On the polls, Australia’s long-time Labor Opposition leader Bill Shorten will be prime minister by the middle of next year. So a major speech on a future Labor government’s foreign policy, delivered on Monday at the Lowy Institute, was an important set of signals on Australia’s direction in a
This week’s Economist magazine features Australia on the cover with the caption: “Aussie Rules: what Australia can teach the world”. Inside, the text is effusive: Australia is “the wonder down under”, “possibly the most successful rich country”.
How times (and predictions) change!
Over the past six years, we have witnessed the steady, if not accelerating, deterioration of the mental and physical health of refugee children on Nauru. Their suffering has been described by medical experts as worse than they have seen in war zones or refugee camps around the world.
Successive federal governments have declared Australia to be an “energy superpower”. The 2017 Foreign Policy White Paper is the most recent example, highlighting the size of Australia’s exports of coal and liquefied natural gas.
Yet Australian foreign policy has often overlooked energy
Vice President Mike Pence’s speech was tasty red meat for anyone desiring a more confrontational US policy toward the People’s Republic of China. Pence’s speech reflects a strengthening bipartisan consensus in Washington, and suggests that a long-term policy of competition and confrontation
Labor was quick to pounce on a “desperate” Scott Morrison to accuse him of breaking “bipartisan foreign policy” after the prime minister flagged the prospect that Australia could recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.
Which is true enough on the specifics. But broad questions
Last month, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi met with Australia’s Foreign Minister Marise Payne on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly in New York. Wang Yi struck a surprisingly conciliatory tone, expressing the wish to partner with Australia in the development of the Pacific
Australia’s Director-General of Security, Duncan Lewis, has published his urgings in support of a bill before the federal parliament to impose obligations on communication service providers to facilitate investigative access to encrypted communications.
Formerly, such a public participation by
The Australian Army is spending up big, announcing a $5.2bn contract for more than 200 Boxers (armoured reconnaissance vehicles from Rheinmetall, as opposed to Boxster of the Porsche variety), while also releasing a tender for another 450 even bigger and better armoured personnel carriers.
Papua New Guineans tell each other with pride and excitement that the eyes of the world will be upon them 40 days from now, when they host the APEC Leaders Meeting in Port Moresby on 17-19 November. They are not fazed that Donald Trump won’t be there.
His representative, Mike Pence, is
Right when Australia finds itself with serious strategic interests in its neighbourhood, it has managed to turn its once influential international broadcasting voice into a whisper.
One that’s difficult to hear outside a handful of major cities across the region.
Japan’s Shinzo Abe now ranks as one of the region’s most experienced prime ministers, and will likely meet with Australia’s newest leader, Scott Morrison, in November.
China’s growing influence in the region is a topic both leaders must discuss, given that the prosperity and stability in
As a doctoral student exploring theory and creative practice of diasporas in the mid-2000s, I ended up making a documentary about Indian migrants in Adelaide (titled, I Journey Like a Paisley). There was little academic or popular literature on the matter then.
A few years later, the racist
“We want to know to whom should we talk”, asked one South American diplomat in frustration at staffing problems in the US State Department.
The question underscores, again, the failure of the Trump Administration to adequately staff its foreign service. This failure is not merely a curiosity,
The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade's (DFAT) soft power review comes at a time when information is rising as an instrument of foreign policy. DFAT faces new challenges and therefore needs a renewed vision and mission for its soft power. The review is sorely required.
Drought is an unavoidable hazard of farming in Australia. As the economic pressure mounts from the current drought in northern New South Wales and Queensland, there is increasing stress on farmers in the region, including in the dairy industry.
The federal government has stepped in with
The Australian aid program has always laboured under multiple and competing objectives, both implicit and explicit. This was identified in the 1997 Simons Report on foreign aid, commissioned by the Howard Government, into what was then a separate agency, AusAID:
The managers of the aid
It’s not all that often the National party – the junior member of the Coalition government – has an obvious influence over Australia’s relations with its neighbours. But a push for a new agricultural visa by the Nationals and supported by the lobby-group National Farmers Federation is
The latest eruption of political infighting in Canberra was unusual for the ineptitude of its instigators, who failed to get their own candidate into the job, and the persistence of the after-shocks. These included the resignation from parliament of the defeated prime minister, Malcolm Turnbull, and
The condemnation of China last week by Nauru’s President Baron Waqa at the Pacific Island Forum leaders’ meeting may have been bolstered by Taiwan’s substantial investment in that tiny Pacific nation of 13,000 people. Nauru is one of six Pacific countries to have diplomatic relations with
After changes of leadership and of government in Canberra, those of us who work on Pacific island issues are usually inclined to be optimistic. We hope that the incoming Australian Prime Minister and Foreign Minister might care more about the Pacific, might be inclined to spend more time in the
Australia can probably thank China’s amorphous Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) for helping push over the line the bilateral trade agreement that Prime Minister Scott Morrison will claim as his first diplomatic triumph on Friday.
The key breakthrough in the agreement is set to
In August 2013, when military judge Colonel Denise Lind sentenced Private First Class Bradley (now Chelsea) Manning to 35 years in jail, she never described Manning as a whistleblower. In fact, she said Manning’s conduct:
was of a heedless nature that made it actually and imminently dangerous to
Few can quibble with the accolades that Julie Bishop has received in recent days for the manner in which she performed the role of Australian foreign minister. The first woman to hold the position, she graced the world stage with a mixture of professionalism and poise, dignity and discipline. No one
It was just a week ago, before Scott Morrison came from nowhere to snatch the prime ministership, that Peter Dutton looked odds-on to be Australia’s next leader. Australia’s politics seemed to be shifting decisively to the right.
Major parties are getting weaker around the West, and Australia
Julie Bishop resigned as Foreign Minister on Sunday, just short of her 20th anniversary as member for Curtin in Western Australia, and her fifth as Foreign Minister. In the coming days, there will no doubt be numerous reflections and dissections of her time as Foreign Minister. Deposed Prime
Healing bitter internal party divisions after a week of political bomb-throwing will be an onerous enough task for Scott Morrison, newly anointed Prime Minister of Australia. That’s before running the country, let alone positioning Australia in the world, or dealing with Donald Trump.
The Australian government has officially blocked Chinese telecommunications firms, most notably Huawei, from providing equipment to Australia’s new 5G mobile phone networks, citing concerns over national security.
While the issue in question regards some of the world’s most sophisticated
Few foreign-policy concepts have drawn as much attention as “soft power” – the ability to influence the behaviour of others through the power of attraction and ideas. As coined by Harvard’s Joseph Nye, soft power arises from the attractiveness of a country’s culture, political ideals, and
Peter Dutton was standing beside Malcolm Turnbull at joint press conference in May when a journalist asked whether Australia would move its embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, as its US ally had formally done so the day before.
“No, our embassy will remain where it is,” Turnbull responded, as
Remember when Australia used to refer to its near neighbours in the region as the “arc of instability”? The leadership shenanigans on Tuesday will have given the BBC’s former Australia correspondent Nick Bryant an opportunity to update his description of Canberra as the “coup capital of the
It is tempting to look at the last 11 years of political leadership instability in Canberra and ascribe it exclusively to either the incompetence or malevolence of individuals.
The overarching story is that the major centre–right and centre–left parties in Western democracies each represent an
A week or so back, my phone flashed with a news alert. “Is Australia becoming a more racist country?” was the headline from CNN. This was days before a newly appointed senator stood up in the national parliament in Canberra on Tuesday afternoon and called for a “predominantly
The Department of Communications is now reviewing submissions on the issue of Australian Broadcasting Services in the Asia-Pacific region. This is timely. As always, communicating Australia’s views and voices to the Asia-Pacific region is important. And, more than ever before, finding effective
US President Donald Trump comes in for widespread criticism, but he has at least one well-placed Australian defender. Former foreign minister Alexander Downer says that for Australia, Trump has been better than Obama. On the whole, Trump has been “good for us”. This is seriously misguided.
Last Wednesday, the Royal Australian Navy (RAN) frigate HMAS Warramunga docked at Garden Island, ending a nine-month deployment to the western Indian Ocean. It was the 66th deployment of an Australian warship to the Middle East region, part of an almost continuous Australian
There are approximately 340,000 people in Timor-Leste using Facebook. More than a quarter of them follow the Australian Embassy in Dili’s Facebook page. This number is growing. The figures from Papua New Guinea and Cambodia are similarly encouraging. Why?
Before answering, consider another
Australia’s international voice, once strong, influential and broadcast across much of the Asia-Pacific, has become little more than a croak into the ether.
Substantial cuts to funding, waning government commitment, changing national priorities, and digital disruption have resulted in Australia
Former senior Australian diplomat Geoff Raby’s substantial article written for the Asia Society and reproduced in the Australian Financial Review this week continues his “realist” approach to discussion of Australia’s foreign policy choices. It’s another piece
“Being in the Pacific, of the Pacific” was an aspiration announced by New Zealand’s Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Foreign Affairs Fletcher Tabuteau at a recent conference in Wellington. New Zealand’s Pacific identity has been a continuing theme of the Pacific reset policy&
It has been nearly two decades since the Council of Australian Governments agreed to a national framework to combat terrorism. Now, in the long shadow of the September 11 attacks, some of Australia’s convicted terrorists are nearing the completion of their custodial sentences. From 2019 onwards,
One of Jacinda Ardern’s early prime ministerial tasks was to head off some potentially bad optics in New Zealand’s most important bilateral relationship. After all, she was leading just the sort of government that Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop had said would be difficult to work with
Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop arrived in Timor-Leste at the weekend, on her first official visit and the first by any Australian minister to the country in five years. Bishop arrived with the promise of a beatific “new chapter” in the two nations’ previously fraught
In this rather strange ABC News article that appeared on Friday, it is reported that “senior figures in the Turnbull government” claim that Washington could bomb targets in Iran as early as next month, and that Australia would assist in target identification.
Last month, a secret deal was revealed between Taiwan and Australia to send asylum seekers from Nauru to Taiwan for medical treatment. In Australia, the news has added to the controversy surrounding offshore detention centres, a crucial debate given reporting of yet another
Few people are as qualified as Peter Varghese to draw up a timely, sound, and realistic blueprint to build a dynamic yet sustainable economic partnership between India and Australia.
Unlike the case with China, an expanded trade and investment relationship with India will enhance Australia’s
Passage to India
Two statistics in the new report to the Australian Government on the future economic relationship with India underline how this is going to be a battle of perceptions even before anyone gets to the policy ideas.
The first is a crony capitalism index, which estimates
Peter Varghese’s independent report on Australia’s economic strategy for India, released by Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull last week, sounds a confident note for the future of the relationship. Although the focus of the report is trade, geopolitical alignments are one of three
It didn’t even make the news in Australia, but two weeks ago India announced it will now allow Indonesian tourists to visit without having to apply or pay for a visa.
This development allows Indonesian nationals to choose India, in addition to all the ASEAN nations, as a holiday destination