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Federal election updates: Coalition releases final policy costs, says cuts to public services won’t impact support for Australians

Labor pledges to devote more resources to building ties with Southeast Asia

The ALP is committed to devoting more resources and bureaucratic muscle to establishing Australia’s links with South East Asiadeclaring that the region will be a top foreign policy priority if it wins power in the elections.

Work pledged to increase overseas development assistance (ODA) to the region by $470 million over the next four years, as well as to establish a new Southeast Asia office within the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

It is also confirmed that he would develop a new economic strategy for the region, as well as the appointment of a senior “special envoy” for Southeast Asia, who would be responsible for building relationships and overcoming blockages. institutions to deepen ties with key countries. In the region.

union leader Anthony Albanian will present the package atop the Quad Leader to Tokyo next Tuesday if he wins Saturday night.

The aid increase comes on top of the $525 million in additional aid for the Pacific, which the PLA pledged earlier in the campaign.

Shadow Minister of Foreign Affairs Penny Wang said the Coalition had “never made Southeast Asia a priority” and that “increased official development assistance in the Pacific and Southeast Asia is essential to our national security”.

“Labour has always understood the importance of Southeast Asia – our countries face many common challenges, including overhauling the regional order, pandemic recovery and, as [Indonesia’s] President [Joko] Widodo says directly to our Parliament, climate change,” she said.

Foreign aid groups have welcomed the drive to increase development aid.

Mark Purcell of the Australian Council for International Development (ACFID) said that while the Coalition’s “temporary and targeted” aid increases were a welcome response to the pandemic, the Labor Party’s plan would ensure that aid increases would be integrated.

“I think it’s the permanence of the increases that’s important, and that’s a very good building block to increase Australia’s engagement in the region, over time, in the national interest,” did he declare.

“We have indeed stepped up our efforts in the Pacific under the coalition government, but this has come at the expense of [a] 40% reduction in our aid to Asia over the past seven years. »

“I don’t think that’s a tenable position, given the complex strategic environment we currently face.”

By Foreign Affairs Journalist Stephen Dziedzic