The prime minister today unveiled a $747 million spending package to facilitate major upgrades to Northern Territory military bases, but denied it was an aggressive move and claimed he was seeking “peace” in the region.
“All the activities of our Defence Force is designed to pursue peace,” Mr Morrison said.
“In our government, we will always do what is necessary to ensure Australia has the capability it needs to protect and defend its interests.”
Mr Morrison refused to walk back a senior government official’s warning yesterday that “the drums of war” are beating.
Wang Wenbin, a spokesman from China’s Foreign Ministry, cited the Morrison Government’s description of China as an “authoritarian” country, its banning of Chinese companies from participating in Australia’s 5G network rollout and blocking investment by China-based enterprises.
“Australia is sick, however it is asking others to take medicine, which will not solve the problem at all,” Mr Wang said.
China’s latest criticism of Australia comes amid warnings by Federal Government figures about Beijing’s military and economic power.
One of the Federal Government’s top national security officials yesterday warned the “drums of war” are beating.
Home Affairs Department Secretary Mike Pezzullo said Australia must work to reduce the risk of war “but not at the cost of our precious liberty”.
“We need to recognise that our region is changing,” Mr Dutton said on Sunday.
“China is militarising ports across our region. We need to deal with all of that, and that is exactly what we are now focused on.”
The comments follow the contentious decision by Foreign Minister Marise Payne to scrap Victoria’s controversial infrastructure agreement with Beijing linked to China’s Belt and Road initiative.