Tensions between Australia and China escalated rapidly overnight when Prime Minister Scott Morrison recalled Australia’s ambassador to Beijing after a Christmas Day incident which he said now makes war “inevitable”.
At a news conference in Canberra this morning Mr Morrison said China “must pay a price” for what he described as a deliberate and provocative insult to Australia.
He denied that he was seeking any excuse, no matter how feeble, to provoke conflict prior to a federal election.
“I’m not going to cop sledging of Australia,” he told reporters while standing alongside Defence Minister Peter Dutton who outlined the rapidly unfolding sequence of events that has brought the nation to the brink of war.
Mr Dutton explained: “It all began yesterday at my home north of Brisbane when my family sat down to a Christmas lunch in our Anderson shelter in the backyard.
“I love to cook on Christmas Day and had spent considerable time preparing the meal of roast chicken (main picture).
“After I carved and served the chook, and after my wife and kids had removed their gas masks ready to tuck in, we did what we always do at Christmas lunch and took turns around the table pulling bon-bons.”
Mr Dutton said it was after he read the riddle on a slip of paper inside his Chinese-made bon-bon that he realised he needed to act.
He said the riddle – Q: What do you get when you put an elephant and a load of potatoes together? A: Mashed potatoes – had unmistakably threatening implications.
“I am aware that some of my critics liken me to a potato, but for China to do the same goes well beyond a diplomatic faux pas,” Mr Dutton said.
“There is no other possible interpretation of that state-sponsored threat – I am the potato being ‘mashed’ and China is the elephant doing the mashing.
“It represents overt and deliberately provocative interference in our domestic affairs with the clear aim of weakening us as a sovereign state.
“I was shocked by what I read and immediately left the table to ring the Prime Minister to brief him and to say I think we are going to need to go to war with China very soon.
“I must say that the Prime Minister showed true leadership. He fully agreed with my interpretation of the message from China.
“He asked me to fly immediately to Canberra last night where we both sat down and started planning the election camp…. I mean, the military campaign ahead of us.
“The Prime Minister has shown he is truly the father of our nation and a great wartime leader.
“He did not hesitate to act and we now have a range of options for the best possible dates to begin offensives, dovetailing with the issuing of the writs….. I mean the issuing of a declaration of war sometime in early 2022,” Mr Dutton said.