Sunday 12 Jul 2020 | 09:07 | SYDNEY
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Australia in the World

Keeping the Kremlin in the Kelvinator

One effect of Australia’s more assertive posture on the People’s Republic of China has been to try to split off Beijing’s current and potential partners. This thinking was apparently behind Liberal MP Dave Sharma’s recent suggestion that Australia should back Russia’s participation in the

Indonesia: Still caught between trade and protectionism

The entry into force of an ambitious Indonesia-Australia trade deal on Sunday is a boost to the bilateral relationship, coming after nearly a decade of difficult negotiations. No two neighbouring G20 economies trade as little as Australia and Indonesia, and the investment relationship is similarly

The cost of conspiracy in muddling public health messages

A spike in coronavirus cases across Melbourne has seen local hotspot suburbs largely locked down and some 3000 people in public housing towers prevented from leaving home at all. But the sharp reminder that “This is not over” which now flashes on freeway signs across Australia’s second largest

Economic diplomacy: Diversification dilemmas

Costing the D word Diversification might be the word of the moment in the lexicon of Australian trade debate, even though few advocates make much attempt to explain how it will actually work. But now we have two interesting efforts to quantify just how selected reductions in trade with China in

Defence Strategic Update 2020: A first assessment

The Defence Strategic Update 2020 launched yesterday in Canberra is a notably candid assessment of the strategic challenges Australia faces and the measures with which the government plans to meet them. It explicitly declares “Australia’s ability – and willingness – to project military power

Vale Owen Harries 1930–2020

On behalf of my Chairman Sir Frank Lowy as well as the Board and staff of the Lowy Institute, I would like to express my sadness at the news that our friend, colleague and mentor Owen Harries passed away yesterday. When Owen joined the Lowy Institute as a Nonresident Fellow shortly after its

Owen Harries: Never the ideologue

It would be difficult to think of anyone who has been more percipient about international affairs in recent decades than Owen Harries. Harries, who was the Australian ambassador to UNESCO as well as editor of the National Interest magazine for several decades in Washington, never occupied high

A pivot to globalism, but grievances lurk

Even before the Covid-19 pandemic hit, the international system was in a profound state of disequilibrium. Two forces arguably sit at the centre of this turbulence: a “top-down” changing balance of power among nation-states, and a “bottom-up” revolt by mass publics against political

Australia’s shifting mood on climate change

At the beginning of 2020, Australia’s national conversation was dominated by the catastrophic bushfires raging throughout the country. The fires killed at least 34 people, burned through more than 11 million hectares and destroyed nearly 6000 buildings. In March, the first scientific assessment of

Generation why? Younger Australians wary of United States

“Australians are inclined to wonder whether there is real understanding in the United States … of the requirements imposed upon America by its world leadership,” wrote historian Gordon Greenwood in Foreign Affairs magazine in July 1957. At times there has been a tendency in the United States

The goals for Australia to do better

Although the idea is hard to bear, we now all know that Australia’s 2019–20 bushfire catastrophe and the Covid-19 crisis will not be one-off historical events. Public health experts have long warned zoonotic disease pandemics will be on the rise due to global warming and ecological, behavioural

Australia-UK trade agreement: Good, boring policy

Australia and the UK kicked off free trade agreement negotiations on 17 June to speeches and video presentations so triumphant as to border on self-parody. Yet for all the pageantry and scorn, a trade deal between Australia and the UK is fundamentally a commonsense policy that warrants neither

Australia should support India in the Himalayas

The conflict between India and China on their disputed Himalayan border may be an important turning point in their relationship. Australia should take the opportunity to show firm support for India over the issue. Last week’s fighting between Indian and Chinese troops in Ladakh was the bloodiest

Canberra vs Beijing: A response to Sam Roggeveen

Sam Roggeveen is absolutely right. Australia’s China debate has been dramatically transformed over the past few years. Like him, I welcome a robust discussion about our relationship with Asia’s emerging power and our major trading partner. It’s a pity China’s citizens can’t have one about

Closing the book on Asia

This is not a propitious time to proclaim to the world that Australians are not interested in India, Japan, Korea and all the nations of mainland Southeast Asia. That, however, is what the National Library of Australia has done by announcing it will stop its systematic collecting of materials about

Canberra vs Beijing: A reply to Alan Dupont

Australia’s national debate about China has been dramatically transformed over the last few years. China’s rise is arguably the most important thing to happen to Australia’s place in the world since federation, so the fact that we are debating its implications so openly and

Marise Payne stakes a claim for cooperation

It would be welcome for Marise Payne to give more interviews and public speeches like the one she delivered Tuesday evening about “Australia and the world in the time of Covid-19”. Former prime minister Malcolm Turnbull made this very point about his “good friend of many years” in his

NATO: Rebranding exercise or new product launch?

It is hardly surprising that many foreign policy developments that would normally feature in the news have lately been demoted well below the headlines, as domestic turmoil in the United States has dominated conversations across the country and the globe. Under more ordinary circumstances, two

Climate change makes Covid-19 politics look easy

Covid-19 has been an extremely difficult challenge for national policymakers. If policy and politics are about managing competing interests and prioritising different constituencies, the varied national Covid-19 responses point to the acute challenges of getting this balance right. How do we

The case for Australian strategic ambiguity

It is June 2021. An American destroyer sailing near a reef held by Beijing in the South China Sea has had a collision with a Chinese frigate that was attempting to drive it off. Both vessels have suffered multiple fatalities and, damaged, are at anchor near the reef. While who was at fault is

Who really killed the Quad 1.0?

The tale has become accepted diplomatic folklore. In the telling, it was Australia, back in 2008 in the early days of the Rudd government, that decided to scuttle the then-nascent Quadrilateral Security Dialogue, the four-way talks also involving Japan, the United States and India. To compound

Seychelles: Truth, justice and Australia

Australia has not usually had a high profile in the Indian Ocean island states such as Seychelles, Mauritius and Madagascar. This despite Australia’s huge Indian Ocean littoral, presence of three oceanic territories, mutual Commonwealth links and substantial investment. Inter-governmental visits

A G7+?

“Flattery with a catch” is the best way to describe Donald Trump’s call to include Australia in an expanded Group of 7 meeting, or G7. No doubt Canberra would love a seat at the top table. But the US President has also proposed bringing Russia back into the fold ­– which will be

How is an advanced Australia faring in the Asian century?

China’s barley tariffs have thrust the challenges of trade into the headlines with a prominence rarely seen in the popular Australian media. Although a crucial basis of national prosperity, the “trade” side of Australia’s international engagement has seemingly always had a lower profile than

The battle for a Covid vaccine risks losing the “war”

Leaders of nations around the globe have resorted to the language of warfare to characterise their fight against Covid-19. From US President Donald Trump, who declared himself a “war president”, to China’s Xi Jinping committing to a “people’s war”, to Britain’s Prime Minister Boris

Economic diplomacy: Mood shift afoot

Retail therapyWhen even the normally unflappable Trade Minister Simon Birmingham bluntly tells business to reduce ties with the country that has underpinned the Australian economy for two decades, a mood shift is afoot. It took some prodding, but Birmingham finally broke cover at the end of his ABC&

West Papua: Looking for an opening

When the world is grappling with the kind of calamity few of us have experienced before, it can be easy to forget other crises. Climate change springs to mind. So, too, does the record level of human displacement around the world, a problem largely driven by conflict. That brings us to the long-

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