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Estimates: Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Legislation Committee (Myanmar)

Mr Chiddick, First Assistant Secretary (Reconstruction and Development) from Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade is questioned on the types of cooperation activities we are undertaking currently with the Myanmar police, military and border security authorities. Lee also asks if any of these activities are funded through the aid program.

Senator RHIANNON: Thank you. Moving on to Myanmar now-thanks, Mr Chittick. What types of cooperation activities are we undertaking currently with the Myanmar police, military and border security authorities? Is any of this cooperation funded through the aid program?

Mr Chittick: The specifics of the responsible agencies for each of those are not with DFAT; it would be the Department of Defence, the AFP and the Department of Immigration and Border Protection. I can give you a bit of an overview, but the specific details of how those programs are managed and whether they involve ODAeligible expenditure would have to be sourced from those specific agencies. More broadly, we have begun to build engagement between our national security agencies. We face a range of common national security issues in our region, and as Myanmar has begun to democratise-and certainly with the installation of an NLD government following successful elections last November-I would anticipate that those engagements will increase. We do have a defence attache based in Myanmar, and he oversees a defence-defence relationship. We do have a relationship between our two police forces-counter drug-trafficking activities are an important element of that relationship-and we do have, again, an increasing relationship on immigration and border protection issues. Those relationships are at a much lower level of development than our relationship with Myanmar's neighbours. The specific details of those are managed by other agencies, but I am happy to take that on notice.

Senator RHIANNON: And also the issue about the funding? Are they funded through the aid program?

Mr Chittick: Yes, I will ask them that question.

Mr McDonald: Just on that, Senator: you are probably aware that currently the Development Assistance Committee is looking at modernisation of ODA. Some of these issues that Mr Chittick just mentioned are issues that are under consideration at the moment. There is a meeting on that later next week, where all members of the Development Assistance Committee will look at that modernisation. No decisions have been taken, but it is an area that has been talked about within the Development Assistance Committee for the last 12 months or so.

 

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