Monday 16 May 2022 | 17:31 | SYDNEY
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Australia in the World

Payne v Wong: The foreign policy election debate 

This afternoon’s foreign policy debate at the National Press Club between the Foreign Minister, Senator Marise Payne and Shadow Foreign Minister, Senator Penny Wong, defied my expectations in some ways, but confirmed them in others.   Here are the surprises:   I was

Bell teals for big parties in Australia’s election

When former prime minister Malcolm Turnbull used a speech in Washington last week to empathise with the rise of independent candidates in Australia’s traditionally two-party political system, he was accused of treachery by some Liberal party colleagues. But measured by the rise of non-major

The case for rejuvenating DFAT

A number of experts have argued for change at the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade to ensure it is match fit for the major geopolitical challenges facing the country. Some criticism of DFAT’s performance – for example, that it is insular and that it spends too much time analysing

Chinese bases in the Pacific: A reality check

There was barely concealed panic in Australia when news broke that China had struck a security agreement with Solomon Islands. What if this is really a basing deal that allows China to station military aircraft or warships permanently? Solomons Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare’s emphatic denial on

Economic diplomacy: Trade shifts challenge a new government

Make or break Trade matters haven’t made much of an impact in Australia’s election campaign, not surprisingly overshadowed by Solomon Islands in the foreign affairs debate and now interest rate rises in the domestic debate. The Labor Opposition stepped up the rhetoric at its campaign launch

Imagining Labor’s first 100 days in foreign policy

With new leadership and a fresh mandate, a Labor government could take significant steps in foreign policy in its first hundred days in office under the leadership of Prime Minister Anthony Albanese and Foreign Minister Penny Wong. Though more substantive differences (namely on the Pacific) have

Fixing Australia’s failing Pacific Step-up strategy

Publicly, Australia’s Pacific Step-up aims to win friends and influence people. Behind this facade however, a core purpose is to make sure the Pacific Islands don’t embrace China, just as Solomon Islands’ Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare has done. This clear failure may suggest abandoning

Solomons security pact: Sogavare, China, and Australia

Labor has described Solomon Islands’ security pact with China as Australia’s biggest foreign policy failure in the Pacific since the Second World War, but this is hyperbole. Australia’s biggest foreign policy failure in the region – ever – is its failure to address (at both a national and

A first for India and a chance to trade up with Australia

The Australia-India Economic Cooperation and Trade Agreement (AIECTA) signed on 2 April marks a first for India in terms of liberalisation of “substantially all” trade and timeline of negotiations. India has often been blamed for prolonging trade negotiations with its rigid stance on tariff

Australian cyber: What’s “Redspice” for?

Canberra is significantly boosting the cyber capabilities of the Australian Signals Directorate (ASD) – the government agency responsible for signals intelligence, support to military operations, cyber warfare and information security. Project Redspice, announced in March, will increase ASD’s

Time to think big on the future of Australian diplomacy

Worry about the underfunding of Australian diplomacy has almost become an annual ritual around budget time. But with an election imminent, this has become a higher stakes discussion given that the federal opposition has promised to rebuild Australian diplomacy if it wins office. Funding is, however

Does Australia have too many elections?

Prime Minister Scott Morrison might have officially fired the starter’s pistol for Australia’s election campaign on Sunday, but the ritual belies reality. This race has been underway for months. Indeed, democracies across the world hear a common complaint that vote-conscious politicians never

Economic diplomacy: Priorities shift amid a budget aid boost

Back to the future The Morrison government gave the development aid sector an unexpected surprise with a budget spending increase mostly in the Pacific, just as the latest crisis in Solomon Islands was occurring. There is still plenty of grumbling that this – perhaps parting gift given the

Of maritime security and a rules-based order

Maritime scholars and practitioners often wrestle with the question of what a “desirable” architecture for maritime security should be, and how must it be properly implemented? The issue is complex, because although security is best delivered in collective and cooperative settings, there is

AUKUS can be a good platform for cooperation with India

Someone famous once reputedly quipped “History doesn’t repeat itself, but it often rhymes.” So there is a certain echo to the AUKUS arrangement, which brings together Australia, United Kingdom and United States to share vital defence technologies in an effort to stabilise the Indo Pacific

A silver lining to DFAT’s budgetary woes

The 2022 federal budget was handed down on Tuesday night, and it appeared mostly bad news for Australian foreign policy. Amid all the talk of an international order deteriorating before our very eyes, government will reduce spending on diplomacy and overseas aid by as much as 19 per cent in the

Changing our view of Pacific visas

Much to the disappointment of Agricultural Minister David Littleproud, in February the Australian Agricultural Visa (“Ag Visa”) was reportedly rejected by Thailand, Philippines, and Vietnam. These were three of the four nations invited to join the scheme (Indonesia, which expressed interest,

What counts for victims of trafficking?

Trafficking in persons is a billion-dollar global industry that seeks anonymity in every aspect of its criminal execution. Yet data related to human trafficking is a rare resource and, until recently, not one that focused on the experience of victims and survivors of human trafficking. A landmark

Can states have strategic personalities?

In The Interpreter last month, Bec Strating and Joanne Wallis weighed into the debate about Australia’s “strategic personality” and how it should change to respond more effectively to the security challenges the country now faces. If Canberra’s policymakers wanted a personality to

Trade policy agenda facing new drivers

There can be little doubt that the conduct of Australian trade policy will become more complex and challenging for the foreseeable future. Two trends are salient. First, with the deterioration in global geopolitical circumstances, trade policy and foreign and strategic policy have increasingly

Does the Quad Plus add up?

According to its members, the Quad – a group comprising the United States, Japan, India and Australia – seeks to present an inclusive vision for the Indo-Pacific region, and its members seek to work with a range of countries. Despite this rhetoric, the group hasn’t established any clear

The end of Antarctic exceptionalism?

Moscow’s latest invasion of Ukraine has turned Vladimir Putin’s Russia into a pariah state, essentially overnight, and seen the country saddled with an unprecedented international sanction regime. The long-term implications of freezing cooperation and dialogue with Russia are significant –

We need to stop talking about the grey zone

The concept of a grey zone in international affairs has gained popularity as analysts have tried to understand how states compete for strategic advantage in a more complex and interdependent world. But war in the Ukraine has underscored how the concept now obscures more than it clarifies. The “

Australian cricket’s soft power opportunity

Like it or not, the Australian cricket team are some of the nation’s most conspicuous representatives on the world stage. And right now, both the women’s and men’s teams have the opportunity to achieve historic successes. That’s good news for Australian soft power. Australia’s cricket

Common enemies and instinctive friends

The enemy of my enemy is not necessarily my friend. Likewise, there may not be an instinctive alignment of my two adversaries. Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s reference to “arc of autocracy” and the “instinctive” alignment between Russia and China in the address at the Lowy Institute was

What if Trump wins again?

Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine has seen a return to the political alignments of the 20th century, with the United States as the leader of a grouping of democracies against a Russian dictatorship uneasily partnered with China. But Donald Trump has offered a radically different response,

Russia-Ukraine: Lessons for Australia’s defence

Lesson 1:  The era of state-on-state conflict is still with us The idea that war between nations has become an anachronism over the last 40 years has some statistical support, but evidence from the post-Cold War period of relative peace needs to be weighed against hundreds of years of