Thursday 13 Dec 2018 | 01:00 | SYDNEY
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Australia in the World

The true cost of fast fashion

This article is based on episode 10 of the Good Will Hunters podcast, featuring an interview with Clare Press, sustainability editor-at-large at Vogue Australia.  It’s known as “fast fashion”, clothes cheap to buy, yet costly to make, if the true labour and environmental

How Australia should deepen ties with India

Ties between India and Australia have always been a little constrained – and unsurprisingly so, as traditionally there has been little to connect the two countries. For its part, Australia has for decades sought to have a better relationship with India, one that extends beyond shared democracy,

Steady but slow in Australia-Japan security cooperation

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s recent visit to Darwin was rightly billed as historic and “deeply symbolic”. It also delivered some substance, with the announcement of important deals on the financing of regional infrastructure and on deepening cooperation on maritime security. It did not

Review: lessons for Australia and Britain from Iraq War

Book review: Blunder: Britain’s War in Iraq, by Patrick Porter (Oxford University Press, November 2018). Clausewitz famously pointed out that war is a continuation of politics or policy by other means. Hannah Arendt wrote that “policy is the realm of unintended consequences”. Patrick

Barley and bases: China stings Australian farmers

China’s Ministry of Commerce announced on Monday that it would immediately start a year-long anti-dumping probe into imported barley from Australia. China is Australia’s largest export market for barley. In 2017, two-thirds of the Australian crop – 6.48 million tonnes, worth US $1.5 billion

Australia finds itself at a Pacific crossroads

When Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced the establishment of the multibillion-dollar infrastructure development bank for the Pacific, the overriding sentiment was that this pivot to the South Pacific was designed to curb the rising Chinese presence in the region. But is this renewed

Chipping away at trust in democracy

With a series of state elections due and the federal election looming, there are important lessons that Australia needs to learn from the tone of US politics. In particular, there is a responsibility for Australia’s political leaders to act in ways that ensure, and do not undermine, the integrity

Abe’s visit to Australia: raising the stakes

Japan’s Prime Minister Abe Shinzo is scheduled to visit Australia this week on the heels of attending the ASEAN Summit. While there have been regular prime ministerial exchanges between Tokyo and Canberra throughout Abe’s long leadership tenure, there will be more at stake than usual on this

Signalling a whole-of-Australia approach to China

One of the most challenging aspects of Australia’s bilateral relationship with China is finding new ways to signal our interest in the big issues that are shaping the future of the region – a task almost as difficult as deciding amongst ourselves what those issues are. The signalling of

Bourke Street: debating terrorism

The violence in Melbourne’s Bourke Street last Friday is still being investigated as a terrorist incident and, as with all terrorist incidents, the media and public are rightly eager for information. While the authorities have been as open as they can be, this early in the process there

Where the new US envoy fits in the ambassadorial type

Arthur Culvahouse will be the next US ambassador to Australia. At last, the “diplomatic insult” that so worried former Nationals leader, deputy prime minister and later ambassador to the Holy See Tim Fischer has been put to rest. As the Washington Post notes, Culvahouse, a lawyer by training,

Kevin Rudd’s script in defence of multilateralism

At the launch of Kevin Rudd’s weighty second volume of memoirs, the Canberra press gallery was in full-on cynicism mode. In the Holder Room in the inner sanctums of Parliament House, Angus and Robertson, the publishers, had set up a stall selling copies of the book – Kevin Rudd, The PM Years

Chinese fishing fleet a security issue for Australia

China’s fishing fleet has been at the forefront of disputes in the South China Sea, and the expansion of China's fleet into the South Pacific and the Indian Ocean may soon create new security headaches for Australia. In 2013, the decline of fish stocks in Chinese waters, together with China’s

The Australian Army’s drone air force

The first Military International Drone Racing Tournament was just held in Sydney, featuring competitors from across the world, and the Australian Army team did very well. This shouldn’t surprise. The Army has declared that it will soon “be the most unmanned [air vehicle] army in the world

Scott Morrison gets ready for Asia’s summit season

One question has dogged Scott Morrison since he took over leadership of his party and the government on 24 August in a party-room coup: why are you Prime Minister? Morrison’s speech at the Asia Society in Sydney today, designed to launch the “summit season” in which the PM will jet off

Labor’s ambitions in the Pacific

Speeches on foreign policy made by prospective Prime Ministers or prospective Foreign Ministers in Australia are a bit like bingo games for foreign policy analysts. We listen (or read the transcript) eagerly to determine how many of the various recommendations we have all been making to the

“Would you like thanks with that?”

I think we are in danger of reaching “peak veteran”. Former defence minister and Australian War Memorial director Brendan Nelson has called for people to publicly thank the military and veterans community and their families for their service, a campaign backed by News Corporation along with

Melbourne joins the Belt-and-Road

Most maps of the Belt and Road Initiative, the People’s Republic of China’s signature international policy program, have sweeping arrows connecting China with almost all corners of the world. Yet even the most ambitious of these do not have any link to Australia’s most cultured city, Melbourne

Bill Shorten takes on the world

On the polls, Australia’s long-time Labor Opposition leader Bill Shorten will be prime minister by the middle of next year. So a major speech on a future Labor government’s foreign policy, delivered on Monday at the Lowy Institute, was an important set of signals on Australia’s direction in a

The Economist: a change of heart

This week’s Economist magazine features Australia on the cover with the caption: “Aussie Rules: what Australia can teach the world”. Inside, the text is effusive: Australia is “the wonder down under”, “possibly the most successful rich country”. How times (and predictions) change!

Never too late to get the kids off Nauru

Over the past six years, we have witnessed the steady, if not accelerating, deterioration of the mental and physical health of refugee children on Nauru. Their suffering has been described by medical experts as worse than they have seen in war zones or refugee camps around the world. It is

Australian energy diplomacy

Successive federal governments have declared Australia to be an “energy superpower”. The 2017 Foreign Policy White Paper is the most recent example, highlighting the size of Australia’s exports of coal and liquefied natural gas. Yet Australian foreign policy has often overlooked energy

Friends like these … allies and the Pence speech

Vice President Mike Pence’s speech was tasty red meat for anyone desiring a more confrontational US policy toward the People’s Republic of China. Pence’s speech reflects a strengthening bipartisan consensus in Washington, and suggests that a long-term policy of competition and confrontation

Australia’s Israel-Palestine conflict

Labor was quick to pounce on a “desperate” Scott Morrison to accuse him of breaking “bipartisan foreign policy” after the prime minister flagged the prospect that Australia could recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. Which is true enough on the specifics. But broad questions

Reconciling with China in the Pacific

Last month, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi met with Australia’s Foreign Minister Marise Payne on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly in New York. Wang Yi struck a surprisingly conciliatory tone, expressing the wish to partner with Australia in the development of the Pacific

Encryption does not create privilege

Australia’s Director-General of Security, Duncan Lewis, has published his urgings in support of a bill before the federal parliament to impose obligations on communication service providers to facilitate investigative access to encrypted communications. Formerly, such a public participation by

Realigning the Australian Army

The Australian Army is spending up big, announcing a $5.2bn contract for more than 200 Boxers (armoured reconnaissance vehicles from Rheinmetall, as opposed to Boxster of the Porsche variety), while also releasing a tender for another 450 even bigger and better armoured personnel carriers. While

Australia-PNG: relationships are what matter

Papua New Guineans tell each other with pride and excitement that the eyes of the world will be upon them 40 days from now, when they host the APEC Leaders Meeting in Port Moresby on 17-19 November. They are not fazed that Donald Trump won’t be there. His representative, Mike Pence, is

Turning the dial on international broadcasting

Right when Australia finds itself with serious strategic interests in its neighbourhood, it has managed to turn its once influential international broadcasting voice into a whisper.  One that’s difficult to hear outside a handful of major cities across the region. 

Japan’s advice to Australia to co-exist with China

Japan’s Shinzo Abe now ranks as one of the region’s most experienced prime ministers, and will likely meet with Australia’s newest leader, Scott Morrison, in November. China’s growing influence in the region is a topic both leaders must discuss, given that the prosperity and stability in

Indian migrants in Australia find political voice

As a doctoral student exploring theory and creative practice of diasporas in the mid-2000s, I ended up making a documentary about Indian migrants in Adelaide (titled, I Journey Like a Paisley). There was little academic or popular literature on the matter then. A few years later, the racist

Time to fill the big hole in US-Australia ties

“We want to know to whom should we talk”, asked one South American diplomat in frustration at staffing problems in the US State Department. The question underscores, again, the failure of the Trump Administration to adequately staff its foreign service. This failure is not merely a curiosity,

Not just a pretty place: Australia’s soft power

The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade's (DFAT) soft power review comes at a time when information is rising as an instrument of foreign policy. DFAT faces new challenges and therefore needs a renewed vision and mission for its soft power. The review is sorely required. In orthodox

Spilt milk: protecting exports during drought

Drought is an unavoidable hazard of farming in Australia. As the economic pressure mounts from the current drought in northern New South Wales and Queensland, there is increasing stress on farmers in the region, including in the dairy industry. The federal government has stepped in with

The case for a foreign aid tsar

The Australian aid program has always laboured under multiple and competing objectives, both implicit and explicit. This was identified in the 1997 Simons Report on foreign aid, commissioned by the Howard Government, into what was then a separate agency, AusAID: The managers of the aid

We already have an agricultural visa

It’s not all that often the National party – the junior member of the Coalition government – has an obvious influence over Australia’s relations with its neighbours. But a push for a new agricultural visa by the Nationals and supported by the lobby-group National Farmers Federation is

What Canberra’s turmoil means for foreign policy

The latest eruption of political infighting in Canberra was unusual for the ineptitude of its instigators, who failed to get their own candidate into the job, and the persistence of the after-shocks. These included the resignation from parliament of the defeated prime minister, Malcolm Turnbull, and

PNG: new friend versus old, APEC and polio 

The condemnation of China last week by Nauru’s President Baron Waqa at the Pacific Island Forum leaders’ meeting may have been bolstered by Taiwan’s substantial investment in that tiny Pacific nation of 13,000 people. Nauru is one of six Pacific countries to have diplomatic relations with

Regional security dilemma in the Pacific

After changes of leadership and of government in Canberra, those of us who work on Pacific island issues are usually inclined to be optimistic. We hope that the incoming Australian Prime Minister and Foreign Minister might care more about the Pacific, might be inclined to spend more time in the

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