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Estimates: Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Legislation Committee (Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank)

Lee probes the representative from Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade, Mr Fletcher, on the details of Australia's involvement with China in the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank. 

Senator RHIANNON: I would like to move on to some questions about China. I understand that Australia is currently working with China on an antimalarial project in Papua New Guinea. Is Australia planning to work with China on other development projects in the Asia-Pacific region?

Mr Fletcher: At the moment, I do not believe we have plans for further cooperative aid programs with China.

Senator RHIANNON: I think you said that you 'understand'. Does that mean you need to take it on notice?

Mr Fletcher: Yes, I can take it on notice.

Senator RHIANNON: The question was: is Australia planning on working with China? You have taken that on notice. Has the Chinese government approached Australia with any proposals for future cooperation?

Mr Fletcher: I do not believe so but I can check that on notice as well.

Senator RHIANNON: Will Australia appoint a board member to the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank?

Mr Varghese: I think we already have appointed a board member who is a senior Treasury official.

Senator RHIANNON: Did that need to be approved by cabinet?

Mr Varghese: It is not our appointment as in a DFAT's portfolio appointment. It is a Treasury process. I think you would be best addressing that to the Treasury.

Senator RHIANNON: In order to understand, because this is a new bank, it is not like the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank where our aid money is going. There is a development component?

Mr Varghese: The AIIB is not an aid-based bank. The contributions to the AIIB are not official development assistance.

Senator RHIANNON: It does not come across you in any way?

Mr Varghese: No, we are closely involved in what the AIIB is doing because its core agenda is the infrastructure agenda in the region, in which we take a very close interest, and we work very cooperatively with Treasury on it. But the lead department on the AIIB is Treasury, not DFAT.


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