Defence Minister Peter Dutton has attempted to step up his criticism of Labor’s foreign affairs spokesperson Senator Penny Wong while denying he is deliberately stoking concerns over China’s global military intentions as an election tactic.
But Mr Dutton’s comments were cut short when his news conference in a courtyard at Parliament House had to be abandoned after being invaded by stray dogs. (main picture)
Mr Dutton started his news conference by telling reporters that he was not deliberately beating a war drum by pointing out the threat posed to Taiwan by China’s alleged expansionist policies.
Unusually, his remarks were accompanied by one of his staffers wearing battle fatigues slowly beating a drum at the back of the media pack, some of whose members complained that the noise was so loud that they could not hear the minister’s comments.
After instructing his staffer to cease the drumming, Mr Dutton went on to deny he was using China as a wedge issue against the Labor Party to fight the next election.
But he did not hold back in his criticism of Senator Wong while rejecting suggestions that he was questioning her loyalty to Australia.
As he became more strident in his attacks on the Labor spokesperson his staffer resumed the drum beat.
“It seems to me that Senator Wong is trying to have it both ways,” he said. “She attacks me just because I have set out the facts about China’s activities and policies in a very sensible, reasonable, and diplomatic manner.
“At the same time she wants voters,… I mean she wants Australians to believe Labor will keep them safe from China’s greedy, grasping tentacles that will surely set the dominoes falling starting with our good friends in Taiwan and see yellow godless hordes teeming southwards to invade our nation.
“It’s as if there are two Penny Wongs, and as you know two Wongs don’t make a …..”
At that point the staffer’s drumming stopped as a pack of stray dogs invaded the court yard, forcing Mr Dutton to cancel his news conference and promising to reschedule it “unless hostilities break out in the meantime”.