Wednesday 03 Jun 2020 | 02:01 | SYDNEY
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Canberra conversations, with Frances Adamson

This is Episode Two of Canberra Conversations, an occasional podcast series on The Interpreter where I talk with some of the big names from the foreign policy and national security worlds in Australia's capital. In Episode One, I spoke with Mike Pezzullo, Secretary of the Department of Immigration

Islamic State is changing the face of terrorism

If thwarted terrorist plots are anything to go by, then Australia surely does live up to its reputation as the lucky country. In the past month there were two narrowly missed major attacks that were part of the same conspiracy against Australian aviation. The latest plot was the thirteenth

Should war require parliamentary approval?

In light of US President Donald Trump's erratic attempts to intimidate North Korea, several prominent voices have argued that Australia's parliament should be granted control over any decision to go to war. I think that would be a mistake, though not for the reason you might think. Former

Australia and Korea’s wars: A debate worth revisiting

Tensions have temporarily abated on the Korean Peninsula, following the latest blustery exchanges between Washington and Pyongyang. In typically mercurial fashion, after threatening 'fire and fury', President Donald Trump has now praised Kim Jong-un’s 'decision' not to launch missiles at Guam as '

Death of a Lebanese terrorist

They say that the wheels of justice turn slowly, but they do turn. And if the reports of the death of the terrorist Khalid Sharrouf are confirmed, then it meant that he died as a Lebanese, rather than Australian citizen (he was stripped of his Australian citizenship early this year). This doesn’t

Rhetorical arthritis won’t sell an Australian republic

By putting the creation of an Australian republic back onto the political agenda, Labor leader Bill Shorten has once more brought to the fore the connection between the nation’s constitutional status, its identity, and its place in the world. But perhaps the most surprising aspect of Shorten’s

Marriage equality fiasco damages Brand Australia

Often it is the glaring contradictions of Australian life that catch the international eye. The successfully multi-cultural country with one of the most punitive approaches to asylum seekers of any western country. The sun-dried continent where climate change scepticism remains a mainstream

Australia and ASEAN: The next 50 years

Australia's future, and our future prosperity, are inevitably in Asia.   Julia Gillard pointed to this in 2012 when she launched the ‘Australia in the Asian Century’ White Paper, saying 'whatever else this century brings, it will bring Asia's return to global leadership, Asia’s rise.

The Trump/Turnbull transcript: The PM’s parting gift

So mesmerised have Australian commentators become with the Trump/Turnbull telephone conversation from late January that the leaking last week of the verbatim transcript was always going to breathe new life into the episode. Some journalists even appear to be the modern day equivalent of the Roman

Chinese spy ships: The devil in the detail

Recent posts in The Interpreter (by Iain Henry, Euan Graham and James Goldrick) have commented on the presence of a Chinese intelligence-gathering ship off the Queensland Coast during Exercise Talisman Sabre. All these posts are broadly correct – the incident suggested Chinese hypocrisy with its

What NAFTA renegotiation means for Australia

It was always part of the Trump agenda to do something about the North American Free Trade Agreement (‘one of the worst deals ever’) covering the US, Canada and Mexico: the outcome is renegotiation rather than the threatened termination. The Office of the United State Trade Representative has

A Home Affairs Ministry: Details to follow

While responses to Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s announcement on 18 July about the creation in 2018 of a Home Affairs Ministry ranged widely, the fact is that the decision has been made. But the announcement was short on detail and unclear in some areas, and the challenge now is to understand

India-Australia relations: Getting over the Quad blues

Last week the Indian warships INS Kamorta, INS Shivalik and INS Jyoti arrived in Western Australia’s port city of Fremantle to participate in a bilateral exercise. The military drills came close on the heels of a controversial decision by New Delhi to reject Canberra’s request for observer

Back in focus: The United Nations Command in South Korea

Following his recent speech at the Shangri-la Dialogue in Singapore, US Secretary of Defense James Mattis was asked a question about North Korea. This excerpt from his answer should be of interest to Australians, among others: We obviously work very, very closely with the United Nations Command.

Belt and Road PPPs: Opportunities and pitfalls

China’s push for the new normal has seen its local governments convert to public-private partnerships (PPPs), long-term contracts between a private party and government to provide a public asset or service. More than 12,000 such projects worth around US$2 trillion have kicked off since public

Four Corners sees the Party-state in all the shadows

Last night ABC TV aired a Four Corners/Fairfax Media investigation into China’s power and influence in Australia that promised to uncover 'how China's Communist Party is secretly infiltrating Australia'. The program traced the stories of various individuals and their ties to China and concluded we

When will Australia acknowledge a changed America?

Since the election of Donald Trump, a great deal of faith  – naturally enough – has been put in the very occurrence of encounters that Australian ministers and prime ministers have had with their American counterparts. Whether it be introductory calls that both Ministers Bishop and Payne

AUSMIN: For the US, a refreshingly ‘normal’ meeting

The Australia-US Ministerial Consultation (AUSMIN) on Monday was noteworthy for how normal it was. The meeting stood in stark contrast to the recent NATO Summit, where President Trump managed to raise more questions about the American commitment to the trans-Atlantic alliance than he answered. In

Incident at Three Pagodas Pass

After decades of strained bilateral relations, Australia’s defence ties with Myanmar are gradually being restored. The office of the Defence Attache (DA) in the Australian embassy in Yangon (formerly Rangoon), which closed in 1979, was reopened in 2014. This coincided with a port visit by HMAS

Australian refugee policy: Twists in the tale

On the airwaves this week, Australia’s Immigration Minister Peter Dutton continues to describe asylum seekers who are yet to submit their protection applications as 'fake refugees'. The Minister’s comments ignore the fact that government policy actually prevented these 7500 people from applying

Australia, Vietnam, the diaspora and generational change

Australia's Vietnamese diaspora is a remarkable element in the fast-evolving relationship between the two countries. Hanoi and Canberra are both doing what they can to help Australian Vietnamese to forge and strengthen links that can pay enormous dividends in trade and tourism. This latest chapter

Book review: PNG, Australia’s Northern Shield?

Given the general gloom that seems to dominate contemporary Australian perceptions about Papua New Guinea’s ability to govern itself, it is refreshing to learn how mournfully doubtful successive Australian Cabinets in the late 1960s through to PNG’s independence in 1975 were about our former

Onus on Turnbull to remember Sri Lanka’s Victims

This week, Sri Lanka’s Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe is visiting Australia. Besides growing economic cooperation, apparently 'enhanced cooperation on development and sport' between the two nations is on the agenda. But let’s hope that beyond friendly cricket matches, Prime Minister Malcolm

For Australians, is PNG a partner or an obligation?

Papua New Guinea will commemorate 40 years of independence from Australia this year. Foreign Minister Julie Bishop is using the anniversary to promote the changing nature of Australia's relationship with PNG. In a speech earlier this week she said:   There are challenges and

Lowy poll shows that values matter in foreign policy

The 2015 Lowy Institute Poll reveals a great deal about Australian attitudes towards China, both in terms of our bilateral relationship, but also how China fits into our broader sense of economic and political security alongside other actors such as the US. It would appear that values and ideals

The 2015 Lowy Institute Poll: What does it all mean?

The 2015 Lowy Institute Poll was released this morning. It's the eleventh annual Lowy Institute Poll. It goes without saying that every year there are some fascinating results which shine a light on how Australians feel about critical foreign policy issues. With our established tracking questions

Data retention scheme has majority support from Australians

New Lowy Institute polling released today shows that the Australian Government's data retention ('metadata') laws, which passed the parliament last night, have the support of a clear majority of Australians. When asked whether 'legislation which will require Australian telecommunications companies

Australians shifting on climate change

A month ago my colleague John Connor wrote an op-ed for the Sydney Morning Herald welcoming the fact that for the first time in years, climate change was a major story coming out of the Lowy Institute's poll of public attitudes to international affairs. Expectation for leadership on the issue was up

Young Australians talk about the value of democracy

Since Fergus Hanson first polled Australians on the value of democracy in the 2012 Lowy Institute Poll, our findings about how Australians, particularly young Australians, view democracy have variously provoked astonishment, bewilderment, disbelief, worry and frustration. Our 2014 Poll, released

Can women lead? Australians think so

Comments by Hillary Clinton and Julia Gillard this week have invigorated the debate on women and leadership. Clinton's recently released book Hard Choices made news in Australia for the condemnation of the 'outrageous sexism' experienced by Gillard. In response, the former Australian prime

How the Lowy Institute Poll works

In conjunction with the release of the 2014 Lowy Institute Poll, Lowy Institute Poll Director Alex Oliver has recorded a podcast which explains the methodology used in the survey. Alex speaks  with Sol Lebovic, who has provided independent advice and technical support to the Lowy Institute over

A larger Australia? Sure, but for what, exactly?

I'm going to focus on one aspect of Michael Fullilove's National Press Club address, neatly summarised in his conclusion: Australia has a choice. Do we want to be a little nation, with a small population, a restricted diplomatic network, a modest defence force, and a cramped vision of our future

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