Wednesday 06 Oct 2021 | 12:03 | SYDNEY
Wednesday 06 Oct 2021 | 12:03 | SYDNEY

A foreign policy to-do list for PM Gillard


Andrew Shearer

24 June 2010 14:46

New Prime Minister Julia Gillard will have a lot on her plate in coming weeks. Foreign policy probably isn't at the top of her list. But Kevin Rudd's peremptory replacement is an opportunity to get Australian international policy back on track, in ten simple steps:

  1. Make a sustained case to the Australian people that the ADF's role in Afghanistan serves not only our alliance interests but our direct security needs.
  2. Repair the damage done to Australia's international reputation as a reliable and competitive investment destination by the botched attempt to implement a mining tax.
  3. Abandon the Rudd Government's futile and counterproductive legal action against Japan, our staunchest regional friend. 
  4. Announce the commencement of negotiations with the Indian Government on a bilateral nuclear safeguards agreement and that she will move a motion at the next ALP national conference clearing the way for uranium exports to India.
  5. Depersonalise and stabilise Australia's relations with China, our largest trading partner, by putting in place a durable bilateral policy framework that is grounded in Australia's national interest, consistent with our values and provides clarity and consistency, including for Chinese sovereign investment.
  6. Remedy the Government's failure after nearly three years to secure ratification by the US Senate of the Australia-US Defence Trade Cooperation Treaty, which is vital to streamlining both the ADF's future access to critical American defence technologies and two-way defence industrial cooperation.
  7. Abandon a campaign for a UN Security Council seat that is unsure of success, is distorting our foreign policy and aid priorities and is wasting scarce diplomatic resources that could be spent in direct pursuit of our national interests.
  8. Confirm that the Government will no longer pursue Rudd's badly conceived and poorly received proposal for an Asia-Pacific community and will instead work patiently and constructively with our regional partners to improve the way existing institutions operate, including by bringing in the US where it is not presently involved.
  9. Halve the size of the bloated national security bureaucracy Rudd created in the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet and use the freed-up resources to send more diplomats overseas.
  10. Re-empower the foreign minister (and, who knows, this could be Rudd himself) by dismantling the cumbersome and overly centralised decision-making apparatus put in place over the past two years.