Australia allocates $551 million to Pacific, Timor-Leste

The Australian government will set up a AU$304.7 million [$551 million tala] recovery fund over two years as part of its Pacific Step-up program to address the economic and social costs of the COVID-19 pandemic in the region.

The proposal by Canberra was announced in a statement issued by the Australian Foreign Affairs Minister, Marise Payne, when she elaborated on the impacts of the COVID-19 on Australia.

She added that the funding, which will focus on the Pacific island nations and Timor-Leste, will assist underpin regional stability and economic recovery.

Australia’s development aid program – which is being rolled out through the Partnerships for recovery strategy – focuses on the three pillars of health security, stability and economic recovery. 

As part of the response, the Australian government has committed to procure and deliver COVID-19 vaccines to their partners in the Pacific, Timor-Leste and Southeast Asia.

“Facilitating early access to safe, effective and affordable vaccines will save lives and underpin Australia’s security by promoting regional stability and economic recovery,” Minister Payne said.

Australia is also providing AU$80 million [$145 million tala] to support the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunisation COVAX Facility Advance Market Commitment to improve vaccine access for Pacific and Southeast Asian countries.

These temporary and targeted initiatives complement the Australian government’s AU$4 billion Official Development Assistance program and are additional to Canberra’s Pacific Step-up O.D.A. allocations for 2020-21, which are available on the D.F.A.T. website.

Australia’s diplomatic network will also receive a further investment of AU$55.5 million for security upgrades. 

This will include sustainment of the Government’s armoured vehicle fleet, security upgrades to buildings including embassies and residences, and increasing the number of security personnel. 

According to the statement issued by the Australian government, the investment will help protect Australian government staff, as well as Australian citizens who visit Australian overseas missions for consular and passport assistance.

Australian embassies and high commissions around the world continue to provide support to Australians overseas who are affected by the COVID-19 pandemic and restrictions and to help Australians return home.

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