Sunday 19 Jan 2020 | 20:41 | SYDNEY

Australia in the World

The benefits of a diminished APEC

There is a view that the creation of the G20 leaders meeting will diminish the role of APEC. There will be some resistance to this idea among Canberra’s long-standing APEC aficionados, but it might not work out too badly for Australia. Let’s leave to another day the debate about whether APEC has

Rudd Kokoda Foundation speech

Pretty good speech from the Prime Minister last night on the Asia Pacific and Australian foreign policy. Yes, he lapsed into Rudd-speak occasionally in the Q&A ('...drawing the threads together of our pan regional cooperation in order to encourage and institutionalise the habits of cooperation

The ultimate swat

Yesterday, the Lowy Institute released a report on the effects of climate change on malaria and dengue to the north and in the north of Australia. The nub of the paper is that climate change will make a bad dengue and malaria story worse. I wish we had released it today, so we could have

Our jetlagged PM

The ABC reports this morning that, due to an industrial dispute in Tahiti, the PM has been forced to take the long way to Peru for the APEC Conference. And I mean long — a 32 hour journey, 28 of them in the air. Prime Ministers don't fly commercial anymore, but in this case, perhaps he

National Security Statement: Still waiting

Alan Dupont is right to remind readers of The Australian that we are still waiting for the Government to release its National Security Statement. The rumour I heard is that the PM was ready to launch the paper at the National Press Club on 15 October, but the financial crisis intervened, and he

Sometimes a handshake is just a handshake

Finance Minister Lindsay Tanner was right to complain about the ridiculous body language interpretation the media has lately been indulging in over one 'frosty' greeting. Yes, maybe Bush was snubbing Prime Minister Rudd over the leaked phone call affair. But maybe he'd just felt a

ABC tackles JSF, with predictable results

Aviation journalist Stephen Trimble's blog, The DEW Line, has been an invaluable resource for following the controversy over the performance of the Joint Strike Fighter (JSF). I missed ABC's Lateline on Monday night, so thanks to Stephen for directing me to their latest report on the JSF

G20: The case for Australia

Just what is World Bank President Robert Zoellick up to? He attended the G20 meeting in Brazil over the weekend, only to argue that this is the wrong grouping and should be replaced by a more exclusive gathering. To say the least, this is an unhelpful intervention, not just for Australia (which

More JSF storm clouds

Things are looking crook for Australia's Joint Strike Fighter purchase when even the vice-president of Lockheed Martin, the company making the plane, is talking down its sales prospects here. Chief of Defence Force Angus Houston sounds a little pessimistic too. Meanwhile, in Washington, this

PM arms race theory takes another hit

The media game of sink-the-Prime-Minister’s-alleged-arms-race-theory continues. The latest salvo comes from the Financial Review, which has a report (subscribers only) citing comments last week by the Chief of the Royal Australian Navy, Vice-Admiral Russ Crane. Decide for yourself whether the

India: A test match summit

A true summit meeting between the Prime Ministers of India and Australia should last five days. The leaders would spend all that time at a cricket test match, with their formal talks taking place only during lunch and the drinks intervals. The test summit idea is offered with a smile by

The Lowy Institute and the Ozblogosphere

It's sad to see the end of one of the first and best Australian political blogs, Road to Surfdom. The retirement of Surfdom's creator, Tim Dunlop, from the Ozblogosphere (Tim also recently quit his mainstream media blogging gig, Blogocracy) puts a bit of a dent in the optimism I have

Australia to pull more weight in Afghanistan?

The headline of Peter Hartcher's story in today's Sydney Morning Herald — Obama to ask for troops in 'war we need to win' — promises more than it delivers. First of all, the main quotes in the story come from a Brookings Institution scholar who advised the Obama campaign, and

Good stuff from Sheridan (mostly)

Greg Sheridan's cover article on Prime Minister Rudd's Asia policy for the November issue of the Australian Literary Review is definitely worth your time. I'll say why in a moment, but first, I want to get one whinge out of the way: the massive chip Sheridan has on his shoulder

Death penalty diplomacy and hypocrisy

Sometimes, with a rueful shrug, a nation must spell 'diplomacy', h-y-p-o-c-r-i-s-y. Hypocrisy is far from the worst sin in pursuit of national interest, but there is usually a price to pay. The history of Australia’s relations in Southeast Asia hints at the diplomatic dynamic that will flow from

Australians and Americans not quite eye to eye

The esteemed Chicago Council on Global Affairs recently published its poll results on American views of Asia, particularly Japan and China. These show some interesting parallels and differences from our own Lowy Poll. Also, both polls were carried out in July 2007, strengthening their

Rudd ship of state not leaking from the top?

So the White House denies that President Bush asked Prime Minister Rudd, in the course of a recent phone conversation about the financial crisis, to explain what the G20 was. The Age rather gleefully reports this story today, presumably because it was their competitor, The Australian,

Airline security theatre

I notice that every time a new edition of The Atlantic Monthly comes out, I find myself blogging about at least a couple of articles from it. It's just a phenomenal magazine, and I really hope it makes it through the current economic malaise. Discretionary items like magazine subscriptions

Liberalism, conservatism and foreign policy

Terrific op-ed from Shadow Attorney-General George Brandis today on the tensions between former Prime Minister John Howard's conservatism and the liberal traditions of his party. We've talked before on this blog about the uneasy fit between liberalism as it relates domestic policy and

Chief of Army speaks to The Interpreter

What's a whole-of-nation approach to reconstruction? Are we losing institutional knowledge on how to successfully rebuild a country? What's the impact of the financial crisis for defence and what does waning public support for the Australian deployment to Afghanistan mean for our

How 'generous' is foreign aid?

Guest blogger: Peter McCawley is a Visiting Fellow at the Indonesia Project, ANU, and former Dean of the ADB Institute, Tokyo. References are often made in western media reports to the 'generous' amounts of foreign aid provided by rich nations. Australian ministers from both

Is the NZ election almost irrelevant for Canberra?

Guest blogger: Robert Ayson (pictured) is Director of Studies, Graduate Studies in Strategy and Defence, ANU. Just a decade ago it would have been foolish to argue that New Zealand’s general election results held little consequence for Australian policy. In the blue corner sat the

What sort of climate policy do Australians want?

It can sometimes be hard to interpret Australian attitudes towards climate change. Lowy Institute polling over the years suggested most Australians are very concerned about it and want action. The ALP seemed to tap into this sentiment in the lead up to last year’s election when it portrayed

China coal fires will keep burning

Last Friday, Professor Xu from Griffith University, an expert in the Chinese electricity sector and the author of the Lowy-Griffith publication China’s Struggle for Power, emailed me questioning local news stories about a looming drop off in China’s demand for coal. The China demand

The Downer legacy: Politics, policy and comedy

This post concludes our introduction the Downer legacy blog seminar (here are parts one and two). Starting next week, I will post columns on each of the ten headings discussed in this introduction. But I want those columns to be informed by your views, so use these introductions to get you

Financial crisis: Defence will suffer

Defence Minister Joel Fitzgibbon has been quick  to point out that the global economic crisis will make Australia’s Defence White Paper challenge ‘far greater’ – as if matching Australia’s military capability plans to an uncertain strategic environment and limited finances was ever

The Downer legacy: Asia, the South Pacific and DFAT

Yesterday I started my introduction to this Alexander Downer blog seminar by looking at three parts of his legacy. Today I'll survey four more subject areas, and tomorrow another three. Starting next week, I will post columns on each of those ten parts of Downer's legacy. But I

Asia Pacific Community: An idea, an envoy and ASEAN

The Rudd Government is re-living an old Australian experience: you can’t do much with ASEAN, but without ASEAN you can do even less. The ASEAN factor is centre stage in the early efforts to flesh out Kevin Rudd’s big idea – the creation of an Asia Pacific Community. But as well as 

The Alexander Downer legacy: An Interpreter seminar

Was Alexander Downer an 'irresponsibly witty' trier or one of Australia’s greatest foreign ministers? As our longest-serving foreign minister fades from the political stage, The Interpreter invites you to take part in a series of blog seminars on Downer’s achievements and place in history.

Sharp Finn lands Australia in diplomatic soup

A key rival to Canberra's 2013-14 UN Security Council bid is Helsinki. And Finland has just scored another feather in its cap for creative small power diplomacy, with the awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize to former president Marti Ahtisaari. His claims to fame includes helping broker peace in

Financial crisis: Will it hit defence spending?

We are in the economic equivalent of a rolling national security crisis. That's an interesting turn of phrase from the Prime Minister. Presumably this was Rudd's attempt to communicate the scale and urgency of the problem, though it's also a reminder that threats to

Financial crisis: Where have we got to?

Guest blogger: Peter McCawley is a Visiting Fellow at the Indonesia Project, ANU, and former Dean of the ADB Institute, Tokyo. Three weeks ago I said (hoped, really) that the US authorities would probably be able to restore order to chaotic markets and that Australia should be able to

Rudd keeps his head while all about him lose theirs

Sometimes, mind-numbing prolixity can be a virtue. Prime Minister Rudd spent almost all of his 7:30 Report interview last night using his usual mix of cliche and long-windedness to hose down host Kerry O'Brien's barely concealed panic about the financial crisis. For every O'Brien

Defence White Paper: Don't mention the war

Reflecting on the eleven rounds of student debate recently hosted on this blog about what should be in the forthcoming Defence White paper (to see all 11 posts, enter 'white paper debate round' into the search box above), I was astounded that only one of them (this post by my Colleague

Zoellick is wrong about the G20

World Bank President Bob Zoellick seems well outside his allocated territory in his speech on modernizing multilateral economic institutions. When Wayne Swan meets him at the Annual Meetings in Washington next week, he might ask him who he speaks for in writing off G20 as 'unwieldy'

Rudd big idea: Still not clear if he fair dinkum

As someone who has been cautiously supportive of Prime Minister Rudd's Asia Pacific Community initiative but who is increasingly concerned about what looks like a lack of political and diplomatic momentum behind the idea, I'm inclined to grasp at any piece of vaguely encouraging news. But

National Security Statement = Godot?

The two most recent Prime Ministerial references I can find to the promised National Security Statement date from about a month ago (see here and here), with the PM promising only that it would be released 'in the near future' (note to the PM from Sir Humphrey Appleby: if you're asked

Lowy poll: Interpreting the China results

Guest blogger: Brendan Taylor is a lecturer in the Graduate Studies in Strategy and Defence program, ANU. There’s been a bit of hype about the sudden shift in Australian public attitudes vis-à-vis China revealed in this week’s Lowy poll. But I wouldn’t be reading too much into these

How linked are global financial markets?

In a globalised world, financial markets are a potent transmission channel from the US to the rest of us. Indeed, our stock market responds more to the US than to our domestic fundamentals. At first sight, last week’s policy mimicry might also suggest that the problems are the same.

Climate change in the Lowy poll

Larvatus Prodeo is one of Australia's more prominent political blogs, and today it has some unkind things to say about the Lowy Institute's annual poll, released this morning. Specifically, the Institute is charged with push polling in regard to one question on climate change, which

Leaks, secrecy and cynicism

A politician’s mantra: I brief, my mates background and those other bastards leak. This is a blunt way of saying that briefing, backgrounding and leaking are all part of the same political and policy process. The police raid on the Canberra journalist Philip Dorling was ostensibly because

Rudd at the UN: Support for G20 welcome

Kevin Rudd’s speech to the UN General Assembly set out some specifics for reforming the international financial system. It’s good to see him plugging the G20 as the centre-piece of this agenda. He was diplomatic enough not to draw attention to the irrelevance of the UN’s own specialized

Defence White Paper debate: Round 11

Campbell Micallef is participating in our student blog debate on the Defence White Paper. Surely Sam is trying to provoke a reaction when he argues that Australia is now committed to perform expeditionary operations because it decided to buy some expensive expeditionary toys. Decisions

Defence White Paper debate: Round 10

Guest blogger: Marc Gugliotta is participating in our student blog debate on the Defence White Paper. Let’s talk about land forces then. Instead of using our Army for stabilisation and peacekeeping operations, let's create a non-military force whose primary training is to maintain

Defence White Paper debate: Round 9

I felt moved to make a few observations on Lachlan McGoldrick’s post; in particular on the balance between theoretical policy development and practical realities. While our Army is relatively small, Lachlan’s absolutist view that the Australian Army is too small to make significant

Reader riposte: Why government should fund clean coal

Kien Choong sets me straight:  Mr Roggeveen's post suggests that he hasn't read the Garnaut draft report. Chapter 16 explains why public funding for R&D, particularly for clean coal technology, is appropriate.  If I can attempt to summarise the rationale, the benefits of

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