Saturday 28 Mar 2020 | 20:54 | SYDNEY

Australia in the World

Defence White Paper debate: Round 8

Guest blogger: Lachlan McGoldrick is participating in our student blog debate on the Defence White Paper. Sam is right that we have Air Warfare Destroyers (AWDs) and amphibious ships (LHDs) on order, but if a strategic case can be made for more submarines, there is no reason why that

Defence White Paper debate: Round 7

Guest blogger: Iain Henry is participating in our student blog debate on the Defence White Paper. Below he responds to posts by his fellow students. If our goal is to ensure Australia’s security in a relatively peaceful Asia Pacific, we face two main risks in the coming years. The first

Defence White Paper debate: Round 6

Judging by the initial contributions from our four students (Lachlan, Iain, Marc and Campbell), the future looks grim for Australia's surface navy. There seems to be unanimity on the preference for submarines, and perhaps for the proposition that Australia should practise a sea denial

Defence White Paper debate: Round 5

Guest blogger: Campbell Micallef is participating in our student blog debate on the Defence White Paper. Campbell is completing a Masters of Strategic Affairs at ANU. It’s often stated but often ignored that any threat is based upon an assessment of both capability and intent. Therefore

Reviewing trade and investment policy

Yesterday, Trade Minister Simon Crean released the report of the Review of Export Policies and Programs undertaken by David Mortimer and John Edwards. Billed as ‘the most comprehensive review of Australia's approach to trade and international investment in more than a decade’, the whole

Defence White Paper debate: Round 4

Guest blogger: Marc Gugliotta is participating in our student blog debate on the Defence White Paper. Marc is completing his Masters at GSSD. In response to Sam, if we are worried about being provocative, we should cancel the Air Warfare Destroyers (AWD) and the Amphibious Landing

McCain Australia connection

Recent polling suggests the Australian public has been carried along on the wave of international Obama euphoria. Perhaps Senator John McCain’s opinion piece in today’s Australian will give at least some pause for thought. I was struck by several things: Unlike Obama, McCain has

The Turnbull Cabinet: Lawyers, guns and money

A few career hints if you aspire to be Australia’s Foreign Minister or Defence Minister:  first, of course, be a lawyer. And second, it often helps to take absolutely no interest whatsoever in international policy. Third, stick around long enough to be considered senior. That recipe, and some

Defence White Paper debate: Round 3

Guest blogger: Iain Henry is participating in our student blog debate on the Defence White Paper. He is completing a Masters of Strategic Affairs at ANU. Sam raises some very interesting issues in his introductory post – particularly how Australia might respond to the rise of China. 

Defence White Paper debate: Round 2

Guest blogger: Lachlan McGoldrick is participating in our student blog debate on the Defence White Paper. Lachlan edits The Australian Interest and studies at GSSD. Sam's description of Australia's force structure as 'provocative' is mistaken. In fact, Australia could

US sneezes, but we're not catching cold...yet

We can argue about whether or not the Australian financial system is 'light years' away from the US problems (is the relevant issue distance or dollars?), but it is certainly very different. If the key real-sector problem in the USA was home-loans to NINJAs (No Income, No Job or Assets),

Defence White Paper: A blog debate

We're launching a little experiment on The Interpreter today. We've invited four postgraduate students from ANU's Strategic and Defence Studies Centre to talk about what they would like to see in the Government's Defence White Paper (due to be launched early next year), and to

What does the financial crisis mean for Australia?

Guest blogger: Peter McCawley is a Visiting Fellow at the Indonesia Project, ANU, and former Dean of the ADB Institute, Tokyo. The rollercoaster ride on international financial markets has been extraordinary during the past week. As the week ends, both the players and the umpires (the

The clean coal initiative

When those with a free market orientation talk about how governments should tackle climate change, they tend to argue that the best thing is to create the right incentives for the private sector to act responsibly. If governments have to take direct action, it should only be to invest in basic

Reader ripostes: The last word on Australia sea lanes

Rejoinders from two previous correspondents on this topic. Below is Andrew Davies' reply to Mark O'Neill, but first, Robyn Lim: This debate is getting really weird. It's obviously absurd to say that Australia can defend 'its' sea lanes, when 'its' sea lanes

How many people make a 'growing debate'?

An article (subscribers only) on page 10 in today’s AFR ‘Special Report’ on Defence by Shane Nichols caught my attention. Nichols asserts that ‘as global combat forms evolve, a debate is growing about whether the infantry must rethink its role’. Nichols cites an interview with APSI’s

Reader riposte: We can control the sea

Chris Skinner contributes to the debate about whether Australia needs to be able to protect its seaborne trade routes (Mark O'Neill thinks* we should, but Hugh White and Andrew Davies say it is too ambitious): Australia depends on trade shipping to carry exported bulk cargoes of raw

Reader riposte: Russia and our uranium

Jim Green from Friends of the Earth had this to say about my post on Australian uranium sales to Russia: Medcalf says that the issue turns fundamentally on the issue of  safeguards...[yet] safeguards are all but non-existent in Russia. Evidence from a number of sources (and presented

Catnip for Michael Fullilove

Here's one for my colleague Michael, editor of a collection of Australian speeches. It's Don Watson on the differences between Australian and American speechmaking (thanks to Crikey for the link). Watson also spoke recently at the Lowy Institute about his travels in America

Why DFAT matters

To my eternal frustration, the Australian Financial Review maintains a firewall that deters bloggers like me from commenting regularly on their frequently excellent opinion writing. Perhaps the Fin is making money from this arrangement, though that would make it a rare exception in the newspaper

Why Peter Costello hates the Defence Department

One of the ceaseless wars of Canberra is fought between the Defence Department and the hard men and women of Treasury and Finance. This seems a one-sided conflict because usually only the military report on the battle. The public servants are mute, and even Ministers seldom break cover — pouring

Reader riposte: Our vulnerable sea lanes

Andrew Davies from the Australian Strategic Policy Institute writes: Hugh is right to observe that the PM’s speech and subsequent press conference was heavy on ‘protecting sea lanes of communication (SLOCs)’ and light on denial operations. And the problem with that focus is made

If the aim is sea denial, only subs can carry that weight

Mark is, of course, quite correct: it is very unclear that twelve submarines could defend Australia’s sea lines of communication (SLOCs). But he is not right to think that defending SLOCs is what I think we need submarines for. In fact I think the PM’s focus – in his press conference last

Malcolm Turnbull foreign policy views

For our international readers who may not follow Australian politics closely: the news is that Australia has a new leader of the opposition. Liberal Party MPs elected Malcolm Turnbull to the position today, with Turnbull winning narrowly over the previous leader, Brendan Nelson. So what do

Quadrant online

That institution of the Australian right, the monthly magazine Quadrant, seems to have had an on-line facelift. Not before time. I have a lot of affection for Quadrant because it gave me my first break as a published author, so it's been sad to see it struggling lately. Clearly the site is a

Sky of blue, sea of green: Are subs all we need?

The Prime Minister’s speech to the RSL in Townsville last week led to an outbreak of opinion pieces and commentary from defence commentators. Much of the discussion has centred on the interpretation of many commentators that the PM has flagged a significant expansion of the Royal Australian

The failed state within

Thanks to reader Jesse for alerting me to this new report on the apparently appalling state of remote Australia, which the authors say resembles a failed state. It looks an interesting report on a grave subject, but from the point of view of The Interpreter and the Lowy Institute, this paragraph

Fitzgibbon JSF shuffle

In the same interview in which he somewhat grudgingly backed the Prime Minister's strong language on regional defence spending (excessively strong, as I argued in Saturday's Canberra Times), Defence Minister Joel Fitzgibbon also left himself some wiggle room in cutting back the huge

Rudd Asia: Truth and politics

Let’s play truth and politics with Kevin Rudd’s recent foreign policy/security forays. In this game, one arm of the graph rates the factual strength of the Prime Minister’s words, with the parameters running from true to false. The other arm of the graph plots the political dimension

Reader riposte: Rudd sees growing cost of alliance

Robyn Lim, Adjunct Professor at the University of Queensland and author of The Geopolitics of East Asia, writes on the Prime Minister's recent speech: Looks like Rudd has worked out how damaging the neo-isolationist 'Defence of Australia' doctrine has been to our national

Reader riposte: Downer replies

Last week I asked whether, on the basis of an interview he gave to The Australian, former Foreign Minister Alexander Downer had changed his mind about the merits of Australia's involvement in the invasion of Iraq. Mr Downer replies: No, I haven't. Read what I said instead of

The PM sure does say ea-lines of communication' a lot

In fact, it gets eight mentions in this press conference, held today, where the Prime Minister expands on his speech. He seems to know what the phrase means, too, saying that Australia must ensure that it can 'defend our sea-lines of communication to make sure that our exports get to the rest

The PM defence speech

Being a broadsheet, The Australian never carries headlines that 'scream', exactly, but today's 'PM flags major naval build-up', splashed across the breadth of the front page, is more than just a polite 'ahem, pardon me'. Trouble is, there is little in the speech

Reader riposte: The no-risk society

Hans van Leeuwen responds to Mark Thirwell's post on the growing role of goverment in the management of the global economy. My thoughts below: Mark Thirlwell is right, I think, to argue that the role of government in the economy is being recast. In addition to the sources of this

Has Downer changed his mind about Iraq?

There's a long interview with Alexander Downer in today's Australian, reflecting on his 11 years as Australia's foreign minister. It covers a broad range of subjects, but don't worry, it's not all dry policy talk. There are laughs as well: Downer...has an interesting

Australian uranium to India: Mad or bad?

To put the choice at its starkest: the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty is more valuable to Australia than is our relationship with India. Diplomacy is devoted to avoiding such one-dimensional, zero-sum decisions. The aim is always to straddle and avoid choosing. Yet Foreign Minister

Road to UNSC goes via the ICC

Guest blogger: Toby Collis is a Lowy Institute intern and Macquarie U. law student. Last week saw some media activity on Australia’s bid for a seat on the UN Security Council. The Government announced this goal in March.  The message of the SMH article was that while Australia

Nuclear dangers in Asia: What Australia can do

Australia needs to go beyond setting up a new disarmament commission if it wants to reduce nuclear dangers in the Asian century, I argue in two new Lowy Institute publications – a policy brief and a more detailed analysis. These draw upon ideas presented on The Interpreter earlier this year

The 5-minute Lowy Lunch: MAJ GEN Jim Molan

We've now resolved our technical problems, so we can belatedly resume this series. Below is an interview I recorded last Wednesday with our guest speaker, Major General (retd.) Jim Molan, author of Running the War in Iraq (more or less an accurate description of his role in the war).

Regulating Chinese investment

Graeme Dobell’s post drew my attention to a new paper by Peter Drysdale and Christopher Findlay on Chinese foreign direct investment into the Australian resource sector. The authors seem to come to pretty much the same conclusion I reached in a piece I wrote for the Australian in July. I

Chinese investment: Confusion and uncertainty

In talking with China about investment, Australia wants to reverse the punch line of the giant gorilla joke: Q: Where does a 500lb gorilla sit? A: Anywhere it damn well wants! With its administration of foreign investment guidelines, Australia is trying to tell

Salute and shut up

Beyond the golf versus swimming choice, former public servants and military officers can be divided into those who still hear the ring of the Minister’s phone call and those who don’t. Some can never abandon the closed-mouth habits of circumspection bred deep by years of service. Always, the

The leaks black market

Leaks can have many purposes – grudge, retribution, trial balloon, ego. Leaks are the currency of the political black market. And in Australia’s Parliament building, it’s a market everybody plays. Greg Terrill put it well in his book on secrecy and openness in Australian government: '

Tony Abbott and the Jordanisation of Iraq

Opposition frontbencher Tony Abbott is probably right to say that an Iraq which more closely resembles Jordan than Syria counts as progress. But what such arguments don't address is the issue of costs: is the 'Jordanisation' of Iraq enough of a gain, given what has been spent to get

Army dances to its own rhythms

The Rudd Government may have hit the ground reviewing (great line, that) but the national security results are starting to chug through the pipeline. Ric Smith’s review of Homeland Security is done, as is most of the detail of the National Security Statement with the creation of a new National

The Pacific Way wanes

The Pacific Way is waning slowly into the waves. By even threatening to expel Fiji from the Pacific Islands Forum, the annual leaders’ summit has effectively read the last rites over the traditional Forum way of doing business. It’s ironic that Fiji, the country which did most to call into

New panel to review Australian foreign policy

The Lowy Institute has convened a Blue Ribbon Panel to review how Australia goes about pursuing its overseas interests. These days, you don’t need Greg Sheridan’s rolodex to have a DFAT contact ready to tell you how well they’d run the place if only given the chance. Well — for all those

New Voices 2008

On Thursday 31 July 2008, the Lowy Institute held its fifth annual New Voices conference for young professionals, which this year discussed the new areas of responsibility that are arising as a result of globalisation. The outcomes report can be downloaded here