This week in Australian foreign affairs: Morrison’s COVID-19 vaccine deal, humanitarian aid to Beirut, RIMPAC 2020, the Pacific Islands Forum Economic Ministers Meeting, and more.
On 19 August, Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced that Australians “will be among the first in the world to receive a COVID-19 vaccine, if it proves successful” following an agreement between the Australian government and UK-based company AstraZeneca. Moreover, Morrison stated that the government “remains committed to ensuring early access to the vaccine for countries in our Pacific family, as well as regional partners in Southeast Asia.”
Alongside Minister for Foreign Affairs Marise Payne and Minister for Defence Linda Reynolds, Morrison issued a statement on 15 August announcing that Australia is delivering humanitarian supplies to Beirut following the explosion earlier in the month.
Reynolds announced on 18 August that four Royal Australian Navy vessels and nearly 700 Australian Defence Force personnel have arrived in Hawaii ahead of two weeks of training for the Exercise Rim of the Pacific 2020 (RIMPAC) involving 10 other nations. She stated that, “Australia’s participation in this year’s RIMPAC exercise reflects our close alliance with the United States and the strength of Australia’s military relationships with its regional defence partners.”
On 13 August, Payne issued a statement on the second virtual meeting of Pacific women leaders. The meeting was convened by Payne and Samoan Deputy Prime Minister Fiame Namoi Mata’afa and discussed “the significant impact of COVID-19 on women and girls in our region.”
Minister for International Development and the Pacific Alex Hawke participated in the 2020 Pacific Islands Forum Economic Ministers Meeting on 13 August, and noted that “Australia is committed to working with the Pacific family to build resilience and support communities in need.”
On 11 August, Shadow Minister for Foreign Affairs Penny Wong stated that “Labour strongly objects to a man who killed three Australian soldiers being included in a list of 400 Taliban prisoners to be released under a decree from Afghan President Ashraf Ghani.” Wong urged the Morrison Government to continue to “push for justice” for the families of these Australian soldiers.
Isabella Keith is an intern at AIIA National Office.
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