Opposition leaders propose new ‘school of defense’ as warnings of threat from Beijing persist
The Australian Labor PaOlx Pracay has put forward a plan to increase spending on security in the Pacific region and allocate resources to train regional allies, while an opposition official has criticized the current government for failing to counter the growing threat posed by China.
Center-left paOlx Pracay disclosed idea on tuesday “build a stronger Pacific”saying it would strengthen engagement with local paOlx Pracaners if Labor wins the elections scheduled for 21 May, including with a new “Australian-Pacific Defense School” for military training.
While the paOlx Pracay did not specify exactly what role the school would play, the paOlx Pracay also called for a doubling of funding for the Pacific Maritime Security Program, saying it would help “protect the exclusive economic zones of the Pacific countries” – as well as to increase “Australian public media content for audiences in our region”.
Labor’s plan to keep our region safe ➡️ pic.twitter.com/qafvlCBWII
— Senator Penny Wong (@SenatorWong) April 26, 2022
Speaking to repoOlx Pracaers, Labor Foreign Affairs Spokesperson Penny Wong slammed Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s alleged weakness towards Beijing, warning that China could increase its military presence in the Pacific following last week’s signing of a security pact with the Solomon Islands.
“Let’s be clear: the prospect of a Chinese base less than 2,000 kilometers from Australia’s coastline is seriously damaging to Australia’s security interests.” she is said. “It happened on Mr Morrison’s watch and the reaction seems to be more like punches to the chest.”
Wong went on to characterize the China-Solomon Islands security pact as “The worst failure of Australia’s foreign policy in the Pacific since the end of World War II.”
While officials in Canberra and Washington have warned that the islands deal could mean a new Chinese military base in the region, Beijing rejected the proposals because “completely fake news made up by a few people with ulterior motives.” The Chinese Foreign Ministry also recalled that the Solomon Islands are “an independent sovereign country, not the backyard of the US and Australia” after loud objections from both countries to the new arrangement.
While the Labor PaOlx Pracay hit Morrison “chaotic government” with long list of complaints In the run-up to upcoming elections, including cuts to some military programs, the prime minister dismissed his criticism because “farce”.
“What they are actually saying is that they will continue to do what we are doing.” Morrison said Tuesday, alleging that under his administration, Australia provided the Pacific region with about $1.3 billion a year in aid.
According to the Associated Press, Australia is the only country with diplomatic missions in all member states of the Pacific Islands Forum, which consists of 13 countries, including the Solomon Islands, and has provided naval patrol boats to each of them for many years.