Wednesday 19 Feb 2020 | 18:12 | SYDNEY
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Australia in the World

Reader riposte: DFAT's policy muscle

Richard Broinowski writes: Even in his short tenure as a junior officer in pre-Cambrian Canberra, Milton Osborne learnt a hoary tale. External Affairs, later Foreign Affairs, and later again Foreign Affairs and Trade, didn't have the influence of domestically-grounded Commonwealth departments

DFAT: A breed apart

Alex Oliver deserves congratulations for her continuing focus on the problems that confront DFAT, both as a result of the excessive demands made for consular assistance and the continuing reduction of its financing. As she is very much aware, consular demands are a long-standing issue and I

Dreaming of China in the Pacific Islands

Research staff at the Lowy Institute meet with many visiting foreign delegations: European foreign ministers, US State Department and Pentagon officials, Pacific Island MPs, senior officials from Asian countries, academics from India and China. We also meet regularly with Australian ministers and

DFAT budget: All pain, no gain

DFAT's budget pain drags on. Last year's announcement of two new diplomatic missions – one in China (Chengdu) and one in Francophone Africa (Dakar, Senegal) – suggested a modest turnaround in DFAT's fortunes. But of course it's not the fortune of DFAT that's at stake; it's the fortune of the

Defence in depth: The budget

Today we launch the first in a series of videos looking at Australia's defence and strategic policy. Entitled Defence in Depth, the videos feature interviews with defence and strategic experts on a range of issues, including the defence budget, strategic relationships, Australian Defence Force (

Defence White Paper round-up

Dougal Robinson is a Lowy Institute Defence Intern. The Australian Government's Defence White Paper is a week old. Islamabad noticed, as did New York. Here's a round-up of the major judgments: The Lowy Institute's Rory Medcalf: 'Canberra's revised strategic policy is not as meek as it

Defence White Paper: Politics over strategy

Major Gen (Retd) Jim Molan is author of Running the War in Iraq. The Defence White Paper (DWP2013) has pretty well negated defence as a political issue. From the point of view of the Government, that means it's a roaring success. Beginning with an American style launch and ending with a shambolic

Gillard must stand up for PNG's women

Julia Gillard's first visit to Papua New Guinea as prime minister, starting tomorrow, is loaded with symbolism. Following on from the April visit of Australia's first female Governor-General, the Prime Minister can demonstrate to Papua New Guineans that women can effectively and confidently

G20 in Russia: Could Gillard and Abbott both go?

Mike Callaghan is Director of the Lowy Institute's G20 Studies Centre. Will Julia Gillard go to the G20 Leaders' summit in St Petersburg on 5-6 September, one week before the federal election? This is a question being asked by many, including the foreign embassies in Australia which are monitoring

Defence White Paper pulls its punches on China

Andrew O'Neil is Professor in the School of Government and International Relations at Griffith University. The most striking feature of the 2013 Defence White Paper is the growing gap between Australia's strategic policy aspirations and the crunch in defence spending. Nowhere is this more evident

Defence White Paper: One American's view

Michael Green served on the US National Security Council staff from 2001-2005 and is now Senior Vice President for Asia at CSIS and a non-resident fellow at the Lowy Institute. Australia's new Defence White Paper has its flaws, but the first thing that struck me about it was the hope that the

White Paper: Defence gets serious

There's lots to like in the 2013 Defence White Paper. And there's lots of detail missing too. Let's examine the White Paper on its own terms. The first thing this White Paper needed to do was to resolve the defence funding dilemma caused, so the Government suggested, by the lingering and

First impressions: Defence White Paper

Herewith my initial thoughts on the Defence White Paper 2013, with the usual caveat that this is the result of a first quick read and thus subject to revision. All the talk about this White Paper is that it takes a softer line on China, and although Minister Stephen Smith says the Government

Defence White Paper out tomorrow

The media is reporting that the Defence White Paper will be released tomorrow. The document itself will presumably appear here first, and in the hours and days after the launch, we will have commentary from a range of experts both here and on Twitter (look for the #ausdef13 hashtag). In the

All who went ashore at Gallipoli

In response to Robert Lewis' Reader Riposte about my criticism of the Department of Veterans' Affairs' website: I did go to the website before I wrote the post, and the words written there are as I noted. The site refers to those who 'went ashore at the Gallipoli Peninsula', of which Cape

Australia's water wisdom in the Asian century

Michael Harris is Chief Economist for the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Science (ABARES). The Asian Century White Paper outlines a vision of Australia's present and future where all aspects of Australian life and policy are enmeshed with Asia, so that even the most

Reader riposte: ANZAC triumphalism?

Robert Lewis writes: Rodger Shanahan's second-hand criticism of the DVA site for saying "Australians commemorate 25 April 1915 as 'Anzac Day'. It was the day of the 'Landing at Gallipoli' when more than 20,000 Australians and New Zealanders and some servicemen from other countries went ashore

Closer look at Coalition defence policy

The Shadow Defence Minister, Senator David Johnston, addressed the Lowy Institute last night to outline his view on the state of defence in Australia and the outlook for the 2013 Defence White Paper. Unsurprisingly, he was scathing in his criticism of the Gillard Government's approach to defence


I enjoy ANZAC Day as much as the next person. Dawn service is great, a few beers and tall tales even better. And I am the first to acknowledge how bloody good Australian soldiers are, having been one.  But at least I also acknowledge that perhaps other countries have played pretty big roles

A pause for ANZAC Day

Tomorrow is ANZAC Day in Australia and New Zealand, when we stop to remember those who have died in war. Normal blogging resumes on Friday. Photo by Flickr user Luke Redmond

The truth about coastal surveillance

Rear Admiral (ret'd) James Goldrick AO, CSC is a Nonresident Fellow at the Lowy Institute. The unexpected arrival of a suspected illegal entry vessel (SIEV) at Geraldton last week highlighted both the difficulty of national maritime surveillance and the poor understanding of its complexity and

Poll: What Indians think of Australia

A poll released today by the Lowy Institute and the Australia India Institute reveals some surprising findings on Indian public opinion towards Australia. For example, despite bad press over the security of Indian students in 2009-10, Indians hold relatively warm feelings towards Australia,

PM's China trip: Big deal for AusAID

Philippa Brant is a Lowy Institute Research Associate. Prime Minister Gillard's recent trip to China achieved many notable results. Attention has rightly focused on the announcement of the Australia-China strategic partnership and the currency trading arrangements. It was only when reading the PM'

John Howard's straight talk on Iraq

Michael Green served on the US National Security Council staff from 2001-2005 and is now Senior Vice President for Asia at CSIS and a non-resident fellow at the Lowy Institute. Kudos to former Prime Minister John Howard for giving a straight assessment of the Iraq War on the 10th anniversary of

In the room with Margaret Thatcher

Sandy Hollway is a former senior public servant and diplomat, and was CEO of the Sydney Organising Committee for the Olympic Games. From my time working for Prime Minister Bob Hawke as Chief of Staff and as the head of International Division in the Prime Minister's Department, two memories of

Impressions of Howard's Iraq speech

The text of John Howard's Iraq ten-year retrospective, delivered to a packed Lowy Institute audience this evening, is on our website. My first impressions are below. I hope others will provide a more sympathetic reading, because despite Howard's assured delivery and measured arguments, I found

Rebranding the diplomacy storefront

Katherine Ellena is a Research Associate with the US Naval Postgraduate School and a former New Zealand diplomat. The views expressed here are hers alone. One of the key (but less remarked-upon) recommendations in Alex Oliver's policy brief The Consular Conundrum  relates to the managing of

Consular vs diplomatic: DFAT's dilemma

Roslyn Wells is a Sydney-based public affairs and international relations professional. She was formerly Director of Public Affairs at the Australian Consulate General, Hong Kong. As Alex Oliver shows in her thought-provoking new Policy Brief, Consular Conundrum, the public pressure on DFAT and

Australia's national interests in the Iraq war

Albert Palazzo is a Senior Research Fellow at the Land Warfare Studies Centre. The views expressed here are his own and do not reflect those of the Department of Defence or the Australian Government. Alison Broinowski misinterpreted the key point I made in my Interpreter post of 25 March on why

Did Australia withdraw from SEATO?

Marty Harris is the Lowy Institute's Assistant Digital Editor. In response to Malcolm Cook's post on Zombie-like international institutions, we received the following comment on Twitter: Initial research suggests that @l_a_n_o_x is correct. At the time of the 1972 federal election, Labor

Australian model or Australian bubble?

In a blog post earlier this year I asked whether emerging economies had been lucky or smart. I also suggested that one way to start answering this question was to look at their performance during the major stress test provided by the global financial crisis. Of course, it's possible to ask

What do we want from DFAT?

Alex Oliver's new Policy Brief on the Consular Conundrum tells some great stories to highlight a key problem, and comes up with some very good ideas about how to fix it (I wish I'd come up with the idea of a consular levy on passports or air fares when I looked at this issue a few years ago).

Interview: Alex Oliver on her proposal for a consular levy

Yesterday I sat down with my colleague Alex Oliver to talk about her new Lowy Institute Policy Brief on Australia's consular conundrum (Alex also has an op-ed in in today's Australian). I'm fascinated by this topic because it's such a classic example of the clash between politics and policy. The