Peter Dutton has denied claims that Australians should be prepared for the inconceivable are used to instill fear during an election campaign.
An extraordinary claim that Australians should be prepared for a chemical weapons attack was not designed to scare people during an election campaign, says Peter Dutton.
The Defense Minister told the Sunday Telegraph that a chemical weapons attack on a major city of an Australian ally could happen and warned that China was seeking to turn Australia and Indo-Pacific nations into tributary states.
Talk with Sky News, which is available to stream on GlowMr Dutton denied the statement was made to stoke fear with an impending election.
“I try to give people a realistic understanding of what I see without disclosing the sensitive nature of intelligence,” he said.
“We live in very precarious times and we should be open and honest with the Australian people about this.”
The government is under pressure to explain why it resisted sending Foreign Minister Marise Payne to Honiara for talks with Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare amid concerns over a security pact between the Solomon Islands and China .
The White House confirmed on Saturday that it would expedite the opening of an embassy in the Solomon Islands.
As to why Australia couldn’t stop the deal from going ahead, Mr Dutton said the government could “never compete” with Beijing’s playbook.
“The Chinese don’t play by our rules,” he said, but he didn’t want to expand on suggestions officials had bribed the Solomon Islands government.
“China is incredibly aggressive. The acts of foreign interference, the willingness to pay bribes to get results, to beat other countries to get deals.
“This is the reality of modern China.”
Doubling down on the Coalition’s attacks on Richard Marles, Mr Dutton called his future as a potential Labor defense spokesman ‘untenable’.
He called Mr Marles’ decision to give a speech outside the Chinese Embassy before delivering it a “fatal mistake”.
“I would never give a speech to the Chinese Embassy to get their approval,” Mr Dutton said.
“That’s what the deputy chief did. And he didn’t apologize. It shows the culture within the Labor Party. This will not ensure the security of our country. »
But Labor Foreign Affairs spokeswoman Penny Wong defended the move.
“Richard gave a speech in China, in which he criticized the behavior of the Communist Party towards Hong Kong and the Uyghurs,” she told Sky News.
She said delivering the speech to the embassy was the “right thing to do”.
On criticism Labor was ill-equipped to deal with the threat from China, Senator Wong said the Solomon Islands deal happened under government scrutiny.
“We are no longer the first partner of choice for a Pacific island nation, and that comes at the expense of Australia’s standing in our region,” she said.
Senator Wong added that the government should instead take a cue from former Foreign Minister Julie Bishop’s book.
“She understood that you needed to continue to demonstrate your engagement with these nations on issues that mattered to them rather than just telling them what to do,” Senator Wong said.
“The fact is, under this government, that insight and diplomacy, and the development system has been lacking.”