Tuesday 24 May 2022 | 01:30 | SYDNEY
Tuesday 24 May 2022 | 01:30 | SYDNEY

Engagement wasn't easy or automatic

10 August 2011 12:57

Geoff Miller is a former Australian Ambassador to Japan (1986-89) and a former Director-General of the Office of National Assessments (1989-95).

In his post of 10 August Michael Wesley says inter alia that my reading of his book 'There Goes the Neighbourhood' was 'tendentious at best', and that in it he had no intention of 'giving offense to Australia's former and serving diplomats.' However, 'something about the book (had) caused (me) to take...umbrage'.

I don't propose to respond to all the points in his post, but in regard to that 'something', I simply refer again to his assertion (p.173) that over the past 60 years all Australia's international relationships, apart from those with the US and international organisations, have been 'handled pragmatically and properly but with little thought and less ambition'.

I should think that those words 'little thought and less ambition' are indeed cause for umbrage, not only to Australian diplomats and government officials but also for ministers such as Peacock, Hayden, Evans and Downer, who for years at a stretch sought to promote Australia's interests and goals, by no means only with the US or in international organisations, and not least in the Asia-Pacific.

Image, of volume two of DFAT's Facing North: A century of Australian engagement with Asia', courtesy of Melbourne University Bookshop.