Scott Morrison and Anthony Albanese continue their campaigns across Australia; RBA Interest Rate Hikes Create Mortgage Pressures; Josh Frydenberg, Jim Chalmers debate held at National Press club; John Howard warns Liberal Party against teal independents
Prime Minister Scott Morrison is leading a media blitz this morning, with five TV and radio interviews booked over a 55-minute period.
The Prime Minister’s first appearance was on Nine’s Today Pin up. Co-host Karl Stefanovic asked Morrison about Australia’s ongoing relationship with other Indo-Pacific nations.
Solomon Islands Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare recently delivered a parliamentary speech in which he defended his country’s security pact with China, going so far as to say that his country was “threatened with invasion” by countries opposed to this agreement.
Like David Crowe wrote, 72% of Australian voters are concerned about the Solomon Islands security deal.
Here is the relevant exchange between Stefanovic and the Prime Minister (it has been edited for length and clarity).
Stefanovic: You talked a lot about our relationship with the Solomon Islands. Their PM is filthy saying that you and others are indeed threatening his country with invasion. How do you respond?
Morrison: Well, of course it’s not. We are the largest development aid provider in the Solomon Islands. We have the Australian Federal Police there. They were there within 12 hours when they called and needed our support to deal with serious unrest in the Solomon Islands in December last year. Our defense forces got out of Townsville, restored the situation. We continue to be there and support the Solomon Islands, and we always will. They are family and that is how we see our relationship with all these Pacific islands
Stefanovic: If he’s family, I’d hate to see an enemy… you gonna call him?
Morrison: I will continue to work constructively with the Government of the Solomon Islands, as we have always done.
Stefanovic: What does that mean, PM?
Morrison: This means that we handle these things with diplomacy. We deal with it professionally, calmly, rationally, in the face of the many challenges in the Pacific. That’s what we do every day. This is how sensible, professional adult governments respond to challenges like this.
Stefanovic: So you’re saying he doesn’t approach it in an adult way?
Morrison: I’m not saying that. [It’s] his sovereign country. He is free to express what he wants. We face these stresses and pressures every day. These things are not new.