Saturday 25 Sep 2021 | 04:34 | SYDNEY


Mobile phones for development: Just a love affair?

Could mobile telephony be harnessed for development in Papua New Guinea? As Danielle Cave has pointed out, mobile phone uptake has increased rapidly throughout the Pacific in very recent years. In PNG, mobile phone coverage has extended greatly since the introduction of competition into the

Soft power: A British perspective

Paul Madden is the British High Commissioner to Australia. So, on the back of the Olympics and Royal Jubilee, Monocle's annual survey has placed Britain at the top of its Soft Power league table this year. When I was running the FCO's Public Diplomacy department (2003-5) I would have been

Friday linkage: Land mines, space boom, manufacturing, PNG and more

The transcript of PNG Prime Minister Peter O'Neill's address to the Lowy Institute yesterday on 'Papua New Guinea in the Asian Century'. Is commercial spaceflight about to have its 'Netscape moment' (ie. the start of a long boom)? The latest issue of The Atlantic is out, with a cover story

PNG PM Peter O'Neill at Lowy Institute

Today the Lowy Institute hosted the Hon Peter O'Neill, Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea, at a Distinguished Speaker lecture on 'PNG in the Asian Century' (a transcript of the speech will be published on this blog and the Lowy Institute website when it becomes available). My first impressions of

Sinking Sandy Island: A data-sharing parable

Olivia Wilson is a geoscientist and mapping specialist. Sandy Island has brought ocean mapping to the forefront of news, reminding the world that exploration on this planet is still possible. This small Pacific island can be found on numerous maps, including one dated 1908. Sandy Island,

Sharp talk on PNG corruption

Sarah Logan is a PhD candidate at the Australian National University. Did you know there is a Moresby street in Cairns? Pundits have long joked that it indicates the importance of illicit PNG money to the Cairns property market, with some claiming that Papua New Guineans are the city's most

Peacekeeping: The fight for recognition

Geraldine Doogue is civilian patron of the Australian Peacekeeping Memorial Project. She presents ABC RN's 'Saturday Extra' and ABC1's 'Compass' programs. Part 1 of this series here. Somewhere, there must be a place in Australia's national story for the work of people like Captain Lindsey

Tuesday linkage: FOX News, think tanks, Taiwan, climate change and more

Taiwan didn't get much attention in the Asian Century White Paper, despite its importance to Australia. How to build a better think tank ranking system (thanks Danielle). And here's a thoughtful response. '...the best clues to Chinese foreign policy under Xi Jinping may be found in the lengthy

Missile defence comes of age

A short piece in the Global Mail makes the important point that Israel's Iron Dome missile defence system, which has an 85% success rate against incoming rockets in the latest Gaza conflict, has given Israel the flexibility not to escalate the war. Yossi Drukker, from the Israeli weapons

Island apps: Responding to Pacific ICT growth

Danielle Cave's recent paper on the uptake of information and communications technology (ICT) in our region consolidates a range of information about what is happening in Pacific island countries and reveals key questions yet to be considered or resolved. In general, the position Danielle puts

Reader riposte: Getting to know Mongolia

Khishigbayar responds to Daniel Woker's piece on Mongolia: First of all thank you very much for visiting my country Mongolia and writing an excellent article which definitely promotes Mongolia in all terms. I would just like to mention few errors in the article. 'Outer Mongolia' is the

SMS SOS: Mobile phones in Pacific island disasters

Olivia Wilson is a geoscientist and mapping specialist. I've been following with interest the discussions around Danielle Cave's paper and blog post about the impact of information and communications technology on the Pacific island region. With the boom in mobile phone use, I would like

Peacekeeping: Our national story

Geraldine Doogue is civilian patron of the Australian Peacekeeping Memorial Project. She presents ABC RN's 'Saturday Extra' and ABC1's 'Compass' programs. Why do some national stories capture our attention and move to the realm of myth and others don't? Peacekeeping has somehow never quite

Monday linkage: Commonwealth, econoblogging, foreign aid and more

Hubris, paternalism and sentimentality: our aid program is an anachronism, and needs to be drastically revamped. The Economist pours cold water on Euro sceptic suggestions that the Commonwealth could be an alternative to Europe. And in case you're feeling sympathetic towards the Commonwealth,

Competing trade deals test loyalties

President Obama's Asia visit has focused attention on two different and perhaps competing approaches to trade liberalisation: the ASEAN-centred Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) and the US-sponsored Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). These proposals are the next generation in

Friday funny: Aid for Norway

The Simpsons set the bar pretty high for We are the World parodies with We're Sending our Love Down the Well. This one, called Africa for Norway, covers much of the same territory. Still, the message about Western condescension towards Africa never gets old

Defence policy: Tailored for uncertainty

Dr John Blaxland is a Senior Fellow at the Strategic and Defence Studies Centre, ANU. There is an underlying point Hugh White makes in his recent post concerning what he calls 'the bigger issue' of defence budget cuts and the real strategic risks associated with that. This is worth examining

Reader riposte: Intellectual property and tax

Tony Healy writes: It's misleading to represent transfer pricing as a problem caused by intellectual property rights, as Stephen Grenville does. Rather, it's a problem of corporate tax law and international treaties. There are two important points. First, intellectual property rights allow

It worth getting to know Mongolia

Dr Daniel Woker is the former Swiss Ambassador to Australia and now a Senior Lecturer at the University of St Gallen. This post is the result of a recent study trip to Mongolia and China. Mongolia is huge and landlocked between China and Russia, has almost no physical infrastructure and is

Linda Jakobson on China new leaders

Yesterday Sydney University China expert Kerry Brown wrote on The Interpreter about the challenge China's new leadership has in trying to re-connect with ordinary Chinese people, who ignored last week's Politburo unveiling and feel little connection with China's leaders. Watching  the interview

Wednesday linkage: South China Sea, Obama, trains, Germans and more

A proposal to create a small group, outside ASEAN, that would present a united front to China on the South China Sea dispute. (Thanks Stephen.) 51 wonderful photos of Chinese architecture, old and new. Obama's Myanmar visit isn't going down well in Beijing. But that was probably the point.

Football diplomacy conference

In January 2015, Australia will host the Asian Cup. It is a prospect that has not only excited thousands of Australian football fans, it also offers opportunities for the commercial, cultural and diplomatic communities of Australia. With tens of thousands of tourists projected to visit Australia to

Getting serious about IP and tax

Intellectual property rights are usually debated in terms of the balance between the rights of the user and the producer/owner. But there are also important implications for international taxation. With intellectual property forming such a large component of many products we buy, the nebulous

Melanesian politics: Stael blong Vanuatu

A parliamentary vote in Vanuatu yesterday saw Sato Kilman re-elected by 29 to 23 votes as Prime Minister following the 30 October elections. His People's Progressive Party won only five seats in a 52-member parliament (pictured) but Kilman proved to be a superior deal-maker in putting together a

Tuesday linkage: Cold War, Garuda, Japan, urbanisation, Europe and more

The failed merger of two European defence giants, BAE and EADS, and what it says about the surprising resilience of 'political Europe'. 'The orthodox view says making cities more compact is essential to improve sustainability significantly. However research suggests the environmental pay-off is

Internet forum in Baku: Mixed signals

Sarah Logan is a PhD candidate in the Department of International Relations, ANU. The drive from Baku's airport to the city is somewhat startling. Huge and gleaming new architectural follies punctuate a skyline otherwise more reminiscent of the twelfth century than the 21st. Coupled with this

The Indo-Pacific strikes back

It may not have got everything right, but one virtue of the Australian Government's new white paper on Australia in the Asian Century is its authors' open-mindedness about the way the Asian region is defined. Specifically, the paper gave some credit to the emerging idea of an Indo-Pacific vision

Reader riposte: Bitcoin and terrorism

Ingram Niblock writes: Simon Palombi overstates the threat from terrorist's use of Bitcoin. First, a key aspect of Bitcoin is that every single transaction made using the currency is held by every single user of the currency in what is known as the block chain. While the user and the unique

Bits and pieces: Virtual money and terrorism

Simon Palombi is an intern in the Lowy Institute's International Security Program. He has previously interned with the UN Counter Terrorism Executive Directorate. The European Central Bank recently published an official study into digital online currencies, the first by a major financial

TV trailer: House of Cards

When American political drama takes a dark turn, its source of inspiration is often British. No Brit could match the uplift of Aaron Sorkin's The West Wing, but no American could come up with anything as sardonic and cynical as Armando Iannucci's Veep. Attempts to migrate the British

Thursday linkage: AUSMIN, Keating, Syria, Petraeus, American oil and more

It's official: Xi Jinping is China's new president. The 2012 AUSMIN communique. The Interpreter will have more on this issue soon. The text of Paul Keating's Keith Murdoch Oration, called Asia in the New Order, delivered yesterday. It led to an entertaining interview on last night's Lateline

Chinese politics remains a men club

While we wait for the announcement later today of who will govern China over the next five to ten years, it is worth digesting a few facts about China's new group of 205 most influential citizens. These are the 195 men and 10 women selected on Wednesday as members of the new Central Committee of

Movie trailer: Promised Land

A follow-up to the post just below, which mentions a new International Energy Agency report predicting that America will surpass Saudi Arabia in the coming decade to become the world's largest oil producer. How is this possible? The answer is 'fracking' or hydraulic fracturing, a method for

The oil glut and the environment

The Guardian, summarising the latest International Energy Agency World Energy Outlook report, comes up with the attention-grabbing headline that the US could become the world's biggest oil producer in a decade, displacing Saudi Arabia. The story itself puts the date at 2017, making the headline

Wednesday linkage: US-Japan ties, Party Congress, Lowy Lecture and more

The US and Japan are revising their defence cooperation guidelines, and 'there is little doubt as to the nature of the new antagonist.' Fiji's Attorney-General heckled by protesters in Brussels. (Thanks Danielle.) The unnerving atmosphere in Beijing during Party Congress week. That atmosphere

Myanmar: Change express

I've spent the past week in Yangon, Myanmar. It's a country where you can almost see the change happening. Take the headlines from The New Light of Myanmar ('The most reliable newspaper around you') on Monday 5 November: 'Denmark Opens Embassy in Yangon'; 'Norway Embassy established in Yangon

New Syria opposition credible but shaky

Yesterday's announcement from Qatar that the disparate Syrian opposition has united to a degree previously unseen is replete with possibilities. But it's easy to get carried away with the deal at such an early stage, and I think it is too early to describe it, as one diplomat did, as having crossed

East Timor: Don't let success blind you to the gaps

These views are the author's own and do not reflect those of the Department of Defence or the Australian Government.   I disagree with Hugh White's response to my Interpreter post: East Timor is exactly the historical precedent that illustrates the risks of Defence's current budget trajectory. A

What do the French make of Petraeus?

The CIA Director's decision to resign over revelations of an affair had me scratching my head yesterday. A reader shot me an email in full agreement, pointing out that, when de Gaulle was informed that one of his ministers was an adulterer he is reported to have said: 'Il fait son devoir comme

Reader riposte: Bond villains and their plots

Mark Corcoran, a reporter and producer for the ABC's Foreign Correspondent, responds to an item from this morning's Linkage (in which economists rate the plausibility of Bond villain plots): Read the list of Bond villain plots with great interest. The most plausible is, I agree, Quantum of

Why did Petraeus resign?

Stephen Walt says: In the world of intelligence, extramarital dalliances are dangerous because they create the obvious potential for blackmail. If some foreign intel service found out that a mid-level intelligence analyst or operative was cheating, they might be able to extract sensitive

East Timor: A matter of perspective

Dr John Blaxland is a Senior Fellow at the Strategic and Defence Studies Centre, ANU. I note Hugh White's response to the comments by Jeffrey Grey and Al Palazzo on East Timor and it strikes me how different perspectives can be from Canberra (where Hugh was based at the time) when compared

Monday linkage: China reform, Bond villains, PNG democracy, Fiji and more

China watchers having their Twitter accounts hacked during the Party Congress? (Thanks Danielle.) Don't ignore the history of liberalism and reform in China. There's another China story out there, says Paul Monk. Scathing assessment of David Petraeus: 'More so than any other leading military

Funding Australia future

As the IMF has recently pointed out, these are tough times for the global economy, with a range of international economic risks including the ongoing crisis in the eurozone, the looming US fiscal cliff, the deterioration in sovereign creditworthiness across much of the developed world, and

The tabloids and the Asian century

I thought Graeme Dobell's column on the Asian Century White Paper last week was a real cracker. I found this passage particularly reassuring: Malcolm Cook remarks on the limited coverage by the tabloids. The tabloids are, indeed, important attack dogs because of their finely tuned populist

Lessons from five years of blogging

A number of people who couldn't attend the speech I gave last night in Canberra on '10 lessons from 5 years of political blogging' have been kind enough to ask me whether they could see it in published form. The talk wasn't entirely scripted, so I don't have a finished text yet, but I will make