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Peter Dutton has marked Anzac Day by making an ominous statement regarding the threats of China and Russia, comparing it to a "period very similar to the 1930s" when Nazi Germany pushed the world towards World War II.
The Australian Defence Minister said the only way to preserve peace was to now "prepare for war".
Mr Dutton appeared on The Today Show following a dawn service on Monday, urging Australians not to "take for granted the sacrifice that was made by the Anzacs".
"Curling up in a ball pretending that nothing's happening, saying nothing. That is not going to be in our long term interests," he said. "And we should be very honest about that".
Mr Dutton then went on to say Australians need to accept the "reality of our time", drawing a stark comparison between the beginning of World War II and Russia's invasion of Ukraine.
"It's a replay in part of what's happened in the 1930s," he said.
"We have to be realistic that people like Hitler and others aren’t just a figment of our imagination or that they’re consigned to history.
"We have, in President Putin at the moment, somebody who is willing to kill women and children. That’s happening in the year 2022."
Mr Dutton said the controversial security agreement between China and the Solomon Islands was “the reality of our time”.
"We are a country with a proud heritage that we commemorate today, the most important day on our calendar," he told the Today Show.
"We're determined to make sure we can have peace in our country."
"We shouldn’t take for granted the sacrifice that was made by the Anzacs, or those in World War II or in Vietnam, in the Middle East, in every conflict in between, that somehow that will see us through to eternity without conflict in our region."
Mr Dutton has repeatedly made comments about potential war with China, consistency drawing a strong rebuke from Beijing.
Dutton accused of 'war mongering'
Critics have accused Mr Dutton of publicly inflaming the situation for political gain ahead of the federal election on May 21.
Mr Dutton's provocative comments drew criticism from people on social media on Monday.
Many accused him of 'war-mongering' and criticised his choice to urge Australians to "prepare for war" on Anzac Day.
"Committed the ultimate sin by banging the drums of war, on of all days, Anzac Day," one Twitter user said.
"Peter Dutton on radio right now war-mongering," another wrote in disbelief.
"No, really, that is actually what our Defence Minister is doing. On Anzac Day no less."
Former independent Tony Windsor and independent candidate for the upcoming election Jo Dyer were among those to voice their incredulity.
Abusing Anzac Day toDogWhistle War...shame Peter Dutton. Our people fought to stop war not to upset it to win an election.#auspol
— Tony Windsor (@TonyHWindsor) April 25, 2022
On a day of sombre reflection on the barbarity of war and the ocean of loss, pain and sorrow it brings, Peter Dutton calls upon us to prepare for more. #auspol
— Jo Dyer - an independent voice for Boothby (@instanterudite) April 25, 2022
I can’t think of anything more antagonistic to foreign powers like China than having our Minister for Defence beating his chest and telling us we must “prepare for war”.
On Anzac Day.
It boggles the mind.
— Belinda Barnet (@manjusrii) April 25, 2022
'No preparation under this government': Richard Marles
Mr Dutton's remarks came after comments Prime Minister Scott Morrison made at a dawn service in Darwin on Monday.
The PM said that the “arc of authoritarianism” was troubling the region, amid concern over China's next move in the Solomon Islands after a landmark security pact was signed this week.
“An arc of autocracy is challenging the rules-based order our grandparents had secured and democratic freedoms,” the prime minister said.
Labor's deputy leader Richard Marles accused the government of being ill-prepared for conflict, telling reporters that Australia was facing strategic circumstances more complex than since World War II but the government had failed to prepare for it.
"This is a government which beats its chest but when it comes to actually delivering and doing what needs to be done, this is a government which repeatedly fails," he said.
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