The foreign affairs minister, Marise Payne, also took a swipe at China last night, saying Australia and other countries in the Indo-Pacific region have to be clear about red lines that must not be crossed.
During a discussion hosted by the Foreign Policy Community of Indonesia, Payne was asked a question about geopolitical rivalries in the region.
The questioner suggested Indonesia placed a greater emphasis on cooperation. Payne was asked whether the Quad grouping – of Australia, the US, Japan and India – had a vision of cooperation that extended to China and Russia.
Payne agreed with the importance of cooperation among countries in the Indo-Pacific region, then added:
But we have to be clear that there are certain lines that it’s actually not acceptable to cross. Let’s start with cyber interference and disinformation, both of which are dangerous and deadly in a pandemic. Let’s just start there. Let’s start with territorial claims that the countries of Asean [Association of Southeast Asian Nations] are grappling with every single day, knowing that their rights and their obligations are underpinned by the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea – a rule body that Australia accepts, and that every member of Asean accepts, and that every responsible nation in the Indo-Pacific accepts.
That’s a reference to a tribunal’s finding, five years ago, that China’s claim to “historic rights” in the South China Sea were inconsistent with the convention. China refused to participate in the arbitration and has long argued the ruling was “null and void”.
Payne said the challenge of strategic competition was “not one that we underestimate”.
And in our view it is vital that we compete to preserve the international order that has underpinned those decades of stability and prosperity that I spoke about in the Indo-Pacific, but it’s not in our interests for competition to slip into confrontation or outright conflict. And that is something which Australia is very clear about.
The foreign affairs minister, Marise Payne, says the international community “cannot allow Afghanistan to be a breeding ground or a training ground for terrorism ever again”.
Speaking in Jakarta last night, Payne criticised the Taliban for installing a government that excluded women and ethnic minorities. She said Australia would work with Indonesia and other international partners “to hold the Taliban to account for their commitments”.
“They’ve asked for respect. Well, in my book respect is something that you have to earn.”
Payne and Dutton were in Indonesia yesterday – flagging closer defence ties – on the first stop on a four-country trip that also includes India, South Korea and the United States.
During a question-and-answer session with the Foreign Policy Community of Indonesia (FPCI) last night, Payne said it was “a deeply distressing time for the very many people in Afghanistan” who had “seen a different life” over the past two decades.
She said women and girls had had the opportunity to play sport, “something so many take for granted around the world”.
The comments come amid plans to cancel Australia’s one-off men’s Test match against Afghanistan in Hobart, after the Taliban foreshadowed a ban on women from playing sport, including cricket.
Payne warned of the “enormous potential for both the security and humanitarian situation to deteriorate even further” in Afghanistan and the wider region.
We cannot allow Afghanistan to be a breeding ground or a training ground for terrorism ever again, not as an international community, not as individual nations, and not as a region which has seen more than our fair share of the outcomes of that sort of terrorism activity in the past.
We have to make it very clear that an extremist narrative of success in Afghanistan is not one which we’re prepared to accept and make it very clear to the Taliban regime that has just installed a range of leaders that it must prevent that return to violent extremism, and that it has to be very aware that the world is watching.