The Labor Party has sought to further distance itself from Paul Keating after his comments on China earlier this week.
Labor has sought to distance itself from former prime minister Paul Keating after he said Australia shouldn’t be threatened by China.
Mr Keating earlier this week said Australia had no choice but to engage with China and the Morrison government was wrongly “trying to find our security from Asia, rather than in Asia”.
Mr Keating’s comments attracted criticism from both sides, with Prime Minister Scott Morrison accusing Labor of “siding with China”, saying on Thursday he had seen “(Opposition Leader) Anthony Albanese back in the Chinese government”.
Defence Minister Peter Dutton doubled down on criticism of Labor on Friday morning.
“I don’t know how (Mr Keating) is still commenting on contemporary issues … but it shows weakness within the Labor Party,” he told the Nine network.
“Anthony Albanese has hidden himself under the covers and won’t come out to criticise him, and I think it’s really damaging.
“I think Paul Keating has no idea what he’s talking about in terms of the contemporary situation with regards to China, and let’s hope he doesn’t repeat it.”
Deputy Opposition Leader Richard Marles said Mr Keating’s views were not in line with that of Labor’s contemporary stance.
“Paul Keating is obviously entitled to his view, (but) Labor have made it completely clear the challenges that China represents,” Mr Marles said.
“I’ve made it really clear in terms of the activities of China in the South China Sea, and when I was doing that I was receiving criticism from this government … Labor could not be more clear about the concerns that China represents for Australia today and the need for us to be acting in our national interest in relation to that.”
When Mr Marles was probed by host Ali Langdon as to whether he thought Mr Keating was wrong, he would not be drawn.
“Paul Keating can speak for himself,” he said.
“Labor’s position (is) that China represents significant challenges … we could not have been clearer.
“I don’t share the same views as Paul Keating and that’s clear.”
Mr Dutton chimed in to demand Mr Marles and the Labor Party “call out” Mr Keating.
“This guy is out of control and damaging our country,” Mr Dutton said.
“If you’re serious about national security matters, Labor should condemn him and they won’t, and it shows … a real weakness when it comes to national security.”