Australian PM Accuses Labor Party of Appeasing CCP as China Takes Centre Stage Ahead of Federal Vote
Australia's main opposition Labor Party says that the government of Prime Minister Scott Morrison has been whipping up fears over national security to prop up his dwindling popularity ratings in the run-up to the federal vote, which could take place in May. Australia's ruling Liberal Party accuses Labor of being soft on China.
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Tuesday accused the federal opposition Australian Labor Party (ALP) of appeasing the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), as he launched another scathing political attack on what he described as Labor's "double-mindedness
" on Beijing.
"[The Labor Party], want to appease when it comes to China - the Chinese Government, I should say ... Not the Chinese people, we love the Chinese people and particularly the Chinese Australians are the most patriotic," Morrison said during an interview with local Sydney radio station, 2SM.
“… I don't agree with Anthony Albanese [leader of opposition Labor Party when he said, 'Oh, we've got to, you know, get things right with China',” Morrison said in response to another question.
In the interview, Morrison also slammed Labor’s shadow home minister, Kristina Keneally, for stalling the government’s Migration Amendment Character Test Bill from being cleared in the Parliament.
“What this does is, we're talking about serious offences and a serious offence that carries a potential penalty of two years or more. And what we're doing here is if the judge doesn't give that penalty, we're not letting that out. And that's why the law has to change and we want to change it,” argued Morrison.
7 February 2022, 11:04 GMT
The Labor Party, for its part, has claimed that the government has been trying to divert the voters’ focus from its shortcomings by accusing the opposition of being soft on Beijing and stalling the proposed Bill which is set to be voted on in the parliament’s lower house on Wednesday.
A popular opinion poll
this month claimed that the Labor Party led the government by 56-44 in approval ratings and were an election to be held now, would win a landslide. This is the most popular the Labor Party has been since September 2018.
"You and your colleagues should be focused on the COVID recovery, not another desperate attempt to manufacture an argument with the opposition in the lead-up to an election," Keneally said in a series of tweets aimed at the Morrison government on Tuesday.
The opposition politician further argued that rules at present already permit the immigration minister to “deport violent offenders” and no change of laws was needed.
Kevin Rudd, Australia’s former Prime Minister from the Labor Party, also lambasted the Morrison government for bringing up China in a domestic political debate ahead of the election.
“On the things that really matter, such as China buying up Australia's critical economic infrastructure [ie, the Port of Darwin], Morrison and [Immigration Minister Peter] Dutton have been Beijing's best mates,” Rudd said in a tweet on Tuesday.
Labor Has a ‘Pattern of Beahviour’ on China, says Liberal MP
Senator James Paterson, Morrison’s colleague and chairman of the Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security, also joined his boss in slamming the Labor Party for its alleged soft stance on Beijing.
“From the leader down, including its senior shadow ministers … they seek to take advantage of partisan differences on China,” Paterson told Sky News on Tuesday.
Paterson also took pot shots at another Labor leader, the deputy opposition leader Richard Marles, for a 2019 speech in Beijing, in which the Australian politician called for closer military ties between China and Australia
These recent statements by Morrison and Paterson come after Australia's Defence Minister Peter Dutton claimed in Parliament last week that the Chinese Communist Party wanted Albanese to be the next Australian Prime Minister.
“We now see evidence, Mr Speaker, that the Chinese Communist Party, the Chinese government, has also made a decision about who they’re going to back in the next federal election... and that is open and that is obvious, and they have picked [Albanese] as that candidate,” Dutton said.
14 November 2021, 18:45 GMT
Last week, Australia’s director-general of security, Mike Burgess, also warned in a “threat assessments” speech that foreign governments could try to interfere in the upcoming election.
He said that the Australian Security and Intelligence Organisation (ASIO) has already identified a “puppeteer” with links to a foreign government who could channel hundreds of thousands of dollars as political donations to sway the election outcome.
The alleged puppeteer has reportedly been identified as billionaire businessman of Chinese origin, Chau Chak Wing, an Australian citizen and one of the country’s largest political donors.
Burgess has claimed that his agency has already foiled a “foreign interference plot” in the domestic election process.