3 May 2022
Independent Senator Rex Patrick today called on Foreign Minister Senator Marise Payne and Labor foreign affairs spokesperson Senator Penny Wong to agree to the immediate reopening of Australia’s Embassy to Ukraine.
“The reopening of Australia’s Embassy in Kyiv would be an important demonstration of solidarity with Ukraine and allow the provision of more effective consular services to Australian citizens in that embattled country”, Senator Patrick said. “This should not be a decision left until sometime after Australia’s federal election.”
“With the withdrawal of Russian forces from the vicinity of Kyiv a month ago, Western governments have been moving quickly to re-establish their diplomatic establishments in the Ukrainian capital. Some twenty-seven nations have reopened diplomatic posts in Kyiv with South Korea being the latest. The Canadian Embassy, which shares a building with the Australian Embassy, is also tipped to shortly reopen.
“Australia's Embassy in Kyiv has been closed since 13 February. As things stand today, Australia may well be the last Western Embassy in Kyiv to reopen for business, a state of affairs that falls well short of the diplomatic support we should be extending to Ukraine.”
“Reopening the Australian Embassy with the addition of a defence attaché and supporting staff would facilitate the provision of further arms and equipment shipments to the Ukrainian Army as they defend their homeland from Russian aggression. The reopened Embassy would also be able to provide much more effective consular services to Australian citizens in Ukraine.”
“While there must be a thorough security assessment by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, it is clear that safety issues have not prevented numerous other countries from reopening their diplomatic premises in Kyiv. DFAT would certainly be able to find highly professional staff ready and eager to volunteer to restore full diplomatic and consular operations in Kyiv.”
“’There’s no reason why the current pre-election Caretaker Conventions should prevent Foreign Minister Payne from ordering the immediate reopening of our Embassy in Kyiv. She can do this now provided she consults with her Opposition counterpart, Senator Wong. One would expect that the Labor Opposition would readily concur.”
“It’s high time that Australia joined with our allies in reopening our Embassy to Ukraine. We should not be dragging our feet, and Australia’s election campaign is no reason for delay. Senators Payne and Wong should agree on immediate action.”