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9 June 2021

Exiting Afghanistan

The Morrison government has closed Australia’s embassy in Kabul, declaring it cannot guarantee security to diplomats “in light of the imminent international military withdrawal from Afghanistan”.

Despite being involved in the fight against al-Qaeda and the Taliban for twenty years, Australia began a hasty withdrawal from the country …

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2 June 2021

Morrison and Ardern

Scott Morrison and Jacinda Ardern have insisted that Australia and New Zealand are taking a unified approach to dealing with China, including on human rights and economic-coercion issues.

The leaders were in Queenstown on Monday for their first in-person meeting since the beginning of the pandemic.

Their expression of solidarity on …

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26 May 2021

Cryptocurrency and geopolitics

Last week, as the cryptocurrency market fell into turmoil, financial services minister Jane Hume said the Morrison government would “let people make their own decisions” about investing in high-risk assets.

By contrast, China and the United States each signalled they would be reining in digital currencies, in a rare alignment of their …

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19 May 2021

Bringing students back

Scott Morrison has declared that “the next step” in reopening the country’s borders is to bring back international students.

Previously, the Morrison government was at odds with universities over how to deal with COVID-19’s impact on higher education. When it delivered the federal budget last week, it suggested borders would remain …

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12 May 2021


The diversification of the Australian economy is the standout international relations theme of yesterday’s federal budget.

Measures supporting this objective will be undertaken by several departments, not just the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. This reflects the government’s new focus on creating cross-government responses to …

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05 May 2021

India travel ban

The Morrison government’s tough penalties for anyone returning from India are raising questions about its responsibility for Australian citizens abroad. 

Up to 9000 Australians have been left stranded in India amid a collapse in its health-care system and a sharp rise in COVID-19 cases.

The penalties represent a conflict between …

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28 April 2021

Victoria’s China deals

Last week, the Morrison government cancelled Victoria’s two Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) agreements under its new Foreign Arrangements Scheme.

The government revealed it is auditing more than 1000 agreements that state governments, local governments and universities have made with other countries.

Creating a national register of …

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21 April 2021

Myanmar neighbours meet

On Saturday, South-East Asian leaders are due to meet in Jakarta to discuss the Myanmar coup, which could be a historic test of credibility for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).

Since its founding in 1967, the ten-member group has survived decades of regional political turmoil – largely by adhering to a policy of non-interference …

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14 April 2021

The new capitalism

Last week, the International Monetary Fund initiated a program to let poor countries swap debt for green investments and backed a “solidarity tax” on companies and individuals who have benefited from COVID-19.

In addition, the world financial watchdog expanded its reserves by US$650 billion and used a meeting with the World Bank to urge …

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7 April 2021

Foreign-student diplomacy

Australia has commenced an international education overhaul, which could lead to big changes in the sector.

The number of foreign students admitted is likely to drop, their countries of origin may be different, and fewer students may be educated on Australian campuses. More teaching will be delivered online, and course offerings to foreign …

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