Prime Minister Tony Abbott says a public announcement on Australia joining the China-led US$100 billion Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank will be made in the next few days.
Mr Abbott has spelt out the conditions Australia has placed on membership of the bank, less than a week before the March 31 deadline arrives for a memorandum of understanding to join the bank arrives.
Fairfax Media revealed last week the National Security Committee of cabinet had cleared the way to Australia signing the MoU and, on Tuesday, that the federal cabinet had approved the move. Australia is still in the process of notifying allies about its decision.
Mr Abbott said the government had not rushed to join the bank - Australia first considered the move last year - and that the Asia Development Bank and World Bank already served important roles as multi-national entities that did good work in the region.
But he added: "If we can have a further international entity … that would be a good thing."
"We have been talking to the Chinese, who are the proponents of this bank, to try to ensure that it is in fact a multi-lateral institution, that it is run in all important respects by a board, that its processes are transparent, that it is genuinely accountable and it is not controlled by any one entity," he told Parliament.
"Under those circumstances we would certainly be prepared to join ... I imagine that under those circumstances that all nations including the United States and Japan, would be prepared to join.
"In the next few days an appropriate announcement will be made."
Treasurer Joe Hockey went further as he outlined five conditions Australia had sought before signing the MoU - open membership, high levels of transparency, no restriction on procurement of goods or services, sound banking principles and merit-based recruitment.
Mr Hockey said he had made it clear that Australia shared the frustrations of the international community in the US Congress' reluctance to reform the IMF when pressed about the US' opposition to Australia joining the Asian infrastructure bank.
"The AIIB is about addressing the $8 trillion of necessary infrastructure spending over the next decade in our region," he said.
He said Japan and the US should be reassured by European countries joining the bank.
"We would love, should we decide to sign the MoU and finally join, we would love for the United States and Japan and other countries to join," he said.
"Obviously the timetable is very tight at the moment. We will have more to say about that in the next few days, this is not Australia acting unilaterally."
Mr Abbott indicated that he had spoken to US President Barack Obama and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe about the proposed bank.
In recent weeks, the Obama administration was reportedly angered and embarrassed when the United Kingdom broke ranks to join the bank, with minimal consultation, prompting other European nations including Germany, France and Italy to follow suit.
"I stress that the next step is to sign a memorandum of understanding to be involved in negotiations over the articles of association," Ms Bishop told reporters at an Australian-Chinese business networking event in Canberra.
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