‘Arc of autocracy’: PM’s chilling warning

The Prime Minister will issue a chilling warning to the nation on Monday, as he announces major moves to stare down a “new arc of autocracy”.

Scott Morrison will warn Australia that autocratic dictators threaten to “reset the world order” in a clear reference to the risk of China following Russia’s lead and launching assaults on democratic countries in our region.

In a major speech to the Lowy Institute on Monday, the Prime Minister will say the nation now faces its most dangerous and challenging security environment in 80 years, and reveal major upgrades to our military capability.

“This is not a world we want – for us, our neighbours or our region. It’s certainly not a world we want for our children,’’ he says.

The Prime Minister, who has been in isolation with Covid over the past week, will emerge back into the public spotlight with the chilling message.

He says autocratic dictators including Vladimir Putin threaten to destroy the “rules-based order” that has underpinned peace and stability.

He will argue Australia needs to increase defence spending now to protect the nation into the future.

“Once again, the horror of war has befallen Europe – an unprovoked, unjust and illegal war,’’ Mr Morrison says.

“After months of planning, bullying, coercion and intimidation, Russia has invaded Ukraine.

“Australia strongly supports Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. We condemn Russia’s abhorrent actions in the strongest possible terms, as a gross violation of international law and an assault on freedom.”

Mr Morrison said Russian President Vladimir Putin’s bloody attacks in Ukraine were simply the “latest example of an authoritarian regime seeking to challenge the status quo through threats and violence.”

“Our rules-based international order, built upon the principles and values that guide our own nation, has for decades supported peace and stability, and allowed sovereign nations to pursue their interests free from coercion. This is now under assault.

“A new arc of autocracy is instinctively aligning to challenge and reset the world order in their own image.”

And he has warned Australians to expect a long, protracted war in Europe.

“We expect Russia to continue its brutal attacks, including bombarding residential areas, even nuclear facilities, with scant regard for civilian casualties or the broader catastrophic impact,’’ he says.

“This is what autocrats do. It is not the product of a sudden madness or a failure of earlier diplomacy to resolve just grievances.

“These are the bloody and violent acts of an autocrat determined to impose his will on others, in the contrived self justification of realising nationalistic destiny. We have seen this before.

“Everything points to a bloody and protracted conflict.

“We have offered our prayers, but we have also sent our ammunition.”

Without naming China, Mr Morrison said western nations’ hope and belief that inclusion would moderate the true intentions of autocratic regimes was a false hope.

“We are right to aspire – however the hope that such inclusion and accommodation would lead to some reform or moderation of these regimes or assist us in tackling the big global economic and environmental challenges has been disappointed,’’ he says.

“As Prime Minister, I have been warning about this for years.

“We have been criticised for our stand, including in our own country. And we have been targeted.

“But I am pleased we have been prepared to stand our ground. If not us, then who? Would we be expecting others to do it on Australia’s behalf to protect our interests? I do not believe Australians want such timidity and resignation from their leaders.”

The Prime Minister said Russia’s brutal attacks on civilians and children in Ukraine was revealing the true nature of autocratic regimes.

“Events are now lifting the veil. Perhaps the scales are beginning to fall from the world’s eyes also. At least I hope so,” he says.

Mr Morrison warned “Europe has had a major wake-up call – strategically and economically.”

“The strategic, political, economic and social implications of this crisis will be deeply felt in Europe, but will inevitably stretch to the Indo-Pacific.

“Australia is an Indo-Pacific nation. The future of the Indo-Pacific is our future.

“Threats in our region are proliferating from both state and non-state actors.

“The challenge from more surreptitious malign activities – espionage, disinformation, cyber-attacks, foreign interference, and economic coercion – is mounting daily.

“We’re seeing increasing resort in our region to ‘grey area’ tactics – where the boundary between legitimate and hostile activity is deliberately blurred.

“Australia seeks to work with all countries to ensure a peaceful, stable and prosperous region.

“However, we cannot be naive.

“The challenges we face continue to mount. They require us to increase our resilience, expand our capabilities and harden our defences.”

The Prime Minister will also announce in the speech a new $10 billion submarine base will be built on Australia’s east coast to support future nuclear-powered submarines.

Mr Morrison said he planned to take decisive action to ensure that Australia is secure.

“We will also enhance our long-range strike capabilities to boost the ADF’s ability to deliver strike effects across our air, land and maritime domains,’’ he says.

“Australia will be one of few countries to field Tomahawk missiles, the extended-range version of the Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile, and other sophisticated strike capabilities.

“Through the $1 billion Guided Weapons and Explosive Ordinance Enterprise, we will be able to make our own weapons on our own soil.”

Read related topics:ChinaScott Morrison


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