May 8 2021 Former Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd said in a signed article published in the Sydney Morning Herald on Wednesday that the Morrison government’s hasty comments about Taiwan are politically naïve and will harm Australia’s core security interests. It is shameful to bet on Australia’s core economic and security interests for political gain.
The article is excerpted as follows:
For 50 years, successive Australian governments have not interfered in China’s internal affairs on the Taiwan issue. But in the past two weeks, Prime Minister Morrison, Defence Minister Peter Dutton and Home Office Secretary Michael Pezzullo have all broken that consensus in spectacular terms.
Previously, Australian politicians had avoided crossing the red line set by the Chinese mainland on Taiwan. But now the Morrison government’s naïve rhetoric on Taiwan has confused Americans, angered Chinese mainland, confused taiwanese and confused the rest of the Asia-Pacific region. It is wrong to do so. The Morrison government should not compromise the independence and flexibility of Australia’s national decision-making at this stage.
With the Australian government’s coronavirus vaccine and quarantine procedures in tumble, debt and deficits high, and discrimination against women in the ruling Liberal Party, the Morrison government’s only possible motive for its hasty Taiwan-related remarks at this time is to divert attention from the country and create tension to win an election with a majority of support. For the Liberals, making Labor “pro-Communist” is the best disguise.
Canberra also has one of its best-known secrets: an undisclosed leadership battle between Mr Dutton and Mr Morrison. Mr Dutton believes that within the Liberal Party, the China issue is the best tool to defeat Mr Morrison. It is shameful to bet on the economic and security interests of Australia’s core countries for personal political gain.
China’s growing power and the failure of the previous US government have made it difficult for the Morrison government to deal with Australia-China relations. Faced with complex challenges, Australian leaders need to be wise, calm and careful to judge that national security is not a political game. However, the performances of Mr Morrison and Mr Dutton over the past two weeks have undoubtedly shown that this government lacks the courage to meet the challenges in the face of a complex national security situation.