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5 June: The Week in Australian Foreign Affairs

04 Jun 2021
By Isabella Keith
Parliament House At Dusk, Canberra ACT Source: Thennicke

This week in Australian foreign affairs: Morrison and Ardern’s talks in Queenstown, WTO barley dispute settlement panel, and the passing of James Crawford, Judge of the International Court of Justice.

On 31 May, Prime Minister Scott Morrison met with New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern in Queenstown, New Zealand for the annual Australia-New Zealand Leaders’ Meeting, their first in-person meeting since February 2020. The Prime Ministers issued a joint media statement where they discussed, among other issues, the COVID-19 response and recovery, the rollout of COVID-19 vaccines in the Pacific region, trans-Tasman cooperation, climate change, global trade, and Indo-Pacific security. They expressed ‘serious concern over developments in the South China Sea, including the continued militarisation of disputed features and an intensification of destabilising activities at sea.’ They further expressed ‘deep concern’ over developments in Hong Kong and the human rights situation in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, and ‘called upon China to respect the human rights of the Uyghur people and other Muslim minorities and to grant the United Nations and other independent observers meaningful and unfettered access to the region.’

Ardern and Morrison also participated in a joint press conference on 31 May. Ardern stated that, ‘the trans-Tasman relationship … is New Zealand’s most important. We are family and the pandemic has underscored that.’ She further stated that the Prime Ministers discussed ‘Australia’s deportation policy and opportunities for people who move across the Tasman to access a pathway to citizenship … As with any family, we will have our disagreements from time to time, but those disagreements are still undertaken in the spirit of openness and ultimately friendship. We are much bigger than our differences and the last year has taught us that.’ Ardern also noted that she will be visiting Australia in July. Morrison stated that ‘we have pursued a very uniquely Anzac path … through COVID-19 … [and] we also must continue to pursue a very Anzac path through the many other challenges we face, [including] regional security.’

Morrison was asked during the joint press conference about Suhayra Aden, whose citizenship was revoked by Australia and who was deported to New Zealand. Morrison stated that, ‘Suhayra’s not an Australian citizen. But we have spoken today about her children and the pathway that they have eligibility for in Australia.’ Ardern stated that, ‘we … reiterate our ongoing view of the cancellation of citizenship, on issues of deportation. Prime Minister Morrison and I have had these exchanges before. He’s very clear on New Zealand’s view.’

On 28 May, Minister for Trade Dan Tehan and Minister for Agriculture David Littleproud issued a joint media statement where they announced that the Australian Government will ask the World Trade Organization (WTO) to establish a dispute settlement panel ‘to resolve concerns about anti-dumping and countervailing duties imposed on Australia by China.’ Tehan and Littleproud stated that ‘Australia remains open to further discussions with China with a view to resolving this issue’ and that ‘the Government will continue to vigorously defend the interests of Australian barley producers using the established system in the WTO to resolve our differences.’ Moreover, the Ministers noted that the anti-dumping and countervailing duties on Australian barley ‘have effectively stopped Australia’s barley trade with China.’

Minister for Foreign Affairs Marise Payne and Attorney-General Michaelia Cash acknowledged on 1 June the passing of James Crawford LLD, FBA, AC, SC, Judge of the International Court of Justice. Payne and Cash acknowledged Crawford’s service to the international community ‘in the peaceful resolution of disputes and the international rules based order.’ Crawford was elected as a Judge of the International Court of Justice in 2014, and also served as the Commissioner of the Australian Law Reform Commission and as a Member of the United Nation’s International Law Commission.

Isabella Keith is an undergraduate student at the Australian National University studying Law and Politics, Philosophy and Economics. She is currently an intern at the AIIA National Office.

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