‘Considerable strain’: how Australian officials saw the China rift

Australian officials stayed in “regular contact” with the Chinese embassy in Canberra to “explain our decisions” even when Australian ministers were subjected to a two-year diplomatic freeze, newly released documents show. The former Morrison government had been “willing to engage with China in dialogue at any time”, according to Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade briefing notes, which also described the relationship as being under “considerable strain”. Australian government ministers were blocked from meetings or calls with their direct Chinese counterparts for more than two years, although lower-level diplomats and…

It’s unprecedented for Dutton to label a Chinese spy ship sailing outside Australia’s territory an ‘act of aggression’ | Daniel Hurst

The defence minister, Peter Dutton, has called the presence of a Chinese spy ship off the coast of Western Australia “an aggressive act” but his department was far more sober in its assessment and international law experts have poured cold water on the claim. It is not the first time such Chinese vessels have been in Australia’s exclusive economic zone. So, given we are a week out from an election and the Coalition wants the narrative refocused through a “we live in uncertain times” lens, let’s put the politics aside…

Kevin Rudd calls Peter Dutton an ‘idiot’ over China comments – video

Former Australian prime minister Kevin Rudd has attacked defence minister Peter Dutton, calling him an ‘idiot’ for believing hairy-chested commentary about China would improve Australia’s strategic circumstances. Rudd was speaking with former foreign affairs minister Julie Bishop at an event at the Australian National University to promote Rudd’s new book on China-US relations titled The Avoidable War ► Subscribe to Guardian Australia on YouTube The Guardian

Kevin Rudd attacks ‘idiot’ Peter Dutton over ‘hairy-chested’ comments on China

Kevin Rudd has launched a personal attack on Peter Dutton, labelling the defence minister an “idiot” for believing hairy-chested commentary about China would improve Australia’s strategic circumstances. The former Australian prime minister also took aim at Beijing, saying that if Chinese officials really wanted a reset in the relationship with Australia he “could not think of a dumber thing to do than what they just did in the Solomons”. Rudd was referring to the fallout from the signing of the security deal between China and Solomon Islands, in a wide-ranging…

Morrison and Dutton are imperilling Australia’s national security to hang on to power | Katharine Murphy

Too often, political journalism is the art of asking the wrong question. We can preoccupy ourselves wondering whether or not a particular tactic will work. These are valid enough deductions, but the whole exercise can read like theatre criticism. At the moment, there is only one question to ask, and it’s this. Is it right for Scott Morrison and Peter Dutton to weaponise national security in the run-up to an election they evidently fear they could lose? If you ask the correct question, the answer is simple and clear. The…

‘Reckless and desperate’: Malcolm Turnbull savages Peter Dutton for claiming China is backing Labor

Peter Dutton has doubled down on controversial claims China would like Labor to defeat the Morrison government at the upcoming federal election despite Malcolm Turnbull warning such “reckless” comments had “no basis in fact” and harmed Australia’s national security. The defence minister said on Friday there was “no doubt in [his] mind” about what he described as a “statement of the obvious” regarding China’s preference of Labor. He claimed he based Thursday’s inflammatory allegation on “open source and other intelligence”. The Morrison government, struggling in the polls, is increasingly seeking…

Fresh leak reveals Scott Morrison rolled in cabinet over plan to win back renegade MPs

The prime minister, Scott Morrison, has been hit with a damaging cabinet leak revealing he was rolled over a plan to convince renegade MPs opposed to the government’s religious discrimination bill. After a torrid start to the parliamentary year, which saw Morrison’s character come under question after the leaking of a damaging text message, the prime minister has spent the week attempting to corral MPs into supporting the religious discrimination bill. In a story published late on Thursday, The Australian reported Morrison had been rolled in a cabinet meeting on…

China accuses Australia of ‘violent’ interference in Five Eyes response to Hong Kong election

China has accused the Australian government of “violently interfering” in its internal affairs after Australia joined with its Five Eyes allies to voice grave concerns about the “erosion of democratic elements” in Hong Kong. Pro-Beijing candidates have been confirmed to occupy nearly every seat in Hong Kong’s new legislature after an overhaul of the electoral system that authorities said would ensure “patriots run Hong Kong”. Elections on Sunday were marred by record low voter turnout and held 18 months after authorities began a crackdown on political dissent in the name…

China’s response to Aukus deal was ‘irrational’, Peter Dutton says

China has responded “irrationally” to the Aukus pact between Australia, the United States and Britain, the defence minister Peter Dutton says. The conservative Australian minister continues to mount forthright criticism of the Chinese government, accusing it of “bullying” countries that stand up to Beijing. Dutton on Sunday said the Australian government had formed the Aukus partnership with the US and the UK because it wanted to see “see increased stability and peace in our region”. “The response by China to that, I think, was irrational,” Dutton told Sky News Australia.…

Is Peter Dutton picking a fight with China?

As military tensions heat up between Taiwan and China, defence minister Peter Dutton says it would be ‘inconceivable’ that Australia would not join military action if the US defended Taiwan. Labor has accused the Coalition of warmongering ahead of an upcoming election. Gabrielle Jackson talks to Lenore Taylor and Daniel Hurst about the threat of war, and the trouble with politicising foreign policy How to listen to podcasts: everything you need to know The Guardian