Wednesday 08 Dec 2021 | 20:01 | SYDNEY
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Australia in the World

Taming the “grey zone”

Unease about so-called “grey zone” tactics is increasingly in vogue. From a position of relative obscurity, the term has surged onto the official agenda. There was no mention of “grey zone” in Australia’s 2016 Defence White Paper, but it appears 11 times in the 2020 Defence Strategic

Economic diplomacy: Free trade vs economic resilience

Santa clauses The value of global goods trade during the biggest pandemic in a century last year dropped about a third less than it did during the biggest financial crisis in a generation in 2008. But internet searches about “economic resilience” are running more than twice as high these days

Time to step up on global kleptocracy

When the Pandora Papers were published last month, few registered their significance for Australian statecraft. Spanning 11.9 million leaked documents, and exposing the property empires and shell companies of kings, presidents and celebrities, the revelations generated scandals and condemnation. But

Economic diplomacy: Remaking the Pacific house

Under construction After Build Back Better World (B3W), the Blue Dot Network and the Australian Infrastructure Financing Facility for the Pacific (AIFFP), the latest entrant on the acronym-strewn path to a renovated region is disarmingly bland. Infrastructure ++ is the leitmotif from a quietly

The Indo-Pacific Operating System: How can America shore up the regional order?

Five essays from experts from, or based in, Southeast Asia provide a sense of the region’s complexity and the nuance with which any effort to shore up – or rebuild – regional order must grapple

A good idea gone nowhere? Diaspora policy in Australia

Over the past two decades, an array of organisations and individuals – including PwC, the Asia Society, the Business Council of Australia, academics and public intellectuals – have called on the Australian government to adopt a diaspora policy to help promote Australia’s economic and social

Is Australia relevant?

Last week, Singapore’s Education Minister Chan Chun Sing addressed the Fullerton lecture series on US-China relations and his own country’s foreign policy. Chan, a leading member of the so-called “4G” or fourth-generation of Singaporean politicians, echoed some familiar refrains about the

Australia and the American far-right conspiracy

It would be reasonable for Australians to feel some annoyance at being, once again, on the receiving end of an odd mixture of criticism and sympathy from America’s far-right personalities. In recent months the conspiracists have been theorising that America’s tough and free Anglosphere buddy

Australia-Indonesia: burn the boats

Last week, Australian Border Force released photographs of burning Indonesian fishing vessels allegedly caught fishing illegally in Australian waters. Border Force reported it had found 16 Indonesian vessels operating unlawfully near the Rowley Shoals Marine Park off the northern coast of Western

Do Comprehensive Strategic Partnerships matter?

When Australia’s Foreign Minister Marise Payne landed in Kuala Lumpur at the weekend, she notably lauded the meeting with her Malaysian counterpart as “the first since our relationship was elevated to a Comprehensive Strategic Partnership”. The last year has been particularly fruitful for

Sinking trust

Last week in Australia news headlines brimmed with emotive accusations about a betrayal of trust levied against Prime Minister Scott Morrison. French President Emmanuel Macron had already said Australia’s decision to scupper the $90 billion submarine deal “broke the relationship of trust between

Telstra’s Digicel Pacific challenge

The deal with the government insulates the telco from financial risk. But accepting the role of Australia’s lead business ambassador in the region makes it no set-and-forget investment. This article was first published in the Australian Financial Review on 29 October 2021

What Australia needs to ask itself about the United States

The Australian and American debates about China’s rise have followed similar trajectories, but differ in at least one key way. Australia’s hinges, in part, on whether it can trust the United States to balance against Chinese power indefinitely, or whether US resolve will eventually wither and

Australia and Digicel: Hands-off no more?

The Australian government’s decision to finance Telstra’s takeover of the Pacific’s biggest telecommunications provider, Digicel, via a $1.33 billion loan from Export Finance Australia, is the clearest indication yet that competing with China is changing government-firm relations in Australia

China’s economic sanctions made Australia more confident

China has singled out several Australian industries with economic sanctions since May last year, imposing hefty tariffs on Australian barley and wine exports, while throwing up barriers to other products including timber, lobster and coal. Beijing’s action has largely been seen as a response to

Australia, Indonesia and climate change

In February 2020, Indonesia’s President Joko Widodo made a state visit to Australia and addressed a joint sitting of the Australian parliament. This was a rare privilege granted to only a few world leaders, and Indonesia’s popular president – known as Jokowi – used the opportunity to

America’s doughnut shaped Indo-Pacific strategy

With the exception of India, the common thread linking the United States’ Indo-Pacific and broader China strategy so far has been the rallying of long-standing US allies. Early summits with President Moon Jae-in and former Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga are starting to bear results. South

AUKUS: Why Beijing didn’t go ballistic

China was expected to be furious about the recently signed AUKUS security pact. After all, it is generally believed that the deal to provide Australia with technology to build nuclear submarines and the associated cooperation with the United States and United Kingdom amounts to a significant

An opening on the ICJ and an opportunity for renewal

In the early 20th century, the Peace Palace in The Hague – seat of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) since 1946 – was envisioned as “a sort of holy place”, “prized … by thinking men throughout the world … to which, in … danger of war between any two countries, the minds of men

Australia should donate surplus vaccine to Indonesia

In the middle of this pandemic, every vaccine is precious. Australia should give its spare locally-made AstraZeneca vaccines to friends in Indonesia. Indonesia has a vacuum of need for vaccines that is predominantly being filled by China, and yet Australia happens to have millions of spare doses

Australia-Korea minilateral: A potential win-win

The Australia-Korea relationship is in its sixtieth year, and although trade, historic and strategic links are strong, security cooperation is less advanced. Earlier this year, on the sidelines of the G7 Summit in Cornwall, the two countries agreed in-principle to elevate their relationship to “

Subs: Australia’s reputation overboard

The prevailing view in Australia of the momentous submarines imbroglio seems to have become that the $90-billion mega deal with the French – friend, ally and partner in the Indo-Pacific – was scrapped for a combination of contractual, operational and geopolitical reasons. Australia, so this

Pacific Step-Up needs a Covid-era reboot

Through thickly vegetated jungle paths, teams of doctors hike for hours to reach Fiji’s most remote villages. Travelling ahead of them, as reported in The Guardian recently, are packhorses carrying ice-chests filled with AstraZeneca vaccines.  Fiji is no

AUKUS: What happens if the Republicans play the Trump card?

Upon the recent announcement of the new AUKUS defence pact between Australia, the United States and the United Kingdom, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison described the arrangement as a “forever partnership”, one based on “the oldest of friendships, the strongest of values and the

In defence of AUKUS

When Barack Obama announced the rebalance to Asia in 2011, he also revealed the rotational deployment of US Marines to Darwin. In the intervening decade, however, additional changes to US regional posture have been few and far between. As a result, leading US defence expert Michèle Flournoy has

WTO dispute settlement: why Australia bothers

I have three propositions about Australia’s participation in World Trade Organisation dispute settlement to put to Interpreter readers. Proposition one: the WTO dispute settlement system has never been of more relevance to AustraliaAustralia has been relatively restrained in its use of the system

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