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Australia Passes Legislation to Halt Russia’s New Embassy Construction Near Parliament for Security Concerns

by Madison Thomas
6 comments
security concerns

On Thursday, the Australian Parliament enacted a law to block Russia from constructing a new embassy close to the Parliament House, citing security issues. This comes amid increasing strain between Moscow and Australia, which has been actively supporting Ukraine amidst the war.

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese disclosed that this law would terminate Russia’s lease of the site, based on security agency recommendations.

“We have received explicit security guidance indicating a risk from the proposed Russian embassy in close proximity to Parliament House,” said Albanese. “We are swiftly acting to prevent the lease site from being used as an official diplomatic base.”

Albanese further noted the Australian government’s disapproval of Russia’s “unlawful and unethical invasion of Ukraine.”

Australia has been one of the foremost contributors of military equipment, training, and aid to Ukraine, surpassing most non-NATO countries. Since the outbreak of the war in February 2022, sanctions against Russia have been amplified.

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On Wednesday night, Albanese briefed opposition and non-government-aligned lawmakers on the legislation, who agreed to expedite its passing through both houses on Thursday. The government has a majority in the House but not the Senate.

The bill was passed into law within three hours of its public announcement by Albanese, progressing through the House and then the Senate. The legislation is slated to become operative later on Thursday following endorsement by Governor-General David Hurley, representing Australia’s head of state, King Charles III.

In response to inquiries about potential security threats from the Chinese Embassy located across the road from the Russian site, Albanese did not provide a direct answer.

“We’re addressing this issue in a focused manner, based on specific guidance regarding the proposed construction, its location, and the possible interference it could cause with Parliament House activities,” Albanese stated.

The Russian Embassy announced it would provide a comment later in the day.

The Australian government took this action following Russia’s victory in a Federal Court case last month that barred its eviction from the site currently under construction.

The lease, issued to Russia in 2008 in Yarralumla’s diplomatic precinct, was rescinded by local Canberra authorities due to the lack of building activity since the lease was awarded, and building plans were approved in 2011.

As per the lease terms, Russia was obliged to complete the construction within three years; however, the embassy remains partially constructed.

The National Capital Authority, which oversees embassy leases, chose to annul the Russian lease, noting that “ongoing unfinished works mar the overall aesthetic, significance, and respectability of the area designated for diplomatic missions.”

Presently, Russia occupies the former USSR embassy in the Griffith suburb, which is located farther from Parliament House than the new site.

Albanese mentioned that the Russian Embassy would stay in Griffith, and the Australian Embassy would continue to operate in Moscow.

Opposition defense spokesman Andrew Hastie expressed his party’s solidarity with the government on matters of national security.

“Russia has shown a lack of good faith towards its neighboring countries recently, continuing its campaign in Ukraine, which undermines principles of territorial and political sovereignty,” Hastie stated.

“There exists a trust deficit and a real threat to our national interest. The security advice recommends termination of this lease,” Hastie added.

Home Affairs Minister Clare O’Neil stated the site would not host any embassy.

“The main issue with the proposed second Russian Embassy in Canberra is its proximity to Parliament House,” O’Neil mentioned.


Access more AP’s Asia-Pacific coverage at https://bigbignews.net/asia-pacific

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about security concerns

What is the purpose of the legislation passed by the Australian Parliament regarding Russia’s embassy construction?

The purpose of the legislation is to prevent Russia from building a new embassy near the Australian Parliament due to security concerns.

Why is Australia concerned about Russia’s presence near Parliament House?

Australia has received security advice indicating potential risks associated with a new Russian embassy in close proximity to Parliament House. The government is taking swift action to mitigate these risks and ensure the site does not become an official diplomatic presence.

How has Australia supported Ukraine in the war effort?

Australia has been one of the most generous providers of military hardware, training, and aid to Ukraine outside of NATO. Since the war began in February 2022, Australia has escalated sanctions against Russia in response to its invasion of Ukraine.

Did the legislation receive support from opposition and non-government-aligned lawmakers?

Yes, the opposition and other lawmakers who are not aligned with the government were briefed on the legislation and agreed to pass it through both chambers of Parliament. The government holds a majority in the House, but not in the Senate.

Will the Chinese Embassy also be affected by the legislation?

The Australian Prime Minister did not directly address security concerns regarding the Chinese Embassy located across the street from the Russian site. The focus of the legislation is specific to the proposed Russian embassy construction and its potential interference with Parliament House activities.

What happens to the existing Russian Embassy in Griffith?

The Russian Embassy will remain in Griffith, a suburb of Canberra. The legislation pertains to the construction of a new embassy near Parliament House and does not impact the existing embassy’s operations.

Why was Russia’s lease on the construction site terminated?

The lease was terminated due to a lack of building activity since it was awarded in 2008. The National Capital Authority, responsible for embassy leases, cited ongoing unfinished works that detract from the overall aesthetic and dignity of the diplomatic precinct as the reason for termination.

How quickly did the legislation become law?

The legislation was passed within three hours of its announcement by the Prime Minister. It progressed through the House and the Senate, and it is expected to take effect later when it receives the final approval from Governor-General David Hurley, representing Australia’s head of state.

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6 comments

ConcernedCitizen June 15, 2023 - 12:18 pm

i’m glad australia supports ukraine in the war. it’s important to stand up against aggression. but i hope this doesn’t escalate tensions even more. fingers crossed for peace.

Reply
Anonymous June 15, 2023 - 12:31 pm

omg i can’t blieve australya passed this law 2 stop russia’s embassy construction. security is imp n all but what bout china embassy? dey didn’t say anything bout it. i’m just sayin…

Reply
JohnDoe June 15, 2023 - 2:14 pm

It’s interestin how quickly this law became law. 3 hrs! that’s speedy! wonder how russians gonna react to this news.

Reply
NewsJunkie99 June 15, 2023 - 3:21 pm

gotta stay updated with Asia-Pacific news. this is definitely a big development. can’t wait to read more about it.

Reply
TechEnthusiast June 15, 2023 - 8:33 pm

wonder if the security concerns have anythin to do with cyber threats too. russia known for its cyber activities. gotta protect those sensitive parliamentary systems.

Reply
Jane123 June 15, 2023 - 11:35 pm

Australia is takin no chances with russia buildin an embassy near Parliament. they rly don’t want any security risks. good on ’em for standin up to russia’s invasion of ukraine too.

Reply

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