At a book launch in Canberra, Penny Wong accused the Prime Minister of using the issue for political gain.

“My concern is that not only does he not fully comprehend Australia’s interests in relation to China, he doesn’t even seek to,” she said.

Senator Penny Wong has criticised the government's handling of China.
Senator Penny Wong has criticised the government’s handling of China. (Alex Ellinghausen/Sydney Morning Herald)

“It’s always about the domestic political advantage — either in the internal fights within the Liberal Party in pandering to the far right, or in seeking to pursue some partisan advantage over the Labor Party.”

In her speech, Senator Wong also took aim at Home Affairs secretary Mike Pezzullo who claimed free nations can hear the “beating drums” of war, as China asserts its dominance over Taiwan.

Defence Minister Peter Dutton also warned the possibility of conflict between the two countries could “not be discounted”.

“Our leaders do not make us safe by beating the drums of war with China,” Senator Wong said.

“It’s Beijing that benefits from other countries thinking war is inevitable.”

Chinese President Xi Jinping at the closing session of the National People's Congress in Beijing.
Chinese President Xi Jinping at the closing session of the National People’s Congress in Beijing. (AP)

As Senator Wong called for a fundamental change in dealings with Beijing to focus on “more strategy, and less politics”, the Prime Minister hit back at her remarks.

“A Coalition government will always stand up for Australia,” Scott Morrison told reporters in Melbourne.

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“And we’ve demonstrated that. Defence spending under Labor was basically sacrificed…we have spent the time rebuilding our Defence Force capability,” Mr Morrison said.

This content first appear on 9news

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