House of Representatives 30/03/2022
In these uncertain, volatile times, governments show their true colours. The pressure of challenges is what makes or breaks governments. This government is full of ministers prancing around like toy soldiers, beating their chests and talking a big game on defence, but at every post, at every milestone, at every turn, they have failed—incompetence. Australia should be a partner of choice for our Pacific partners, yet we have the Solomon Islands turning to China for security. Right on our doorstep, China may have a key outpost in the Pacific, on the Morrison government’s watch. The government’s policy is not the Pacific step-up; it’s the Pacific stuff-up.
Australia has strong natural advantages as a preferred economic and security partner in the Pacific, but if you sit in the naughty corner at enough international climate conferences, give empty speeches and ignore the existential challenge and the pleas of our Pacific neighbours is it any surprise when you fail on the three Ds—diplomacy, development and defence? They have failed on defence, leaving us with a submarines capability gap for 25 years, and across multiple capabilities we are billions over budget. They have failed on diplomacy, having gutted our embassies and chronically underfunded DFAT for years, doing diplomacy on the cheap. They have failed on development, having cut our foreign aid by $1.18 billion since 2013, blind to the fact that our aid and development assistance is critical to our national interests. Is it any surprise that the Solomon Islands now look to China and not to us? This government has got to go, for our national security.