This week in Australian foreign affairs: Albanese to travel to Cambodia, Indonesia and Thailand to attend East Asia, ASEAN, G20 and APEC Summits; Wong announces Kristin Tilley as Australia’s Ambassador for Climate Change; DFAT 2021-22 Consular State of Play launched; and more.
Prime Minister Anthony Albanese will travel to Cambodia, Indonesia and Thailand from 11 to 19 November to attend the East Asia, ASEAN, G20 and APEC Summits and “to discuss the most pressing strategic, economic and climate challenges facing the region and world.” Albanese will be in Phnom Penh, Cambodia from 11 to 14 November to attend the East Asia Summit and the 2nd Annual ASEAN-Australia Summit. From 14 to 17 November, Albanese will attend the G20 Summit in Bali, Indonesia and will “work with G20 leaders to chart a pathway to achieving the international conditions needed to ease economic pressures at home.” While in Bali, Albanese will also join his counterparts, Indonesian President Widodo and Indian Prime Minister Modi, to deliver a keynote address at the Business 20 Summit. Albanese will then travel to Bangkok, Thailand from 17 to 19 November to attend the 29th APEC Economic Leaders’ Summit, which will “focus on practical action to support regional economic integration and an open trade and investment environment.” Albanese will also meet other leaders bilaterally during his trip, to “discuss international developments and identify new opportunities for cooperation, including on regional security, energy security and climate action.”
On 5 November, Minister for Foreign Affairs Penny Wong, alongside Minister for Climate Change and Energy Chris Bowen and Minister for International Development and the Pacific Pat Conroy jointly announced the appointment of Kristin Tilley as Australia’s Ambassador for Climate Change. Tilley was most recently a First Assistant Secretary at the Department of Industry, Science and Resources and has “over 10 years’ experience with international and domestic climate change policy and programs.” The Ministers stated that Tilley’s appointment “demonstrates to the world Australia’s resolve to urgently step up the pace of action, and work alongside global partners, particularly in the Pacific, to tackle the climate crisis.” Tilley will be part of Australia’s delegation to the 27th United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP27) in Egypt, led by Bowen. Wong noted that “Australia is acting on climate change at home, and will now be part of the solution in the world. Ms Tilley will lead Australia’s international climate engagement, working with partners to deliver opportunities for green energy jobs.”
Assistant Minister for Foreign Affairs Tim Watts launched the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade’s (DFAT) Consular State of Play 2021-22 on 3 November. Watts noted that “in 2021-22, even though traveller numbers were far lower [than in pre-COVID years], more than 34,000 Australians and their families sought consular and crisis support.” He noted the “extraordinarily challenging” past three years, citing the Black Summer bushfires, COVID-19, and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and that the “massive amount of environmental and geopolitical upheaval has added immensely to the consular load.”
On 9 November, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Defence Richard Marles issued a statement in response to “concerning reports that ex-Australian Defence Force personnel may have been approached to provide military related training to China.” Marles stated that he asked the Department of Defence to “urgently investigate these reports” and that “the information provided to [him] so far presents enough evidence to warrant the need for a detailed examination into the adequacy of current Defence policies and procedures addressing this matter.” Marles stated that he has instructed the Department of Defence to commence this examination, and that he “will have more to say upon receiving the recommendations in due course.” He further stated that “we already have a range of layered policies in place to protect Defence people, information and assets from foreign collection but if there are weaknesses in our system the Albanese Government will strengthen them.”
Leader of the Opposition Peter Dutton met with Chinese Ambassador to Australia Xiao Qian on 8 November. In a tweet, Dutton stated that the two “had a constructive meeting where [they] discussed security, trade and human rights issues.” Dutton further noted that he will “continue to engage in an open and honest dialogue in matters relating to the safety, security and prosperity of our region.”
Isabella Keith is a weekly columnist for Australian Outlook. She is also an undergraduate student at the Australian National University studying Law and Politics, Philosophy and Economics. Isabella’s research interests include international law and comparative constitutional law.
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