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2 April: The Week in Australian Foreign Affairs

02 Apr 2021
By Isabella Keith
Parliament House At Dusk, Canberra ACT Source: Thennicke

This week in Australian foreign affairs: Morrison’s cabinet reshuffle, Payne’s financial sanctions and travel bans against Russian companies, the centenary of the RAAF, and more.

On 29 March, Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced a cabinet reshuffle, including Peter Dutton as the new Minister for Defence and Karen Andrews as the new Minister for Home Affairs. Previous Minister for Defence Linda Reynolds will be taking on the portfolio of Government Services and the National Disability Insurance Scheme. Melissa Price, Minister for Defence Industry, will be returning to the Cabinet.

Morrison and Dutton issued a joint media release on 31 March announcing the acceleration of the creation of a $1 billion Sovereign Guided Weapons Enterprise. Dutton stated that, “This announcement builds on the agreement the Morrison Government achieved at AUSMIN last year to pursue options to encourage bilateral defence trade and to advance initiatives that diversify and harness our industry cooperation.”

On 30 March, Minister for Foreign Affairs Marise Payne announced that Australia has imposed targeted financial sanctions and travel bans “against a Russian individual and four Russian companies connected to the construction and operation of the Kerch Strait Railway Bridge linking Russia to the illegally annexed territories of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol, Ukraine.” Payne’s announcement was made in coordination with Canada, and in alignment with actions taken by the United Kingdom and European Union. The subjects of the sanctions are set out in the Autonomous Sanctions (Designated Persons and Entities and Declared Persons – Ukraine) Amendment (No. 1) Instrument 2021, registered on the Federal Register of Legislation.

Payne also stated on 30 March that “Australia welcomes the joint inquiry into the Tigray conflict announced by the UN Office for the High Commissioner of Human Rights and the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission.” She also noted that Australia will provide $3 million to the World Food Programme “to help meet the needs of those most vulnerable.”

On 25 March, Payne said she was “deeply saddened by the news of the devastating fire in the Kutupalong Balukali refugee camp in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh.” She announced an additional $10 million in emergency assistance from the existing humanitarian budget to those affected by the fire, noting that this support will be provided through the United Nations High commissioner for Refugees, the International Organization for Migration, the World Food Programme, and the United Nations Population Fund.

Minister for Veterans’ Affairs Darren Chester, Minister for Defence Industry Melissa Price, and Assistant Minister for Defence Andrew Hastie jointly acknowledged on 31 March the 100th anniversary of the Royal Australian Air Force. Price stated that, “[whether] it is defending Australia’s national interests or providing humanitarian and disaster relief here at home or around the globe, Air Force is so often a beacon of hope and living its motto: Per Ardua, Ad Astra – through struggle, to the stars.”

Isabella Keith is an undergraduate student at the Australian National University studying Law and Politics, Philosophy and Economics. She is currently an intern at the AIIA National Office.

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