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The 2015 Boyer Lectures

7 Dec 2015 11:02

This is the first in a series of posts marking the launch (tomorrow) of A Larger Australia, the book of the 2015 Boyer Lectures, by Lowy Institute Executive Director Michael Fullilove.

Since his university days, Michael Fullilove has had two abiding interests: speechcraft and international affairs. This made him the perfect choice to deliver the first Boyer Lectures on foreign policy in over a decade. The talks are mercifully cliché free. They sparkle with pithy observations and choice anecdotes. The 2015 Boyers are a pleasure to consume, and I'm pleased to have been asked to offer some observations on them.

Reading Michael's four lectures prompted three responses. With a nod to the ongoing Paris climate talks, let me sum them up as liberty, equality and fraternity.

COMMENTS

8 Dec 2015 15:47

This is the second in a series of posts marking the launch  of A Larger Australia, the book of the 2015 Boyer Lectures, by Lowy Institute Executive Director Michael Fullilove.

Michael Fullilove challenges us to seek a 'larger Australia' during his Boyer Lectures, and modeled the point by delivering one of the lectures in China. That was a moment to applaud.

In his third lecture, Fullilove is riffing off the Richard Haass quote that 'foreign policy begins at home', noting 'Australia's reputation and influence overseas are underpinned by the quality of our society and our economy'. He identifies political leadership churn, lack of reform and the low quality of public political debate as hampering our position on the world stage.

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9 Dec 2015 08:05

This is the third in a series of posts marking the launch  of A Larger Australia, the book of the 2015 Boyer Lectures, by Lowy Institute Executive Director Michael Fullilove.

In his final Boyer Lecture 'The Birthplace of the Fortunate', Michael Fullilove advocates for a more capable and muscular Australian Defence Force (ADF). What could this look like and how likely is it?

He asserts upfront that the foreign policy debate in Australia is too important to be left to the foreign policy establishment. It strikes me the same could be said of defence, where the expert discourse is over-personalised, and the political debate is strategically under-informed and easily swayed by special interests, above all the defence industry. Michael's contribution is therefore timely and welcome. 

COMMENTS

9 Dec 2015 15:00

This is the fourth in a series of posts marking the launch  of A Larger Australia, the book of the 2015 Boyer Lectures, by Lowy Institute Executive Director Michael Fullilove.

Among some of the intriguing ideas in Michael Fullilove's 2015 Boyer Lectures is the proposal for a global network of Australia Centres. As Michael argues in his final lecture, 'The Birthplace of the Fortunate':

Increasingly, everything we do as a country will be touched in some way by developments in Asia. We need to redouble our efforts to understand Asia - and to project Australian voices into Asia. In addition to expanding our diplomatic network, Australia should establish cultural and educational centres in key Asian capitals, modelled on the UK's British Council, Germany's Goethe Institut, China's Confucious Institute and the Japan Foundation.

Australia's own 'Goethe Institut' would project a confident, self-assured nation to the world. Michael concludes: 

COMMENTS

10 Dec 2015 08:25

This is the fifth in a series of posts marking the launch  of A Larger Australia, the book of the 2015 Boyer Lectures, by Lowy Institute Executive Director Michael Fullilove.

Australians have never really come to terms with the fact that we are the world's only continental nation. The vastness of our landscape, the distances between settlements, the smallness of our population and our isolation from the world's centres of power go some way towards explaining our lack of confidence on the world stage and our national habit of apologising for our good fortune. It may also explain the extraordinary pettiness with which we conduct our national politics.

While Malcolm Turnbull has brought a new tone of ambition, confidence and optimism to public policy, he still has among his followers the small-minded cynics who spent the last eight years talking down the economy and deriding those who wanted a more assertive Australia to play its role in the conduct of world affairs.

COMMENTS

11 Dec 2015 12:00

This is the sixth in a series of posts marking the launch  of A Larger Australia, the book of the 2015 Boyer Lectures, by Lowy Institute Executive Director Michael Fullilove.

Michael Fullilove's Boyer Lectures exhort Australians to think big and not shrink from their historical involvement in the big struggles of the world because of a necessary focus on the Asia Pacific.

He makes the valid point that getting Australia's house in order, including indigenous peoples in the national charter, switching from the imperial monarchy to an Australian head of state, fostering inclusion of diverse immigrants and making wise investments for a larger population will lay the foundations for external influence.

This expansive vision overlooks the immediate neighbourhood, however. There's only a paragraph about the circle of island nations to Australia's north and northeast, from Timor-Leste through the Melanesian states to Fiji and Tonga, and, while acknowledging its strategic importance, not much about developing true closeness with Indonesia.

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