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Former PM Keating issues new attack on AUKUS deal



Former Prime Minister Paul Keating fired yet another torpedo at the AUKUS deal, alleging that Defense Minister Richard Marles changed his argument to justify submarine purchases.

Keating, who has already publicly criticized the $368 billion deal, said in an opinion piece that the government had shifted from needing ships to protect the country from invasion to protecting sea lanes for trade.

“In a week, the government has gone from needing outrageously expensive nuclear submarines to counter a possible invasive threat from China to now, wait, needing them, primarily, to protect our shipping lanes—an entirely different problem in terms of scale, purpose. and urgency,” he wrote in the Australian Financial Review on Friday.

“Marles has been pushed to argue not against an alleged invasion by China, but, secondly, the protection of the shipping lanes, the very shipping lanes that serve and feed China’s massive material demands.”

Marles responded by saying that the government had not changed any views on the submarine deal.

“We deeply respect Paul Keating and his opinion needs to be voiced, but we have been very clear about the fact that in 2023 we have changed circumstances,” he told Nine’s. Today Friday program.

“Today we have a country that is much more connected in terms of trade with the world than ever before, certainly than we were in the 1990s, and we are faced with the situation that the old capability… which is a conventional submarine, is seized. it will become less capable in the 2030s.”

Nationals leader David Littleproud also dismissed Keating’s latest criticism, saying the former premier was living in the past.

“We are disappointed in Paul Keating’s comments: he lives in a 1990s utopia that no longer exists,” he said.

“Unfortunately, I think he’s channeling the anger from Richard’s backbench that he’s going to tear this mob apart and that’s why this prevents us from talking sensibly about a civilian nuclear power system in Australia.”

Mr Keating’s comments follow his appearance at the National Press Club last week, where he slammed AUKUS, calling it the “worst deal ever”.


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