Labor plan for training of Pacific armies to deter China

Labor is raising the stakes on national security today, with its plan to train Pacific armed forces in a move aimed at combatting China’s rising influence in the region.
Under the policy to be unveiled later today, Labor will open a defence training school for the militaries of Pacific nations, if it wins office in next month’s Federal election.

Labor says if it does win government, it will double funding in the region to assure Pacific neighbours that Australia is the main choice for security.

Labor will launch its Pacific development policy today aimed at stemming Chinese influence in the Solomon Islands and other island nations. (AP)

Another part of the Labor plan includes expanding the reach of Australian broadcasting in the Pacfic.

During the election campaign, Prime Minister Scott Morrison has faced criticism from the Opposition after the Solomon Islands signed a security deal with Beijing that could allow a Chinese military base to be built in the Pacific nation.

The Labor plan comes after Defence Minister Peter Dutton yesterday used an Anzac Day address to warn that Australia must prepare for war to keep the peace.

“The only way you can preserve peace is to prepare for war and be strong as a country. Not to cower, not to be on bended knee and be weak. That’s the reality,” Mr Dutton told Today.

On Sunday, Mr Morrison warned the Solomon Islands not to allow a Chinese military base to be built on its soil.

“I share the same red line as the US when it comes to these issues,” he said, referencing a White House statement.

Solomon Islands Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare, left, and Chinese Premier Li Keqiang. The Pacific nation has signed a controversial security deal with China. (AP)

Meanwhile, new opinion polls released today show Labor is leading the Coalition.

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The latest IPSOS survey shows the Coalition trails Labor 42-50 while, in a Newspoll, it also trails Labor 47-53.

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