Paul Keating has lashed two of the government’s most senior minister’s for what he believes is a major failure in foreign policy.

Speaking at the National Press Club, the former prime minister singled out Foreign Minister Penny Wong and Defence Minister Richard Marles in his attack.

“You don’t see Penny Wong out there. You see Richard Marles out there, not Penny Wong,” he said.

“So what’s happened is that the military have overtaken the foreign policy, as a consequence, we’re not using diplomacy.

“Let me just make this point: Running around the Pacific Islands with a lei around your neck handing out money, which is what Penny does, is not foreign policy. It’s a consular task.

“Foreign policy is what you do with the great powers.”

Mr Keating’s stinging criticism comes a day after the Prime Minister Anthony Albanese unveiled the $368bn plan to acquire a fleet of nuclear-powered submarines.

The former Labor leader blasted the deal as the “worst international decision by an Australian Labor government since the former Labor leader, Billy Hughes, sought to introduce conscription to augment Australian forces in World War One”.

He said agreeing to the AUKUS deal — or “the kabuki show in San Diego” — broke Labor’s “winning streak” over the past century.

“They got right knocking Hughes off over conscription. Curtin got it right in knocking Churchill over the troops in Burma back to Papua New Guinea, back to Kokoda. Arthur Caldwell got it right when he opposed the Vietnam War.

“Simon Crean got it right when he said, we shouldn’t be sending troops to Iraq and went to the wharf and waved them away while saying they shouldn’t be going.

“So, Labor has had a knockout set of rights against the Coalition. But this one is where we break the winning streak.”

More to come.

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