Sunday 10 Oct 2021 | 16:40 | SYDNEY
Sunday 10 Oct 2021 | 16:40 | SYDNEY

An independent foreign policy?


Sam Roggeveen


23 August 2010 15:24

The Age's Diplomatic Editor, Daniel Flitton, says that, although winning the support of Greens and independents will be the key to whether Labor or the Liberal-National Coalition forms the new government, '(c)lose observers yesterday doubted Australia's role in the war (in Afghanistan) would be a bargaining chip'.

You could expand that to say that foreign policy generally will not be a big part of the upcoming negotiations with the independents. Alan Kohler has the best short summary I have seen on what will be the key issues. 

In fact, given that the new government is unlikely to want to cross the independents too early or too often, some areas of foreign policy controversy might simply be avoided for the whole term of government. For instance, Bob Katter's presence in a governing coalition could ensure that the next term won't be a golden age in Australian trade diplomacy. (The Greens, who have doubled their parliamentary representation and hold the balance of power in the Senate, are not exactly free trade enthusiasts either. More on the Greens' foreign policy views in an upcoming post.)

Mind you, as Kohler points out, the independents don't hold all the cards. They too have an interest in stable government, since they need to refill their coffers before fighting another election. And they won't have the staff resources to impose themselves on every piece of legislation.

'What about defence'', you ask. Again, it's not likely to come up, though here's an intriguing Katterism from last night's 7.30 Report:

Rural Australia is closing down. Ninety percent of the continent is occupied by not many more people than were here when Captain Cook arrived...(Black Jack McEwen) said, this great treasure, which is our country, I fear unless we occupy it, and develop its resources, that it will be taken off us.

By whom, Bob, by whom'

Photo by Flickr user ThePaperboy, used under a Creative Commons license.