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Australian government confirms DFAT to administer concessional loan program for infrastructure in the Pacific

Senator Anne Ruston, Australia's assistant minister for international development and the Pacific, has announced the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) will administer the recently announced A$2 billion (US$1.5 billion) Australian Infrastructure Financing Facility for the Pacific. Finance sector expertise is expected to be contracted in to run the program.

News article - The Australian

Australia

Australian government announces plans for Pacific Infrastructure Investment Facility

Devex reports that Scott Morrison, the prime minister of Australia, has announced his government's plans to strengthen engagement with the Pacific region, including through greater military support, sports for development programs, and the establishment of a A$2 billion (US$1.5 billion) Infrastructure Financing Facility for the Pacific. The infrastructure facility will comprise A$0.5 billion (US$0.4 billion) of grants and A$1.5 billion (US$0.7 billion) in loans. All grant funds will come from within the current development budget; the government has confirmed it will not increase development assistance while in power. 

The Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, Asian Development Bank, World Bank, and the New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade have all indicated support for the facility, as it will contribute to financing the very high infrastructure needs of the region. Some organizations, including Oxfam Australia, have cited concerns that the investment will reduce funding available for humanitarian and emergency assistance. 

News article - Devex

Australia

November 16, 2018: Australia and Japan to cooperate in supporting infrastructure financing in the Indo-Pacific

Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne has announced that Australia and Japan will cooperate under a Memorandum of Understanding  to support bilateral infrastructure financing in the Indo-Pacific region. This will provide a framework to work together on projects  supporting economic development and regional connectivity.

The Indo-Pacific region refers to 39 countries in the Pacific, South-East and East Asia, South and West Asia, and the African East Coast.

Media Release - DFAT

Australia Japan

Australia aims to strengthen engagement with the Pacific through expanded 'Pacific Labour Scheme' and new Office of the Pacific

Australia's Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Foreign Affairs Minister Marise Payne have announced that the Australian government will progressively roll out its 'Pacific Labour Scheme' across all Pacific island countries, beyond the six currently involved. The scheme will allow workers from the Pacific to undertake non-seasonal work in Australia for up to three years. Discussions with Papua New Guinea, the largest recipient of Australia's development assistance, are underway to explore how it can also participate. 

To further support Australia's engagement with the Pacific, a new Office of the Pacific will be established to enhance internal government coordination on Pacific affairs.

Media release - Foreign Minister

Australia Agriculture

MRFF Board proposes Australia establish a Global Health Challenges Research Fund

Australia's A$20 billion (US$14.9 billion) Medical Research Future Fund (MRFF) has announced its 12 priorities for 2018 to 2020. One of the priorities is antimicrobial resistance. Another is to invest in global health and health security challenges, including pandemic preparedness and health emergencies.  In support of this goal, the MRFF Board has proposed the creation of an Australian Global Health Challenges Research Fund, to leverage contributions from other government agencies, philanthropies, and global health funds.

Website - Australian Government Department of Health

Analysis of Australian Labor Party's proposed development cooperation policy in the Pacific

Matthew Dornan, Research Fellow at the Australian National University, has produced an analysis of the Labor Party's plans to facilitate concessional loans for Pacific infrastructure projects if it wins upcoming elections due for 2019. Dornan argues that grants have been used to assist management of infrastructure projects but are ill-suited to infrastructure projects with clear commercial returns. Questions remain about the new concessional-finance approach announced by Opposition Leader Bill Shorten, including the effect on existing Australian development funding and who would be the recipients of such funding.

Analysis - ANU

Australia

Australian Opposition Leader announces priorities for overseas development

Bill Shorten, Australia's Opposition Leader, announced that the Labor Party would  increase Australia’s development funding to the Pacific if it forms government in the upcoming election. He would also create a government-backed infrastructure investment bank for the Pacific.

Other policies include appointing a minister for pacific affairs and international development and an ambassador for refugees and displaced people. Labor would also focus specifically on equities affecting women in the Pacific, including in the education sector.

Speech - The Lowy Institute

Australia Education

Australian research finds evidence for role of PreP medication in HIV prevention

A study at the Kirby Institute at the University of New South Wales found that a state-wide trial with the HIV prevention drug pre-exposure prophylaxis (PreP) successfully reduced new diagnoses by 25% compared to 2017. This study was the first to evaluate a population-level rollout of PrEP in men who have sex with men.

News report: Science Daily

Australia contributes A$6 million to GPEI for PNG polio response

Senator Marise Payne, Australia’s foreign affairs minister, has announced Australia will provide a further A$6 million (US$5 million) to the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI).

The funding will assist the Papua New Guinea (PNG) government in working with GPEI, the World Health Organization (WHO), and the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) to respond to recent polio outbreaks. 

Media Release - DFAT

Australia Global health

Private sector’s role in Australian development assistance examined by ANU blog

Jonathan Pryke writes in the Australian National University (ANU) Development Policy Centre’s blog that more consideration needs be given to the role of the private sector in Australian development program delivery. Pryke points out that there are more than 20 active private sector-run facilities in the Pacific Islands region alone, involving more than A$1.5 billion (US$1.1 billion) in commitments over a 10-year period, highlighting the importance of monitoring and evaluation. The increasing scale of facilities and performance of some has also raised concerns.

The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) is undertaking an independent review of private sector run facilities.

Blog post - Development Policy Centre, ANU

Australia