Scott Morrison has once more come beneath fireplace for permitting a deal to be brokered between China and the Solomon Islands in Australia’s yard.
But the prime minister has deflected this morning, accusing deputy Labor chief Richard Marles of claiming nations within the Pacific must be free to cope with China, and dismissed fears of a navy base being arrange.
“Solomon Islands switched allegiances to China three years ago, that’s how long this has been coming. You undercooked this big time, didn’t you? It’s embarrassing,” Today host Karl Stefanovic requested.
“The Chinese government doesn’t play by the same rules as other transparent liberal democracies and that means there are vulnerabilities in our region which we’re very well aware of and have been working hard to ensure we can mitigate,” Mr Morrison stated.
“I have been talking about the pressure of Chinese government in our region for a long time and taking action and I have been criticised for the Labor Party for doing it and now we read the person who would want to be deputy prime minister in the Labor government, Richard Marles, actually was advocating for the Chinese government to do exactly what they’re now doing … that it would be absurd for Australia to try and resist that.
“I discover it outrageous that Labor would criticise us.”
Earlier this morning, Mr Marles said Australia had been “successful the strategic contest” against China for relations in the Pacific when Labor was in government.
“I might not have imagined that this authorities might have stuffed it up so badly that on their watch you’d see this settlement being signed between China and Solomon Islands and it’s undoubtedly a watershed second which completely raises the menace.
“[It] certainly raises my anxiety about Chinese military presence in the region.
“But what that speaks to is a complete failure of the Morrison authorities to make themselves the accomplice of selection.”
Mr Morrison has repeatedly said Beijing is not opening a military base in the Solomon Islands, however reports emerged yesterday the Chinese military could arrive sooner than expected.
You can read more about security expert’s warnings that Chinese ships and aircrafts could touch down in the Solomon Islands within weeks right here.