Australia supportive of reform for Lebanon

Prime Minister Morrison joined a phone hook-up with world leaders focused on supporting Lebanon.
Prime Minister Morrison joined a phone hook-up with world leaders focused on supporting Lebanon.

Australia has thrown its support behind a French push to lock in economic and political reform in Lebanon after the horrific Beirut blast.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison is also not ruling out further Australian deaths from the massive explosion that killed two-year-old Isaac Oehlers and at least 157 others.

"With the number of casualties and the amount of uncertainty there, we obviously can't rule out anything further," Mr Morrison told reporters in Canberra on Monday.

Mr Morrison joined a phone hook-up with world leaders on Sunday night that focused on supporting Lebanon.

At the virtual meeting chaired by French President Emmanuel Macron, leaders agreed a credible and independent investigation into the blast was needed.

Mr Morrison said Australia would support Mr Macron, who is seeking political and economic change in the troubled Middle East nation.

"Of course we want to see Lebanon as a functional prosperous state - all Australians of Lebanese heritage would certiantly want that," Mr Morrison told reporters in Canberra on Monday.

"At the same time I don't want to suggest that Australia is playing some sort of direct interventionist role in seeking those types of outcomes.

"We've made our comments known and been very supportive of economic reforms that are necessary to advance the wellbeing of people in Lebanon."

Australia will increase its aid commitment from $2 million to $5 million, with all the money to be distributed through the Lebanese Red Cross and the World Food Programme.

"That's to support the most urgent of humanitarian supplies that are needed in these circumstances," Mr Morrison said.

The prime minister told the leaders' conference that global organisations needed to work well together to deliver assistance.

There are about 5000 Australians in Beirut and more than 230,000 Australians with Lebanese heritage.

Last week's explosion was fuelled by 2750 tonnes of ammonium nitrate that had been stored at Beirut's port for six years.

More than 6000 people were injured, while up to 300,000 have been left homeless after the blast, which has sparked fresh unrest in the Lebanese capital.

Mr Morrison said the disaster was a "horrific accident".

Australian Associated Press