Thursday 27 Feb 2020 | 22:50 | SYDNEY

Australia in the World

The APC and the world of regions

The latest East Asia Forum blogpost about Prime Minister Rudd’s Asia Pacific Community (oops, community) idea by Peking University’s Jia Qingguo underlines two of the challenges facing Australia from China’s ongoing rise to East Asian and wider Asian regional leadership. All countries

Reader riposte: APS job applications

I had a little fun at the expense of the Australian Public Service yesterday, but when you're actually trying to start a career in the APS, the impenetrable management-speak in the job advertisements is no joke. A reader writes: First off, congratulations on the running of The Interpreter, it's

APS recruitment: Literacy optional

The Government is recruiting internationally for the senior ranks of the public service, with this advertisement running in the latest issue of The Economist. But given the quality of the ad copy, you have to wonder what calibre of candidates the Government will attract. Here's the opening

Education exports: Government mute

The Australian Government has a bit of work to do on the overseas image of Australian education. That’s no surprise. What is surprising is the lack of visible public diplomacy from the Federal Government on what is becoming a severe problem for Australia’s lucrative education export industry.

Reader riposte: New Zealand first at UN

Paul Cotton responds to Raoul Heinrichs' argument that Australia ought to either quit the race for a UN Security Council seat or at least quit campaigning for it: There is a further alternative. I believe New Zealand generously gave up it’s 'turn' to stand as a WEOG (Western Europe and Others

UK war law reform: NB McClelland

There have been some interesting developments in the UK this month on war crimes. This followed 'an outcry over a High Court decision in April not to send four Rwandans resident in the UK back to their home country to face prosecution.' Under the proposals announced by Justice Secretary, Jack

Reader ripostes: Limits in Afghanistan

Two readers have written in to comment on Sam's post on knowing our limits in Afghanistan. The first is from Major Gen (Retd) Jim Molan who is the author of Running the War in Iraq. Sam is away for a few days and will, no doubt, respond on return. Sam’s post on Afghanistan (widely quoting Rory

Asia-Pacific Community: Policy as poetry

Many wise heads agree on the need to streamline the diplomatic architecture of the Asia-Pacific, which already has too many institutions doing too little. For its part, The Interpreter has already aired some solutions, including the truly minimalist. This week’s events in Phuket, with

Rudd dysfunctional ministry (part 2)

Kevin Rudd has taken the power structure bequeathed by John Howard and pushed it even harder. Howard was as driven as Rudd in grasping the modern machinery of media management and marketing. Where Rudd has surpassed Howard is in turning these mechanisms back on his own ministry. As I argued in

Indian students: Media mistweetment

Here’s a new standard in quick, transparent and truly telegraphic diplomatic reporting, thanks to India’s inveterately twittering Minister of State for External Affairs, Shashi Tharoor. No sooner has he met with Australia’s visiting Immigration Minister, Chris Evans, on the vexed student

Rudd dysfunctional ministry (part 1)

Kevin Rudd runs a dysfunctional ministry. It is dysfunctional because of the way the Prime Minister both commands and constrains his ministers. By dysfunctional, I am not offering a judgement about whether this is a good or bad government. It’s just that the engine is running in a most unusual

Exclusive photos: Somali piracy

Australia’s declared contributions to the international anti-piracy effort off the Horn of Africa – the ANZAC-class frigate HMAS Toowoomba and an AP-C3 Orion patrol aircraft – are now in the region, although it is not clear how much of their time will be devoted to piracy patrols as opposed

The Afghanistan-Indonesia axis?

Hugh White may be right when he tells Michelle Grattan that... ..."in practical policy there's no link. It's an illusion to think that if you fix Afghanistan, we'll be safe from terrorism." Ideologically and practically, the activities of Noordin Top, the alleged mastermind behind the Jakarta

Reader riposte: Stern Hu

Harry Gelber from the University of Tasmania writes about the Lateline interview I highlighted with Paul Monk and Hugh White: Re. your post on the Stern Hu affair. A few additional points: Monk — surprisingly for such a well-informed commentator — does less than justice to the

Stern Hu: The big picture

In a very unbloggerly display of reticence, I've resisted commenting on the Stern Hu affair to now, largely because I couldn't make up my mind about what I thought. But one thing that has helped crystalise my thinking a lot was this Lateline interview with Paul Monk and the Lowy Institute's own

Football, meat pies, kangaroos and...

In some good news for the Australian car industry, Autopia reports that the Americanised version of the Holden Commodore could be revived by GM. It was previously associated with the now defunct Pontiac brand, but looks set for another chance as a GM Chevrolet. SBS is screening repeats of Top

China: Whip or whispers

For the Rudd Government, the implications of the confrontation with China range from the domestic danger of the David Hicks effect to the strategic prospect of White Paper retribution.  Australia obviously would like a speedy and quiet resolution that would see its arrested citizen put on a plane

Reader riposte: Canberra tribes

The issue of insiders, outsiders and foreigners reaches far beyond Canberra. My musings on what really moves the capital brought this response from across the Tasman from Paul Cotton: Stuart Harris was of course practically an outsider, having only limited pre-connections with DFAT. But how do

Crikey.com.au: The littlest Australian

If the latest editorial from online publication Crikey was meant to provoke, then it has. Here’s a taste: Australia's interests -- indeed, its dignity -- are being affronted throughout the region. Stern Hu remains in Chinese detention…An Australian tragically has been shot dead in West

Fiji: MSG throws down the gauntlet

The leaders of the Melanesian Spearhead Group (Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Vanuatu and Fiji), who met in Port Vila last Friday,have surprised some of their regional counterparts by supporting Fiji interim Prime Minister Bainimarama’s strategic framework for change in Fiji.  Bainimarama

Foreign aid: What it for?

Peter McCawley is a Visiting Fellow at the Indonesia Project, ANU, and former Dean of the ADB Institute, Tokyo. Graeme Dobell is right in judging that the Rudd Government faces a challenge in considering how to balance conflicting pressures within the Australian aid program. Ultimately, the

Canberra tribes

For the tribes of Canberra, there are insiders and outsiders. And then there are foreigners. An insider is someone who belongs to your department, speaks your professional language or plays your games. An outsider is someone from another department or another discipline. A foreigner comes from that

Australia and nuclear deterrence II

The quotes Rob Ayson selects from the Defence White Paper raise an interesting question about Australia's attitude to nuclear deterrence. The White Paper sounds a wary note in regard to the deterrence relationship between India and Pakistan: The prospect of miscalculation between India and

A victory for Australia

Peter McCawley's post on the Indonesian presidential election outcome is titled 'A victory for Indonesia', though in his conclusion he makes a good case that it's a big win for Australia too. Of course, it's good for Australia that the politically moderate and more economically liberal candidate

AusAID: Doing, not thinking

The problem for Australia’s aid bureaucrats is that spending nearly $4 billion doesn’t necessarily buy much respect in Canberra. Or bureaucratic power. Being an efficient spender of cash is not to be scoffed at. AusAID has developed important skills: running tenders, operating contracts and

Australia and nuclear deterrence

Robert Ayson is Director of Studies, Graduate Studies in Strategy and Defence, ANU. If we are to believe Presidents Obama and Medvedev, nuclear weapons reductions are back in fashion. Does this leave Australian policy exposed? The Rudd Government’s recent Defence White Paper, which looks out

The choice of an aid supremo

The Rudd Government faces a key choice about how and where it wants to drive aid policy. The Government has farewelled the long-serving head of AusAID, Bruce Davis, a change that has been the subject of rumour and speculation for some time. The Davis departure is not a Canberra surprise. But the

Reader riposte: Fraser responds

Malcolm Fraser (Prime Minister, 1975-1983) responds to criticisms made on The Interpreter of his recent opinion piece in The Age. Read those criticisms to get the context of Mr Fraser's remarks: Major General Molan (retired) and Sam Roggeveen posted a comment on my article concerning the

The Keating speech

For my taste, it's a little too self-congratulatory about his record as Prime Minister. It's also internally contradictory. There's this line about China: So this great state with its profound sense of self and the wherewithal to make a better life for its citizens, has eased itself into a

Freudenberg, Churchill and Australia

It is a rare writer who can inject the proper level of politics into an account of geo-politics. Graham Freudenberg’s life experience as a journalist and political insider means he can perform the trick, as shown by his Lowy speech and interview. Strategists, military types and historians can

Keating: The media narrative

I'll have something to say later today about the substance of former Prime Minister Keating's foreign policy remarks in Perth yesterday, and maybe others will too. For now, though, I just wanted to note the consistent theme that leads the media's coverage: the 'conflict' between Keating and

5-minute Lowy Lunch: Michael Wesley

The Lowy Institute's new Executive Director, Michael Wesley, used his Wednesday Lowy Lunch address yesterday to survey Australia's international challenges ('the most difficult diplomatic milieu we've ever faced') and to argue that think tanks have a vital role to play in meeting them. Below, a

Malcolm Fraser naivete

Major Gen (Retd) Jim Molan is author of Running the War in Iraq. One of the few things I can agree with Malcolm Fraser on in his op-ed of 29 June is his observation that the Defence White Paper is depressing. Sam addresses the inconsistencies in his article in his post, but what strikes me is

A Smith agenda for foreign policy

Terrific column by The Age's diplomatic editor, Dan Flitton, today (disclosure: Dan and I were colleagues in ONA), which can profitably be read alongside Graeme Dobell's two-part mid-term assessment of Foreign Minister Stephen Smith. If Smith would like to be something more than (as Graeme dubbed

Churchill and the Australia-US alliance

Yesterday the Lowy Institute was honoured to host prime ministerial speechwriter and historian Graham Freudenberg, author of Churchill and Australia, due out soon in paperback. If you have time, listen to Graham's full speech here. If you have less time, listen below to the interview I conducted

The Malcolm Fraser view

There are rich pickings in this op-ed from former Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser. Although Fraser is sometimes mocked for having become a rather squishy small-l liberal, his foreign poicy realism is apparent from the beginning of the article ('Great powers do not act as a consequence of goodwill

Diplomacy: Things are tough all over

Readers interested in the debate about Australia’s resource-starved diplomacy generated by the Institute’s report on Australia’s Diplomatic Deficit: Reinvesting in Our Instruments of International Policy might be interested in a couple of recent contributions from retired international

Do PMs dream of Spanish sheep?

Creating tendentious linkages between distantly related countries seems to be the done thing lately. Fergus saw it in relation to some recent visits by African dignitaries; there isn't that much to say about Australian relations with Africa, so the hard-working public servants drafting the press

Australia is Asian at the summit

A diplomatic quest that takes 14 years to reach the summit deserves a salute. So a small round of applause, please, for Australia’s achievement in getting a seat at the Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM). Australia will become part of the Asian team at the 8th ASEM summit in Brussels next year. ASEM

Authentically Australian, even in Spanish

Good news that the King and Queen of Spain have become the first foreign visitors to Australia to have an indigenous element incorporated in their official welcome. I argued the case for making our welcome ceremonies 'authentically and memorably Australian' in an op-ed in The Australian in January

The Prime Minister foreign minister

The scene is the cavernous foyer of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade in Canberra. The event is the annual drinks session for the diplomatic corps, hosted by the Foreign Minister, Stephen Smith, and the Trade Minister, Simon Crean. The foyer is big enough for the two ministers to happily

Refreshing language in the ADF

Who says future conflict is only about high technology and robotics? With captivating publications about such as Peter Singer’s recent book, Wired for War, it’s important for the military to keep a balance in the sources it uses in decision-making, and to take account of the human dimension.

Whales and science

Australians aren't known for their passionate outbursts or radicalism especially when it comes to foreign policy, but on one issue, at least, we are at the far end of the spectrum: whales. Our own polling showed just how passionate we are about the issue and why it is such a political football.

5-minute Lowy Lunch: Global Japan

My colleagues Andrew Shearer and Malcolm Cook used yesterday's Wednesday Lowy Lunch to launch their new Lowy Institute Perspective paper, Going Global: A New Australia-Japan Agenda for Multilateral Cooperation. You can listen to their presentation here, and below, I talk with Malcolm about why now

Reader riposte: Sydney protectionism

Linda Weiss from the University of Sydney writes about the New South Wales Government's recent protectionist moves, which I argued could lead to retaliatory measures: There is no need to fear other governments following the New South Wales lead. Foreign governments are already way ahead. You

Protectionism in Australia 'world city'

The Government of New South Wales has caved in to the union movement and enacted protectionist measures in its latest budget: The office of the NSW Treasurer, Eric Roozendaal, yesterday confirmed the budget would offer local firms a 20 per cent premium in bidding for tenders compared to foreign

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