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4 September: The Week in Australian Foreign Policy

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

This week in Australian foreign affairs: Scott Morrison’s statement on Shinzo Abe, the introduction of new legislation to ensure consistent Australian foreign policy, Labor’s criticism of the government’s treatment of Australians stranded overseas, and more.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced on 27 August that the government will introduce “new legislation to ensure the arrangements states, territories, councils and universities have with foreign governments are consistent with Australian foreign policy.” He stated that these reforms will give the foreign minister “the power to review any existing and prospective arrangements between state and territory governments, and all foreign governments.”

Morrison thanked outgoing Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe for “his enduring commitment to Australia-Japan relations over his long and successful career” in a statement on 28 August. He also referred to Abe as “Australia’s true friend.”

On 27 August, Morrison responded to the sentencing of Brenton Harrison Tarrant, perpetrator of the Christchurch mosque shooting last year. Morrison paid tribute to the Muslim communities in both Australia and New Zealand and referred to New Zealand as “family to us in Australia.”

Minister for Foreign Affairs Marise Payne released a statement on 31 August regarding the detainment of Australian citizen and journalist Cheng Lei in China. She stated that Australian officials have had “an initial consular visit” and “will continue to provide assistance and support to her and her family.” Payne also noted that “further comment will not be provided owing to the Government’s privacy obligations.”

Payne announced on 31 August four appointments to the Board of the Australia-India Council, with Ashok Jacob being reappointed as chair and joined by three new board members, the Hon Lisa Singh, the Hon Ted Baillieu AO, and Matthew Hayden AM.

Minister for International Development and the Pacific Alex Hawke announced on 27 August that Morrison and Solomon Islands Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare had spoken that day to discuss “key regional issues including the impact of COVID-19, and our joint efforts to combat its spread in the Pacific region.”

Minister for Defence Linda Reynolds announced on 29 August that Australia is providing a package of up to $2 million of medical personal protective equipment to the Indonesian military as part of the existing Defence Cooperation Program and Funding.

On 28 August, Shadow Minister for Foreign Affairs Penny Wong criticised the Morrison government’s “lack of a plan to help [Australian residents stranded overseas] get to safety.” Wong “[urged] the Government to offer financial support to Australians who need it, and to engage with airlines to stop the price gouging.”

Isabella Keith is an intern at AIIA National Office.

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