News Labor to unveil plan to tackle China expansionism in the Pacific

Labor to unveil plan to tackle China expansionism in the Pacific

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Labor will unveil its plan to tackle China’s growing influence in the Pacific after criticising the Morrison government over the Sino-Solomons security pact.

In the plan, the ABC would get $8 million a year to deliver Australian content to Pacific nations in a bid to lift engagement and challenge China’s expansionism.

Broadcasting and publishing content into the region will promote “Australian identity, values, and interests”, while partnerships and training with Pacific journalists will be strengthened.

Increased funding for the public broadcaster is one of seven key points in the party’s plan to step up in the Pacific.

A $6.5 million Australia Pacific Defence School would be set up to train personnel from regional neighbours, to be run by the Australian Defence Force.

Funding for aerial surveillance under the Pacific Maritime Security Program would be bolstered by $12 million a year to help Pacific nations guard against illegal fishing and drug smuggling.

The election promise will be unveiled on Tuesday by senior Labor members who have criticised the coalition government over the security pact inked between the Solomon Islands and China, which security experts fear could lead to a Chinese military base.

It comes as Defence Minister Peter Dutton said on Anzac Day that “the only way that you can preserve peace is to prepare for war”.

Foreign affairs spokeswoman Penny Wong said Labor’s plan would “restore Australia’s place as first partner of choice for our Pacific family”.

“Scott Morrison has dropped the ball in the Pacific, and as a result Australia is less secure,” she said.

“The vacuum Scott Morrison has created is being filled by others — who do not share our interests and values.”

Meanwhile, the latest Ipsos poll shows Labor leading the primary vote by 34 points to the coalition’s 32.

On a two-party preferred basis, 50 per cent would vote Labor and 42 per cent the coalition, while eight per cent of respondents were undecided.

In the latest Newspoll results, Scott Morrison moved ahead of Anthony Albanese on who would make a better prime minister, with Mr Morrison rising two points to 46 and Mr Albanese unchanged on 37.

The prime minister will start the day in Townsville, campaigning in the Liberal seat of Herbert which is held by a margin of 8.4 per cent.