Scott Morrison has rejected claims the US expected the Labor Party to be briefed on the AUKUS agreement and said he had “every confidence” the opposition would support the deal.
Scott Morrison has rejected claims the US expected the Labor Party to be briefed on the AUKUS agreement months in advance after Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese exploded at the Prime Minister for failing to seek bipartisan support.
Mr Albanese said Mr Morrison broke trust with the United States, after the Biden Administration insisted it would only pursue the nuclear-powered submarine agreement if it had support from both major Australian parties.
“They (the US) left the issue of Australian domestic politics to Australia,” Mr Morrison told The Australian in an exclusive interview on Monday.
“They didn’t prescribe how that was to be done.”
The Morrison government was accused of failing to consult with the Labor Party until the day before the partnership was announced, according to a report by Sydney Morning Herald and The Age on Saturday morning.
But Mr Morrison argued the Biden Administration did not request for him to inform Labor months in advance and that he had “every confidence” they would agree.
“Did they believe there would be any risk of Labor not supporting this agreement? No, I didn’t. I had every confidence that they would agree,” he told The Australian.
“The idea that the Labor Party would have rejected this defence agreement with the US and UK is fanciful.”
“The opposition thinks that the government is some sort of co-process. They’re not the government. The government was making this decision. The government was confident in our discussions with the US and UK that this policy would receive bipartisan support. And I was right.”
Mr Albanese on Saturday blasted Mr Morrison for breaking “faith and trust” by not briefing the Labor party in advance.
“The Biden Administration sought reassurance from the Australian Government that Australian Labor had been consulted on these issues,” he told reporters.
“It is extraordinary that the Prime Minister broke that faith and trust with our most important ally by not briefing Australian Labor on these issues.
“The fact that the United States had made a request to Australia that was ignored for four and half months shows that this is a Prime Minister who always plays short-term politics.”
The trilateral agreement between Australia, the United States and the United Kingdom – AUKUS – was announced in September to strengthen military capabilities in the Pacific.