Thursday 02 Jul 2020 | 23:28 | SYDNEY

Australia in the World

Fun and games with defence recruitment

The article on defence force recruitment in today's Australian is full of quotable quotes. First, Australia Defence Association Director Neil James: The nation has become increasingly distanced from its national service orientation. People used to join the navy to see the world. Now

Keelty: Top Cop, big bucks and geopolitics

Just as Navy reveres the admirals who buy big boats, so the Australian Federal Police (AFP) will long remember the top cop who brought home big bucks. The Age of Terror has been the coming of age of the AFP. In eight years as Commissioner of the AFP, Mick Keelty went close to tripling his empire

2020 Summit outcomes: Asia scholarships

I just received in my Email inbox the latest update from the Asian Studies Association of Australia. It notes that the idea for an enhanced scholarship program for Australians to study in Asia and students from Asia to study here offered up in the 2020 Summit held last April in Canberra has been

New Zealand aid policy

New Zealand’s foreign minister, Murray McCully has announced an overhaul of New Zealand’s aid program. The key changes are a new mandate for NZAID — moving from poverty alleviation to a clear focus on sustainable economic growth in the Pacific Islands region — and the removal of NZAID

The White Paper and media management

The Rudd Government achieved one clear first with the release of the White Paper — it completely ignored Federal Parliament. The formal unveiling of this key policy document at Garden Island in Sydney on Saturday was partly media management and partly the pressure of contracting time lines

Malcolm factoid

Malcolm Cook often likes to commandeer the desk next to mine while he eats his lunch and reads the newspapers (sports). If it's a quiet day on the news front it's often hard to concentrate. Anyway, he has just finished telling me about his excursion to Garden Island on Saturday for

Japan and Australia: Approaching agendas

Last week, yet again, Australia’s front pages were dominated by divergences, apparent and real, between Australia and China. Alas, this meant that the good news about Japan-Australia relations was largely ignored (except by The Age). On April 30, Japanese Foreign Minister Nakasone arrived in

Reader riposte: Turnbull disingenuous

Reader The Piping Shrike writes in with this reply to Sam's post on the Turnbull speech to the Lowy Institute.   The courtesies of a host notwithstanding, I am surprised you were so impressed with Turnbull's speech on the Asian balance of power. He explicitly avoided talking

Turnbull speech at the Lowy Institute

Malcolm Turnbull has just left the Lowy Institute after making what I believe is his first foreign policy speech as Opposition Leader. It didn't show. The speech — on the regional balance of power — had range and depth, and was only lacking a Q&A component at the end. There'll

Highest Dutch honour to an Australian

The annual Queen's Day honour list was announced in The Netherlands overnight. Over 3,500 people received awards, but the highest one went to an Australian — our former Ambassador to The Netherlands (and also my former boss) Stephen Brady — who was named Commander in the Order of Oranje

Winds of change demand hard debate

In this opinion piece in the Australian Financial Review on 28 April 2009, Lowy Institute visiting fellow Hugh White discusses China's economic rise and its implications for Australian defence policy.Australian Financial Review, 28 April 2009, p. 63

Rudd announces more troops for Afghanistan

The ABC has the story. Key quote from the PM: "We cannot ignore this cold hard strategic fact - less security in Afghanistan means less security for Australians," he said. "Handing Afghanistan back to terrorist control will increase the threat to all Australians." I buy that

Defence debate: Don't overlook non-military threats

Peter McCawley is a Visiting Fellow at the Indonesia Project, ANU, and former Dean of the ADB Institute, Tokyo.   Bill Bowtell raises a quite fundamental issue of Australian budget policy when he says that 'it is axiomatic to defence debate insiders that that Australian taxpayers

Defence debate: Security about more than just hardware

In my op-ed in today’s Sydney Morning Herald, I wanted to concentrate on what we might call the opportunity costs of the very large equipment procurement programs that will be foreshadowed in the Defence White Paper. It seems axiomatic to defence debate insiders that Australian taxpayers

Who running Australia? An American perspective

In the lead up to the Federal election in 2007, there were concerns raised that a change in government risked upsetting the close relationship that had been forged with our key alliance partner, the US. Then, when Prime Minister Rudd visited Washington recently we had to endure agonising analysis

Boat people in perspective: A trickle, not a tidal wave

Here are some interesting numbers from the latest report from the the UN Refugee Agency which Mike Steketee cited on asylum trends in industrialised countries. There was a 12 per cent increase in 2007 to 2008 in asylum applications to industrialised countries. But Australia accounted for

Media watch: Reporting on Australia overseas network

Reading an editorial in the The Australian this morning I couldn't help noticing that one of the paragraphs (the fourth) attributed to a columnist seemed strikingly familiar. Then I realised it reminded me of this paragraph from the Lowy Institute's Blue Ribbon Panel report on Australia&#

Defence debate: Crikey misplaced mockery

Crikey blogger Trevor Cook thinks the participants in our defence debate (here parts one, two, three, four and five) are living in a 'parallel universe'. He takes particular aim at the sixth post in the series, from Raoul Heinrichs,  as being self-serving and lacking rigour. I&#

The view from my window seat

That's Manhattan as seen from the top deck of a Qantas 747 yesterday. Business-class was full for the Sydney-LA leg, but barely half full for the LA-New York leg, which reinforces this story about some severe cutbacks at Qantas. The financial crisis is hitting airlines where it really

How China is viewed in the bureaucracy

The Weekend Australian's scoop about bureaucratic disagreements over defence policy is a good one. I had certainly heard rumours of resentment within the intelligence community that their assessments about China's long-term strategic trajectory were being disputed by the Defence White

How not to do defence planning (part 3)

Major Gen (Retd) Jim Molan is author of Running the War in Iraq. This is the third in a series (here are parts one and two) concerning defence planning, which maintains that the parlous state of the ADF reflects incoherence in defence planning, failed implementation and lack of transparent

Sinophiles and Sinophobes

The Australian discussion about China may be at a new stage. Certainly the tempo is up. The terms of the debate seem more intense and complex (if not any more sophisticated). Let’s lay out some of the strands of this discussion to see how they interweave (and which bits need to be treated in

What the Gates budget means for Australia

US Secretary of Defense Gates' budget statement has been interpreted as a budget cut, and as a strong move away from a 'big war' force and toward an improved counter-insurgency and nation-building capability. The first claim is false — Gates is proposing a bigger defence budget

The responsibility to protect

In the March 2009 edition of the Australian Book Review, the Executive Director of the Lowy Institute, Allan Gyngell, reviews The Responsibility to Protect: End Mass Atrocity Crimes Once and for All, a new book by Gareth Evans. The book is an account of the emergence of a new international norm –

Defence, the unwieldy beast: Why is it so?

The average Australian Defence Minister spends the first year trying to understand the hydra which is Defence. The second year is about re-arranging or even lopping heads and trying to redirect the hydra. If the Minister makes it to year three, he can spend a bit of time bedding down the changes

Rebuilding Australia overseas network

Two weeks ago the Lowy Institute launched a report, 'Australia’s Diplomatic Deficit: Reinvesting in our instruments of international policy', by a Blue Ribbon Panel of eminent Australians. When we established the Panel in July 2008 to review the nation’s overseas diplomatic

Is Kevin Rudd a good communicator?

Former Tony Blair spin-doctor Alistair Campbell, writing for Crikey, thinks so: To a party last which no fewer than four people -- two political, two not -- spontaneously mentioned Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd's interview on yesterday's Andrew Marr programme

To be Defence Minister

Dressed in overalls, the Defence Minister is being shown over the Australian Navy ship, Melbourne. The Minister wanders off and says hello to a crewman. ‘And what do you do?’ the stoker asked. ‘Well, as a matter of fact, I happen to be the Minister.’ The response was

Public opinion and China resources spending spree

Last night, Hunan Valin Iron and Steel (controlled by the Hunan provincial government in China) was given the Australian Government's go-ahead to buy a 17.55% stake in Fortescue Metals. With Chinese state-owned enterprises also seeking investments in Rio Tinto and Oz Minerals, some

More on Rudd view of China

A caveat to what I wrote last night. The central point, regarding Rudd's ambivalence about China, stands, but I don't want to give the impression that Rudd deserves no criticism for his recent handling of events. Last night's Media Watch put a pretty good case that Rudd was less than

How does Rudd see China?

Tim Johnson, Beijing bureau chief for the American newspaper group McClatchy, writes on his blog: Kevin Rudd, the Australian prime minister, is a man to watch when it comes to observing China’s relations with the world. As everyone probably knows by now, Rudd, a former diplomat,

Australian music diplomacy: Hard rock power

A Euro-American controversy erupted last week when former Czech Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek described President Obama's stimulus package as 'the road to hell'. The affair has now been revealed as having Australian origins. Quoth Topolanek: "AC/DC played here (in Prague)

Joel and the Defenders

Time to sort out some ‘facts’ from the tumult enveloping the Defence Minister, Joel Fitzgibbon, and his Department.  Fact 1: Some unhappy campers in Defence — call them the Defenders — set out to do some damage to their Minister by leaking alleged dirt to the Fairfax press.

More on Fitzgibbon

A few more thoughts on the Fitzgibbon story. First of all, let's remain open to the possibility that the initial story simply turns out to be wrong in its essentials. It's happened before. Meanwhile, there are questions to be asked of how both sides of politics are handling this.

Reader riposte: Fitzgibbon and DSD

Jacob Grooby is a Masters candidate at the Australian National University: Firstly, while the passage of the act you cite is correct, and damning, DSD does have the responsibility to 'provide material, advice and other assistance to Commonwealth and State authorities on matters

The Fitzgibbon story

From today's Age: Officials in the Defence Department have conducted a covert investigation into their own minister, leaking personal information about Joel Fitzgibbon's relationship with a wealthy Chinese-born woman with past financial ties to Beijing...In the course of their

Afghanistan: The case for 6000 Australian troops

Major Gen (Retd) Jim Molan is author of Running the War in Iraq. I have confidence that the war in Afghanistan is being prosecuted legally and morally. My concern is that the war in Afghanistan, and Australia’s small part in it, is not being prosecuted effectively. We are likely to

Reader riposte: Airport security

Mark writes: I think your argument exaggerates the cost of regulating ingress to airport terminals. It is not necessary to have a multitude of security at the facility if the incoming vehicles are scanned further away, albeit briefly and not necessarily thoroughly. However, the security

Kevin Rudd versus Europe

Kevin Rudd is set to become something of a hate figure for various European bureaucracies. Australia’s leader is probably smart enough to avoid the Donald Rumsfeld trap of talking about ‘old Europe’. But Rudd is clearly gunning for Europe’s old power prerogatives. One of the tides

The Sydney Airport 'terrorist' attack

I've been waiting for this op-ed. The fatal bikie gang brawl that erupted at Sydney Airport on Sunday could have been a terrorist attack, says Peter Faris in today's Australian, and we would have been powerless to stop it: ...jihadist terrorists could arrive at Sydney airport by

Reader riposte: US defence spending in context

Alistair Maclean writes about my post from this morning: It is hard to see how Matthew Yglesias and his piece in the avowedly liberal ThinkProgress blog provides any 'perspective' on the points made by Andrew Shearer. One is about opposition to the level of defence

Afghanistan: Calling a token a token

In his thoughtful rejoinder to my recent admonition against ‘going big’ in Afghanistan, Soldier X at once seems to accept Australia’s commitment as strategically tokenistic, and at the same time recoils from the thought of it being described in such a way. It’s a telling position, not

Reader riposte: A soldier view of Afghanistan tokenism

From an Australian soldier who prefers not to be identified:  In response to Raoul Heinrichs' 'The case for (more) tokenism in Afghanistan', while I agree with some of Raoul's ideas, perhaps the use of a different and more diplomatic title should be considered

Eroding diplomacy is a bipartisan affair

I was surprised to see my op-ed on the Lowy Institute’s Blue Ribbon Panel report on Australian diplomacy appear in The Australian this morning under the headline, 'Rudd erodes diplomacy'. What could that have been about? It’s not a point I made. As anyone who reads the report, or

The case for (more) tokenism in Afghanistan

As things go from bad to worse in Afghanistan, President Obama has begun the familiar process of managing expectations, conscious that the barriers to success, however modestly defined, remain virtually insurmountable. With his credibility at stake, however, Obama is gambling on more forces, a more