China: Accusations fly in fiery debate

by DANIEL Y TENG – PRIME Minister Scott Morrison has clashed with Anthony Albanese on the China threat during a second televised leaders debate on the weekend. 

For both men, the debate was crucial coming on the eve of the commencement of pre-polling – with the election set for May 21. 

The Coalition has run a political campaign targeting Labor’s cosiness with China’s Communist Party. Labor has hit back calling it an "outrageous slur".
Politicom

Compared to the first debate, held on April 20, both leaders appeared more aggressive and actively argued over the top of each other.

Beijing’s ramped-up activities in the South Pacific created much heat, with both Messrs Morrison and Albanese trading barbs on each other’s perceived failings on China policy.

SECURITY

Focus shifted to the PM’s handling of Pacific relations, particularly considering the recently signed Beijing-Solomon Islands security pact.

When questioned on what the government would do if Beijing crossed the “red line” and established a military presence in the region, the Mr Morrison said it would be “unwise” to speculate but emphasised the position of the United States and fellow Pacific nations that were against such a move from the Chinese Communist Party.

“I think Australians understand that Australia would work with partners to ensure that that type of an outcome would be prevented,” he said.

Labor leader Anthony Albanese, however, interjected repeating earlier comments from shadow foreign minister Penny Wong, saying it was a “massive foreign policy failure” and called the government’s Pacific Step-up program a “Pacific stuff-up”.

“We know that China is more aggressive and forward-leaning in the region. We know they are trying to increase influence in the region, and this has happened on the government’s watch,” Mr Albanese said.

Mr Morrison retorted, asking why Labor had cut defence spending—to 1.56 per cent of GDP – when it was last in power.

Mr Albanese responded saying that when he was last a minister, he was responsible for opening the door to stationing US Marines in Darwin before telling Morrison, “When you were a minister, the Port of Darwin was sold to a company connected with the Chinese Communist Party”.

The Prime Minister reminded him that the federal government at the time had no authority over the sale of assets by territory governments.

The Port of Darwin is currently owned by Chinese-backed firm Landbridge after a controversial 99-year lease offered by the Northern Territory government for $506m in 2015 – the heavily indebted government has since spent the money.

ELDERS

Meanwhile, the opposition leader was further asked about comments from Labor Party elders in favour of stronger relations with Beijing, including former Prime Minister Paul Keating and Foreign Affairs Minister Bob Carr.

Albanese responded: “Xi has changed. Xi has changed the nature of the CCP” and that the relationship was different from the time when the Chinese leader was invited to address the Australian Parliament in 2014 by former Coalition Prime Minister Tony Abbott – Mr Abbott has in recent times changed focus and is now campaigning heavily for greater international engagement with Taiwan.

Mr Morrison interjected several times, first saying, “[Labor deputy leader Richard Marles] runs his speeches past the Chinese government”.

Then asked, “How many times has Richard Marles met with the Chinese ambassador in Australia?”.

The second question caught Albanese by surprise, who eventually responded, calling it an “outrageous slur”.

He then retorted, “How many times has your government invited the leader of the Chinese Communist Party to address the Australian Parliament?”.

Two leaders of the Chinese Communist Party have addressed the Australian parliament, with the regime’s former head Hu Jintao doing so in 2003 and current leader Xi Jinping addressing the parliament in 2014.

The comments from Mr Morrison come after recent reports revealed that the deputy Labor leader had advocated for Beijing’s increased presence in the Pacific months before the Solomon Islands security deal came to light.

MISTAKE

In a mini-book published in August, Mr Marles wrote that any action Australia took to deny Beijing access to the Pacific on strategic grounds would be an “historic mistake”.

“Australia has no right to expect a set of exclusive relationships with Pacific nations,” he wrote in Tides that Bind: Australia in the Pacific.

The Coalition has run a political campaign targeting Labor’s cosiness with China’s Communist Party.

Defence Minister Peter Dutton, on May 5, reiterated earlier comments that he believed Beijing would prefer to see Labor win government.

CHARM

“There’s no doubt in my mind that the Chinese Communist Party would like to see a change of government at the May 21 election. No question at all,” he told reporters at the Defence Debate with his counterpart at the National Press Club in Canberra.

“I think that if you look at all of the language of Penny Wong – Penny Wong believes that she can go to Beijing on a charm offensive and she could change the direction of China under President Xi,” he added.

“President Xi, of course, would be laughing under his breath as he was entertaining his dear friend in Beijing.” PC

Daniel Y Teng

The second leaders’ debate

MAIN PHOTOGRAPH:  Anthony Albanese (L) & Scott Morrison. (courtesy Bloomberg)
RE-PUBLISHED: This article was originally published by The Epoch Times on May 8, 2022. Re-used with permission.

2 thoughts on “China: Accusations fly in fiery debate

  1. I decided not to bother with the fake debate Channel 9 promotion, and from what I have read and heard since I am pleased that I gave it a miss.

    What a waste of time, and for the prime Minister an insult to his intelligence.

  2. Sadly it was reality TV at best! Scripted and Stupid! Why wasn’t Craig Kelly, Clive Palmer, Pauline Hanson, Malcolm Roberts, Campbell Newman etc! Also to take part and not just the two losers! Now that would have been live TV not reality television 🙁

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