Monday 10 Dec 2018 | 16:13 | SYDNEY
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Australia in the World

Julie Bishop: buffeted by headwinds

Few can quibble with the accolades that Julie Bishop has received in recent days for the manner in which she performed the role of Australian foreign minister. The first woman to hold the position, she graced the world stage with a mixture of professionalism and poise, dignity and discipline. No one

No, Australia has not caught the Trump bug

It was just a week ago, before Scott Morrison came from nowhere to snatch the prime ministership, that Peter Dutton looked odds-on to be Australia’s next leader. Australia’s politics seemed to be shifting decisively to the right. Major parties are getting weaker around the West, and Australia

Julie Bishop and her place in the history books

Julie Bishop resigned as Foreign Minister on Sunday, just short of her 20th anniversary as member for Curtin in Western Australia, and her fifth as Foreign Minister. In the coming days, there will no doubt be numerous reflections and dissections of her time as Foreign Minister. Deposed Prime

The world won’t wait for Scott Morrison

Healing bitter internal party divisions after a week of political bomb-throwing will be an onerous enough task for Scott Morrison, newly anointed Prime Minister of Australia. That’s before running the country, let alone positioning Australia in the world, or dealing with Donald Trump. The

Huawei in Australia: the 5G fear

The Australian government has officially blocked Chinese telecommunications firms, most notably Huawei, from providing equipment to Australia’s new 5G mobile phone networks, citing concerns over national security. While the issue in question regards some of the world’s most sophisticated

Soft power and reviewing Australia’s global appeal

Few foreign-policy concepts have drawn as much attention as “soft power” – the ability to influence the behaviour of others through the power of attraction and ideas. As coined by Harvard’s Joseph Nye, soft power arises from the attractiveness of a country’s culture, political ideals, and

How Peter Dutton changes Australian foreign policy

Peter Dutton was standing beside Malcolm Turnbull at joint press conference in May when a journalist asked whether Australia would move its embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, as its US ally had formally done so the day before. “No, our embassy will remain where it is,” Turnbull responded, as

Prime Ministerial persistence: Australia vs PNG

Remember when Australia used to refer to its near neighbours in the region as the “arc of instability”? The leadership shenanigans on Tuesday will have given the BBC’s former Australia correspondent Nick Bryant an opportunity to update his description of Canberra as the “coup capital of the

Malcolm Turnbull: ruling the void

It is tempting to look at the last 11 years of political leadership instability in Canberra and ascribe it exclusively to either the incompetence or malevolence of individuals. The overarching story is that the major centre–right and centre–left parties in Western democracies each represent an

Wisdom of strangers: tackling racism in Australia

A week or so back, my phone flashed with a news alert. “Is Australia becoming a more racist country?” was the headline from CNN. This was days before a newly appointed senator stood up in the national parliament in Canberra on Tuesday afternoon and called for a “predominantly

Diplomacy in the post-broadcasting era

The Department of Communications is now reviewing submissions on the issue of Australian Broadcasting Services in the Asia-Pacific region. This is timely. As always, communicating Australia’s views and voices to the Asia-Pacific region is important. And, more than ever before, finding effective

Who has been best for Australia: Trump or Obama?

US President Donald Trump comes in for widespread criticism, but he has at least one well-placed Australian defender. Former foreign minister Alexander Downer says that for Australia, Trump has been better than Obama. On the whole, Trump has been “good for us”. This is seriously misguided. Let

Bring Australia’s Navy home from the Middle East

Last Wednesday, the Royal Australian Navy (RAN) frigate HMAS Warramunga docked at Garden Island, ending a nine-month deployment to the western Indian Ocean. It was the 66th deployment of an Australian warship to the Middle East region, part of an almost continuous Australian

Tips for DFAT: how to Facebook

There are approximately 340,000 people in Timor-Leste using Facebook. More than a quarter of them follow the Australian Embassy in Dili’s Facebook page. This number is growing. The figures from Papua New Guinea and Cambodia are similarly encouraging. Why? Before answering, consider another

International broadcasting: not so simple as ABC

Australia’s international voice, once strong, influential and broadcast across much of the Asia-Pacific, has become little more than a croak into the ether. Substantial cuts to funding, waning government commitment, changing national priorities, and digital disruption have resulted in Australia

ASEAN might not be the way

Former senior Australian diplomat Geoff Raby’s substantial article written for the Asia Society and reproduced in the Australian Financial Review this week continues his “realist” approach to discussion of Australia’s foreign policy choices. It’s another piece

NZ and Australia: Big Brothers or Distant Cousins?

“Being in the Pacific, of the Pacific” was an aspiration announced by New Zealand’s Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Foreign Affairs Fletcher Tabuteau at a recent conference in Wellington. New Zealand’s Pacific identity has been a continuing theme of the Pacific reset policy&

Managing the release of convicted terrorists

It has been nearly two decades since the Council of Australian Governments agreed to a national framework to combat terrorism. Now, in the long shadow of the September 11 attacks, some of Australia’s convicted terrorists are nearing the completion of their custodial sentences. From 2019 onwards,

When friends disagree: New Zealand and Australia

One of Jacinda Ardern’s early prime ministerial tasks was to head off some potentially bad optics in New Zealand’s most important bilateral relationship. After all, she was leading just the sort of government that Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop had said would be difficult to work with

Julie Bishop’s new Timor-Leste chapter

Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop arrived in Timor-Leste at the weekend, on her first official visit and the first by any Australian minister to the country in five years. Bishop arrived with the promise of a beatific “new chapter” in the two nations’ previously fraught

Bomb, bomb Iran

In this rather strange ABC News article that appeared on Friday, it is reported that “senior figures in the Turnbull government” claim that Washington could bomb targets in Iran as early as next month, and that Australia would assist in target identification. Bombing undisclosed

Taiwan and Australia’s refugee treatment deal

Last month, a secret deal was revealed between Taiwan and Australia to send asylum seekers from Nauru to Taiwan for medical treatment. In Australia, the news has added to the controversy surrounding offshore detention centres, a crucial debate given reporting of yet another

A blueprint for India–Australia economic relations

Few people are as qualified as Peter Varghese to draw up a timely, sound, and realistic blueprint to build a dynamic yet sustainable economic partnership between India and Australia. Unlike the case with China, an expanded trade and investment relationship with India will enhance Australia’s

Economic diplomacy brief: India ties, Labor on BRI

Passage to India Two statistics in the new report to the Australian Government on the future economic relationship with India underline how this is going to be a battle of perceptions even before anyone gets to the policy ideas. The first is a crony capitalism index, which estimates

Australia and India: different worlds

Peter Varghese’s independent report on Australia’s economic strategy for India, released by Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull last week, sounds a confident note for the future of the relationship. Although the focus of the report is trade, geopolitical alignments are one of three

Indonesian tourism booms, Australia misses out

It didn’t even make the news in Australia, but two weeks ago India announced it will now allow Indonesian tourists to visit without having to apply or pay for a visa. This development allows Indonesian nationals to choose India, in addition to all the ASEAN nations, as a holiday destination

China business and China threats

China has loomed large in the Australian economy for two decades. Be it the demand for iron ore or coal, or the education, property, and tourism markets, the Australian economy has boomed with China’s wind in its sails. As China is now the world’s second largest economy, its global

Nauru ABC ban: Australia damned by faint criticism

He fainted on me. Big bloke, my local guide on Nauru, who in the sunbaked heat took me Topside on the island to steal a look at the refugee camp among the scraggy rocks known as the pinnacles. And down he went. Nauru was happy for reporters to visit the country then. In 2013, I was one of the last

Australia’s Women, Peace and Security policy

The Australian Government is in the process of developing its second National Action Plan on Women, Peace and Security (WPS). The whole-of-government policy is designed to guide the national implementation of the suite of eight UN Security Council resolutions that identify women’s security as a

Thinking about Australia’s power and influence

Most discussion about Australian foreign policy inevitably revolves around questions of power and influence. A quick peruse of The Interpreter turns up various pieces considering how Canberra has recently or might soon endeavour to influence a variety of different actors in world politics: be it

The Huawei way

Recent months have seen controversy swirling around Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei, the national security risk it may or may not pose to Australia, and its involvement with the nation’s legislators. Amid these concerns, it is important to consider the company in its

Exceptional access: Australia’s encryption laws

The Australian Government will soon unveil contentious national security legislation granting law enforcement exceptional access under warrant to the encrypted data of suspected criminals. Getting the regulatory approach wrong could leave Australians exposed to a greater security risk, or left

An empty chair vs the risk of a crazy Trump crony

Almost two years have passed since the US was represented in Australia by a permanent ambassador. It is now conceivable that Australia will receive a Presidential visit before it gets an ambassador. This is an unprecedented interregnum.  It is tempting to observe that this is a pretty

Australia and Germany should work together on China

Efforts by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) to influence Australian politics have made headlines since 2017. In recent months, similar attempts have been at the centre of German debates. While geographically distant, Australia and Germany are well suited to address this challenge jointly,

2018 Lowy Institute Poll: continuities and discontinuities

After the remarkable international developments of the past two years, and following a year of heated domestic debate on issues such as foreign influence, energy, and immigration, this year’s Lowy Institute Poll, released on Wednesday, has observed both continuities and discontinuities in

Time to denounce China’s Muslim gulag

One of the worst human rights abuses in recent times is occurring in China’s far-western region of Xinjiang. The Chinese Communist Party has rounded up possibly one million Uyghurs, Kazakhs, and other Muslim minorities in purpose-built concentration camps where they are subjected to

A new path to dispute settlement

On 9 May, the United Nations Conciliation Commission (UNCC) concerning the Timor Sea dispute between Timor-Leste and Australia released its final report. This was the first time such a form of compulsory dispute resolution had been invoked, with the proceedings initiated in April the year

A study in controversy: Chinese students in Australia

According to the caricature in the popular media, Chinese international students in Australia are devoted agents of the Chinese Government. They are “brainwashed from birth” and, in this compromised state, pose a threat to Australian universities and the values they espouse. In this context,

A stocktake of Australia’s China policy debate

Australia’s not-so-old tendency to avoid tension that could jeopardise our economic and trade relationship with China had the unfortunate effect of making China dismissive of Australia’s regional interests. For too long, too few of us thought hard, if at all, about what a region deterred by

Building a paved runway in Antarctica

The government has announced budget support for Australia’s first paved runway in its Antarctic territory, as part of a modernisation program for its Antarctic bases. Of all the Antarctic-related investment opportunities available to them, the government has chosen to pursue a business case for

A lesser Australia

Power is the most important facet of international relations. Notwithstanding this centrality, measuring power is a fraught business. Conventional aggregate measures, such as population, GDP, defence spending, and military capabilities, are the most common proxies. Recently, however, scholars have

Missed opportunities in the internationalised university

With government investment in higher education continuing to decrease, Australian universities are becoming more and more financially reliant on international student fees. As has been the case for a number of years, students from the People’s Republic of China are the largest group by a wide

BREAKING: foreign influence campaign exposed!

EXCLUSIVE A firestorm has erupted over a secret campaign of foreign influence that has snaked into Canberra’s corridors of power and major media outlets across Australia. Senior intelligence chiefs are understood to have warned the infiltration could extend to the very highest levels of

Time to sharpen the edge of Australia’s soft power

Recent commentary about a changing world order, and the growing influence of China and Indonesia across Australia’s strategic threshold of the south-west Pacific, highlights the incompleteness of this country’s outreach to the “Indo-Pacific”. In the government’s 2017 Foreign Policy

Banks misbehaving everywhere

The current Royal Commission into Australian finance is uncovering headline-grabbing malpractices which have scandalised the community. These deficiencies will prove costly to the sector’s wealth and reputation. Because Australian finance largely avoided the dramas and tribulations experienced in

Clamorous response to a Silent Invasion

An ill-fated business deal, a major corruption case, and protestations from Beijing about the visit of a dissident made the year 2009 something of an annus horribilis for Australia’s relations with the People’s Republic of China. It also marked the collapse of the Labor–Liberal

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