Officials from @dfat + Home Affairs appearing at a parliamentary committee investigating foreign interference in diaspora communities in Australia. One official says DFAT has "conveyed concerns" directly to Chinese + Cambodian officials over intimidation or harassment in Aust 1/
To be clear I think @dfat has referred specifically to China + Cambodia here not necessarily because they are deliberately singling them out, but largely because both Uighur + Cambodian community groups gave evidence today alleging intimidation/harassment from those govts 2/
Labor MP @JulianHillMP asks for the Foreign Minister's statement on Cambodia's move to charge former Victorian MP Hong Lim with incitement (it's a bit of a pointed question - she has made no such public statement) 3/…
Hill says the FM's silence on this is "inexplicable." Officials from @dfat say Australia's Ambassador to Cambodia and the Foreign Minister have raised the issue with Cambodia at high levels 4/
Hill: "I would presume @dfat would consider this (hitting political opponents overseas with spurious criminal charges) an unacceptable tactic is that a fair conclusion?"

Official: "Yes, we would consider that to be ... not something that we would condone" 5/
"Not something that we would condone" - furious denunciation there from @dfat which is, as ever, throwing caution to the wind 6/
Hill asks how Australia will respond. What are the discussions in @dfat about the charges? There is a rather awkward silence which seems to drag for an eternity before officials say they'll come back with more information later because they don't have enough details right now 7/
Now Greens Senator @janet_rice asks if agencies are documenting harassment and intimidation conducted or coordinated by foreign governments. There's no clear answer. Officials say if people are worried they should contact the police or the national security hotline 8/
A Home Affairs official say he is "not seeking to pass the buck" ... but simply making the point that his agency doesn't have an enforcement role when it comes to investigating harassment or intimidation 9/
Now @JulianHillMP asks which countries @dfat *has* raised concerns with re foreign interference. One official who covers Cambodia, Vietnam, Thailand and Laos says the Dept *has* raised concerns with both Cambodia and Vietnam but has *not* raised any with Thailand or Laos 10/
Officials aren't really willing to provide any more information publicly about which other countries are harassing or intimidating members of the diaspora 11/
And that's a wrap. I get the clear impression that the MPs on the committee were very underwhelmed by the responses they got 12/

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More from @stephendziedzic

11 Aug
This is beginning now. Fairly grim opening. The FM says "we are probably experiencing the most massive, brutal and opportunistic military campaign of violence and terror, by the Taliban, in the history of our country" 1/
Even more grim. The FM says the country is grappling with compounding crises. Struggling not just with the Taliban assaults but also a terrible drought and the COVID-19 pandemic. He estimates around 18 million people need humanitarian assistance 2/
The FM says foreign fighters and terrorists are assisting the Taliban. They include fighters who are "globally focussed" (Al Qaeda) and others who are more "locally focussed" (LeT) He says there are implications for the whole region and the globe 3/
Read 14 tweets
11 Aug
Morrison has given a speech to the Australian American Leadership Dialogue. Some excerpts. After opening Morrison moves pretty quickly to the pandemic. The PM rather pointedly says Australia is the "partner of choice" for the Pacific when it comes to supplying vaccines 1/
Now defence cooperation. Morrison reiterates that Australia wants to build capacity to produce more advanced weapons, using US tech. He says this will also be valuable to the US because Australia can be a "second, secure source of supply" for it 2/
Morrison- "we're investing our wealth and treasure to make Australia stronger so we can be ready to defend our nation and a rules-based order in our region" (the use of "treasure" is a key tell that this is for a US audience) 3/
Read 9 tweets
6 Aug
Thread. Pacific Islands Forum leaders met this morning. Some excerpts. Tuvalu PM and outgoing chair Kausea Natano began with appeal for unity, but I think the only Micronesian nation which (briefly) attended the opening session was Nauru 1/
Next is Fiji PM Frank Bainimarama who recognises Samoa's new PM Fiame Naomi Mataʻafa- "a warm welcome to you Madam Prime Minister, it is always a proud moment when a daughter of the Pacific ascends to high office." Says she didn't have an "easy passage" to office (no kidding) 2/
Interesting. Bainimarama offers full apology to Micronesian nations splitting from PIF- "to our Micronesian brothers I offer my deepest apologies. We could have handled the situation better." Of course, almost none of them are actually present to receive this apology. Still. 3/
Read 9 tweets
5 Aug
Tehan, Albanese, Wong, Payne all speaking today at an Australia China Business Council event. Albanese + Wong both walking a careful line. Wong says there will be enduring differences between Australia and China, partly because they are - in some instances - structural 1/
Wong and Albanese both say Australia cannot compromise on its values when dealing with China. But they also say it's still critical to pursue engagement. Albanese suggests the Government's language has been clumsy at times- "we need to be diplomatic in how we deal with China" 2/
Albanese also says it's a shame the Government rejected his suggestion (in January) to recruit Rudd and Howard to try to break the ice with China - "it's a pity that was rejected it was constructive suggestion" 3/…
Read 7 tweets
10 Jun
Japan's Ambassador to Australia @YamagamiShingo and US Chargé d'Affaires Mike Goldman speaking at the @ASPI_org conference right now. @YamagamiShingo opens very promisingly, saying "I would like to speak my mind" (journos love these words) 1/
The Ambassador starts with yesterday's 2 +2 meeting of Japanese and Australian Defence and Foreign Ministers. He says the meeting - and the subsequent statement issued by both countries - were "wide ranging and historic" 2/
The Ambassador says the joint statement shows that "Australia is not walking alone." He points directly to clause six which says both nations "commit to opposing coercion and destabilising behaviour by economic means." He does not use the C word. 3/
Read 15 tweets
9 Jun
Australia and Japan issue a wide-ranging joint statement in the wake of the 2+2 meeting of Defence and Foreign Ministers. Here's the paragraph on the East China Sea - I think this is the first time there's been a direct reference to Taiwan in an Aus-Japan statement 1/
(Although worth noting that Japan has recently been more willing to reference Taiwan in joint statements, so this is not exceptional - for eg there were references to the recent Japan-US and Japan-EU statements) 2/
Point 6 also jumps out - "we commit to opposing coercion and destabilising behaviour by economic means, which undermines the rules-based international system" 3/
Read 6 tweets

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