Defence Minister Peter Dutton says the next federal election will go ahead even if Australia is at war with China at the time.
Speaking to reporters on his current four-nation tour with Foreign Minister Senator Marise Payne, Mr Dutton denied he was attempting to stoke a fear campaign and provoke a confrontation with China in the hope that voters might stick with the Morrison Government whenever they go to vote.
“It’s nothing of the sort,” Mr Dutton said. “Any comments I have made about our deteriorating relationship with China over its bullying and standover tactics have been couched in the most diplomatic of terms.
“I have always found it difficult to understand why the warmongers and economic imperialists in Beijing continue to take offence at my remarks.”
Mr Dutton and Senator Payne are visiting India, South Korea, Indonesia, and the United States on their current tour.
“In the talks we’ve held already with our friendly neighbours and allies I’ve simply been pointing out that they too should be worried about China’s illegal expansion and land grabs in the South China Sea.
“I can’t help it if the war lords running China and its alarmingly expansionist foreign policy misinterpret my statements as somehow being unfriendly towards them.”
Mr Dutton said as Defence Minister it was his responsibility to be prepared for all possible eventualities and threats to Australia’s security.
“I don’t wish to alarm voters, I mean Australians, but we must be prepared for anything from a trade war to a full-blown shooting match with China,” he said.
“The fact is that I am escalating, I mean the chances of a war with China are escalating every day, so we must be ready.”
Mr Dutton said the Morrison Government was already preparing war plans in case China lashed out.
“That’s the right thing to do just in case the mad men in China go totally ape shit – or panda shit maybe – and take some irrational decision to attack Australia in response to the very moderate and considered statements I have been making,” he said.
“Of course we will defend ourselves against any action China takes, especially in coming months, and we will not hesitate to respond with our own declaration of war at the appropriate time.
“This action may be necessary, even in the lead-up to the next election which in itself is a concept those heathen and autocratic commos don’t understand.
“We will not hesitate to do that, hopefully most likely just a day or so before pre-poll voting opens,” he said.