Would Morrison use force against China? Is he ready to go to war with the largest navy in the world? Would he use force against the Solomon Islands? Is he ready to bully a small neighbor, after insisting he respects his sovereign right to make his own decisions?
Morrison defended his use of the term “red line” by saying the United States used the same language. No, this is not the case.
The Biden administration’s statement on the Solomons last month said, “Whether steps are taken to establish a de facto permanent military presence, power projection capabilities, or military installation, the delegation noted that the United States States would then have significant concerns and react accordingly. ”
A response could be anything from a grumpy press release to financial penalties to a bombardment. Biden’s people haven’t cornered the United States with reckless rhetoric. Morrison did.
It gave Albanese the chance to tell us how he would do better. Instead, he ran his one-liner saying the government’s “stepping up the Pacific” is actually a “Pacific thing.”
Then they laughed at who was soft on China. Morrison asked Albanese why Labor cut defense spending (which they did under Julia Gillard). Albanese countered that Labor had put US marines in Darwin (which they did under Gillard) while the coalition had sold the port of Darwin to a Chinese company.
The Northern Territory government sold a 99-year lease on the port to Landbridge in China while Morrison was treasurer. “You checked,” Albanese said. “With your tick. You allowed this to happen.
Morrison: “We didn’t. The federal government had no authority over this sale.
Albanese was correct that Morrison, as treasurer, allowed this to happen, and Morrison is correct that the government had no specific authority due to a loophole in foreign investment law.
But if Morrison had wanted to block him, he could have. Why does parliament exist? Make or amend laws. Morrison could have changed the law in the blink of an eye. Albanese pointed out that as shadow treasurer he opposed the deal at the time.
The Darwin Harbor Lease is dangerous territory for Morrison, so he moved quickly and smartly to make a counter-charge. He interrupted the Labor leader to ask how he “would stand up to China when some of the strongest voices for Beijing come from your party”? Albanese dismissed this as an “outrageous insult”.
And, of course, this is all just plain silly. Until 2016-2017, the two major parties roamed all over Beijing seeking trade, investment, VIP visits to China, political support and post-political patronage. It was the Sam Dastyari scandal that pulled the nation out of its narcosis under the influence of Chinese Communist Party money.
From romanticizing China to swearing at it, now the two leaders harass each other on every touch point with China like dumb schoolboys accusing each other of harboring girl germs. To be fair, the format only gave them a minute each on the subject.
But it is very clear that the Morrison government is failing to cope with the relentless pressure from China. All the Prime Minister had to offer was bluster and diversion. And Albanese missed the chance to explain how he would do better.
No, not a hint of brightness there. And bide their time? Deng, whose reforms have made China wealthy, demanded that China avoid drawing attention to its growing power until it is fully ready to assert it. Xi decided his wait was over.
In the case of Australia, the government is biding its time to respond. Two years ago, in its defense strategy update, the government admitted it was wrong to assume Australia had a 10-year warning window before conflict erupts with hostile power.
Australia has no long range strike capability, no missiles, nothing, only failed plans, orders and programs. China will seduce or overthrow one Southeast Asian country after another, one Pacific prime minister after another, while building its underwater and space combat systems and manufacturing two to three new submarines. sailors per year.
As French President Emmanuel Macron said when Australia tore up its contract for French submarines last year, Australia had no supply contract with anyone: “Now you have 18 months before a report. Good luck.”
A US official once explained the difference between Russia and China in how they conduct cyber warfare. Russia, he said, hit like a hurricane, hard, fast and direct. China, however, was like climate change, gradually taking over entire systems.
This also applies to China’s overall approach to dominating the Indo-Pacific. Whether Morrison or Albanese wins this election, Australia needs some shine back. And there is no more time to wait.