Hawke's Bay Today

Morrison takes strong stand on security

- Australia

Australia’s Prime Minister has cast his Government as stronger on national security than the opposition after signing an agreement with the French Government to deliver a fleet of submarines. Prime Minister Scott Morrison used a speech to Australia’s National Press Club on the eve of Parliament’s first sitting day of the year to detail his conservati­ve coalition’s record on a diverse range of security issues including military spending, stripping extremists of citizenshi­p, asylum seekers, contentiou­s laws to prevent criminals using encrypted communicat­ions and domestic violence. Earlier, Morrison and French Defence Minister Florence Parly signed a new agreement to deliver the first of a fleet of 12 submarines to Australia in the early 2030s. Morrison said his Government was on track to boost defence spending to 2 per cent of gross domestic product — a level demanded by President Donald Trump of US allies — by 2020-21. When the centre-left opposition Labor Party was last in office from 2007 to 2013, defence spending fell to 1.56 per cent of GDP — Australia’s lowest level since 1938. Morrison is also campaignin­g to block a bill that would allow sick asylum seekers in offshore centres to get treatment in Australia. Morrison said the bill would “take control from the Government”.—

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