Fair Dinkum By Lolita Farmer OAM
Interesting and engaging is the call by Minister Julie Bishop Foreign Affairs and Minister Steven Ciobo Trade, Tourism and Investment in a move that will include us all. There’s a call for public submissions on Foreign Policy White Paper. Why?
As Minister Bishop says, ”We need a contemporary foreign policy strategy; we are a significant regional voice---this will look at the challenges , threats and the opportunities.”
“Australia’s future prosperity is anchored with our region and the world---the White paper presents an opportunity to put in place the right trade and investment policy settings that will help drive
Australia’s future growth, “ add Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment Steven Ciobo.
Australia’s has just had 2 White Papers on foreign policy one in 1997 and in 2003.There have been several white papers on defence.
So what are the issues that must be addressed? Lowy Institute executive director Dr. Michael Fullilove in his Boyer lectures called for a three dimensional foreign policy and I quote, “ Given the Asia Pacific region is central to the emerging world order Dr. Fullilove argued ,we should seek to shape our circumstances through ‘three dimensions; active engagement with major powers, multilateral institutions and with countries in this region”.
Senator the Hon Concetta Fierravanti-Wells ,Minister for International Development and the Pacific reminds us: “The Australian Government recognizes the valuable people to people and economic links that our cultural diversity contributes to shaping our nation and our relationships around the world. We need to ensure our foreign policy continues in this way to deliver prosperity and security for all Australians.”
Submissions must focus on the following:”1) Australian foreign Policy needs to be grounded in a clear-eyed assessment of our national interests;2) Australia has diverse interest that span the globe; 3) Australia is an influential player in regional and international organisations; 4) Australia needs to be ambitious in grasping economic opportunities; 5) Australia confronts a range of strategic security and transnational challenges and 6) Australia uses a range of assets and capabilities to pursue our international interests.”
Brendan Purcell sends his interesting comments along this line of thought. He says, “Australia Foreign Affairs people to do their best to keep an open and respectful dialogue with Australia’s neighbors and near neighbors with a clear –eyed awareness that countries like Indonesia, Malaysia, Brunei and especially China range from religious theocracies to idealogical ones---. The relations with good guys like Singapore, Taiwan, Japan, South Korea, New Zealand, the US, should be developed in a different way with greater sharing, for example, military and intelligence.
There have been enough studies on the poor effect of development aid that should either be funnelled directly to carefully identified bodies, and certainly not through any African governmental agencies because of endemic corruption there.
Since a large number of NGOs are fronts for left –wing movements ( not to mention Islamic movements) only after what they call ‘extreme vetting’ should any NGO be trusted.”
Our current Australia’s international relations uses its assets –“economic, strategic and cultural”. Values are “liberal democracy” which recognizes “rule of law, freedom of the press, accountability of the government to an elected parliament and a commitment to fair go”.
Foremost among the countries in the Asia Pacific region that Australia engages are –the United states, Japan and China and its neighbor Indonesia. Another body Australia engages with significant interests is the Association of South East Asian nations (ASEAN) the European Union , Republic of Korea and the south Pacific, New Zealand and Papua New Guinea.
As to security Australia is inextricably linked with the security of the region. Australia has security agreement with the US and also with the countries in the region.
Some say Australia foreign policy is “unbalanced” as compared to other departments for funding has been reduced and cuts in its aid programs plus closure of some diplomatic posts.
There are big challenges for Australia .Terrorism and the rivalry between China and the United States. China’s aggressive military installations in the South China Sea where areas are claimed by different nations and economic support to ASEAN countries are factors to watch for China may control the region.
Have your say being a stakeholder in this country we now call home. Think about it.