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‘Be prepared’: Peter Dutton urges Coalition to prepare for possible snap election as PM skips Nato summit

‘Be prepared’: Peter Dutton urges Coalition to prepare for possible snap election as PM skips Nato summit

‘Be prepared’: Peter Dutton urges Coalition to prepare for possible snap election as PM skips Nato summit

Opposition leader Peter Dutton has urged coalition MPs to “be prepared” for a possible snap election, after Prime Minister Anthony Albanese cancelled a planned trip to next week’s Nato summit.

The prime minister was due to fly to Washington DC next Tuesday, where he was scheduled to meet the leaders of Japan, South Korea and New Zealand, Indo-Pacific nations that have NATO partner status.

However, the government released a statement on Tuesday revealing that Deputy Prime Minister and Defence Minister Richard Marles would be making the trip in his place.

Dutton raised the issue at the coalition party meeting on Tuesday, telling Liberal and National MPs it could mean Labor was “considering calling a snap election”.

Mr Dutton called on the party room to “be prepared”, after the opposition leader had been privately warning Labor MPs that they might be preparing to go to the polls in September.

The warning will encourage the Coalition to step up fundraising efforts and speed up the policy development process, two things that must happen if the opposition is not to be caught off guard if elections are called.

It will also serve as a reminder to the Coalition to remain disciplined and true to its message, the importance of which has been highlighted by the headaches Senator Fatima Payman has caused the government by crossing the line in support of Palestine.

Next week’s NATO summit will mark the 75th anniversary of the creation of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.

While not a signatory to the NATO treaty, Australia has partner status, and Australian prime ministers have often attended the conference; last year, Albanese said the annual summit had essentially become “the global meeting of the world’s democratic leaders.”

The government has not provided an official reason why Minister Marles will be deployed this year instead of Albanese, but the decision was reportedly made so that the Prime Minister could focus on domestic policy issues.

There are also reports that the Prime Minister may have cancelled after failing to arrange a meeting with US President Joe Biden ahead of the summit.

Mr Dutton condemned the Prime Minister’s decision to forgo the trip, saying it was an example of his “weak leadership”.

“There is war in Europe, there is war in the Middle East, there is a strong possibility that war will spread to Europe. There is great uncertainty in our own region, as the prime minister has pointed out,” Dutton said on Tuesday.

“Now is the time to engage with like-minded leaders and send a very clear message to Putin, to North Korea, to Iran, to Hezbollah and others: that we stand with those who share our values, and always will.

“I think a lot of Australians are very uneasy at the moment. They are concerned about security, they are concerned about safety and they have a Prime Minister who wants to put local politicking ahead of his duty to defend our country and send a united message.”

But Deputy Prime Minister Marles said his attendance at the meeting underlined the government’s commitment to Australia’s strategic interests.

“As a non-NATO member, Australia shares with its NATO partners a commitment to peace and security, including supporting Ukraine against Russia’s illegal and immoral invasion,” Marles said in a statement.

“The Deputy Prime Minister’s attendance at the 75th NATO Summit underlines Australia’s commitment to upholding our region’s strategic priorities and defending the rules-based global order, while advancing Australia’s economic, trade and security agenda.”