by JESSIE ZHANG – FOREIGN Minister Penny Wong has offered asylum to all residents of the small Pacific nation of Tuvalu claiming “climate change could impact their homeland”.
The move provides a pathway for Tuvalu citizens to relocate and access Australian services and social benefits.
The move was supported by Prime Minister Anthony Albanese last week while attending the Pacific Islands Forum in the Cook Islands.
“We believe the people of Tuvalu deserve the choice to live, study and work elsewhere, as climate change impacts worsen,” Mr. Albanese said.
“Australia has committed to provide a special pathway for citizens of Tuvalu to come to Australia, with access to Australian services that will enable human mobility with dignity,” he added.
“We know there is no prosperity without security and that climate change remains the single greatest threat to the livelihoods, security and wellbeing of the peoples of Tuvalu.”
Australia’s climate visa will be granted to 280 Tuvaluans each year, equivalent to 2.5 per cent of Tuvalu’s population of 11,200.
It will also allocate funds for land reclamation in the capital, Funafuti, to increase its size by approximately 6 per cent.
Mr Albanese confirmed Australia would contribute $350m to the Pacific Climate Infrastructure Financing Partnership.
“In addition to that, we have at least $2b of climate financing commitment across the globe as part of our existing commitments that we’ve made,” he said.
“There’s a recognition that my government is committed to climate action and that we’re playing a positive role, not just with our commitment to reduce our emissions by 43 per cent by 2030 and to reach net-zero by 2050.
“But that, importantly, we are playing a role in the region, and indeed, around the globe.”
Additionally, the agreement also adds health, disaster relief and security elements to it amid Beijing’s growing influence in the region.
“Australia commits to provide assistance to Tuvalu in response to a major natural disaster, to a health pandemic, or to military aggression,” the PM said.
“To allow for effective operation of Australia’s security guarantee, both countries commit to mutually agree to any partnership, arrangement or engagement with any other State or entity on security and defence-related matters.”
This will effectively give Australia the power to veto any third-party security-related agreement that Tuvalu tries to enter into.
Concerningly, this agreement also appears to give the tiny island State veto power over Australia’s strategic and military alliances.
Tuvalu is one of the few countries in the world to continue maintaining official diplomatic ties with Taiwan, setting it apart from Pacific nations that have switched over to Beijing.PC