.

"We must make sure that we don't go into some very naive policy exploration about how our defence ties work."

Mr Joyce wants Australia to stay attached to "tried and tested" allies, suggesting a move away from the US may impact freedom of religion and democracy.

"And where would our defence budget need to go?" he asked.

"We'd have to find a couple hundred million dollars more a year. Maybe that would change (Senator Wong's) idea."

The federal opposition insists there will continue to be strong bipartisan support for the US alliance, but Australia needs to assert its values and be prepared to make clear its disagreements.

Senator Wong accused Malcolm Turnbull of chest-beating like Tony Abbott after Trump's victory, calling for the prime minister to pivot to the region.

"We have Senator Penny Wong wanting to reorganise our geopolitical position in the world. She thought it was a groovy, cool thing to say that day that would get a run," Mr Joyce said.

"Well it certainly did, all around the world."

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