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15 September 2021

Payne and Dutton on tour

Foreign Minister Marise Payne and Defence Minister Peter Dutton have embarked on Australia’s most intensive streak of in-person diplomacy since COVID-19 began, attending meetings in four countries in one week.

The “two plus two” meetings with foreign and defence ministers in Indonesia, India, South Korea and the United States mark a …

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8 September 2021

Japan’s future

Japanese prime minister Yoshihide Suga announced last week that he will resign to allow an open competition for the job on 29 September, ahead of a general election in November.

Suga only took office a year ago, when Shinzō Abe resigned due to ill health after an unusually lengthy eight-year term. Combined with Abe’s earlier stint as prime …

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1 September 2021

Taliban recognition

China has urged the United States to treat the Taliban as the legitimate government of Afghanistan, as the international community grapples with the future status of the new rulers of the war-torn country.

According to China, its foreign minister Wang Yi told US secretary of state Antony Blinken on Sunday that world leaders should be aiming …

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25 August 2021

US ties

Scott Morrison has refused to say whether he supports the United States’ withdrawal of its troops from Afghanistan as Canberra struggles to adjust to Washington’s increasingly inward-looking agenda.

Questioned on ABC’s Insiders on Sunday, Morrison would only say that Australia’s role in Afghanistan was “entirely conditional …

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18 August 2021

The tragedy of Afghanistan

US and Australian involvement in Afghanistan lasted twice as long as the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan in the 1980s and about four times longer than the two British invasions in the nineteenth century combined.

So, the takeover by the Taliban this week, which happened much faster than the Biden administration expected, is a historic failure …

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11 August 2021

Climate pressure

The global temperature is likely to rise 1.5 degrees by 2040, according to the latest report from the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

The report, released on Monday, also suggests that even if carbon emissions are drastically lowered, the temperature will rise 1.6 degrees by 2060.

There is a broad consensus that global …

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4 August 2021

Abbott goes to India

The Morrison government has sent former prime minister Tony Abbott to India to revive long-running efforts to strike a trade deal between Canberra and New Delhi.

Australia has more active former prime ministers than in the past, due to the high turnover of party leaders in recent years. It is sensible for governments to use them as special …

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28 July 2021

Barrier Reef showdown

On Friday, UNESCO’s World Heritage Committee voted not to downgrade the heritage status of the Great Barrier Reef – for now.

Australia has eight months to provide a progress report on the reef’s condition, which environment minister Sussan Ley says will be a “positive story”. During this period, the UN Glasgow Climate Change Conference …

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21 July 2021

Telstra’s Pacific step-up

The Morrison government has moved to prevent a possible Chinese takeover of regional mobile phone company Digicel Pacific, pressing Telstra to participate in a plan to buy the company for as much as A$2 billion.

Telstra confirmed on Monday that it was looking at the deal, which includes “financial and strategic risk management support from …

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14 July 2021

India’s new look

Indian prime minister Narendra Modi overhauled his ministerial team last week as he attempts to address falling support caused by his mismanagement of COVID-19.

Modi dropped twelve senior cabinet ministers and brought in thirty-six new members, expanding the ministry from fifty-two to seventy-eight members, reducing its average age and introducing …

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