Wednesday 08 Apr 2020 | 23:44 | SYDNEY
Wednesday 08 Apr 2020 | 23:44 | SYDNEY

Turnbull speech at the Lowy Institute


Sam Roggeveen


1 May 2009 15:14

Malcolm Turnbull has just left the Lowy Institute after making what I believe is his first foreign policy speech as Opposition Leader. It didn't show. The speech — on the regional balance of power — had range and depth, and was only lacking a Q&A component at the end.

There'll be a recording of the speech on the Institute's website soon, and the SMH has already written up some of its more newsworthy aspects. But despite the headlines and the clear lines Turnbull drew on Chinese state-owned investment in Australia, this was not an anti-China speech. The theme, I thought, was a call to restore balance to our regional policy away from the heavy focus on China. To illustrate his argument about the importance of other regional powers to Australia's interests, Turnbull may even have drawn on some statistics he found on The Interpreter.

One other significant theme of the speech was the way it dealt with Australia's relations with great powers generally. Much of this was directed at China, but Turnbull made a point of saying (and I'm paraphrasing from my notes here) that all great powers regard deference as their due. Clearly this formulation does not exclude the US, and as such it was a refreshingly unromantic description of Australia's relations with our major ally.

UPDATE: A transcript of the speech is now available on our homepage.