More lean toward big China building bank
There is strong speculation that the Federal Government will switch its stance against a big Chinese bank, in the hope of securing money for infrastructure.
The Prime Minister is reportedly warming to the idea of joining the proposed $50 billion China-led Asia Infrastructure Investment Bank.
Treasurer Joe Hockey is a fan of the plan, but Mr Abbott has reportedly been less excited due to warning from US President Barack Obama about the dangers of being too accommodating to China.
Fairfax newspapers have reported that the National Security Committee of Cabinet agreed to the notion of Australia joining the bank this week.
The shifting of sentiment comes amid an internal reassessment within the government, as well as intense talks and dealings within the G7 group of finance ministers and central bank governors.
In a weekend interview on Sky News, Tony Abbott said: “I note that the UK has indicated an intention to sign up for the negotiations, the New Zealanders before Christmas signed up for the negotiations, the Singaporeans likewise, the Indians likewise.
“We’re looking very carefully at this and we’ll make a decision in the next week or so.
“I would like to think that it is possible for this to be a genuinely multilateral institution and I think it could well be an important part of bringing China fully into the international community.”
But Australia is far from the forefront, with almost 30 other nations already vying to be part of the negotiations.
Experts expect more G7 nations will sign up, and there is speculation that Australia and South Korea will get involved in partnership with each other.
“If China is prepared to set up such an institution well I frankly hope that many countries including the United States and Japan would join it,” Mr Abbott said.
In a related News Corp interview, Labor deputy leader and shadow foreign minister Tanya Plibersek said the Opposition believed Australia should sign up to the new bank.
Ms Plibersek says the current financial architecture “hasn’t made room for China” but new investment will be vital for any future infrastructure needs.
The government has until the end of March to sign on.