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Lowy Institute proposes new DFAT position to improve Australian government development expertise

In a new online article, Jonathan Pryke of the Lowy Institute has proposed the creation of a high-level position within the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) solely responsible for the Australian development assistance program. According to the Institute, this would attract development experts to work within a specialized professional structure.

Pryke’s proposal aims to improve the delivery of Australian development assistance, following the 2013 integration of the Australian development agency, AusAID, into DFAT.

Article - the Lowy Institute

Australia

Australian foreign minister announces expansion of Pacific Labour Scheme

Australian foreign minister Marise Payne announced that the Pacific Labour Scheme, which allows Pacific workers to undertake non-seasonal work in rural and regional Australia, is being expanded to include Samoa, Vanuatu, and the Solomon Islands. The scheme has already provided job and remittance opportunities for over 25,000 workers from the Pacific and Timor Leste since 2012. It is an "integral" component of Australia's efforts to strengthen the region's economic resilience and to promote greater cooperation.

Press release - Department of Foreign Affairs

Australia Agriculture

Australian Foreign Minister announces Samoa and Vanuatu to join medicines testing program

Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne has announced that Vanuatu and Samoa will join Australia’s Pacific Medicines Testing Program. This allows up to five medicines to be tested each year in the two countries by the government's Therapeutic Goods Administration, at no cost. The program supports the supply of  quality medicines and promotes stability and health in the region. 

Media release - DFAT

Australia Global health

Australian government appoints new foreign affairs and development ministers

Following an internal leadership shuffle, Scott Morrison has replaced Malcom Turnbull as Liberal party leader and prime minister of Australia. Morrison subsequently announced his new cabinet, which includes a new minister for foreign affairs and development minister. 

Senator Marise Payne is the new minister for foreign affairs. Senator Payne was previously defence minister and is a strong parliamentary supporter of human rights and action on HIV. The assistant minister for international development and the Pacific, under Payne, is now Senator Anne Ruston. This previously ministerial-level position has been downgraded to assistant minister.

News article - The Mandarin

Australia

Lowy Institute launches map of development assistance in the Pacific

The Lowy Institute has launched a major database of development activities in the Pacific. Co-funded by the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, the map provides information for the interactive analysis of over 12,500 activities by 62 donors since 2011 . The data demonstrates the major role of Australia as the largest provider of development assistance to the region, as well as the recent rise of China to become the second largest donor in the region in 2017.

Website - The Lowy Institute

Foreign affairs minister announces review of Australia’s soft power

Julie Bishop, Australia's foreign affairs minster, has announced the government will conduct a review of Australia's soft power, with the goal of advancing Australia's reputation in the Indo-Pacific region. Bishop's statement highlights that soft power includes the nation's development program as well as educational institutions, which provide education to huge numbers of students from other countries every year. The minister encouraged business, academia, and non-governmental organizatinos (NGOs) to contribute to the review.

Media release - DFAT

Australia

Australian government reaffirms development budget amidst calls to redirect funding to farmers

Foreign Minister Julie Bishop and Agriculture Minister David Littleproud have spoken out in defense of Australia's development spending. A drought affecting much of eastern Australia has led to social media calls for development funds to be redirected in support of Australian farmers.

Littleproud has emphasized the role of foreign development in growing the market for Australia's agricultural products, while Bishop highlighted the importance of security, stability, and the need to help strengthen health systems in the region.

News article - ABC 

Australia Agriculture

DevPolicy assessment of Australia’s innovationXchange

Professor Howes of the Australian National University has written that after four years it is difficult to evaluate how successful the Australian development program’s innovationXchange has been. A signature policy of the current Foreign Affairs Minister, Julie Bishop, the initiative aimed to bring greater innovation to Australia's approach to development cooperation. While sympathetic to its objectives, Howes notes that the scheme suffers from limited transparency and a fragmented focus.

Blog post - DevPolicy

Progress report celebrates achievements towards Australia's National Action Plan on Women, Peace, and Security

Australia’s Minister for Women, Kelly O’Dwyer, presented a progress report on the Australian National Action Plan to the Australian Parliament. The report outlines the activities Australia undertook in 2017 to improve the lives of women in conflict and post-conflict settings. These include training all defence force personnel deployed overseas on the women, peace, and security agenda, and contributions to global efforts such as the Women, Peace and Humanitarian Fund.  

Media release - Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade

Australia

Australia, Japan, and the United States announce trilateral partnership to invest in Indo-Pacific region

Julie Bishop, Australia’s foreign minister, has announced that Australia, the United States, and Japan will jointly invest in projects to build infrastructure, improve connectivity, address development challenges and promote economic growth in the Asia-Pacific region. Funding will come through the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, the Japanese Bank for International Cooperation, and the United States Overseas Private investment Corporation.

Media release - Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade

Australia Global