Monday 27 Sep 2021 | 23:32 | SYDNEY
What's happening on
  • 27 Sep 2021 12:00

    AfPak’s back, alright

    Pakistan needs to think carefully about its relationship with Afghanistan. The world is watching.

  • 27 Sep 2021 06:00

    Dankeschön Frau Merkel

    A former Australian ambassador to Germany reflects on the Chancellor’s significant impact in the Indo-Pacific.

  • 24 Sep 2021 12:00

    Afghanistan: The Hazara dread

    What the Taliban takeover means for one of the most persecuted peoples in the world.

Australian Diplomacy

Dankeschön Frau Merkel

Angela Merkel had already been Chancellor for about six months when I commenced as Australian Ambassador to Germany in April 2006. Her tenure as Germany’s head of government has seen four further Australian heads of mission take up residence in Berlin, and the Australian prime ministership change

AUKUS: France’s strategic outcry

Last week Australia, the United States, and the United Kingdom announced a new security partnership (AUKUS) and, in the process, put an end to the Attack class submarine program negotiated by France and Australia in 2016. After calling the decision “a stab in the back”, French Foreign Minister

Beyond Fortress Australia

The reality of living in a pandemic has dawned on Australia. Covid cases at the time of writing are high and still climbing. The virus is here to stay. Equally clear is that ring-fencing the country from the world — the ‘Fortress Australia’ policy — is no longer viable

Rules Based Audio (Episode 1): In Conversation with John Ikenberry

In an increasingly contested world, basic questions about how the world works, and how it should work, are being asked anew. In Rules Based Audio we will be posing those questions to some of the world’s leading thinkers and practitioners. This podcast series is part of the Lowy Institute’s Rules

The changing face of Australia’s diplomatic network

“Pale, male, and stale” has been a consistent lament when looking at the roll call of ambassadors from most Western nations. There have been frequent calls to include more women, more people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds and Indigenous communities, and to avoid plum

Lowy Institute Diplomat Database

This Lowy Institute interactive uncovers the changing face of Australia's diplomatic network, tracking 47 years of Australian diplomatic appointments overseas. The data reveals the way issues such as political affiliation, gender, family background, and education have shaped Australia’s

A rare test of China diplomacy

The term “political science,” as many have observed, is somewhat of an oxymoron. Of all fields of scholarly pursuit, politics is comparatively ill-suited to the processes of the scientific method. Political systems and policies cannot exactly be isolated in a laboratory. The “data sets” of

Andrew Peacock’s Timor legacy

Since his death on 13 April, tributes to former Australian foreign minister and leader of the federal opposition Andrew Peacock have flowed from across the political divide. He has been remembered as a huge figure who left an “indelible” mark on Australia in the 1970s and 1980s. Former Liberal

A budget of skewed priorities

It’s been a few years since my once-regular annual budget analysis for the foreign affairs, defence and trade portfolio. But of course, this is not just any budget.  This is a big-spending budget to address the most significant national and international crisis of a century. Before the

Devaluing DFAT

The launch of the 2020 Defence Strategic Outlook prompted some observers to argue that Australia should boost the firepower of its diplomacy as well as its defence force. They reminded us that DFAT’s budget for diplomacy had been shrinking for decades, a trend documented in other assessments. Then

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

Notes on representing Australia in Papua New Guinea

Jon Philp, who commenced as Australian High Commissioner to Papua New Guinea early this month, is the 16th to serve as Australia’s lead diplomatic representative in Port Moresby. I know from experience that the role is unlike any other in the Australian foreign service. The incumbent has the

On China, principles vs pragmatism

The escalating protests in Hong Kong, the detention of Chinese-Australian writer Yang Hengjun on trumped-up charges, and the appalling treatment of ethnic Uighurs have resulted in renewed calls and pressure on Australia to act on human rights issues with China. While this is noble, human rights

From fill-in to full-time Foreign Minister

On Sunday Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced that Marise Payne will be Minister for Foreign Affairs in his post-election cabinet. Selected to take over the portfolio last year after Julie Bishop’s resignation (and reportedly at her recommendation), Marise Payne had just eight months in the

Australian energy diplomacy

Successive federal governments have declared Australia to be an “energy superpower”. The 2017 Foreign Policy White Paper is the most recent example, highlighting the size of Australia’s exports of coal and liquefied natural gas. Yet Australian foreign policy has often overlooked energy

Is there a model Human Rights Council member?

Australia was not the only country to waltz onto the UN Human Rights Council last week with only cursory scrutiny of its human rights record. In fact, most of the Council’s current and incoming members have failed in some way to live up to the 'highest standards in the promotion and protection

Using economic diplomacy to reduce financial risks in Asia

If Australia’s economic future lies in Asia, then managing the risk of financial crises in the region should be a top concern. Especially as any crisis could also have significant geopolitical consequences. In an analysis for the Lowy Institute, Barry Sterland looks at what Australia can do

Digital diplomacy’s downsides

It was only a few years ago that e-diplomacy was being heralded as an unalloyed force for good. This 21st Century form of statecraft would bring transparency and openness to the closeted world of international affairs. Governments that colonised the internet would come to enjoy a strategic edge,

Can economic and security analysts find a lingua franca?

This post is part of a debate on Australia’s foreign policy White paper 2017. Click here for other debate posts. When Foreign Minister Julie Bishop put economic diplomacy at the centre of Australian international relations in 2014, I suggested this might just be a canny way for a globe-trotting

Seeking clarity in Australian foreign policy

In August, Foreign Minister Julie Bishop announced that the Turnbull Government would produce a new foreign policy white paper. The Minister described it as a 'philosophical framework to guide Australia's engagement, regardless of international events'. The world is changing so fast it is

Digital diplomacy @DFAT

A week ago Australia's Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade launched its first digital media strategy and accompanying blog. It's about time. Digital diplomacy is expanding, the pace of change is picking up, and DFAT - which spent two years developing this strategy - is late to the party. The

Embassies can shape policy

In conjunction with this week's launch of the Lowy Institute's Global Diplomacy Index, we present a series of pieces on the role and continued relevance of embassies. Embassies — and their derivatives, high commissions and consulates — are significant instruments of government, and as for

Turnbull in Jakarta: Relationship reheat

Malcolm Turnbull's visit to Jakarta this week did not signal any drastic changes for the direction of the Australia-Indonesia relationship, but it did leave relations considerably warmer than before. So warm, in fact, that both the prime minister and his Indonesian counterpart were forced to remove

DFAT: Not perfect, but in our national interest

A few days ago a suggestion was made on Crikey that DFAT, Australia's Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, should be scrapped. I was tempted to ignore it, because as far as I can tell, the author, Jason Murphy, based his call largely on the fact that he just doesn't like free trade agreements

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