Friday 23 Oct 2020 | 14:00 | SYDNEY
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Australia in the World

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

Budget 2014: The end of an aid era?

By Jenny Hayward-Jones, Director of the Lowy Institute's Melanesia Program, and Philippa Brant, a Lowy Institute research associate. The Abbott Government last night brought down the first annual aid budget since the integration of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) and AusAID

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

Malcolm Fraser taken to task for his Pine Gap claims

An addendum to the long interview I posted last Friday with former prime minister Malcolm Fraser. Fraser argues in his new book Dangerous Allies that the US listening post at Pine Gap in central Australia, known as the 'joint facilities', has evolved from a surveillance base designed to monitor

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

Jump jets for Australia?

It has just been pointed out to me that in his press conference of 23 April announcing the decision to buy 58 Joint Strike Fighters (JSFs) for the Royal Australian Air Force, Prime Minister Abbott made a tantalising reference to future additional purchases of the JSF. If it means what I think it

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

Labour mobility key to Pacific future

The issue of labour migration and seasonal work is back on the agenda of Pacific island governments and donor agencies. Pacific population is increasing by 177,100 each year and at the present rate the region's population will double in the next 36 years. Disaggregating those statistics makes 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

Solomon Islands flooding and Australian aid

On 5 April, the Solomon Islands was hit by extreme flooding, killing 23 people and leaving an estimated 50,000–60,000 people homeless. Lowy Institute Melanesia experts Jenny Hayward Jones and Tess Newton-Cain got together earlier this week to discuss the impact of Australia's $3 million

Pacific private sector engagement: Where to begin?

Suva, Fiji. A key facet of the Australian Government's aid and development policy for the Pacific island region is enhancing private sector engagement. However, the detail of this policy has yet to be articulated. The role of the private sector in aid and development is the subject of an ongoing

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

Foreign aid hits record high

In what will come as a surprise to many, the OECD's 2013 aid figures reveal that foreign aid (ODA) from governments is actually increasing. This is despite ongoing budgetary constraints in many countries. After two years of decline, foreign aid rose 6.1% in real terms in 2013 to reach its highest

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 (

Foreign aid: Parliamentary committees at 50 paces

In the wake of the Abbott Government's unforeseen but momentous decision last year to integrate the Australia's foreign aid agency, AusAID, into DFAT, the federal parliamentary committee system seems to have been enlisted by government and opposition to debate the aid policy gap. In early December

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

DFAT is not ready for a larger Australia

There's a big, a big hard sun Beating on the big people In a big hard world – Eddie Vedder, 'Hard Sun' Lowy Institute Executive Director Michael Fullilove is to be commended for calling for a 'larger Australia'. However, the old adage of 'quality not quantity' also applies. It is not clear

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

Abbott in PNG: Advice from the younger generation

Tonight, Tony Abbott flies into Port Moresby on his first visit to Papua New Guinea as prime minister. So far his foreign minister, Julie Bishop, has done the heavy lifting in the relationship, building on several visits in opposition with a high profile visit in February. The Abbott Government

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