Anthony Albanese slams move not to seek bipartisan support on AUKUS

Labor leader Anthony Albanese has slammed a decision by the Morrison government to ignore calls from the Biden administration and delay briefing the opposition on the AUKUS defence agreement until the eleventh hour.

Mr Albanese referenced reports in Nine newspapers on Saturday that the United States government demanded bipartisan support from Australia on the deal four-and-a-half months before it was announced to the public.

Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese was campaigning in Darwin today. Picture: AAP

Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese was campaigning in Darwin today. Picture: AAP

"We were briefed on the afternoon of the Wednesday before the 7[am] announcement," Mr Albanese said.

"The fact that the United States had made a request to Australia that was ignored for four-and-a-half months shows that this is a Prime Minister who always plays short-term politics, is not interested in the national interest."

READ MORE:

He slammed Scott Morrison for choosing to advance his "short-term political interest", claiming the move threatened the US-Australia relationship alongside provoking a rupture in relations with France, which lost out on a $90 billion submarine deal.

"What we have here, and we're aware of this very consciously, is not only were we causing tensions with our relationship with France, an important ally, we were also causing tensions with our most important ally the United States of America."

"I will not treat national security issues as an opportunity to make a difference on partisan domestic political points," the Labor leader said.

"No Australian prime minister should do that, when the request came in, I should have been briefed."

The Labor leader said he was concerned about the presence of a Chinese intelligence ship off the coast of Western Australian, and that Labor had requested a more detailed briefing, but would not be drawn on the government's motives in directing attention to the vessel.

He did not say whether, if elected, he would seek to make direct contact with Chinese President Xi Jinping, but did say he would connect with US President Joe Biden.

"I am not getting ahead of myself and the relationship with China will remain complex and will remain challenging, regardless of who wins the election," he said.

Labor also pledged to create a new taskforce to oversee improvements to national health care if elected, also committing $750 million in funding over four years from 2023, which would go towards strengthening access to Medicare.

This story Albanese slams move not to seek bipartisan support on AUKUS first appeared on The Canberra Times.