Short posts from Lowy Institute experts on what they regard as the most important international policy issue of this campaign. See the Election Interpreter 2013 archive for the whole series.

When it does emerge as a campaign issue, both parties compete to show who has more ownership of Australia's special alliance with the US. But in this campaign, a more detailed and critical discussion of the changing dynamics of that alliance will be important.

Two years since President Obama announced the deployment of US Marines to Darwin, Australian and US negotiators are still haggling over the funding for supporting infrastructure in northern Australia. As the Lowy Poll shows, Australian views on supporting US military action in Asia are evolving. A more substantive public discussion on the alliance is needed, and the time to have that discussion is not on the eve of a security crisis.

Australia should maintain its commitment to the immensely important ANZUS alliance, but our politicians should not shirk a more critical discussion of how that alliance works, and how the best interests of both Australia and the US should be observed.