Scott Morrison blasts premier over China deal
Prime Minister Scott Morrison has told Premier Daniel Andrews to rip up Victoria's controversial deal supporting China's Belt and Road infrastructure plan.
Mr Andrews' agreement on Belt and Road, signed in the days before the 2018 state election, has been criticised on several occasions by Mr Morrison.
But he ramped up the pressure on Victoria on Thursday, saying Mr Andrews should withdraw his support for Chinese President Xi Jinping's signature initiative which bankrolls infrastructure projects around the world.
Mr Morrison said the Federal Government had not signed up to the Belt and Road program because "we do not believe that it is in Australia's national interests".
"There are many security issues that the government addresses on a day-to-day basis and they're addressed in a very secure way, and I don't propose to engage in a public commentary on those," he said.
"It is not a program the Australian Government has signed up to. It is not the Australian Government's foreign policy and all states and territories should not be doing things that act inconsistently with the federal policy."
Victorian Opposition Leader Michael O'Brien has vowed to scrap the agreement if the Coalition wins the next state election.
But Mr Andrews said this week he would "stay the course" on plans to lock in the next stage of a Belt and Road road-map with China in coming months.
"We are absolutely committed to making sure that we have as many agreements as we possibly can have to get more Victorian-made product into China," he said.
"It's only the world's biggest market."
Mr Morrison on Thursday backed calls from the NATO chief for countries to stand up to China's "bullying and coercion" on trade.
"We won't bow or trade away our values when it comes to being an open trading economy," he said.
"We're just being Australians and we have done nothing nor sought to do anything that is inconsistent with our values or have sought to be in any way hostile to our partnership with China."
Mr Morrison said it was "rubbish" and a "ridiculous assertion" that Australia was racist towards Chinese students, as Chinese authorities warned students to reconsider studying here, which poses a significant threat to the finances of Australian universities.
Originally published as ScoMo blasts Andrews on China deal