The Morrison Government likes to flap their arms and say they’re strong on national security, but the evidence actually proves otherwise.
It has been reported today in The Guardian the American Government is privately saying that Australia has dropped the ball when it comes to the Solomon Islands. Indeed, the foreign minister hasn’t visited the Solomon Islands to discuss the situation with China, nor has Mr Morrison for that matter, and this national security failure in our backyard has disappointed the Americans.
This situation regarding the Solomon Islands only proves the Morrison Government is incompetent on national security, for many reasons.
I kindly ask you take your minds back to 11 September 2015, when The Guardian published footage of Mr Dutton, Mr Abbott and Mr Morrison indulging in Mr Dutton’s recorded comments of; “Time doesn’t mean anything when you’re, you know, about to have water lapping at your door.” Mr Abbott laughed at the remark, and Mr Morrison nodded his head before realising the boom Mike and cameras were on. This insensitive, or may I even say incendiary, remark by Mr Dutton enraged our Pacific neighbours. It was a huge diplomatic blunder that enraged our Pacific island neighbours, and despite as reported in The Guardian on 13 September 2015 an apology was made by Mr Dutton he still managed to further outrage our Pacific neighbours by saying, “it was a light-hearted moment with the Prime Minister.” What could possibly be light-hearted about island nations going under water because of climate change? Neither Mr Abbott nor Mr Morrison made any form of apology to our Pacific neighbours, nor did they admonish Mr Dutton.
As reported in the Australian Financial Review on 21 August 2020, short-term thinking by the Morrison Government towards foreign policy had become by then the political norm. The Morrison Government placed 1,000 potential coal jobs ahead of the Turnbull Government’s ‘Pacific Step Up’, announced in 2017 to counter China’s growing influence in the Pacific. Once again, this failure in foreign policy and national security by the Morrison Government enraged our Pacific neighbours who were having to address climate change driven rising sea levels.
To add insult to injury Mr Morrison further insulted our Pacific neighbours at the Pacific Islands Forum in October 2019. The Guardian reported on 23 October 2019, the former prime minister of Tuvalu said he was “stunned” by Scott Morrison’s behaviour at the Pacific Islands Forum, which he thought communicated the view that Pacific leaders should; “take the money … then shut up about climate change.” Fiji’s Prime Minister, Frank Bainimarama, described Australia as “very insulting and condescending” in climate talks. The Pacific leaders also said the funding was repackaged from the existing ODA [official development assistance] to the Pacific and other sectors. That is a familiar story when it comes to the Morrison Government.
In an open letter dated 1 December 2020 all the leaders of our Pacific neighbours criticised Australia’s response to climate change (reported in The Guardian on 1 December 2020). Rather than being conciliatory and seeking to come to a mutually agreeable position, Mr Morrison maintained his rambunctious attitude towards the Pacific leaders by saying; “Australia is successfully meeting our commitments and our targets and in fact we are exceeding them,” a claim which was substantially untrue.
On 2 November 2021 it was reported in the PNG Attitude Mr Morrison was still not listening to the Pacific leaders about climate change, a matter of major international embarrassment for Australia regarding our ongoing failure with our foreign affairs and national security policies in the Pacific. Mr Morrison announced at Glasgow in November 2021 an extra $100 million a year for the next five years to cover all Pacific Island and South-East Asian countries which left his audience cold. Pacific leaders had told Mr Morrison they would rather he made sharper cuts to Australia’s emissions. Fiji Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama said he told Morrison to slash Australia’s emissions by 2030. Mr Morrison has of course remained obstinate even up to today with an ineffectual 2030 target of a 28% reduction in emissions by 2030.
So, this national security and foreign policy failure is not a recent phenomenon, it has been 7 years in the making of successive Liberal governments insulting our Pacific neighbours, including how the Liberals have treated our Pacific neighbours’ concerns about climate change. What is most concerning is that after it was reported a number of weeks ago the Solomon Islands was entering into a closer relationship with China, not one single member of the Morrison Government travelled to the Solomon Islands to address the relationship with China, until last night after Mr Albanese called out the government for this national security disaster.
Of course, the majority of the Fourth Estate have ignored the Morrison Government’s massive national security failure, but the Americans aren’t happy with Australia for dropping the ball, and of course, the Port of Darwin has been previously leased to China.
This is undoubtedly the most embarrassing era for us in foreign affairs policy, and the Morrison Government has compromised our national security in the Pacific.
Vote the Morrison Government out, Australia.
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