Shadow Defence Minister Andrew Hastie has labelled the alliance between the leaders of China and Russia a “strange new monster” and declared Australia needs its own missiles to defend itself.
Mr Hastie delivered the warning in a speech in Washington DC overnight, which coincided with a face-to-face meeting between China’s President Xi Jinping and Russian leader Vladimir Putin in Uzbekistan.
The Federal MP for Canning told the conservative American think tank that “the Second Elizabethan Age is closing in darkness — gone are the hard-won, rock-sure handholds of the last 70 years”.
“Authoritarian powers are on the move, energised by revisionist and expansionist ambitions,” Mr Hastie said.
“As they struck their ‘no-limits’ strategic partnership in February this year, Xi and Putin created a strange new monster. We see its carnage in the atrocities of Bucha, and its menacing missiles streaking across the Taiwan Strait.
“This monster nurses a hard grievance against America and the global order she protects. And our response to it is conflicted because of our economic dependence and our internal disunity.”
Responding to Mr Hastie’s description of a “strange new monster”, Defence Minister Richard Marles said that was “not the language I would use” but acknowledged the “greater engagement” between China and Russia.
“This is a relationship which is growing and obviously it’s something that affects the strategic circumstances that we have to deal with and the complexity of those circumstances,” Mr Marles said.
“I mean, the world in which we are living is now a world in which the global rules based order that has been the basis of peace and prosperity is being put under great strain.”
Overnight, Mr Putin said Russia valued China’s “balanced position” on Ukraine, while Mr Xi did not mention the invasion in his public remarks.
In a question and answer session, Mr Hastie was asked what weapon systems Australia should seek to get from the United States as part of the AUKUS trilateral security pact.
“I think we definitely need to consider sovereign missile capability to defend ourselves,” he replied.
“Obviously, we want to be able to hold an adversary at-risk and so submarines are a critical part of that, but also, sovereign defensive missiles are a really, really important.
“They’re the two things, I think, that would enable us to have an effective strike capability and hold an adversary at-risk.”
He said the former Morrison government’s announcement of enhanced basing of US naval and air force assets in Australia could potential see “a greater circulation of the US military through our shores, which, of course, is a good thing for all of us”.