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26 April 2024: The Week in Australian Foreign Affairs

26 Apr 2024
By Dr Adam Bartley

This week in Australian foreign affairs: Albanese joins PNG PM Marape on the Kokoda Trail for ANZAC Day; Marles in Türkiye and UAE; Wong announces new ambassadors; new tariff relief for Ukraine, and more.

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese travelled to Papua New Guinea this week, from 22 – 25 April, to meet with Prime Minister James Marape and walk sections of the Kokoda Track and commemorate Anzac Day. The media release on 20 April announced Albanese will “spend two days walking the Kokoda Track before standing shoulder to shoulder with Australians and Papua New Guineans at the annual Anzac Day Dawn Service at the Isurava memorial site.” On 23 April, Albanese gave a speech at the Kokoda Village community reception thanking the Oro and Northern provinces of Papua New Guinea, pledging further that the “journey over the coming days until we will commemorate the sacred day for Australia of Anzac Day on Thursday at the Isurava Memorial, will be regarded as when we took that extra step forward in forging a relationship of brothers and sisters.” “The Kokoda campaign lasted from July to November 1942, with about 56,000 Australians involved. Around 625 Australians were killed and over 1,600 were wounded along the track […] Each year many Australians take the challenge of walking the Kokoda Track, alongside Papua New Guineans, to not only test their limits, but to reflect on the events that took place.”

Deputy Prime Minister, and Minister for Defence Richard Marles travelled to Türkiye for Anzac Day. In a media release on 22 April, Marles announced he will “represent Australia at Anzac Day commemorations in Turkiye, where he will deliver the commemorative address at the Gallipoli service.” Marles will also “meet his Turkish counterpart, Minister of National Defence Yasar Guler,” while in the country. During the trip Marles will “also visit Australian Defence Force personnel deployed to Headquarters Middle East,” and travel to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) where he will “meet His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan and other senior leaders.” Australia and the UAE are currently negotiating a Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement.

On 25 April, the Minister for Foreign Affairs Penny Wong, along with Minister for International Development and the Pacific, Minister for Defence Industries Pat Conroy released a statement announcing “Australia is investing up to $30 million to support governments and communities across the Pacific and Southeast Asia deliver new tools and build critical skills to eliminate malaria.” The new package includes “includes $5 million to James Cook University to support Pacific countries to strengthen surveillance and control of mosquito-borne diseases like malaria, dengue and zika,” $8 million for new partnerships with non-government health organisation PATH to develop new diagnostic tests targeted to the region, and “providing $17 million for the development of new malaria treatments including medicines suitable for use in pregnancy and for children.” This support adds to Australia’s “existing support for malaria elimination, including through the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, the Asia Pacific Leaders Malaria Alliance, and the Innovative Vector Control Consortium.”

Wong announced the appointment of new ambassadors, high commissioner, and consols-generals on 23 April. Ms Meaghan Shaw is Australia’s next Consul-General in Chengdu; Dr Timothy Kendall is Australia’s next Consul-General in Guangzhou; Mr Ian McConville will be Australia’s next Ambassador to the Islamic Republic of Iran; Ms Rosemary Morris-Castico is Australia’s next Ambassador to the Kingdom of Spain; Mr Brek Batley is Australia’s next High Commissioner to the Kingdom of Tonga; Ms Kirsten Fletcher will be Australia’s Consul-General in Phuket; and Mr Andrew Martin is Australia’s next Ambassador to the Republic of Chile.

On 19 April, Minister for Trade and Tourism, Special Minister of State Don Farrell and Treasurer Jim Chalmers released a statement extending tariff relief to Ukraine “as part of its support for Ukraine and its people in response to Russia’s brutal full-scale invasion.” The announcement followed “a meeting overnight between the Treasurer and his Ukrainian counterpart in Washington DC.” “The duty exemption will be extended for two years until 3 July 2026 for goods that are produced and manufactured in Ukraine” and will see tariffs of up to 5 percent reduced to zero on Ukrainian goods. The announcement comes as one “part of Australia’s package of defence, economic and humanitarian assistance to Ukraine” with overall support “valued at approximately $960 million, including $780 million in assistance for Ukraine’s Armed Forces.” Chalmers met Finance Minister Sergii Marchenko as part of a “series of meetings with international counterparts for the G20 Finance Ministers’ and Central Bank Governors’ Meeting and the IMF – World Bank 2024 Spring Meetings.”

Conroy joined PacificAus Sports and the AFL on 20 April in a statement announcing a new partnership “to enhance high performance pathways for aspiring Australian Rules Footballers across the Pacific.” Players will have the “opportunity to train and gain placements with the Gold Coast SUNS and Brisbane Lions academies and be exposed to high level competition in Queensland.” The new four-year partnership will be “funded through the Australian Government’s PacificAus Sports program,” and provide an equal number of programs for women and men.

Dr Adam Bartley is the managing editor for AIIA’s Australian Outlook and weekly columnist for The Week in Australian Foreign Affairs. He is a former Fulbright Scholar and resident fellow at the Elliot School for International Affairs, the George Washington University. Adam also has positions as post-doctoral fellow at the Centre for Cyber Security Research and Innovation RMIT University  and as program manager of the AI Trilateral Experts Group. He can be found on Twitter here.

This article is published under a Creative Commons License and may be republished with attribution.