Wednesday 20 Jun 2018 | 10:07 | SYDNEY
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Australian Development Assistance

The fall and fall of Australia’s aid program

Diminished and marginalised sums up the way Australia's development assistance program is treated in the Foreign Policy White Paper. The program represents by far the biggest proportion of Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade's budget (DFAT's total budget in 2017/2018 is $5.8 billion, of

Turnbull's new cabinet is great news for the Pacific

On Monday, Prime Minister Turnbull unveiled a new cabinet with sweeping changes to the front bench. The most important point for the Pacific is that Julie Bishop retains her position as Foreign Minister, with an improved status in cabinet as one of the kingmakers of the new Government. Steven Ciobo

Australia's foreign policy and refugee resettlement

Following a community outcry over the plight of asylum seekers in Europe, the Australian Government has announced that it will resettle 12,000 Syrian and Iraqi refugees. This will be in addition to the annual refugee and humanitarian intake of 13,750. Prime Minister Tony Abbott has described the

Australia–Papua New Guinea relations: Could do better

By Jenny Hayward-Jones, Director of the Lowy Institute's Melanesia Program, and Jonathan Pryke, Research Fellow. While it's managing its response to serious economic challenges brought about by a budget deficit and drought, Papua New Guinea is preparing to host the Pacific Islands Forum leaders

Papua New Guinea: Keep calm and muddle through?

By Jenny Hayward-Jones, Director of the Lowy Institute's Melanesia Program, and Jonathan Pryke, Research Fellow. Papua New Guinea has been in the international spotlight a lot in the last month and it has been almost all bad news. Revelations of a record budget deficit, the emerging worrying impact

Australia's PNG solution: The seeds of sectarianism?

As part of the 'Sectarianism and Religiously Motivated Violence' Masters course run by the Lowy Institute's Rodger Shanahan at ANU's National Security College, students are asked to write an article on contemporary sectarian conflict. This piece by William Stoltz was judged the best of those

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

A way forward for Indonesia-Australia relations

It is hard to avoid a sense of déjà vu when one looks at Indonesia-Australia relations today. Our fundamental strategic interests mostly converge – from regional and maritime stability to managing China's growing power – even if our policy preferences diverge in various issue areas. And

Australia-PNG diplomatic spat needs swift resolution

Papua New Guinea has reacted to Australia's recent decision to establish a diplomatic post in the Autonomous Region of Bougainville by banning Australian travel to the province. This spat is proving to be an irritant not only for the friendly relationship between Canberra and Port Moresby, but also

Australia's Pacific aid budget spared from serious cuts

By Jenny Hayward-Jones, Director of the Lowy Institute's Melanesia Program, and Phillipa Brant, Research Associate. The Pacific Islands region has been spared any serious impact from cuts to the Australian aid program revealed in budget documents released yesterday. Australia's bilateral program

Is enough being done to protect aid workers?

The deaths of five Afghan staff from Save the Children-Australia in Uruzgan province two weeks ago exemplifies the risks of providing development assistance in fragile states. Development assistance in conflict situations has drastically increased over the past decade, and that trend is likely

Australia's unsustainable approach to asylum-seekers

At a time when international cooperation on refugees is most sorely needed, countries are instead resorting to increasing unilateralism. Australia is at the forefront. Retreating inwards by trying to seal off borders to people in search of protection is both unrealistic and unsustainable. The

Six ideas for rescuing Australian digital diplomacy

Australia's approach to digital diplomacy is second-rate and entirely inadequate for a nation that sees itself as 'a top 20 country'. Despite an expanded social media presence, Australia continues to lag far behind other countries – large and small – that are investing serious resources into

Cyclone Pam: A photo essay from a volunteer

By Eva Westfield, who was an Australian volunteer based in Port Vila. Consistently rated the most dangerous countries in the world in terms of disaster risk, Vanuatu is no stranger to the destruction caused by natural hazards. Talk of Cyclone Pam hitting Vanuatu started about a week before it

Tough road for Asia's women activists

On 3 March, Australia's Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said, 'We must use the celebration of International Women's Day to highlight the plight of women still fighting for freedom and equality, for when that is achieved it will be for the betterment of us all.'  That fight is ongoing in the Asia-

The case for Pacific Island regionalism

A few months ago I stood on a beach in Tarawa, the most populous of islands comprising the Micronesian nation of Kiribati. It's long and thin sliver of land where you can walk from one side of the island to the other in minutes. It has a population density up to twice that of Sydney or New York, but

Australia and the AIIB: A lost opportunity

The debate about whether Australia should join the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) has gone beyond the realm of economic development and investment to hit at the core of Australia's apparent security dilemma. The initial concern revolved around the governance arrangements and whether

Ebola: Lessons from earlier pandemic scares

In July 2014, Australia's Chief Medical Officer, Dr Chris Baggoley, assured us that the risk of the deadly Ebola virus spreading to Australia from West Africa was very low. At that stage, cases of this most recent outbreak of the disease had been confined to West African countries and in particular

Fiji's election: More to do to restore democracy

After eight years of Voreqe Bainimarama's military rule in Fiji, there is much excitement about the prospects for Fiji's return to democracy with elections next week. Seven parties and one independent candidate will contest 50 parliamentary seats. 591,095 Fijians have registered to vote; 120,000

Abbott's first year: Nowhere to be seen in the Pacific

People who laud Tony Abbott's surefooted foreign policy never mention his role in the Pacific islands. It's hardly surprising. Following the precedent set by John Howard, the Prime Minister has not shown much interest in Australia's closest neighbours. Abbott couldn't even spare a day to attend

Pacific island links: PNG special

This week, the Melanesia Program team is in Port Moresby for the 'PNG New Voices' event. So this week's links are focused on PNG. The Lowy Institute's Melanesia Program, in partnership with the PNG National Research Institute, has launched its Australia-PNG network, aimed at fostering people-to-

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

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

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

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

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

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

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