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Australian Perspective

Shifting power balances are creating uncertainty about the existing regional order and Australia’s place in it. As one of the most globalised countries on the planet, Australia is highly dependent on an effective and active international policy. It is a Western nation surrounded by populous and booming economies in Asia and the Pacific, but has enormously important bonds with nations like the USA and the UK from which it is geographically isolated. The Lowy Institute interprets Australia’s place in the global and regional order, examining the complex ways in which Australia engages with its neighbours, partners and the evolving international system. The work of the Lowy Institute traverses Australia’s foreign policy, defence, intelligence and security, its diplomacy and overseas network, the ANZUS alliance, Australia’s trade, overseas development assistance, and its relationships in Asia and the Pacific.

Assessing Australia's UN performance

Prime Minister Tony Abbott visited New York this week and, as leaders have to do when in the Big Apple, got together with UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to discuss the state of the world. The meeting may focus some attention on Australia's two-year tenure as a member of the UN Security Council,

In New York, Abbott avoids the China question

Speaking in Canada earlier this week, Tony Abbott made waves by calling for a coalition of conservative governments to fight the global carbon-pricing push now being led by the US under Barack Obama. By the time of the Prime Minister's first major address on US soil yesterday it was back to far

Mosul falls, Canberra shrugs: Australia's Iraq amnesia

One would have thought that a country which invades another for what it considered altruistic reasons would continue to have an interest in events there long after the troops have been withdrawn. When that country is Iraq, however, there appears to be a case of collective amnesia among Australia's

The monarchy and Australia's image abroad

As you return to work after the Queen's Birthday long weekend, take a moment to reflect on how this holiday looks to the rest of the world. What message does Australia’s continuing attachment to the monarchy send to bemused tourists, international students and overseas business partners?

SBY: Abbott says farewell to a friend of Australia

Tony Abbott has effectively said farewell to Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono as president of Indonesia. Our prime minister was right to praise him. SBY has presided over remarkable change in Indonesia. During his presidency he has consolidated democracy and championed a moderate approach to Islam. He

Abbott has stopped the boats, now he can reap the benefits

Although I profoundly disagree with the Government's policy on asylum seekers, the 2014 Lowy Institute Poll indicates that it has been successful in at least three ways beyond the bald statistic that no boats have arrived in Australia for over 150 days. First, by and large Australians support the

Foreign-investment anxiety revealed in Lowy Poll

I've just written on the widespread antipathy in Indonesia to foreign investment, and how it is colouring the presidential election campaign. I attributed this hostility to the historical experience of colonialism. Now the Lowy Institute's annual poll reminds us that a similar (if less pronounced

West Point speech neglects East Asian security

Amid tensions in the South China Sea and new alarm about a China-Russia alignment, President Obama's speech at West Point sends some confusing signals to the countries of Indo-Pacific Asia.   To be fair, the speech was not meant to be principally about Asia. It was intended to draw a final line

RAMSI: How to blow $2.6 billion in a decade

A pointed joke used to do the rounds in Honiara: if you needed to call on the Australian police you could usually find them in the Lime Lounge, a swanky cafe at the west end of the main street that serves silky flat whites and a range of delights including the 'RAMSI breakfast'.  The cappuccino

Anzac casts its long shadow over the Army History Unit

  For the last few months, anyone who's been unlucky enough to blunder into my path has been assaulted with the arguments in my book Anzac's Long Shadow: The Cost of our National Obsession. If you're time poor, this review in the Spectator Australia does a great job of capturing them. If you're

Solomon Islands: Was RAMSI worth it?

Tobias Haque and Doug Porter have worked on Solomon Islands for the past several years. The views expressed here are those of the authors and not necessarily those of their employers . Jenny Hayward-Jones' recent paper (Australia's Costly Investment in Solomon Islands) suggests

Australian defence exports: Beyond Bushmaster

Since 2007, the Defence Materiel Organisation has run an office charged with boosting Australia's defence exports. The Defence Export Unit, as it was initially known, was established with a budget of $34 million. It had a relatively inauspicious start – in 2009 it was unable to conduct its own

Bob Carr and Julian Assange: Brothers in arms

When former foreign minister Bob Carr published his diary in April, he launched himself into the struggle over what should remain a government secret and what should be revealed to the public. Carr, who worked as a journalist with the now defunct Bulletin magazine, delighted in flourishing his

The demise of the Australia Network

May should have been a milestone month for Australian international broadcasting, and arguably the most celebratory in the 13-year history of the Australia Network. ABC executives were due to sign a prized deal with the Shanghai Media Group, giving the ABC the most extensive access to Chinese

Defence budget 2014: Heavy weights still in the rack

A favourite analogy of the Australian Treasurer is that the budget he delivered yesterday 'does the heavy lifting'. But like all weights regimes, we're first in for some visualisation and warm ups.  The Treasurer's speech hit the right note by outlining the goal, with the Government recommitting

First look at the Budget: DFAT, aid and defence

So here I am at the budget lockup, deep in the bowels of Treasury, with the idea of getting a much-anticipated preview of the Foreign Affairs and Trade budget for this, the Coalition Government's first federal budget. Only, there is no Portfolio Budget Statement for the Foreign Affairs and Trade

Should Australia buy armed drones?

Fairfax defence correspondent David Wroe had what his editors labelled an exclusive in the weekend Sydney Morning Herald: Royal Australian Air Force chief Air Marshal Geoff Brown told Wroe the RAAF is interested in buying armed drones. No disrespect to Wroe, whose background piece on drones in

Defence budget: 2% is not a strategy

Andrew Carr is a Research Fellow, and Peter Dean is a Senior Research Fellow, at the Strategic & Defence Studies Centre, Australian National University. There's much we can agree with in Ric Smith's discussion of funding Defence at 2% of GDP. He is right to say that there is no science behind the 2

Interview: Malcolm Fraser on 'Dangerous Allies'

Yesterday I had a long and fascinating talk with former Australian prime minister Malcolm Fraser, who has just released Dangerous Allies, his new book calling for a substantially more independent Australian strategic posture. You can listen to the whole conversation below, but I have also

Why Bob Carr's book matters

It was all a trick. A simple scam played on a clueless tabloid media to sell more books. And didn't they oblige! As soon as Bob Carr's Diary of a Foreign Minister hit the shelves, they searched the book for scandal, and found a man apparently addicted to perks and privilege. The Daily Telegraph

Why Kevin Rudd won't be the next UN Secretary General

Wherever Kevin Rudd goes, leadership speculation seems to follow. During his time in Australia, it centred on the stewardship of the Australian Labor Party. Now that he is based in America, it involves an even more disparate, unruly and opaque body, the UN. According to a front-page report in The

Australia all in with the Joint Strike Fighter

'Together with the Super Hornet and Growler electronic warfare aircraft, the F-35 aircraft will ensure Australia maintains a regional air combat edge', Prime Minister Abbott said today when he announced Australia would spend A$12 billion on 58 additional F-35 Joint Strike Fighter (14 are already on

Australia needs a cyber white paper

The idea of cyberspace as a common global good has yet to find its place in Australia.  Ensuring that sea lanes remain open for navigation throughout the Indo-Pacific was a prominent concern in the last Defence White Paper. Australia's condemnation of the Chinese ADIZ in November 2013 indicates

US pivot is faltering, which might be a good thing

By Geoff Miller, former Australian Ambassador to Japan (1986-89) and former Director-General of the Office of National Assessments (1989-95). In their Interpreter article of 27 March, Bates Gill and Tom Switzer respond to questioning of the durability of the US 'pivot' (or 're-balance') towards the

Debating Snowden, WikiLeaks and the future of espionage

It was a treat for me to host yesterday's panel discussion on Snowden, WikiLeaks and the Future of Espionage. It was a lively panel which engaged in sometimes passionate discussion on the ethics of leaking, the practical and moral limits of intelligence-gathering, and the implications of spying (

Abbott goes to Asia: The security dimension

Prime Minister Abbott poses with the leaders of the Chinese, Japanese and South Korean military efforts searching for MH370 at RAAF Base Pearce. Tony Abbott is about to depart on the most important international visit of his prime ministership thus far. Over the next week he will visit Japan,

Abbott sees a more liberal China ahead

Well, all glory is indeed fleeting. Having just given The Interpreter a pat on the back for our Asia coverage, I'm embarrassed to admit that we are late to Prime Minister Abbott's Asia Society speech, delivered on Tuesday to set the scene for his early-April Asia trip. The speech is trade

Migration makes Australia more dynamic

I have been inspired to add my twenty cents worth in favour of well-balanced, strong population growth by the recent contributions of Michael Fullilove and Andrew Leigh who, in different ways, have refreshed the national discussion on Australia's population growth. There is also inspiration in a

Deafening silence on rule of law in Nauru

The status of the rule of law in Nauru became even more precarious with the recent resignation of Nauru's Chief Justice, Australian Geoffrey Eames. After two months of seeking to have the withdrawal of his visa by the Nauruan Government overturned, he now says his position is untenable. This week

Russia-Ukraine: The silence of the left

One of the striking things about the Australian debate on Crimea is that there hasn't been one. Events in Crimea may have serious consequences for the world order, yet with some honourable exceptions, the issue has not been addressed in Australia with either thoughtfulness or urgency. In

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