Friday 03 Dec 2021 | 15:20 | SYDNEY
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Alliance management – a history in pictures

Call it a measure of remarkable diplomatic consistency. Every year since 2013, at least one of two familiar faces has represented Australia at the regular “2+2” ministerial dialogue with the United States, more commonly known as AUSMIN. Either Julie Bishop or Marise Payne has been in the room

Will ANZUS make it to 80?

The ANZUS Treaty turns 70 today, having been signed on 1 September 1951. When political leaders mark the anniversary, it’s safe to predict they will pronounce the US-Australia alliance (let’s leave the NZ part of the acronym out of it for now) to be stronger than ever. They have a point.

Debating the alliance

Book review: Emma Shortis, Our Exceptional Friend: Australia’s Fatal Alliance with the United States (Hardie Grant, 2021) Depending on your perspective, Australia’s China debate might be relatively sophisticated, or resemble shell-churned ground in a war zone. Either way, it’s noisy and

Australia and LGBTQI rights

Less than a month into his term, US President Joe Biden issued a Memorandum on Advancing the Human Rights of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer and Intersex (LGBTQI) Persons around the World. Biden’s foreign policy focus on LGBTQI rights confirms that it is now time for Australia to step

Economic diplomacy: After Kabul, Australia looks to India

Suitcase intelligence Bob Carr recalls in his Diary of a Foreign Minister how a senior Australian intelligence official told him bluntly in 2013 that the war against the Taliban was failing. “We spent a billion dollars in Uruzgan province … We could have achieved the same result if I had been

The new citizen soldier

Events this year have meant that uniformed members of the Australian Defence Force are more visible to the public than ever. But they are also more vocal. When Kabul fell to the Taliban last week, public messages of frustration and despair included members of the ADF. Understandably, having spent

Economic diplomacy: Burning down the house

Follow the money Forget Extinction Rebellion, carbon border adjustment mechanisms and doctors’ wives in inner city Liberal seats. When Prime Minister Scott Morrison locked onto the existential message in this week’s United Nations climate change report it seems to have been about how foreign

How can Australia reset relations with China?

Australia-China relations appear caught in a well-charted downward spiral. In the past year alone both countries have lodged complaints against the other with the World Trade Organisation and a freeze on high-level diplomatic relations remains in place. China has slapped tariffs on key Australian

Australia and India: A time to refocus on trade talks

Australia’s former Prime Minister Tony Abbott has just completed a packed visit to India from 2–6 August as Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s special trade envoy. Abbott should have reason to be encouraged by his interactions and his meetings with a cross section of decision-makers in India,

Economic diplomacy: Going for gold in 20 years and counting

Silver medal winner Prime Minister Scott Morrison last week became the latest national leader to bank the immediate short-term political benefits from the projected long-term economic and soft power value of hosting the Olympic Games. Morrison declared after Brisbane won a competition against no

US-China rivalries: What matters for ASEAN

An interesting discussion about how Australia should respond to US President Joe Biden’s call for closer alignment and cooperation among democratic states has featured in a recent series of articles on The Interpreter. Between them, Susannah Patton and Ashley Townshend,  Michael Green, Ben

Afghanistan, Australia and the visa conundrum

With the advance of the Taliban in parts of Afghanistan and the withdrawal of coalition forces, the question of how to help Afghans who worked intimately with Australian forces has become a significant media and political issue. Former Prime Minister John Howard, who dispatched Australian troops to

The changing face of Australia’s diplomatic network

“Pale, male, and stale” has been a consistent lament when looking at the roll call of ambassadors from most Western nations. There have been frequent calls to include more women, more people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds and Indigenous communities, and to avoid plum

Lowy Institute Diplomat Database

This Lowy Institute interactive uncovers the changing face of Australia's diplomatic network, tracking 47 years of Australian diplomatic appointments overseas. The data reveals the way issues such as political affiliation, gender, family background, and education have shaped Australia’s

Australia right to back Biden on democracy

Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s recent speech, “A world order that favours freedom”, has some foreign policy commentators worried that Australia is signing up to more misguided US democracy evangelism. Australian suspicion of American liberal internationalism has a long history. And it’s

Building stronger Australia-Indonesia ties

When then Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono addressed the Australian parliament in 2010, he argued that the bilateral relationship faced four major challenges: improving mutual public understanding, managing diplomatic differences, boosting economic ties and adapting to emerging regional

Australia sweeps the table in the UK trade deal

Australian trade negotiators often enter talks with difficult demands and a comparatively weak hand. Agriculture, where they seek concessions from the other side, is politically sensitive meaning they are asking their counterparts to do what is hard. In exchange, they have little to offer because

The dangers in Australia’s blissful ignorance about India

A major headline from the 2021 Lowy Institute Poll is the dramatic decline in the Australian public’s assessment of China, continuing the trend already observed in previous years. While 52% of respondents said they trusted China to “act responsibly in the world” either “a great deal” or

Maladies, remedies and optimising security

Last week, Peter Dutton gave his first speech as Minister for Defence. In his remarks and follow up Q&A, Dutton touched on the increasing risk of war “especially through miscalculation or misunderstanding”, the challenge of China, and the relationship with the United States as being “

Economic diplomacy: Trade deals for a fast-growing family

Worker vs worker vs student Almost five million Kiwis have always been at least cousins. And Scott Morrison’s distinctive contribution to regional security has been his embrace of about 10 million other islanders as “our Pacific family”. But in a week of rhetoric about international

An alliance of democracies is essential

Susannah Patton and Ashley Townshend argued in The Interpreter last week that the Morrison government should steer the Biden administration away from a coalition of world democracies since that would narrow Australian and American influence in the Indo-Pacific. An inflexible insistence that

Australia’s China politics heats up

After a long period of uber-bipartisanship in the handling of China relations, Labor has opened a clear line of attack on the Morrison government.   Last month, at the Canberra launch of Nine columnist Peter Hartcher’s new book, The Red Zone, shadow foreign affairs minister Penny Wong said

Australia-China relations: More hurdles ahead

A recent report in the Sydney Morning Herald found that Australian media outlets quote the Global Times more often than they quote either China’s President Xi Jinping or members of the Chinese embassy in Canberra. This diet from a daily tabloid – viewed in the media industry as a source of

When border control goes over the line

The failure of the Australian government to return citizens and permanent residents from New Delhi on the first repatriation flight to Darwin since the recent shutdown of air travel from India amounts to an Australian policy failure and a breach of international law. A travel ban on direct flights

A rare test of China diplomacy

The term “political science,” as many have observed, is somewhat of an oxymoron. Of all fields of scholarly pursuit, politics is comparatively ill-suited to the processes of the scientific method. Political systems and policies cannot exactly be isolated in a laboratory. The “data sets” of

Australian aid: How low can it go?

In Australia’s budget last year, delayed until October responding to the unprecedented global health and economic crisis brought on by Covid-19, the Coalition government increased spending on foreign aid from $4 billion to $4.417 billion for the financial year 2020–21. The release this week of

Closed borders: The unequal waiting game

The experience of crossing national borders has always been defined by inequality. A hierarchy of mobility determined those who were free and facilitated to move and those who faced many hurdles and restrictions to prevent them leaving home. But Covid-19 has challenged this mobility hierarchy.

Australia keeps calm while China carries on

Now that the Morrison government has cancelled Victoria’s Belt and Road agreement with China, Australia is bracing for retaliation from Beijing, probably by way of further trade sanctions. When that retaliation arrives, what should Australia do about it? There’s an old saying that “living

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