Monday 19 Feb 2018 | 18:31 | SYDNEY
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Australia in the World

How Australia crossed a line in the Timor Sea

The UN Compulsory Conciliation between Australia and Timor-Leste, which aims to set a boundary in the Timor Sea, appears to be inching towards resolution, with details emerging in the Portuguese media last week of a deal involving a median line boundary and a revenue-sharing arrangement

ASEAN matters and deserves credit

Euan Graham has given a glass half-empty explanation of the significance of the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) in an attempt to explain Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s enthusiasm for the forthcoming ASEAN-Australia Special Summit in March. In fact, there is good cause for the

Is ASEAN still central to Australia?

In March, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull will welcome the ten leaders of ASEAN to Sydney for a special summit focusing on business and security ties. This is the first time Australia has hosted ASEAN. By any definition, it is a significant event in Canberra's diplomatic calendar, with the

The ABC Cabinet Files and the secrets exposed

The second-hand furniture business in Canberra must be booming. The last few days of Australian news has been dominated by the extraordinary story of how the ABC got hold of a trove of secret documents – dumped, apparently in ignorance, inside a locked filing cabinet at an ex-government

The awkward case of the Australian “spy” in Phnom Penh

Cambodia’s Supreme Court has denied bail to Australian film-maker James Ricketson in an espionage case that is fast becoming an embarrassing headache for both countries involved. In laying espionage charges against Mr Ricketson – a messianic crusader of the poor – Cambodia has inadvertently

Defence export strategy revives old ethical dilemmas

Contra Tim Costello, it is not unethical to sell arms to foreign countries. Indeed, if a state is threatened by aggression, it might be unethical not to help it acquire the means to defend itself. But of course it can be wrong to sell weapons if we think there's a good chance they will be used

Joining the dots to Vancouver

Represented by Secretary of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade Frances Adamson, Australia was one of 20 countries that participated in a conference last week on coordinating international approaches to North Korea. Co-hosted by Canada and the US, and held in Vancouver, the conference had

Waitangi Day and Australia Day: contrasting symbolism

In a little more than a week, New Zealand will celebrate its national day, Waitangi Day. This year will mark the 178th anniversary of the Treaty of Waitangi, the agreement between the British Crown and New Zealand Maori rangatira (chiefs) that led to New Zealand becoming a British colony

Behind the Australia–Canada ‘wine war’

Australia has formally lodged a complaint against restrictions some Canadian provinces have placed on the sale of imported wine in grocery stores, in what has been described, somewhat dramatically, as a 'wine war'. Australia's action was described in the Ottawa Sun under the headline&

Why Australia should consider sharing nuclear weapons

The future looks ominous. There are grim warnings that Australia's strategic situation has worsened dramatically, with major power conflict increasingly likely. Some commentators fret over US withdrawal from the region, which would leave us disturbingly exposed. Others worry that the US is now too

Finding Australia’s fair share of climate finance

Climate finance was high on the agenda in Paris last month as French President Emmanuel Macron co-hosted the 'One Planet Summit' with the UN and World Bank, preceded by a 'Climate Finance Day' with bankers and major institutional investors. Climate finance has been a central pillar of global

Best of The Interpreter 2017: China's influence

Former senator Sam Dastyari cetainly found that history repeats itself as farce. Or as Stephen Conroy, the former Labor defence spokesman that Dastyari infamously contradicted over the South China Sea, would later observe, it took a 'unique set of abilities to

Review: Kevin Rudd and his road to be PM

Kevin Rudd remains a polarising figure in Australian politics. The subject of near-messianic support as ‘Kevin07’, his legacy is contentious. His latest attempt to influence that legacy is Not For the Faint-hearted, the first (!) volume of his autobiography. Political memoirs are inevitably

Clear messages required in Twitter-age of diplomacy

Robert Ayson is quite right to pick me up on the distinction between pre-emptive and preventative military strikes. My post on Australia’s policy towards a US attack on North Korea argued Australia should make clear that it would not support a pre-emptive US strike at the North’s nuclear and

An investment bank for Australia’s aid program

In a recent article in the Australian Financial Review, Treasurer Scott Morrison endorsed the use of impact investing: investment with the goal of achieving a social result as well as a financial return. Such a strategy attempts to address problems or needs through market-based, for-

How the region reported the Foreign Policy White Paper

Yang Jie, an intern in the East Asia Program, and David Vallance, an intern in the International Security Program, summarise media reports from across the region following the release last month of the Foreign Policy White Paper. China People’s Daily, ‘China has serious concerns about

What should Australia rule out on North Korea?

In place of Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull's ambiguous commitment to support US military action against North Korea, Hugh White wants a clear statement ruling out Australia's participation in a 'pre-emptive' attack. But in turn there are two points of ambiguity in White's argument that may get in

Saying the unsayable in Australia’s relations with China

The issue of influence by the government of the People’s Republic of China in Australian public and political life reached a turning point with the resignation of senator Sam Dastyari. It concluded a year of forceful reporting and vitriolic debate about China in Australia, fuelling a steady flow

How Australia can help avoid a disastrous Korean war

Pyongyang’s latest long-range missile test raises the probability that Washington will decide to launch a pre-emptive military campaign against North Korea, simply because it will come to see this as the only alternative to accepting that North Korea will soon be

Review: Hugh White's 'Without America'

With the luck of timing, Hugh White's new Quarterly Essay, Without America: Australia in the New Asia, was released last month at almost exactly the same time as the launch of the Foreign Policy White Paper. It was a striking moment: just when the foreign-policy orthodoxy seemed to be catching up

No zero-sum game in greater Pacific ties

For many commentators with an interest in the Pacific, the emphasis on the region in the Foreign Policy White Paper has been welcomed as long overdue. Yet it has also raised some questions about the manner in which Australia engages in the region. James Batley has questioned whether Australia has

What next for Papua New Guinea?

It has been a tumultuous year for Australia's nearest neighbour. The protracted and controversial elections in Papua New Guinea took up most of 2017, with Peter O'Neill winning a second term and cementing his position as the most formidable politician of his generation. The government

Australia’s coal-fired diplomacy burns Pacific friends

Australia likes to pride itself as a Pacific power, one that shares common values with Pacific island neighbours to work towards what the new Foreign Policy White Paper calls 'a shared agenda for security and prosperity'. But Australia's pursuit of its own prosperity through the promotion

Mistrust of Australia is growing in China

Over the past year or so the mood in Canberra has soured toward China. Indeed, of the countries unsettled by China’s rise and its increasingly confident and assertive foreign policy, Australia is now among the most outspoken in its criticism of Beijing’s behaviour. This change has been visible

An opportunity missed for a feminist foreign policy

On joining AusAID's Gender Equality Section in 2008, I kept a copy of the 2003 Howard-era foreign policy white paper on my shelf. Containing no references to women, women's rights, gender equality or human security, it served both as a stark reminder of a conservative past, and as a symbol of the

Sam Dastyari and Chinese government influence in Australia

Senator Sam Dastyari has found himself back in the spotlight after Australia media outlets reported allegations that Dastyari gave Chinese billionaire Huang Xiangmo 'counter-surveillance' advice and unearthed the audio from Dastyari's now-infamous media conference last

Understanding a rules-based White Paper

The Foreign Policy White Paper has much to commend it, not least its analysis of the changing and challenging global and regional environment and its embrace of a ‘whole-of-government’ approach to Australia’s international interests. But if there are few questions to be asked in these areas,

What problem, exactly, would a foreign agents law fix?

Registration (and regulation) of so-called foreign agents, as proposed by the federal government, might enable the Australian public and our parliamentary representatives to know more about those who seek to influence public opinion and government policy. Yet the American experience with such

Foreign Policy White Paper: the UN on the periphery

The Foreign Policy White Paper offers a compelling assessment of the challenging geopolitical environment that Australia faces. It clearly advocates Australia’s priority of engagement in the ‘Indo-Pacific’ region, deftly manages the US-China contest and the inherent awkwardness of our trade

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