Monday 27 Jun 2022 | 05:36 | SYDNEY
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Our man in Washington

Book review: Diplomatic: A Washington memoir, by Joe Hockey with Leo Shanahan (Harper Collins 2022) In September 2015, Malcolm Turnbull toppled Tony Abbott as leader of Australia’s Liberal party, and consequently as the country’s prime minister. Turnbull immediately told Joe Hockey that he

The Pyongyang problem for the Quad

North Korea at least waited until US President Joe Biden had left Asia before launching another volley of missiles to splash into the sea. American officials had braced for a potential show of force by Pyongyang as Biden toured the region last month for meetings culminating with the “Quad”

Wong’s Bahasa pitch to Indonesia

Many years back while a journalist with The Age in Melbourne, I interviewed Marty Natalegawa, then Indonesia’s foreign minister. Natalegawa had studied at university in Canberra, and he told me about his student days and working across town to deliver newspapers, including The Age. We spoke at the

A flare up in China’s deliberate pattern of aggression

It’s time to be alarmed not just alert. On Sunday, Australian Defence Minister Richard Marles revealed a “very dangerous” intercept by a People’s Liberation Army Air Force’s (PLAAF) fighter of an Australian P-8 maritime patrol aircraft took place on 26 May over the South China Sea. The P-8

Knowledge is power: A small investment for a big return

Amid regular expressions of concern about the growing influence of autocratic nations in Asia and strategic competition in the Pacific, Australia should look at investing more in democracy and human rights initiatives. The best way to bolster democratic systems is to provide more support to the

Competing with China in the Pacific will backfire

Australia, Pacific Island countries, and their partners, are each considering how to respond to China’s push for a Pacific economic and security pact. Australia, for its part, should avoid temptation to match, or exceed, China’s commitments. Instead, building genuine partnerships that address

Multilateralism matters again

Freshly sworn in and already warmly welcomed by Quad leaders in Tokyo, Anthony Albanese got off to a swinging start on the foreign policy front. As the realities of government set in, the hurdles will start to come quickly now – the revelation about China’s so far unsuccessful efforts to forge a

Japan-Australia: building a hydrogen supply chain

Of the many issues canvassed at the Quad leaders’ meeting in Tokyo last week, the four partners stressed the importance of common energy supply chains. The leaders agreed in particular on the significance of “clean energy cooperation” in “clean hydrogen”. With a new Australian

Labor’s Pacific plan: ticking the economic box

Penny Wong, Australia’s new Foreign Minister, has quickly headed to the Pacific Island region inside her first week in the role. Wong’s intentions appear twofold: a counterbalance to the eight-nation tour of the Pacific by China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi, also occurring this week, and to

“Black ships”, the Quad and space

At the first in-person leaders’ summit of the Quad in Washington in September last year, the four member countries came forward with an ambitious space agenda. A working group was giving the task of advancing a number of key strategic areas, including the exchange of satellite data with the

Albanese steps cautiously through the Quad wrangle

The staff at the neighbourhood convenience store here in Tokyo are always amused when I drop by to pick up four or five papers in the morning. That I have done it twice this week has led to some laughs at the cash register. Monday was to look at the reporting of the Australian election result,

Where to for trade policy?

With the signing of an interim “free trade” deal with India, and an agreement with the European Union nearing the final stages, Australia has moved closer to the previous government’s target of 90 per cent of trade being covered by bilateral and plurilateral trade agreements. This does not

Australia enters the post-party phase of Western democracy

Two federal elections ago, in 2016, the primary vote for the Labor Party and the Liberal-Nationals coalition reached record lows, while the number of voters who put an independent or minor party first on their ballot paper reached new highs. Former Labor leader Kim Beazley observed at the time that

Engaging with Southeast Asia: more than aid

During the Australian election campaign, Labor pledged $470 million aid to Southeast Asia over four years, marking it as an attempt to re-engage the region. Labor also promised to appoint a high-level roving envoy to Southeast Asia. Now that Labor is in power, these promises are set to become policy

Why the Middle East matters to Australia

Australian foreign policy has largely been reactive rather than proactive in recent times. The fallout of the AUKUS agreement with France, and the recent Solomon Islands-China security pact are just two recent examples of such. It is also particularly true when considering Australia’s

PNG and the Solomon Islands-China security agreement

Reactions to the security agreement between Solomon Islands and China were swift and relentless. Much of the rhetoric is creating needless anxieties. It demonstrates that an unwritten rule exists in the practice of Pacific diplomacy. Supposedly sovereign Pacific states must choose wisely who they do

A strategy for uncertain times

It seems obvious that the next government will need a national security strategy. In the election campaign foreign policy debate last week Marise Payne and Penny Wong agreed that Australia’s national security environment was more complex than ever and seemed to concur that this demanded a more

Looking for a little sizzle from the 2022 election campaign

Bipartisanship no refuge for patriots It was notable how last Friday’s relatively buttoned-down debate between Foreign Minister Marise Payne and her Labor opponent Penny Wong was greeted as two patriots maintaining a disciplined bipartisan approach to foreign policy. It is obviously better that

Getting the most from Australia’s regional engagements

Depending who wins the election this Saturday, either Scott Morrison or Anthony Albanese will attend the Quad Summit in Tokyo on 24 May as Australia’s Prime Minister. Prior to last year, Quad Leaders’ meetings weren’t on the calendar – now they’re happening virtually or in-person twice

A required update for the EU-US Trade and Tech Council

The second EU-US Trade and Technology Council meeting took place in Paris at the weekend. An outcome of the EU-US Summit in June 2021, the TTC was established to strengthen and coordinate transatlantic cooperation and develop values-based approaches to global trade, economic and technology issues

AUKUS: More than meets the eye

The clear intention of AUKUS is to tip the military balance in the Indo-Pacific in favour of the United States. The various initiatives in the pact between Australia, the United Kingdom and the United States are headlined by cooperation to develop a fleet of nuclear-powered submarines for Australia

Bell teals for big parties in Australia’s election

When former prime minister Malcolm Turnbull used a speech in Washington last week to empathise with the rise of independent candidates in Australia’s traditionally two-party political system, he was accused of treachery by some Liberal party colleagues. But measured by the rise of non-major

The case for rejuvenating DFAT

A number of experts have argued for change at the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade to ensure it is match fit for the major geopolitical challenges facing the country. Some criticism of DFAT’s performance – for example, that it is insular and that it spends too much time analysing

Chinese bases in the Pacific: A reality check

There was barely concealed panic in Australia when news broke that China had struck a security agreement with Solomon Islands. What if this is really a basing deal that allows China to station military aircraft or warships permanently? Solomons Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare’s emphatic denial on

Economic diplomacy: Trade shifts challenge a new government

Make or break Trade matters haven’t made much of an impact in Australia’s election campaign, not surprisingly overshadowed by Solomon Islands in the foreign affairs debate and now interest rate rises in the domestic debate. The Labor Opposition stepped up the rhetoric at its campaign launch

Imagining Labor’s first 100 days in foreign policy

With new leadership and a fresh mandate, a Labor government could take significant steps in foreign policy in its first hundred days in office under the leadership of Prime Minister Anthony Albanese and Foreign Minister Penny Wong. Though more substantive differences (namely on the Pacific) have

Solomons security pact: Sogavare, China, and Australia

Labor has described Solomon Islands’ security pact with China as Australia’s biggest foreign policy failure in the Pacific since the Second World War, but this is hyperbole. Australia’s biggest foreign policy failure in the region – ever – is its failure to address (at both a national and

A first for India and a chance to trade up with Australia

The Australia-India Economic Cooperation and Trade Agreement (AIECTA) signed on 2 April marks a first for India in terms of liberalisation of “substantially all” trade and timeline of negotiations. India has often been blamed for prolonging trade negotiations with its rigid stance on tariff

Time to think big on the future of Australian diplomacy

Worry about the underfunding of Australian diplomacy has almost become an annual ritual around budget time. But with an election imminent, this has become a higher stakes discussion given that the federal opposition has promised to rebuild Australian diplomacy if it wins office. Funding is, however

Does Australia have too many elections?

Prime Minister Scott Morrison might have officially fired the starter’s pistol for Australia’s election campaign on Sunday, but the ritual belies reality. This race has been underway for months. Indeed, democracies across the world hear a common complaint that vote-conscious politicians never

Economic diplomacy: Priorities shift amid a budget aid boost

Back to the future The Morrison government gave the development aid sector an unexpected surprise with a budget spending increase mostly in the Pacific, just as the latest crisis in Solomon Islands was occurring. There is still plenty of grumbling that this – perhaps parting gift given the

AUKUS can be a good platform for cooperation with India

Someone famous once reputedly quipped “History doesn’t repeat itself, but it often rhymes.” So there is a certain echo to the AUKUS arrangement, which brings together Australia, United Kingdom and United States to share vital defence technologies in an effort to stabilise the Indo Pacific