Experts’ modelling for vaccination targets released – as it happened

By Luke Henriques-Gomes and Amy Remeikis (earlier)

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What happened today, Tuesday 3 August 2021

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The Australian government would gain the power to impose targeted sanctions against individuals who commit human rights abuses, under a bill proposed by Labor and introduced to the Senate this afternoon.

Labor senator Kimberley Kitching’s bill is intended to prod the government into action, given it has been eight months since a bipartisan parliamentary committee called for these Magnitsky-style laws. The idea is understood to have strong support on the Coalition backbench and on the crossbench, but the government has not yet formally responded to the committee’s calls.

In a speech tabled in the Senate this afternoon, Kitching said Australia had slipped behind many of its partners and allies because its current sanctions laws “lack the ability to specifically target the assets of human rights violators, or their families, living in Australia”:

“Without this legislation, not only are we an outlier amongst similar democracies, but we may also become a honey pot for channelling ill-gotten gains as more and more countries implement their own sanctioning legislation.”

Kitching said the government should support the legislation – International Human Rights and Corruption (Magnitsky Sanctions) Bill 2021 – “as a real and tangible way we can take action – not just rhetoric, not just political posturing”.

The bill would prevent “prescribed foreign persons who are deemed to have engaged in gross violations of human rights and corruption from visiting Australia, as well as investing and spending money here through the imposition of financial and trade sanctions”. On the advice of the foreign affairs minister, the governor general would be able to target individuals with immigration, trade and financial sanctions.

Kitching said the world was “at a tipping point in the struggle against creeping – or in some places marching – authoritarianism”.

“Democracy and personal liberty cannot be taken for granted, anywhere or at any time. They must be defended, and if I may put it this way, they must be aggressively defended, in all of our countries.”

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Dfat won't say if Tony Abbott can lobby for the UK while on India trade mission

Now for a small update on a story we brought you yesterday: The government has earmarked about $19,000 for travel costs to send the former prime minister Tony Abbott on a five-day trade mission to India in early August.

Abbott is not being directly paid for this work, but the trade minister, Dan Tehan, said the government would “partly support” Abbott’s travel as it was a chance “to progress our significant economic and trade relationship” with India.

Over the weekend Guardian Australia asked the government about how it would manage any overlap with Abbott’s ongoing role as an adviser to the UK Board of Trade (also an unpaid role).

The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (Dfat) told us on Sunday afternoon: “Mr Abbott has signed a conflict of interest declaration in relation to his work on this trip.”

Tony Abbott will undertake a five-day trade mission to India

Tony Abbott will undertake a five-day trade mission to India. Photograph: Toby Melville/Reuters

After the story was published, we asked a follow-up question as to how this conflict of interest declaration would work: “As far as the government is concerned, is Mr Abbott free to advocate for both Australia and UK’s interests while in India – or has he been asked to focus only on Australia on this particular trip, given the government is funding the travel?”

A spokesperson for Dfat responded: “Mr Abbott will be advocating Australia’s interests.”

(You’ll notice the response is silent on whether he can also bring up UK government positions; it simply says he will be advocating for Australia.)

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