21 January: The Week in Australian Foreign Affairs
This week in Australian foreign affairs: Albanese’s speech about US-Australia relations, a further 20 flights back to Australia, and more.
Leader of the Opposition Anthony Albanese delivered a major foreign policy speech at the Perth USAsia Centre on 20 January, where he spoke about US-Australia relations under a Biden administration. Albanese accused Prime Minister Scott Morrison of “pandering to President Trump and those who follow him in Australia.” He also urged the new Biden administration to make a “greater, more strategic effort” in Southeast Asia.
In an interview with Jim Wilson of 2GB on 18 January, Morrison repeatedly referred to the violence in the United States as “distressing” and condemned those who stormed the Capitol building, however he did not directly criticise Trump’s actions. He also stated that he “[looks] forward to working very closely with President Biden and his whole team.”
On 16 January, Minister for Foreign Affairs Marise Payne, Minister for Defence Linda Reynolds, and Acting Prime Minister Michael McCormack announced that the Australian government will support a further 20 facilitated commercial flights from locations around the world in order to help Australians overseas to return. The flights will run from January 31 to March 31 and will be targeted “to regions of most need and [those] not currently met by regular commercial operations.”
Payne and Minister for International Development and the Pacific Zed Seselja noted on 19 January that HMAS Adelaide and its Australian Defence Force Contingent was to return the following day, following the completion of a three-week recovery operation in Fiji following Tropical Cyclone Yasa.
The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) published the 2019-20 Consular State of Play on 18 January to give “a snapshot of the consular assistance provided by the Department … to Australians overseas during the last financial year.” The period, marked by the COVID-19 crisis, has demanded “the largest and most complex consular responses Australia has undertaken.”
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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