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Friday 18 Aug 2017 | 22:55 | SYDNEY
Friday 18 Aug 2017 | 22:55 | SYDNEY

Stephen Smith speech

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COMMENTS

18 July 2008 14:10

Foreign Minister Stephen Smith has just finished a speech to the Lowy Institute on Asian regional institutions. We'll have a recording of the event on our homepage tomorrow, but a few quick first impressions from me:

  • Maybe Barry Desker was right, and Prime Minister Rudd's Asia Pacific Community idea is 'dead in the water'. I don't think Smith added any new detail to the proposal, and he seemed to have no greater ambition for the idea than to have a 'conversation' about it in the region. When invited in the Q&A to nominate specific next steps for the proposal, he again talked only of a 'conversation'.
  • Smith was very insistent on the importance of having a single Asia Pacific entity to discuss strategic and economic issues. Why that should in and of itself be a good thing is unclear to me.
  • Also in the Q&A, Smith exhibited real enthusiasm for the India relationship, which he said had been neglected for 30 years. He thought the rise of India had been overlooked at the expense of the China story. He lauded India's democracy and respect for rule of law, intellectual property and contracts, which seemed like a subtle dig at China.
  • He made no commitment to include East Timor in an Australian regional labour mobility pilot project. I heard earlier today that East Timor's population is set to double by 2020, so they might need to rethink that one.

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