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25 September: The Week in Australian Foreign Policy

25 Sep 2020
By Isabella Keith
Parliament House At Dusk, Canberra ACT Source: Thennicke

This week in Australian foreign affairs: Morrison’s Insiders comments, joining the COVAX facility, Australia’s nomination for the Comprehensive-Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty, and more.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison was interviewed by David Speers on Insiders on 20 September and remarked on Australia’s relationship with China, stating that, “Our plan is to always be consistent about Australia’s national interests … Our trading relationship [with China] is a mutual one … we both benefit from it and I believe the Chinese Government understands that well.” Morrison further remarked on regional stability, and said, “The way I think we come through this is by drawing together a region that is focused on stability, and I think that will improve relations within the region more broadly.”

On 23 September, Minister for Health Greg Hunt and Minister for Foreign Affairs Marise Payne released a statement announcing that the Australian Government has officially joined the COVAX facility, which will enable the purchase of COVID-19 vaccine doses as they become available. Payne noted that this is “a collaborative effort to provide doses to developing countries, enabling more countries to protect their most vulnerable groups.”

Payne also noted on 18 September that the Australian Government is nominating Dr Robert Floyd as Australia’s candidate for executive secretary of the Preparatory Commission for the Comprehensive-Nuclear-Test Ban Treaty (CTBTO). Floyd is currently the Director-General of the Australian Safeguards and Non-Proliferation Office. CTBTO “is playing a critical role in achieving an end to nuclear weapons testing worldwide, and a global ban on all nuclear explosions.”

On 19 September, Minister for Trade Simon Birmingham announced that the Morrison government “has reinforced its commitment to improving the global investment environment with the ratification of the United Nations Convention on Transparency in Treaty-based Investor-State Arbitration.” The Convention enhances the transparency of international investment treaties and will enter into force for Australia on 17 March 2021.

Reynolds also announced the handover of a new Guardian-class patrol boat to the Republic of Palau on 18 September. Reynolds said that this “demonstrates Australia’s enduring partnership with Palau and our shared commitment to regional maritime security.” The vessel is the seventh Guardian-class patrol boat that has been delivered by Australia to its Pacific partners under the Pacific Maritime Security Program.

On 17 September, Australian Citizenship Day, Acting Minister for Immigration Alan Tudge revealed that from 15 November, “there will be an updated Australian Citizenship Test with a clear focus on Australian values.” This marks the first update to the citizenship test in more than a decade, which will include “a dedicated section on Australian values … like freedom of speech, mutual respect, equality of opportunity, the importance of democracy and the rule of law.” The new citizenship test will not include any changes to the English language or residency requirements for citizenship.

Isabella Keith is an intern at AIIA National Office.

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