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Abbott Calls For Independent Investigation Of MH17; Foreign Minister Off To UN To Co-Ordinate Campaign

The Prime Minister, Tony Abbott, has dispatched the Foreign Minister, Julie Bishop, to the United Nations to co-ordinate Australia’s demand for a full and fearless investigation into the shooting down of Malaysian Airlines flight MH17.

Abbott

Speaking at a press conference, Abbott and Bishop said a binding United Nations Security Council resolution was needed to ensure that an independent and impartial investigation takes place.

Abbott said a proper investigation “is a matter of the utmost gravity for us and others”. He said 298 innocent people have been killed, “people who had no part in the conflict in Europe but whose lives were snuffed out”. [Read more…]


Tony Abbott’s Speech To The Liberal Party Federal Council: “We Are The Party Of Menzies, Fraser And Howard”

The Prime Minister, Tony Abbott, has addressed the Liberal Party’s Federal Council meeting in Melbourne.

Abbott

In its 70th anniversary year, Abbott described the Liberal Party as “the party of Menzies and Fraser and Howard”, a rare reference to Fraser, who no longer belongs to the party and is a persistent critic of its drift to the political right. [Read more…]


Julie Bishop Treads Carefully In Reaction To Jailing Of Australian Journalist Peter Greste

The Foreign Minister, Julie Bishop, says the Australian government is shocked by the 7-year jail sentence imposed on the Australian journalist, Peter Greste, in Egypt today.

Bishop

Greste is one of three of Qatar-based Al Jazeera journalists who have been held in prison in Egypt for over six months. They were charged with endangering national security, aiding terrorists, doctoring footage, operating without a licence, and “spreading false news”. They were specifically charged with aiding the Muslim Brotherhood, a blacklisted organisation. [Read more…]


Bishop And Ronaldson Speak At Gallipoli And Villers-Brettonneux ANZAC Services

The Foreign Minister, Julie Bishop, and the Special Minister of State, Senator Michael Ronaldson, have delivered speeches at ANZAC Day services overseas.

Villers-Brettonneux

Ronaldson, who is also the Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for the Centenary of ANZAC, spoke at the Gallipoli Dawn Service and the Lone Pine Service, in Turkey.

Bishop spoke at the Dawn Service at Villers-Brettonneux, in France. [Read more…]


Condolence Motions Make For Heartfelt Start To Parliament

Proceedings in the House of Representatives got off to a prickly start today with the government goading the ALP during condolence motions for Arthur Gietzelt and Ariel Sharon.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott set the tone when he moved a motion of condolence for the former Senator Gietzelt who died on January 5 at the age of 93.

Abbott

During his speech, Abbott said: “He was a lion of the Labor Party—or at least he always asserted that he was a lion of the Labor Party and of no other party.” The Labor benches bristled at the comment and as Opposition Leader Bill Shorten rose to speak a voice could be heard describing Abbott as a “low dog”.

Abbott’s comment was a reference to allegations in documents released by the Australian Security Intelligence Service (ASIO) that claimed Gietzelt had communist connections during his time as a member of the ALP. Gietzelt served as a minister in the Hawke government from 1983 to 1987.

Following the Gietzelt condolence, Abbott moved a second condolence motion for former Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon who died on January 11 after spending eight years in a permanent vegetative state following a stroke in 2006. Foreign Minister Julie Bishop spoke to the motion, as did Opposition Leader Bill Shorten and his deputy, Tanya Plibersek.

After the speeches, the Manager of Government Business, Christopher Pyne, associated himself with what he called “the genuine and heartfelt remarks” by Abbott, Bishop and Shorten, “and the remarks made by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition”.

The Opposition benches bristled again, with the comment assumed to refer to a statement made by Tanya Plibersek in the House on September 17, 2002, in the lead-up to the invasion of Iraq. She said: “…I can think of a rogue state which consistently ignores UN resolutions, whose ruler is a war criminal responsible for the massacres of civilians in refugee camps outside its borders. The US supports and funds this country. This year it gave it a blank cheque to continue its repression of its enemies. It uses US military hardware to bulldoze homes and kill civilians. It is called Israel, and the war criminal is Ariel Sharon.” [Read more…]


Abbott Launches Liberal Party Campaign For Griffith By-Election

The Liberal Party has launched its campaign for next weekend’s by-election in Griffith.

Glasson

The Liberal National candidate for the Brisbane electorate, Dr. Bill Glasson, is contesting the by-election caused by the retirement of former prime minister Kevin Rudd who held the seat for 15 years. [Read more…]


Abbott Government Cuts $650 Million From Foreign Aid

The Abbott government has announced $650 million of cuts to Australia’s foreign aid program.

BishopThe Minister for Foreign Affairs, Julie Bishop, said the government will cut $61 million from the Pacific region. Only Nauru, which houses around a thousand asylum seekers on behalf of Australia, will be exempt.

Other cuts include $59 million from Indonesia, $71 million from South and West Asia, $113 million from Africa and the Middle East, and $5.3 million from Latin America and the Carribean.

Figures released by Bishop show that Australia spent $3,747 million ($3.7 billion) in aid in 2012-13. The Gillard government’s budget increased this to $4,223.5 million for 2013-14. The Abbott government will reduce this to $3,598 million this financial year, a reduction of $625 million and $149 million less than last year’s actual spending. [Read more…]


Stott Despoja, Former Democrats Leader, Appointed Ambassador For Women And Girls

The Abbott government has appointed the former leader of the Australian Democrats, Natasha Stott Despoja, as the next Ambassador for Women and Girls.

Stott Despoja

In announcing the appointment, the Foreign Minister, Julie Bishop, said “gender empowerment is a priority for the Australian Government’s overseas development program”. She said it was the government’s wish “to be at the forefront of efforts to promote the empowerment of women and girls, particularly in the Indo-Pacific region”. [Read more…]


Tony Abbott Address To W.A. Liberal Party State Council

Prime Minister Tony Abbott has addressed the Western Australian Liberal Party State Council in Perth.

It was Abbott’s first official speech to the Liberal Party in W.A. since his election victory in September. Jokingly conceding he wasn’t a Western Australian, Abbott said he was there as Prime Minister of Western Australia. [Read more…]


Bishop Says AusAID Abolition Heralds Alignment Of Foreign, Trade And Development Policies

The Minister for Foreign Affairs, Julie Bishop, says the integration of AusAID with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade marks “a significant milestone for Australia’s international engagement.

BishopUnder the Abbott government’s new administrative arrangements, AusAID is abolished as of today and responsibility for foreign aid returns to the department.

AusAID was established in 1974 by the Whitlam government as the Australian Development Assistance Agency. It underwent a number of name changes until the Keating government settled on AusAID in 1995.

In a statement today, Bishop said: “DFAT is now responsible for development policy and the delivery of Australia’s aid program. The outcome of this major change will be the alignment of Australia’s foreign, trade and development policies and programs in a coherent, effective and efficient way.”

Statement from Julie Bishop, Minister for Foreign Affairs.

A new era in diplomacy

Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said the integration of AusAID with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) on 1 November marked a significant milestone for Australia’s international engagement. [Read more…]