Liberal senator Concetta Fierravanti-Wells, who was a junior minister to Ms Bishop, launched a scathing attack.
“Another air-head comment from the ‘couch’. We had six years of ‘Instagram diplomacy’ that ignored CCP skulduggery and ‘debt trap diplomacy’,” she tweeted.
Senator Fierravanti-Wells is demanding Australia be paid “reparations” from China over coronavirus.
“It is incumbent on the government to investigate all possible ways to recover damages for health costs and damage to our economy,” she told parliament.
The former Pacific and international development minister urged Australia to diversify trade relationships and decrease reliance on China.
She wants the lease of Darwin’s port to a Beijing-linked company reviewed, while also warning against predatory investment.
“I am concerned that the CCP is taking advantage of the pandemic to further its insidious debt-trap diplomacy by taking advantage of economically stressed nation-states through the Belt and Road Initiative,” she said.
Liberal senator James Paterson took aim at Australian universities’ reliance on international students, particularly from China.
“Relying on students from China disproportionately is not the same as being reliant on any other country,” he told the upper house.
“The Chinese Communist Party rules China in an authoritarian way and its values are very different from ours.”
South Australian Liberal Alex Antic accused China of dictating terms on crucial goods, saying Australia needed to ramp up manufacturing to reduce reliance on its biggest trading partner.
“The CCP’s efforts in arranging for companies linked to the regime to ship tonnes of medical and personal protective equipment back to China sounded the alarm bells for many,” he told parliament.
“It has trained a spotlight on the need to return manufacturing to Australia and, in the process, the need to shore up our national security and sovereign interests.”
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