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Advancing Australia's interests - The Coalition's foreign policy approach



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jent By: Media Monitors Aust ra lia ; 123; 15-Sep-98 6:21PM; Page 21/30

MEDIA RELEASE MINISTER FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS

ALEXANDER DOWNER

15 SEPTEMBER, 1998

ADVANCING AUSTRALIA’S INTERESTS - THE COALITION’S FOREIGN POLICY APPROACH

Under the Coalition Government, Australia has become a stronger nation. The Coalition is proud of Australia's values and unique national identity. With a vibrant economy, Australia under the Coalition is making a real contribution both to our immediate region and to broader international efforts to tackle global problems.

The Coalition Government has put the focus squarely on our national interest.

The Coalition’s second-term approach will build on its solid record - one of real achievement and one which has lifted Australia's horizons and won the respect of other nations for our energies, our capabilites and our values.

With a set of clear national objectives, strengthening our economy and a stronger defence capability, the Coalition has boosted Australia’s capacity to engage with the whole world. That capacity will now be needed more than ever in a rapidly changing region and world. The Coalition Government's strong voice in regional and global affairs will help improve the standard and quality of life for all Australians.

In its first term, the Coalition specifically:

. Helped Asia through the economic crisis by contributing to all three IMF programs, providing additional export assistance and targetting aid programs to help the victims of the crisis.

. Produced Australia’s first White Paper on Foreign Affairs and Trade which sets out a policy framework for the next fifteen years.

. Reinvigorated Australia’s relations with Europe and the United States . which had been neglected under Labor.

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- Completed a fundamental review of Australia’s Foreign Aid Program, giving it a sharper focus on poverty reduction and sustainable development.

• Played a key role in the negotiation and adoption of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty.

• Signed the Ottawa Treaty banning the use, transfer, manufacture or stockpiling of anti-personnel land mines.

• Negotiated a successful outcome at the Kyoto Conference on Climate Change which allows Australia to make a significant contribution on climate change while safeguarding Australian jobs.

. Protected Australia from the worst ravages of the Asian financial crisis resulting in record exports of $114 billion in 1997-98, a maintenance of our positive trade balance with Asia and an increase in exports to Europe and North America.

. Played a leading role in securing a negotiated peace on Bougainville which had endured nine years of civil war.

. Reacted swiftly to the series of South Asian nuclear tests, being among the first to condemn the actions of India and Pakistan and push for a settlement of their strategic differences.

. Reformed Labor’s secretive treaty-making process by opening the signing of treaties to public scrutiny through the Parliament.

In our next term, the Coalition will:

. Continue to encourage our regional neighbours to reform their economic and financial management and make their systems more open and accountable.

. Continue Australia’s push for nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament through the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty and the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, including actively participating in negotiations for a "cut-off" treaty to ban the production of fissile material for nuclear

weapons purposes.

. Implement our initiative to strengthen the Biological Weapons Convention.

. Allocate $100 million for demining, victim assistance and related activites by 2005, including providing opportunities for business, community groups, schools and individuals to become involved in the global effort to destroy landmine fields.

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. Push in a practical way for human rights improvements across the region, especially through direct dialogue, human rights assistance and the Centre for Democratic Institutions established by the Coalition.

. Continue to strengthen Australia's network of bilateral security dialogues.

. Encourage China’s accession to the World Trade Organisation.

. Work with the Indonesian Government to assist it undertake the necessary reform and rebuilding of its economy.

. Focus Australian aid to Papua New Guinea on better delivery of services for its people, with Budget support being completely phased out by the year 2000 in favour of jointly programmed aid activities.

. Continue our commitment to peace on Bougainville with $100 million over five years for reconstruction and rehabilitation on the island.

. Build on our closer ties with the European Union.

. Establish a joint council to strengthen ties between Australia and Greece.

. Open an Australian embassy in Zagreb in recognition of die cultural, economic and family links of thousands of Australians of Croatian background.

. Make the establishment of the International Criminal Court a policy priority.

. Push for reform of the United Nations Security Council and the United Nations electoral group system to make it better reflect current global realities. "

. Work to ensure that the Commonwealth remains a relevant and effective organisation in the lead-up to the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Canberra in 2001.

. Assist developing countries reduce poverty and achieve sustainable development through our overseas aid program.

. Expand the Honorary Consul network.

The Coalitionheheves Australia needs a foreign policy for the next century. We have built the framework to make Australia a truly confident nation. Only a Coalition Government is committed to advancing Australia1 s economic and security interests.

Media contact: Innes Willox 0419 206 890