Former PM Scott Morrison couldn't have been more wrong when he suggested during the election that Labor was soft on China, and then went on to sledge Richard Marles as a "Manchurian candidate".
In the seven weeks since the poll, the ALP has been just as hard-nosed in its approach to the relationship with Beijing as the Coalition ever was. And, more importantly, it has done so in a much more nuanced and effective manner.
Foreign Minister Penny Wong's softly spoken, but unflinching, insistence China revisit its trade sanctions against Australia during her meeting with her Chinese counterpart, Wang Yi, last week was in stark contrast to Peter Dutton's "wombat warrior" rhetoric.
Ms Wong was not moved by China's latest "four conditions" and, instead, believes the importance of the talks is to be found in the fact they occurred at all. Her assessment that the meeting marked an "important first step" in stabilising the relationship is on the mark. So too is her observation a long journey lies ahead.
While it is tempting to take the cynical view and suggest China's recent - albeit miniscule - extension of olive branches to Australia is nothing more than an attempt to disrupt AUKUS and the "quad" by wedging Canberra and Washington, that is not necessarily the case.
China, which has been watching events in Ukraine closely, knows its attempts to intimidate Australia have backfired badly. If his intention was to deter "encirclement" by the democratic powers then Xi Jinping has failed dismally.
Australia, by standing up to Beijing - at first very much on its own - laid the groundwork for the revitalisation of the "quad" and the creation of AUKUS. This, in turn, led to the recent invitation to Anthony Albanese to attend the NATO summit in Spain.
China, like Russia, has overreached and, as a result, has bought alliances into existence against itself. It is a tale as old as the Peloponnesian War that has often been repeated, including during the rise of Germany in the early years of the 20th century which facilitated the Entente Cordiale between Britain and France, and the emergence of the World War II alliances against the Axis powers.
It's not surprising, therefore, that when Richard Marles addressed the Centre for Strategic and International Studies in Washington this week he referenced the dark days of 1941, the foundation of the US-Australia alliance, and the signing of the ANZUS treaty.
Any future conflict between the great democracies and Beijing will be fought over the same territory in the Indo-Pacific that was so fiercely contested 81 years ago.
This is why both Mr Albanese and Ms Wong, who have already clocked up frequent flyer points in a bid to counter Beijing's bid to displace Australia as the regional "superpower", are taking part in the first meeting of the Pacific Islands Forum in Fiji in three years.
They will be adopting a much more respectful stance than that taken by Scott Morrison when he famously fell out with South Pacific leaders over coal and climate change targets at the last forum in 2019.
Mr Albanese has committed himself to "renewing our standing in the region", a task made easier by Australia's new climate change policy: "Australia will once again be a trusted global partner on climate action," he said. "I am ambitious about what we can achieve together."
A resurrection of Australia's relationships with the island nations of the Pacific will go a long way to limiting the rise of Chinese influence in the region.
That, in turn, is essential to curtailing Beijing's territorial ambitions and paving the way for a long overdue workable détente between the east and the west.
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