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28 October 2022: The Week in Australian Foreign Affairs

27 Oct 2022
By Isabella Keith
Parliament House At Dusk, Canberra ACT Source: Thennicke

This week in Australian foreign affairs: Albanese and Kishida meet in Perth and issue renewed Joint Declaration on Security Cooperation and sign a Critical Minerals Partnership, 2022-23 Budget, additional responses towards Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese met with Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida in Perth on 22 October. The leaders issued a renewed Joint Declaration on Security Cooperationand noted that they will “deepen and expand cooperation to respond to the most pressing security challenges in our region.” The leaders also announced an Australia-Japan Critical Minerals Partnership “to build secure critical mineral supply chains between Australia and Japan and promote investment and other areas of collaboration.” They also “welcomed progress on bilateral cooperation to strengthen economic security, in particular through the Quad and the Supply Chain Resilience Initiative.” Moreover, they discussed climate change, pledging to work together to implement their respective Paris Agreement commitments and to continue to support initiatives to advance clean energy technology. The leaders also discussed global and regional cooperation, including reiterating their support for ASEAN centrality and their commitment to the UN Charter.

That same day, Albanese and Kishida attended the Australia-Japan Business Leaders’ Lunch in Perth. Albanese addressed the lunch and reflected on the importance of their meeting being in Perth, stating that “Western Australia is, of course, such an important state for [Australia’s] trading relationship with Japan, in resources, in energy, and also in further economic cooperation that we will have going forward as well.” He reflected on his earlier meeting with Kishida and the renewed Joint Declaration on Security Cooperation, andnoted that he and Kishida would later be travelling to BHP’s Nickel West Refinery in Kwinana, to “see some of the cooperation that is already underway between Australian and Japanese companies to support the renewable energy supply chain.” Albanese noted that the refinery “makes nickel sulphate for EV batteries, including for Toyota.”

On 25 October, Minister for Foreign Affairs Penny Wong and Minister for International Development and the Pacific Pat Conroy reflected on the 2022-23 Budget. In particular, theynoted that Australia will be “boosting Pacific security and defence, supporting critical infrastructure across our region, expanding the Pacific Australia Labour Mobility scheme, and increasing Australia’s Official Development Assistance to the Pacific and Southeast Asia.” Wong and Conroy stated that support to “the Pacific family’s development and resilience” will increase by $900 million over four years. $147 million over four years will also “advance Pacific security and engagement priorities including the continuing AFP deployment in Solomon Islands, an Australia-Pacific Defence School and training for defence and security forces, andupgrading aerial surveillance.” Funding for infrastructure investment in the Pacific will be increased from $3.5 billion to $4 billion through the Australian Infrastructure Financing Facility for the Pacific. Moreover, the Pacific Australia Labour Mobility Scheme is “being expanded and improved” and a new “Pacific Engagement Visa” will be created to allowup to 3,000 Pacific Islanders to permanently migrate to Australia each year. Overseas Development Assistance for Southeast Asia has been increased by $470 million. Wong stated that the Albanese Government is working to make Australia a partner of choice for the countries of our region, to ensure our shared security, our shared economic strength and to shape the world for the better” and that “the Budget is a major step towards the goal of making Australia stronger and more influential in the world.

Wong and Minister for Trade Don Farrell announced additional actions in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on 20 October. In particular, they noted that the Australian Government is extending the application of a punitive 35% tariff on goods imported from Russia and Belarus for a further 12 months until October 2023. They also noted that the Government has directed Export Finance Australia to “reject any requests for loans or other finance that support trade with, or investment in, Russia or Belarus.” Wong stated that “Russia’s war on Ukraine is an attack on the UN charter. It impacts all nations and all peoples. Australia is working together with the international community to diminish Russia’s ability to fund its illegal, immoral war.

On 21 October, Wong noted that the Australia-European Union Framework Agreement had entered into force following its ratification by Australia, the European Union (EU) and all EU member states, after being signed in 2017. She referred to the entry into force as a “significant milestone” and that the Agreement “will help advance negotiations of an Australia-EU Trade Agreement and pave the way for closer collaboration on key bilateral and multilateral issues.”

Wong addressed the Pacific Way Conference in Papeete, French Polynesia, on 21 October, ahead of opening the Australian Consulate-General in Papeete. She noted that this makes Australia “the only country in the world with a diplomatic presence in every Pacific Islands Forum member country or territory” and that “there is no clearer demonstration of Australia’s commitment to the Pacific as a whole.” Wong reflected on the impacts of COVID-19 on the region, the importance of climate action, and Australia’s expanded Overseas Development Assistance Budget. She stated that the additional Overseas Development Assistance will “directly support action in the region to strengthen climate resilience, including on climate science and renewable energy.”

On 20 October, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Defence Richard Marles signed a Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) with his Fijian counterpart, Minister for Defence Inia Seruiratu. The Ministers “agreed the reciprocal SOFA marks an important milestone in the defence relationship.” The Agreement relates to “practical issues”, including “immigration and customs; arrangements for visiting forces to wear uniforms while in the other country; and criminal and civil jurisdiction over visiting forces while in the other country.Marles stated that he was “honoured” to have signed the Agreement and that it “underlines the reciprocal nature and closeness of our Partnership with Fiji.”

Assistant Minister for Foreign Affairs Tim Watts addressed the Australian Institute of International Affairs’ National Conference Masterclasses on 23 October. Watts discussed the “ambitious foreign policy agenda” of the Albanese Government and the Government’s “uniquely Australian contribution as a partner of choice for the countries of the Pacific – reliably turning up, showing respect, listening, and being transparent and open.” He also referred to the “new baby boomer” generations which are “beginning to come of age in parts of the world that are vital to Australia’s long term international interests”, and that these generational shifts have“profound implications for our approach to public democracy. Watts further stated that “rethinking our approach to strategic communications, and how we project our messages to bourgeoning younger generations, is an important challenge for us in [the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade’s current capability] review.

Isabella Keith is a weekly columnist for Australian Outlook. She is also an undergraduate student at the Australian National University studying Law and Politics, Philosophy and Economics. Isabella’s research interests include international law and comparative constitutional law.

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