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Tanya Plibersek has slammed the Morrison government for putting Australia at risk and not doing enough to ward off China in the South Pacific.

The deputy leader of the Labor Party clashed with the Liberal minister for superannuation, financial services and the digital economy, Jane Hume, in a fiery debate on Monday’s Anzac Day episode of The Project.

The two women were discussing how politics should be approached on such an important day and whether it’s appropriate for politicians to campaign before the tone of the segment became heated.

Ms Plibersek called the government ‘a bunch of blowhards’ who are ‘all talk’ and have ‘left us dangerously exposed’ to Beijing

Tanya Plibersek (left) - representing the Labor Party - and Jane Hume (right) - representing the Liberal Party - battled it out on Monday's Anzac Day episode of The Project

Tanya Plibersek (left) - representing the Labor Party - and Jane Hume (right) - representing the Liberal Party - battled it out on Monday's Anzac Day episode of The Project

Tanya Plibersek (left) – representing the Labor Party – and Jane Hume (right) – representing the Liberal Party – battled it out on Monday’s Anzac Day episode of The Project

Ms Hume was asked about China’s looming plans to build a military base in the Solomon Islands – which has been viewed as a threat to Australia’s national security. 

She quickly jumped to the defence of Prime Minister Scott Morrison and his government’s actions, saying they had clearly shown there would be consequences for ‘military aggression’ in the region.

The minister also pointed to Australia’s new security pact with the US and UK that will see the delivery of a fleet of nuclear-powered subs in decades to come. 

‘I think it’s been pretty clear with the alliances this government in particular has forged over the last few years – things like the AUKUS agreement – that the entire world stands firm against military aggression,’ she said.

Ms Hume defended Scott Morrison and the Liberal Party's response to the threat of a Chinese military base in the South Pacific

Ms Hume defended Scott Morrison and the Liberal Party's response to the threat of a Chinese military base in the South Pacific

Ms Hume defended Scott Morrison and the Liberal Party’s response to the threat of a Chinese military base in the South Pacific

China and the Solomon Islands governments have signed a deal that will allow China to build a military base just 2,000km northeast of Australia. Pictured: Solomon Islands Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare with Chinese Premier Li Keqiang in 2019

China and the Solomon Islands governments have signed a deal that will allow China to build a military base just 2,000km northeast of Australia. Pictured: Solomon Islands Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare with Chinese Premier Li Keqiang in 2019

China and the Solomon Islands governments have signed a deal that will allow China to build a military base just 2,000km northeast of Australia. Pictured: Solomon Islands Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare with Chinese Premier Li Keqiang in 2019

However Ms Plibersek was quick to shut down Ms Hume’s claims.

‘They’re just a bunch of blowhards,’ she said. ‘All talk, this is a government that has left us dangerously exposed.’

‘They’ve allowed China to sign a security agreement with the Solomon Islands but even worse than that, we now have a capability gap in our defences because the submarines are late. 

‘They’ve spent five-and-a-half billion dollars cancelling a submarine contract with France. Don’t forget, before that there was a submarine contract supposed to happen with Japan.

Ms Plibersek slammed the Liberal Party for allowing a 'capability gap' in Australia's defences while China shows 'military aggression'. Pictured: Chinese military in 2019

Ms Plibersek slammed the Liberal Party for allowing a 'capability gap' in Australia's defences while China shows 'military aggression'. Pictured: Chinese military in 2019

Ms Plibersek slammed the Liberal Party for allowing a ‘capability gap’ in Australia’s defences while China shows ‘military aggression’. Pictured: Chinese military in 2019

‘We won’t be seeing subs for decades now…If you look across all their (Liberal’s) projects there’s a cumulative 79 year delay. 

Ms Hume was quick to fire back by at the shadow minister for women.

‘How many submarines has Labor commissioned? Zero,’ she said. 

‘We are coming from so far behind because you allowed our defence spending to run down.’

Ms Plibersek said the Liberal Party needs to 'take responsibility' and that a submarine in '20 year's time' wasn't enough

Ms Plibersek said the Liberal Party needs to 'take responsibility' and that a submarine in '20 year's time' wasn't enough

Ms Plibersek said the Liberal Party needs to ‘take responsibility’ and that a submarine in ’20 year’s time’ wasn’t enough

Ms Plibersek continued her argument, as the pair interrupted each other.

‘They talk about what they’re spending, they talk about what they’re going to do but they don’t deliver,’ she said.

‘You’ve been in government for close to a decade. How long are you going to look around for someone to blame?

‘You’ve been in government for almost a decade, take some responsibility. 

‘In 20 year’s time we’re going to have a submarine. That’s great work.’ 

CHINA’S SECRET PLAN FOR SOLOMON ISLANDS MILITARY BASE

Australia has been warned Chinese military troops, ships and aircraft could arrive in the Solomon Islands within weeks.

There are growing fears China will act swiftly to establish a military base less than 2,000km from Australian shores after its security pact with the South Pacific island nation was finalised on Tuesday.

Security experts expect Beijing to have ‘boots on the ground’ by the time Australians go to the polls next month.

The Lowy Institute’s senior fellow for East Asia, Richard McGregor expects Beijing to ‘move as fast as it can’ to establish a physical foothold before the federal election.

He warned China’s long term aim is to have a permanent military presence in the Pacific.

‘They would want to have boots on the ground and establish a concrete presence there – living quarters, possibly a small dock on the pretext of refuelling a supply ship,’ Mr McGregor told The Australian.

‘Once you have a presence there with the various leasehold arrangements, it’s pretty hard to make you leave. Once you have that, if the circumstances allow, you can expand it.’

Australian Strategic Policy Institute executive director Peter Jennings believes the agreement represented a serious policy failure for Australia.

‘For decades we have over-estimated our influence in the Pacific; under-invested in promoting our security; and failed to appreciate China’s strategic intent,’ he wrote in The Australian.

‘Australia’s defence policy, released in 2020, sets three fundamental goals: to shape Australia’s strategic environment; deter actions against our interests; and respond with credible military force, when required. We have failed in all three aims.’

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Source: DailyMail

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