Morrison has consulted former prime ministers John Howard and Kevin Rudd on Australia’s strained relationship with China.
“I’m always open to those who are experienced in these areas and both of those former prime ministers are experienced in those areas,” he told reporters in Canberra.
Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese wrote to the Prime Minister last week, encouraging him to engage with both men after being approached by senior business and union leaders.
Albanese said the former prime ministers both enjoyed “significant relationships” with China.
He said Australian jobs in various export industries including the wine, education, timber and coal sectors were under threat because of the breakdown in Chinese relations.
“To be clear, it is China that is to blame for breaking down that relationship,” he said.
“But you need to find a way through and I think that it is very sensible to engage former prime ministers Kevin Rudd and John Howard.”
Morrison said he is ready and willing to meet with Chinese President Xi Jinping, but only if there were no preconditions to holding the talks.
He is refusing to cede any ground over Chinese grievances with Australia in return for restarting diplomatic dialogue.
“We will of course remain absolutely open and available to meet to discuss any of the issues that have been identified,” he said.
“But those discussions, as I’ve made clear, won’t take place on the base of any sort of pre-emptive concessions on Australia’s part on those matters.
“I don’t think that any Australian would want their prime minister to be conceding the points that they’ve set out.”
China has launched a series of trade strikes against Australian exports in recent months and released a laundry list of issues with the relationship.
Morrison said he was aware of China’s various gripes and it would be a while until leaders from the two nations met if the 14 points presented a hurdle.
But he rejected claims the diplomatic relationship rapidly deteriorated last year after his government called for an investigation into the origins of coronavirus.
China is aggrieved about Australia’s foreign interference and investment laws, the exclusion of Huawei from the 5G network, and the Morrison Government’s public comments about human rights abuses.Jump to next article