Thursday 24 Sep 2020 | 15:19 | SYDNEY
What's happening on

Australia in the World

The future ain’t what it used to be

What do the East Timorese defence force, “clean coal”, women’s empowerment, and Kevin Rudd’s first-term government have in common? The answer is the year 2020. Back when 2020 felt like a halcyon time far-far away, this was the year that, respectively, the Government of Timor-Leste, the

Australia-Philippines: Prolonged partners

The announcement by the Duterte administration last month that it will terminate the 1998 Philippines-US Visiting Forces Agreement will likely also raise questions about the future of the Australia-Philippines political and security relationship. Australia and the US are the only two countries that

Australia needs a feminist foreign policy

A report published in 2019 by the Lowy Institute, Foreign territory: Women in international relations, found that there is a severe gender imbalance in the workforces of the departments and organisations that make up Australia’s international relations sector. The report found a distressingly low

Modern slavery reports, year one: What can we expect?

In 2020, the Commonwealth’s much-heralded Modern Slavery Act (MSA) obliges Australian companies above a consolidated revenue threshold of $100 million to report on their policies and actions relating to ending modern slavery in their supply chains. The issue of modern slavery is fraught, complex

Youth-led diplomacy: Big opportunity for big impact

After running seven delegations and facilitating 49 individual events as part of the Youth Entrepreneurs and Leaders Speaker Series, funded and supported by the Australian Government’s largest public diplomacy program, Australia now, I have become increasingly aware of the need to capture the

Australia, in search of great and powerful friends

Australia is a nation in search of powerful friends. This was evident in the lavish welcome that Indonesian President Joko Widodo (“Jokowi”) was accorded on his recent visit. At one level, Australia’s courting of Indonesia could seem astonishing. Indonesia is a fragile democracy, with a poor

Australia and Israel should be partners in Asia

The rise of Asia and growing superpower competition pose serious challenges for countries such as Australia and Israel, and they should face them together. On the one hand, Asia’s economic dynamism offers access to new and growing markets; on the other hand, changing regional dynamics in Asia have

Being one of the boys in the military

The ruling this week by the Indian Supreme Court that allowed women to command troops in India’s armed forces comes as the latest in a series of gender reforms in democratic militaries. Despite the protestations of the Indian government that troops were not ready to follow female commanders, that

Economic diplomacy: Indonesian trade deals and real deals

Moving on It is notable that while the three old Cs (curry, cricket, and the Commonwealth) still reappear at Australia-India gatherings, this week’s Indonesian summitry occurred with little reference to the parallel three Bs (boats, beef, and Bali). These two strange neighbours seem

China, Australia, and the gulf between leaders and led

Dealing with China in 2019, particularly its attempts to interfere in Australia’s domestic politics, was tough work for the government. Unfortunately, the China challenge is likely to get harder in 2020 and for every year after, and foreign interference won’t even be the biggest concern. 

Climate change, security, and the Australian bushfires

It’s hard to overstate the devastation of the Australian bushfires of 2019–20. More than 30 people have been killed, communities devastated, millions of hectares of forest destroyed, and more than a billion animals have lost their lives. Some fires are still burning. Inevitably, the

Australia-Indonesia: Building trust

Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi highlighted the importance of developing what she called “strategic trust” in Australia-Indonesia relations, just ahead of the visit to Canberra this week by President Joko Widodo (“Jokowi”). Retno declared a more trusting Australia-Indonesia

Jokowi’s Canberra trip: A step ahead on a long road

In any relationship, it’s never a great sign when both parties have to reassure each other constantly about the strength of their bond. The more you feel the need to say it, the less true it tends to be. So it was revealing that both Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Indonesian

Next steps in Australia’s coronavirus strategy

Australia is one of 72 countries that have so far imposed coronavirus travel restrictions. This has slowed the virus and bought us time, but at a price: people’s lives have been interrupted (especially students) and industries have taken a big hit (especially education and tourism). That time

Australian politics: Trouble at the top, again

Barnaby Joyce tried to bounce back to the top echelon of Australia politics this week – forcing yet another leadership challenge for a party in government, although unlike the prime ministerial churn for which Australia has become notorious over the past decade, Joyce is from the Nationals,

A new ambassador in Washington

Joe Hockey, former Treasurer, has stepped down as Australia’s ambassador to the United States and will soon be replaced by another former cabinet minister, Arthur Sinodinos. In bureaucracies, changes in personnel should not matter, but in this instance the change will be palpable. The new

Economic diplomacy: Two big-C issues

Change of pace If Australia’s bushfire crisis has done one thing to inadvertently calm the national zeitgeist during the holiday season, it is in the way climate change has suddenly returned to supplant China as the country’s biggest wicked problem. But in reality, these two big-C issues

The Australian lag in tech policy

Last month, Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced a much-awaited reform package to regulate the tech giants and their immense market power. Australia was to be “the model jurisdiction” for “dealing with digital platforms”, he declared. However, strong language aside, the promised reform

Australia’s new strategic geography

Australia’s strategic geography is not what it used to be. Technology has made the “sea-air gap”, an artefact treasured since the 1980s by a generation of Australian strategic planners, obsolete. Three developments compromise the idea that geography offers Australia defensive depth and

Climate leadership: An idea whose time has come?

Julie Bishop’s seemingly belated call for Australian leadership on climate change has drawn some predictable criticism. Why, it might reasonably be asked, didn’t she do something about it when she had the chance as foreign minister? It’s a good question. The answer, and Bishop’s own defence

New Year on Australia’s fire ravaged coast

This was supposed to be an idyllic week on the east and south coasts of Australia, when thousands of families traditionally set off after Christmas for their beach holidays at houses, caravan parks and campgrounds scattered down our long, magnificent coastline.  We were among

India and Australia, newfound friends?

Scott Morrison is due to make his first trip to India as Australian Prime Minister next month, with stops expected in Delhi, Mumbai, and Bangalore. He has announced that he will give the keynote speech at the Raisina Dialogue, a multilateral annual global conference hosted by the Indian government

Favourites of 2019: Ross Garnaut on climate

As 2019 winds up, Lowy Institute staff and Interpreter contributors offer their favourite books, articles, films, or TV programs this year. Ross Garnaut’s Superpower has already been reviewed on The Intepreter. But can I include it in the context of “favourites for 2019”? This book marks not

Pacifying Australia-China relations

Australia and China cooperating in the Pacific Islands? At first glance it seems absurd. Australia-China relations are hardly warm and glowing right now. Just in the last few weeks, there’s been a focus on alleged espionage courtesy of Wang Liqiang, claims of attempted political

Our Very Own Brexit: Response to reviewers

Based on the reactions which Our Very Own Brexit has provoked here on The Interpreter, in the media, and on the book-launch circuit, I have two regrets about the “Australian Brexit” scenario that forms the centrepiece of the book. The first is actually less a regret than a creeping doubt: I

Strength in numbers in the eastern Indian Ocean

India is the most capable resident power in the Indian Ocean, but its expanding military footprint is uneven and reliant on partnerships with likeminded states. India’s military posture and activities have been largely weighted to the western Indian Ocean. A recently published Asia Maritime

Pages