Saturday 30 May 2020 | 06:42 | SYDNEY

Australia in the World

Whaling in 'Australian territory'

Donald Anton is a Senior Lecturer at the Australian National University College of Law. He was a Visiting Professor at the University of Michigan Law School from 2008-2010. Over the last thirty years, Australia has opposed commercial whaling in the Southern Ocean on two alternate tracks: one

DFAT great hangover

Interesting discussions last week at the Senate Estimates hearings on the Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade portfolio. One of the key interrogators, Senator Trood, has confirmed our view that our diplomatic services are perilously close to critical condition. In an ABC interview with Monica

Shangri-La Dialogue: Sounds of silence

Sometimes what is left unsaid is more profound than what is said. This was very much the case at the 2010 Asian security dialogue held at the Shangri-La Hotel in Singapore at the weekend. For me, there were at least three palpable and troubling silences. Silence number one: extraordinarily,

China: 55% of Australians think what?

Mark Thirlwell yesterday added some plausibility to the superficially strange belief — shared by 55% of Australians, according to the Lowy Institute's latest poll — that China is the world's leading economic power. When you consider the bilateral trade numbers, the high profile of China's

Speaking loudly and waving a big flag

What is it about the struggle for Afghanistan that makes the countries involved say one thing and do another? The Europeans speak with purpose but do little more than keep up appearances. Pakistan has given new meaning to the idea of being on both sides of an argument, manoeuvring itself into bed

5-minute Lowy Lunch: Australia-NZ

'Standing Together, in Single File' is the title Malcolm Cook chose for his new paper (published by the Asia New Zealand Foundation) about how Australia and New Zealand are engaging Asia. After launching the paper at yesterday's Wednesday Lowy Lunch (held on Tuesday, just for this week), ANU

Choice questions about Asia power

The questions posed by politicians and diplomats can be more revealing than the answers they give. Australia's top diplomat last night laid out a set of excellent questions. They came as the Secretary of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade was launching the Lowy Asia Security Project

Lowy Institute Poll launch

The 2010 Lowy Institute Poll, 'Australia and the world: public opinion and foreign policy', was launched on 31 May by Lowy Institute Executive Director Michael Wesley, followed by an interactive discussion with panelists Stephen Loosley, Miranda Devine and Arthur Sinodinos

US forces, give the nod?

I had an uncomfortable moment last week while being interviewed by a Japanese journalist seeking Australian views on the controversy over the US airbase at Futenma. No doubt the Australian security establishment dearly wants to see the US maintain a strong defence presence in Asia. So too – as

Australia and Fiji

Foreign Minister Stephen Smith is in New Zealand today for a meeting of the Pacific Islands Forum Ministerial Contact Group to discuss Fiji. He might be interested in this result from the 2010 Lowy Poll, released today

2010 Lowy Institute Poll

The 2010 Lowy Institute Poll was released today. It's the sixth annual poll tracking Australian attitudes towards the world. Poll results can be interpreted in various ways. In a seminal book on polling, Walter Lippmann argued public opinion dealt with 'indirect, unseen, and puzzling facts

Motoring with the G20 middle powers

I'm filing this from Jakarta, where I've been trying to find points of agreement between some of the middle powers in the G20 — Australia, Brazil, Indonesia, South Africa and South Korea. The conference I attended was run by the Konrad Adenauer Foundation and the Australian Institute of

Whaling: Floundering around

Two wrongs don't make a right. They just make a bigger wrong! The Rudd Government's cavalier anti-whaling policy and its decision today to try to take Japan to the International Court of Justice is proof positive of this maxim. The first wrong committed was in the heated days of the 2007

5-minute Lowy Lunch: Mother country

Eminent Australian historian James Curran delivered an impressive Wednesday Lowy Lunch speech yesterday on Australia's efforts to remodel its national image in the wake of the movement away from the mother country.  I caught him for five minutes afterwards to discuss when exactly Australia

Reader riposte: Finding diplomats

In his column last Friday about Australia's diplomats, Graeme Dobell said that 'secretary of Foreign Affairs from 1973-6, Alan Renouf, argued to the Royal Commission on Government Administration that Australia should legislate for a separate foreign service, distinct from the rest of the public

North Korea: Smith handball

Last week, after the South Korean Government released its report into the Cheonan sinking, Malcolm Cook wrote that 'most voices are calling on Seoul to continue to exercise restraint and not 'escalate' the situation (ie. to not respond militarily)'. Foreign Minister Stephen Smith is part of

In (partial) defence of Julie Bishop

I've written before that the media is the toughest enforcer of party discipline in Canberra. Whenever politicians make policy comments at odds with their party colleagues, they are slammed in the media for disunity. Now it seems the Canberra press gallery is enforcing discipline on behalf of the

Israel expulsion: What the Arab press is saying

Monty Pounder is graduate student at the University of Sydney and an intern in the Lowy Institute's West Asia Program. Among the criticisms leveled at the Government's decision to expel an Israeli diplomat yesterday in response to the use of forged Australian passports in the February

A surgeon at war

I am joining Jim Molan in highly recommending Craig Jurisevic's new book, Blood On My Hands. I finished it last week and managed to catch his compelling talk on Saturday. At almost every turn of the page Jurisevic smacks up against impossible choices and ends up pushing firmly against what

Australia Resource Super Profits Tax: Superbad or just super?

During my recent travels, one topic that frequently came up in conversation was Australia's proposed new Resource Super Profits Tax (RSPT). My first response to questions about the RSPT was usually to emphasise the following very important caveat: I'm no taxation expert.* But since this

Labor asylum policy continues to sink

Gobie Rajalingam is co-convenor for the University of Sydney’s Sri Lanka Human Rights Project and a researcher at the Lowy Institute for International Policy. Last month, Immigration Minister Chris Evans and Foreign Minister Stephen Smith justified the suspension of Sri Lankan asylum seeker

Taking the axe to foreign affairs

In his budget reply, Opposition leader Tony Abbott promised, if the Coalition is elected, to freeze recruitment for two years in most areas of the public service, including DFAT. But what does this mean in practice? DFAT has provided numbers on its natural attrition rate over the last five years

Australia still running from its fears

Australia is doing so well because it has been running so hard for so long. The race is to escape the twin fates of relative economic decline (becoming the 'poor white trash of Asia') and strategic isolation. At a childish level, Australia can worry about the gravitational threat Asia poses on

Our diplomats: From aliens to artisans

The political class once viewed the diplomatic class as alien. Now the diplomats tend to be treated as artisans, little different to other bits of the bureaucracy. The shift from alien aristocrat to average artisan is a feature of the evolution of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

Richardson: Atop the DFAT mountain

Dennis Richardson has several advantages in his new job as head of Foreign Affairs, beyond being tough, smart and experienced. In the way he presents it, this is his last big Canberra gig: As far as I'm concerned the job I'm doing now will be my last job in government. I was appointed last

'Oz Sightings': Fun for policy wonks

Come play 'Oz Sightings' with the latest edition of Foreign Affairs magazine, that venerable New York publication with the light blue cover which fades so gently to pastel. As previously explained, we are hunting three sorts of sightings. There can be actual mentions of Australia; implied

Building bridges through music

On Monday 17 May at the Lowy Institute, an audience heard five important voices in Australian cultural life examine the role of music in promoting understanding between nations and communities. Joining Principal Conductor and Artistic Advisor, Sydney Symphony, Mr Vladimir Ashkenazy (pictured), in

Defence recruitment fail

Defence Public Affairs released this image from a Defence Force 'Family Fun Day' in Ipswich QLD last weekend, which featured a jumping castle, face painting, a rock climbing wall, a sausage sizzle and the Scary Man With the Black Mask. (Thanks to James for the link

With Mahan, MacArthur and Murdoch

Part of the fun of reading US or British thinking on strategic issues is to spot the occasional mention of Australia. The interest in Oz sightings is half cultural cringe and half to see ourselves as others mis-see us. Almost always, cultural baggage and the tyrannies of time and distance add

National security complex consolidates

The politics of national security is like the politics of health care — you can never have too much health nor too much security. The problem for the national security complex now established in Canberra is that politicians will always throw a lot more cash at doctors and nurses than at

Pacific the loser from aid budget?

CORRECTION (posted 21/5/10) Aid to pacific increases: I incorrectly surmised from the overall aid flows of the aid budget that aid to the Pacific had decreased. Australia's aid to the Pacific in fact increased if you use the more reliable country program figures in table 15, on page 66. Good news

Friday funny: Captain Cook

Given New South Wales Opposition Leader Barry O'Farrell's recent visit to the Lowy Institute, this seemed fitting. Have a good weekend

Pricing the national security complex

The national security complex is starting to assume a single budget identity. No more flicking through the budget papers to add up various elements of the complex.  The claim from Canberra is of a 'national security budget which invests a total of $4.3 billion'. That figure is given in a joint

Travel advice: Your mother should know

An entertaining column from the Herald Sun's Andrew Bolt today about the absurdities of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade's travel advisories. If you think Bolt is exaggerating for effect when he says that DFAT even warns people about crossing the street, check out this page devoted

Reader riposte: Defence and the deficit

Andrew Davies, Director of the Operations and Capability Program at the Australian Strategic Policy Institute, writes: In addition to Jim Molan's good points about the budget papers, here are two more observations: 1) In past budget papers there was a list of planned 'unit ready days' for

Defence rescues Swan budget

Major Gen (Retd) Jim Molan is author of Running the War in Iraq. Here's a new slant on Treasurer Wayne Swan's new budget — this is a Defence-based budget! If it was not for Defence — specifically the $8.8 billion that was deferred in last year's budget from the 2009 Defence White

Indonesia: Australia blind spot?

The few days I have spent here in Jakarta talking with journalists, diplomats and businesspeople have given me a new appreciation for something ABC broadcaster Geraldine Doogue wrote on The Interpreter in March: for Australians to get a fairer picture of Indonesia, the country needs to be '

Aid budget confusion

The Rudd Government has announced an increase to international development assistance for the next financial year from $3,818 million in 2009-10 to $4,349 million in 2010-11. It's a decent increase in challenging times which the government says is consistent with its commitment to scale up ODA to

Rudd climate 'ripple' overseas

Nic Maclellan works as a journalist and researcher in the Pacific islands. In her post on 'Brand Australia', Alex Duchen suggests that Kevin Rudd's back down on climate change is 'unlikely to cause much of a ripple overseas.' Let's have a look at some media headlines from around the world

Australia wavering on aid commitments?

Australia’s delivery of aid, and in particular, the motivation behind Australia’s increasing aid to Africa has received a bit of attention on The Interpreter this past fortnight. Debating Australia’s increasing aid funding to Africa is a difficult one as the opportunity cost of giving

Foreign policy: Comparing Rudd

Australian governments tend to have stuttering and uneven first terms. Paradoxically, that may be one reason why, for the last 80 years, Australian voters have always returned new governments for a second term. Governments are given time to learn from their mistakes. The Opposition has to spend

African gold rush: Aid and UN votes

As one of those at the Lowy Institute who has claimed Australian aid to Africa is motivated by Australia's bid for a temporary seat at the UN Security Council in 2013-14, I feel compelled by Joel Negin's post to explain my thinking. DFAT's own promotional brochure for its UNSC candidature

Rudd vanishing foreign policy narrative

It's all very well to campaign in poetry yet govern in prose, but Kevin Rudd is in danger of descending to direction-via-drivel. The spectacular U-turn on climate change has been comprehensively dissected for its political, policy and personal implications for Rudd, and international media are

Reader riposte: Rudd and ASEAN

Alison Broinowski writes: If we didn't have Graeme Dobell, many in Australia would not understand the dots, let alone join them, about the East Asia Community/Asia Pacific community fracas and its predictable conclusion. Thanks to him for deciphering the Prime Minister's backdown at the Hanoi

Lu Kewens Go-To Palace

One gauge of an Australian Government's international hopes and fears is in the foreign policy institutions it creates at the Australian National University. Prime Ministers and Foreign Ministers have a history of marking their era with think tanks, centres and institutes at the ANU. In the

Rudd to ASEAN: You win

Kevin Rudd has fluttered a tiny white flag to ASEAN on his Asia Pacific community idea. The nod — something less than a kowtow — is in the Prime Minister's recent China speech, which I examined in my previous column. It's message to ASEAN: You win. The context for all this is the elbowing

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