Scott Morrison, Anthony Albanese continue campaigns; Solomon Islands-China deal fallout continues; Dominic Perrottet text leak denied by PM; China’s coal production increases

Prime Minister Scott Morrison says Australia is still Solomon Islands’ security partner of choice, even after sources said Australian intelligence agencies played a role in leaking a secret draft security pact between China and Solomon Islands.

This morning The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age reported Australia knew about the pact between the two countries weeks before it mysteriously surfaced on the internet.

Morrison told Sunrise on Friday morning while it was a serious issue, there was no “credible information” that would suggest China would build a naval base in Solomon Islands.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison

Prime Minister Scott MorrisonCredit:James Brickwood

“I know that would be their (China’s) wish, and I know that would be their intent, and that is why we have been very proactive over many years, we’ve lifted our aid into the Pacific up to $1.8 billion,” he said.

“We’ve continued to engage. But China doesn’t play by the same rules as liberal transparent democracies like Australia, the United States, Japan and so on.

“We’ve taken a lot of actions, but at the end of the day, sovereign countries will make sovereign decisions.”

Morrison said regardless of the draft security pact, Australia remained Solomon Islands’ security partner and “first call when it comes to support”.

But speaking to Today on Friday morning, deputy Labor leader Richard Marles said the leaked document showed the Australian government had “failed” to be key collaborator of Solomon Islands.

Deputy Labor leader Richard Marles.

Deputy Labor leader Richard Marles. Credit:Alex Ellinghausen

“We were the natural partner of choice … Australia was winning the strategic contest with China,” he said.

“I would not have imagined that this government could have stuffed it up so badly that on their watch that you would see this agreement being signed between China and Solomon Islands.

“It is definitely a watershed which absolutely raises the threat, and certainly raises my anxiety about Chinese military presence in the region.”

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