Thursday 20 Sep 2018 | 04:18 | SYDNEY
Thursday 20 Sep 2018 | 04:18 | SYDNEY

DFAT needs a movie star


Alex Oliver


4 November 2011 15:00

In a bid to defend itself against congressional calls for cuts to the State Department budget, it appears State has recruited the star power of Michael Douglas. Douglas was quoted in Business Week yesterday saying:

Congress is way out of line,” Douglas told reporters. Diplomacy “takes a long time, it’s quiet, but it’s a lot cheaper than a war.

At the Lowy Institute, we've been saying that for a while. Our 2009 Diplomatic Deficit and this year's Diplomatic Disrepair reports have called for significant reinvestment in Australia's diplomatic network, run down after successive governments' inattention and under-resourcing. It’s a call that even the Secretary of the Department, Dennis Richardson, has cautiously welcomed, with testimony in Estimates last week:

To put it simply in a broad context I would agree with the general proposition that we are underdone in our international representation.

It appears that at least some in parliament agree, with the Joint Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade announcing last month an inquiry into Australia's overseas representation, focusing on the geographic location and spread of Australia's diplomatic posts, the appropriate level of staffing, the effect of ediplomacy and the activities at post.

While in Australia we have our own high profile foreign minister (although he's not quite Hillary), perhaps we too need to call in the star power to finally get some attention on Australia's languishing diplomacy.

Ideas, anyone?

Photo by Flickr user fredcamino.