This week in Australian foreign affairs: a major speech by the prime minister; Five Eyes’ statement on Hong Kong; Reynolds on the Afghanistan Inquiry; the second annual Fiji-Australia Defence Ministers’ Meeting; and more.
In a major speech, delivered virtually to British think tank Policy Exchange on 23 November, Prime Minister Scott Morrison spoke about the role of nation states in supporting the international order. He said that a “new era of geopolitical competition” was underway. In this era, he said, Australia’s preference was “not to be forced into binary choices” in the global competition between China and the United States. Morrison was accepting the inaugural Grotius Prize for his work in support of the rules-based order.
Minister for Foreign Affairs Marise Payne issued a joint statement on 19 November reiterating concern “regarding China’s imposition of new rules to disqualify elected legislators in Hong Kong” with the Foreign Ministers of Canada, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom and the United States Secretary of State.
Payne also acknowledged the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women on 25 November, noting that “it is important that all Australians consider how they can each drive real and lasting change to improve the safety of women and their children.”
On 19 November, Minister for Defence Linda Reynolds issued a statement about the Afghanistan Inquiry, stating that “accountability will be the cornerstone of Defence’s response to the Inquiry report.” Reynolds also said she “remain[s] proud of the men and women who have served our nation … with distinction.”
Reynolds met virtually with the Honourable Inia Seruiratu, Fijian minister of defence, on 24 November for the second annual Defence Ministers’ Meeting. The ministers announced the commencement of negotiations for a reciprocal Status of Force Agreement which will “facilitate Fijian and Australian defence personnel to undertake exchanges, deployments, and exercises in each other’s jurisdiction.”
On 24 November, Reynolds also marked the 50th anniversary of the establishment of Rifle Company Butterworth as a milestone in Australia-Malaysia defence relation.
Minister for Trade Simon Birmingham announced on 19 November that a consortium led by the University of New South Wales, Deloitte, and Baringa Partners would deliver the “German-Australian Supply Chain Feasibility Study of Hydrogen produced from Renewables.” This announcement follows the signing of an agreement between Australia and Germany in September to explore the “potential for closer collaboration on hydrogen supply.”
On 25 November, secretary of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Frances Adamson, spoke at the Australian National University Security College’s 10th Anniversary Lecture Series, discussing past, present, and future security challenges for Australia. Adamson noted the significance of pursuing Australia’s own interests and acting with “agency and purpose,” having a “flexible and competitive economy” post-COVID-19, and “credibly [fusing] our interests and values.”
Isabella Keith is an intern at AIIA National Office.
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