Tuesday 05 Jul 2022 | 08:32 | SYDNEY
Tuesday 05 Jul 2022 | 08:32 | SYDNEY

Pacific still rates with Gillard


Jenny Hayward-Jones


15 September 2010 14:06

When I wrote this post yesterday, I was not aware that Richard Marles' (pictured) position as Parliamentary Secretary for Foreign Affairs was one of those subject to rapid title change before the Government was sworn in. I would like to claim some influence for his transformation into Parliamentary Secretary for Pacific Island Affairs with my prediction that he would be a good friend to the Pacific. I suspect, though, that as with other parliamentary secretary roles, the portfolio minister (in this case, Kevin Rudd) made this decision.

However it came about, it sends a positive signal to the region about Australia's commitment to engagement with Pacific Island countries. The Pacific deserves special and consistent attention from Canberra and a dedicated Parliamentary Secretary can do much good work while the Foreign Minister is otherwise engaged.

There is no similar commitment on the development front, as neither of DFAT's parliamentary secretaries has been given responsibility for AusAID. This photo from AusAID's website on his first day in the job, however, should leave us in no doubt about the new Foreign Minister's interest in overseeing the aid program himself. 

Had the Coalition formed government, it would have named a dedicated Minister for International Development – an acknowledgment of the challenge of doubling Australian aid in five years. Managing the complexities of this task in addition to driving a busy foreign policy agenda suggests Kevin Rudd will be recreating his 24/7 persona.