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The ABC’s Laura Tingle is copping backlash after failing to speak up during ex-Labor PM Paul Keating’s outspoken rants against journalists during an interview at the National Press Club (NPC).

Tingle, the Press Club’s president and 7.30’s chief political correspondent, was presenting and moderating Keating’s appearance in which let fly over the AUKUS submarine deal, calling it Labor’s worst foreign policy decision in a century.

The 79-year-old’s behaviour was likened to a ‘crazy uncle’ by Opposition Leader Peter Dutton after he hurled insults at PM Anthony Albanese, ministers Penny Wong and Richard Marles, and young journalists – particularly Olivia Caisley and Matthew Knott.

Joe Hildebrand writing for Newscorp said it was ‘shameful (that) Twitter’s supposed hero of Australian journalism Laura Tingle, the president of the NPC and facilitator of Keating’s abuse, let this diatribe run free.’

While Sky News host Caleb Bond said that Ms Tingle, famously critical of the Morrison Coalition government, appeared ‘spellbound at the feet of Keating’.

National Press Club President Laura Tingle has been accused of allowing former PM Paul Keating to 'bully' young journalists

National Press Club President Laura Tingle has been accused of allowing former PM Paul Keating to ‘bully’ young journalists

Sky News political correspondent Olivia Caisley (pictured) asked why Keating was so sure China posed no military threat to Australia, to which he responded 'because I have a brain'

Sky News political correspondent Olivia Caisley (pictured) asked why Keating was so sure China posed no military threat to Australia, to which he responded ‘because I have a brain’

Ms Tingle (pictured with Keating in the interview) was previously loudly critical of the Morrison Coalition government

Ms Tingle (pictured with Keating in the interview) was previously loudly critical of the Morrison Coalition government

In his appearance, Keating claimed the threat of China was overblown, despite economic and propaganda attacks on Australia and the communist superpower’s aggressive expansion in the South China Sea.

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When journalists questioned him, rather than arguing his position, he got personal.

He told Sky News political correspondent Ms Caisley her question about why he was certain China would not attack Australia was ‘dumb’, that it was ‘hardly worth an answer’ and made disrespectful comments about working for Sky.

‘Because I’ve got a brain. Principally,’ he said.

‘I mean, why would China want to threaten… What would be the point? They get the iron ore, the coal, the wheat.’

He was even more brutal to the Sydney Morning Herald’s Matthew Knott, who co-wrote the Red Alert series of articles warning of a China threat.

‘You should hang your head in shame. I’m surprised you even have the gall to stand up in public and ask such a question, frankly,’ Keating said.

‘You ought to do the right thing and drum yourself out of Australian journalism… if I were you, mate, I’d hide my face and never appear again.’

Tingle, holding the reigns in the presenter’s chair, didn’t step in to pull up the former PM’s rants.

‘He (Keating) treated a young journalist from this network with absolute contempt,’ Bond said.

‘If I or anyone else acted like that in the workplace, I would be rightly accused of bullying.’

‘(Tingle) allowed a young woman to be dismissed as stupid by a cantankerous old man,’ he added.

Keating's appearance at the Press Club was likened to a 'crazy uncle' insulting family members

Keating’s appearance at the Press Club was likened to a ‘crazy uncle’ insulting family members

Sky News host Caleb Bond said Keating treated his colleague with 'absolute contempt'

Sky News host Caleb Bond said Keating treated his colleague with ‘absolute contempt’

However, the ABC’s political editor, Andrew Probyn, has spoken up, calling Keating’s behaviour a ‘poor’ display.

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‘I thought the dismissive manner in which he dealt with younger, especially female journalists, who all asked perfectly decent questions, was very poor indeed,’ he told The Australian.

He also said he disagreed with Keating’s view that a threat amounted to only whether China would invade or not.

Anthony Albanese expressed a similar sentiment, saying the Australia-China relationship was vastly different from when Keating was PM.

‘My responsibility in 2023 is to give Australians the leadership they need now, not what they might have needed in the 1990s,’ he said.

‘I am determined to make sure we do just that.’

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said Australia is in a different position to when Keating was in the nation's top job

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said Australia is in a different position to when Keating was in the nation’s top job

Australia is set to get nuclear powered submarines under the AUKUS agreement (pictured: A BAE render of what the subs could look like)

Australia is set to get nuclear powered submarines under the AUKUS agreement (pictured: A BAE render of what the subs could look like)

China has accused Australia of wanting to be the Pacific 'deputy sheriff' of the United States

China has accused Australia of wanting to be the Pacific ‘deputy sheriff’ of the United States

As part of the AUKUS arrangement, Australia will command a fleet of eight nuclear-powered submarines within the next three decades.

Beijing’s foreign ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin attacked the deal for its ‘high-sounding rhetoric to deceive the world’ with regards to nuclear non-proliferation.

However all three nations are confident they remain compliant with requirements, with the International Atomic Energy Agency director general content with how concerns have been handled.

Mr Wang said China was gravely concerned about the IAEA director’s latest comments.

‘The US, the UK, Australia and the IAEA secretariat have no right to make a deal between themselves on the safeguards issues in relation to AUKUS nuclear submarine co-operation,’ he said.

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‘Safeguards issues related to nuclear submarine co-operation should be jointly discussed and decided by the international community.’

Mr Albanese said the relationship with China continued to improve.

‘And that is a good thing. We are about building and investing in our capacity and also investing in our relationship,’ he said.

Daily Mail Australia has contacted the ABC and Laura Tingle for comment.

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