Minister calls out Commonwealth secretary-general for inviting world leaders to Aus

By Shannon Jenkins

Monday October 21, 2019

“It’s just not cricket, Baroness.” Getty Images

Foreign Minister Marise Payne has scolded the secretary-general of the Commonwealth for inviting international leaders to a cricket match in Adelaide without Australia’s knowledge.

While at a United Nations event in New York last month, Baroness Patricia Scotland reportedly invited government heads from up to 53 Commonwealth nations to the charity cricket match Peace at the Crease. But the Australian government was unaware that the event had been scheduled in Adelaide for December 5.

Foreign Minister Marise Payne wrote a letter to Scotland earlier this month, noting that the “specifics of the event” had not been raised with her office and requested she stop inviting people.

“The initiative is of some interest, but it is inappropriate for the Commonwealth to issue invitations to dignitaries and leaders of government to visit Australia, without having engaged in the basic courtesy of properly consulting the Government of Australia,” she said in the letter, which was leaked to the Sydney Morning Herald and The Age.

“I request that you not issue any invitations to heads of government or other dignitaries to attend the ‘Peace at the Crease’ event.”

December 5 happens to be the last scheduled sitting day of federal Parliament in Canberra, and, predictably, is rather busy for MPs.

“Any event involving visits by foreign leaders to Australia creates significant security, protocol, programming and logistical issues on which neither you nor the Commonwealth Secretariat has sought advice. I also note the previously mooted date falls within Australian parliamentary sitting schedules,” Payne wrote.

Scotland and the South Australian Cricket Association have been organising the charity match. In light of the recent events, SACA CEO Keith Bradshaw has said the organisation “is not in a position to provide confirmation or any further comment until certain arrangements have been finalised”.

Spokespersons for both Payne and the Commonwealth told the Sydney Morning Herald that there would be no comments on any “leaked” documents.

The Commonwealth representative did say, however, that the matter was the result of “an administrative hiccup”.

“We enjoy an excellent relationship with the Australian government and people. This fantastic event will demonstrate how sport can be a tool for connecting people across religions, cultures, races, and regions while raising funds through a registered charity to roll out sport for development and peace in the Commonwealth, particularly in those areas affected by conflict and violence.

“Peace at the Crease draws on Commonwealth cricket connections to utilise sport for development and peace — a longstanding priority of our 53-member family of nations.”

The charity event was first held in London last year, as a “tool to promote peace, bring communities together and support progress and development”.

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