Moves by China to sign a security and defence agreement with the government of the Solomon Islands have been met with shock in Australian political circles.
So too has the latest revelation by the South Pacific nation’s Opposition Leader, Matthew Wale, that he warned Australian diplomats of China’s intentions in August last year.
While it remains unclear just how the Morrison Government missed this significant development, The Bug has been told that the issue was raised at a regular briefing of Defence Minister Peter Dutton by a senior official of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) in late August 2021.
We present below a transcript of the meeting held in Mr Dutton’s Parliament House office in Canberra.
DFAT: (laying briefing paper on table) Minister we are pleased to have available your political intelligence……..
PD: Oh thank you. You’re too kind. But I do admit that many people, not just you, are pleased to have my political intelligence available to them.
DFAT: I was going to say, your political intelligence briefing. It’s highly….
PD: Highly valued? Yes, I know.
DFAT: …. confidential.
PD: Yes, confidentially, I don’t know what the government – or the nation for that matter – would do without me either.
DFAT: Our man in Honiara has told us….
PD: Not sure where that is. But I can dig out the booth figures from 2019.
DFAT: The Opposition Leader says….
PD: Albanese? What’s he saying?
DFAT: No sir, Wale.
PD: New South Wales?
PD: Hmmm, yes, yes. New South Wales actually is where we need to hold and win seats.
DFAT: If I can focus on the South Pacific…
PD: Yes, yes. Let’s focus on the specifics.
DFAT: We believe it would be wrong if the Chinese…
PD: Yes, yes. Of course! Penny Wong is Chinese.
PD: Thanks for reminding me.
PD: It all comes back to the Labor Party. It always does. Doesn’t it?
PD: Done? Well done? Oh, thank you.