Coat of arms

Chair of the Joint Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs Defence and Trade
Senator for South Australia

Media Release
13 May 2020

Australia’s Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade policy in a post-pandemic world

The impact of COVID-19 on lives and livelihoods has been severe around the globe, including Australia. While Australian, State & Territory governments continue to lead the nation into a containment and recovery phase, the Joint Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs Defence and Trade has today voted to adopt Terms of Reference for an inquiry into the impact of COVID-19 on Australia’s Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade policies.

Senator the Hon David Fawcett, Chair of the JSCFADT, emphasised the strategic shock that COVID-19 has delivered to long-held assumptions that have underpinned some of Australia’s policy frameworks in recent decades. Learning from the impacts of COVID-19, and understanding future risks and opportunities, will play a key role in considered decision-making as Australia charts a path into a changed world.

“Although the effects of the pandemic are still unfolding, Governments will be making decisions that are going to underpin Australia’s future international position” Senator Fawcett said. “The Committee’s inquiry will bring together a range of expert stakeholders to help inform and test the basis of those decisions”.

One of the core questions for the inquiry is how to balance the risks and opportunities presented by global connectivity in trade and security partnerships within the international rules-based order.

“The pandemic has reinforced the fact that the efficient and effective functioning of critical domestic systems such as health and transport are currently linked to – and reliant on – the integrity of supply chains which we do not control and may be subject to disruption” Senator Fawcett said. “Now is the time to analyse how Australia can take a systemic, risk based approach to ensuring supply chain integrity, even in the event of market failure due to unforeseen external factors such as pandemic, conflict or natural disaster”.

The inquiry will consider policy and practical measures that could form an ongoing effective national framework to ensure the resilience required to underpin Australia’s economic and strategic objectives.

Full terms of reference for the inquiry are on the Committee website. Submissions can be made until 30 June 2020.