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The agreement between Australia and Tuvalu regarding climate and security might be in jeopardy, according to the head of intelligence.
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The agreement between Australia and Tuvalu regarding climate and security might be in jeopardy, according to the head of intelligence.

A high-ranking Australian intelligence leader has recognized that the significant agreement between Australia and Tuvalu regarding climate and security may be in jeopardy following the recent election in the Pacific country.

Andrew Shearer, the head of the Office of National Intelligence (ONI) for the government, acknowledged that there have been recent political shifts and instability in Tuvalu.

However, he warned that he was unable to forecast the outcome of the agreement as ONI was not involved in the discussions between the two nations.

In November, a treaty was signed that provided a unique opportunity for citizens of Tuvalu to reside, learn, and work in Australia. This was done in acknowledgement of the fact that the small island nation in the Pacific is at high risk for rising sea levels.

Additionally, the agreement ensures that Australia will provide protection for Tuvalu in the event of any hostile actions or notable dangers.

Tuvalu must receive consent from Australia in order to make agreements with other countries regarding security and defense matters, as a condition of this security guarantee.

This action was widely considered to be Australia’s effective veto on a potential security agreement with China in the future. Currently, Tuvalu is among the limited number of countries that have diplomatic ties with Taiwan, rather than Beijing.

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During a Senate estimates hearing on Monday evening, Senator David Shoebridge of the Greens pointed out that Kausea Natano, the prime minister who signed the agreement with Australia, had been voted out of office in last month’s elections.

Tuvalu’s parliament does not have any political parties. Instead, two lawmakers are elected from each of the eight island electorates. It may take a while for the new government to be formed.

Shoebridge inquired with Shearer if he believed that the contract made with Tuvalu is at risk of falling apart at this time.

Shearer responded: “Senator, I believe that we are cognizant of the recent political shifts and turmoil in Tuvalu. However, we are not involved in the discussions between the Australian government.”

Shoebridge responded: “This is an election, and the voters chose someone who campaigned against the agreement made with Australia. This is not chaos, it’s democracy.”

Shoebridge stated that despite the initial hype surrounding the deal last year, it seems that it will not come to fruition as the people of Tuvalu have recently held an election and expressed their lack of interest.

Shearer indirectly acknowledged that the deal was now uncertain and responded, “Based on my understanding, the current stance of the Tuvalu government aligns with what you expressed.”

According to Simon Birmingham, the Coalition’s spokesperson on foreign affairs, he expressed concerns about the handling of the agreement and believes there are genuine risks and questions to be addressed.

Birmingham stated that, to his knowledge, Tuvalu has yet to establish a new government after the elections.

The makeup of the parliament shows obvious changes, but it has not yet reached the stage where the new government has been officially established, from what I comprehend.

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During a Senate estimates hearing, the Tuvalu-Australia agreement was brought up while discussing ONI’s undisclosed climate security risk assessment.

According to Shearer, addressing climate change is a top priority in our analysis, as it is intricately connected to various other security threats we are currently encountering.

He stated that it was impossible to compare the severity of the climate crisis to other security threats in a “harsh” way. He also concurred that the climate crisis is among the most crucial security dangers facing Australia.

According to Tim Ayres, the government has received requests for the ONI report to be made public, but they still believe that the security advice from the office should not be disclosed.

According to Ayres, the report impacts the government’s decision-making regarding climate change.

He stated that the agreement with Tuvalu was a demonstration of the Australian government’s efforts with a Pacific nation to address these concerns.

During his appearance before the committee, Shearer cautioned that the international landscape for Australia has become increasingly complex in recent months.

He stated that ONI and the larger national intelligence community are putting in a lot of effort to assist the government in navigating the constantly evolving and intricate operating environment in Australia.

According to Shearer, the recent events involving Hamas attacking Israel on October 7th, the Gaza conflict and its impact on surrounding areas such as the Red Sea, Syria, and Iraq, as well as the increase in hostilities along the Israel-Lebanon border, have been significant areas of concern.

The possibility of further increase in tension in the Middle East is still very high. This adds to the already existing concerns, such as the ongoing conflict in Ukraine.

Shearer expressed worry about increased and significant collaborative efforts between authoritarian nations seeking to change the current state of affairs. This includes North Korea providing ballistic missiles and ammunition to Russia, as well as Iran supplying armed drones to Houthi rebels in Yemen.

Source: theguardian.com