Friday 15 Nov 2019 | 00:30 | SYDNEY
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Australia in the World

What’s on offer? Pacific policy and Australia’s election

The Pacific has undergone a foreign policy renaissance of sorts, with politicians and policymakers falling over themselves to proclaim their commitment to the region and its vital importance to Australia. Leaders of both major parties have been increasingly speaking about the region, while starting

Australia struggles for clarity on the South China Sea

The Lowy Institute’s Richard McGregor has noted the absence of China discussion in Australia’s current election campaign, a state of affairs which prompted his colleague Sam Roggeveen to observe that “Bipartisanship on China is becoming a form of collusion”. Given that the

Charting 50 years of turning tides in Australian politics

Australians will choose a new national government on 18 May in the context of two underlying trends: a record number of independents already now in office across the country and a political cycle that points to a Labor victory. The below chart of elected members of parliament across the

After the Australian election: the China test

Governments in Australia are judged, in part, by their handling of the relationship with China. And while foreign policy has barely featured in Australia’s election campaign, the Chinese government is watching our election with interest and intent. An early release of this year’s Lowy

Trafficking in old anxieties

Are the boats back? Once again a reliable fear of “uncontrolled” immigration has been invoked in an Australian federal election. This time current Prime Minister Scott Morrison has framed “border control” as a question of “congestion-busting” in major cities – and instead of the usual

Adapting to climate change: the priority for Australia

Adaptation to climate change was for a long time considered as an abstract issue for the future, something that would need to be worked out later by someone else. Adaptation, in short, is a process of preparing to live with a changing climate where most of our definitions of typical weather and

Visa tussles: here come the Irish again

The Irish campaign to gain access to the E-3 visa in the United States has roared back to life.  Currently, Australia is the only country with access to the 10,500 E-3 visa slots. Yet Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the House of Representatives, who led a delegation of US legislators on a visit to

Culture cringe: Laughter links Australia and Asia

The Lowy Institute collects valuable data on how Australians view Asia, but equally important is how Asians see Australia, even if at times it makes for uncomfortable reading. Australia’s future depends crucially on the decisions Asians make: for example, on where to study, visit, live, buy and

Coal comfort: Australia-India ties after the elections

In an odd quirk of timing, this year Australia and India’s elections will run in parallel. On 11 April, Scott Morrison made the trip to Canberra’s Government House and the official campaign finally began. On the same day, Indian voters began to go to the polls in the first of seven phases of

ISIS: the generational problem

The fate of perhaps as many as 70 children born to Australian mothers and caught up in the Iraq-Syria conflict has been the focus of Australian media attention. There are calls for them to be repatriated on the grounds that they should not be tarred with the same brush as their parents. An episode

Budget 2019: the race to the bottom for foreign aid

There were few surprises for the Australian aid program in this week’s federal budget, which has disappointingly continued the downward trend of Australian aid spending. At $4.044 billion in 2019, when adjusting for inflation, aid will have now been cut by 27% since its peak in 2013–14.

The cost of terror: two tales of country life

One country town, two people. One of them a hero who added to the legacy of the uncomplicated stoicism and selflessness that Australians popularly associate with “the bush”, and the other someone who betrayed it. Last week two people from the small Riverland town of Loxton in South Australia (

Ignoring international law in the Blue Pacific

Both the Australian Labor Party and Coalition have expressed support for France to remain as a Pacific power, seeing the French Republic as a stable, democratic, Western ally at a time of growing Chinese influence in the Pacific Islands. Australia’s neighbours are well aware that Australian

Economic diplomacy: trade and infrastructure battles in Asia

Each way bet Australian businesses are simultaneously becoming more dependent on China and traditional Anglo markets just when the country’s foreign policy thrust is to diversify links to major emerging nations such as India and Indonesia. This at a time a new survey of business attitudes to

Reset required for DFAT-AusAID integration

“Foreign policy alignment” was the political “abracadabra” used to explain how the late 2013 integration of what was then AusAID into the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade would deliver better outcomes. DFAT would have direct control over Australian aid and by virtue of that,

Australia’s PNG gateway: far north Queensland

Just a few kilometres separate Papua New Guinea and Australia at their closest point. But when it comes to migration procedures, people on both sides of the Torres Strait can sometimes feel like the countries may as well be on separate planets. Visas remain a constant obstacle to building a

Responding to China’s not-so-secret influence campaign

Sam Roggeveen wrote recently on the need for the government to be more forthcoming about its security assessments on China, specifically, allegations of influence and interference activities conducted within Australia. The trigger was Andrew Robb’s interview for the ABC, in which the ex-

India: never quite in focus

Last month, Financial Times columnist Edward Luce asked, what would it take for India to get America’s attention? His question was rather aptly answered a couple of weeks later with a spot of brinkmanship in Kashmir (Pulwama terrorist attack: Modi under pressure), meaning India hit the

Economic diplomacy: trade and traps in ASEAN

Middle aged spread Southeast Asian countries are about to become the primary focus of Australia’s public diplomacy this year as the “Australia now” program stretches its budget from the usual single country approach to all ten countries of the ASEAN group. This stepped-up

An orthodox economic take on climate change shocks

In a debate as politically fractious as climate change, it is useful to have credible voices joining the fray. On Tuesday night, the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) waded into the waters with a speech by Deputy Governor Guy Debelle. It has immediately been seen as an urgent call to action. More

How open should Australia be about the China challenge?

Former trade minister Andrew Robb made news yesterday when he criticised former prime minister Malcolm Turnbull and his deputy, Barnaby Joyce, for the “toxic” state of Australia’s relations with China. It’s just the latest skirmish in a heated and occasionally quite hostile debate in

Canberra’s Pacific pivot is bereft of vision

A refreshing wave of Pacific-mania is sweeping Canberra. There’s new postings, a new Office of the Pacific, a high profile visit from the prime minister to the region, and two major announcements on Pacific infrastructure: the creation of the Australian Infrastructure Financing Facility for

An Australian model for the renewable-energy transition

Australia is experiencing a remarkable renewable energy transition. The pipeline for new wind and solar photovoltaic (PV) electricity systems is 6-7 Gigawatts (GW) per year for the period 2019-21. This equates to 250 Watts per person per year compared with about 50 Watts per person per year for the

Matthew Flinders, national pride and dinner diplomacy

On 25 January, archaeologists announced that the body of Matthew Flinders, who had completed the first circumnavigation of Australia in 1803, had been found under London’s Euston station. The discovery excited Australian interest more than it perhaps otherwise would. Three days earlier, Prime

Sovereignty for citizenship might help the Pacific

You cannot fault former Australian prime minister Kevin Rudd for a failure of imagination with his recent suggestion of trading sovereignty for citizenship. You can’t eat sovereignty, you can’t drink independence, and you can’t build a house on a flag floating in the middle of the ocean

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