Deputy Labor leader Richard Marles rejects Peter Dutton’s national security scare campaign

Deputy Labor leader Richard Marles has hit back at Peter Dutton and the Morrison Government for trying to run a “reds under the bed” scare campaign.

Deputy Labor leader Richard Marles has ridiculed the Morrison Government’s record on defence, despite the Opposition facing its own questions on national security issues.

Defence Minister Peter Dutton made extraordinary claims last week during Question Time when he declared China had “decided” to back Labor at the next federal election.

“We now see evidence that the Chinese Communist Party has also made a decision about who they’re going to back in the next federal election … and that is open and obvious,” Mr Dutton said.

“And they have picked this bloke (Mr Albanese) as their candidate.”

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The attack line reflects one of the Coalition’s broader election tactics to focus on Labor’s record on national security amid growing tensions in the Indo-Pacific.

However, Mr Marles rejected the government’s “scare campaign” and said it was “unbelievably ironic” given its own record on defence procurement.

The deputy Opposition Leader said the Morrison Government had failed with the Future Submarines Program leaving Australia with an “astounding capability gap” after dumping the French submarine deal to secure nuclear-powered boats from either the UK or the United States.

“We are in a period of time where the strategic circumstances facing the country are as complex as any that we’ve faced since the end of the second world war,” Mr Marles told Sky News Australia host Pete Stefanovic on Monday.

He said the Collins-Class submarines were originally slated to be replaced in the mid-2020s but the government’s program would see the existing boats replaced by the mid-2040s.

“What we wanted to see is long range submarines successor to the Collins-Class coming into play in a timely way,” he added.

“Right now, this government is saying we’re not going to get a new successor submarine to Collins until the mid-2040s.

“It’s an astounding capability gap that they have opened up, it has made the country much less safe at a time when our strategic circumstances are really complicated.”

Mr Marles then slammed the Defence Minister for attacking Labor given its own handling of Australia’s nation security.

“You can go off and have reds under the bed scare campaigns which is what we’ve seen the government do, but when it comes to national security this is a serious space,” he said. 

“When you actually run a ruler over what this government has done over the last nine years – they have been singularly hopeless and they have made our country less safe as a result.”

“It is unbelievably ironic that we should be hearing these claims from this completely hopeless government when it comes to national security.”

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