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Before the Asian Century, it was Gough Whitlam that gave Australians the confidence to enhance their place in the world. Alan Porritt/AAP

Thanks for the confidence, Gough

“Where were you when Gough was sacked?” This of course refers to Remembrance Day, 11 November, 1975, when the elected prime minister Gough Whitlam was sacked by Governor-General Sir John Kerr in cahoots…
The Trans-Pacific Partnership agenda is again being driven by the US on behalf of its major export industries. EPA/How Hwee Young

Trans-Pacific Partnership piles up challenges for democracy

Ten years on from the Australia-US Free Trade Agreement, Australia is entering another round of negotiations towards the new and controversial Trans-Pacific Partnership. In this Free Trade Scorecard series…
With coups in Thailand and troubles elsewhere, Australia exists in a fragile regional environment where it is expected to play a leading role in peacemaking. EPA/Narong Sangnak

Peacemaking should be at the core of Australian foreign policy

Australia’s neighbourhood is currently a hotbed of fragility and conflict, with tensions in the South China Sea, a military coup in Thailand and civil rights abuses against Rohingya in Myanmar. But to…
The Abbott government is at risk of sullying its international reputation if it fails to acknowledge the seriousness of climate change as a global issue. AAP/Yuli Seperi

Missteps on climate change could cost Australian diplomacy dearly

Tony Abbott will arrive in the US this week for his first face-to-face meeting with US president Barack Obama in Washington since becoming prime minister. It comes at an important time: Australia is to…
Narendra Modi won’t back away from border disputes with China if he wins the Indian election. Al Jazeera English/Flickr

Modi won’t be soft on China if he wins Indian election

Considering India’s aspirations to be a global power, foreign policy has played but a minor role in the current election campaign. The manifestos of the major parties also say little on the subject, so…
Tony Abbott described Shinzo Abe’s Japan as Australia’s ‘closest friend in Asia’. But how might Abbott’s bold declaration affect our relationship in the region? AAP/Karlis Salna

Politics of the ‘closest friend’: Abbott, Japan and the Asia-Pacific

At the joint Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN)-East Asia summit just held in Brunei, prime minister Tony Abbott hailed Japan as Australia’s “closest friend in Asia”. Abbott invited Japanese…
Tony Abbott has vowed to strengthen Australia’s ties with China, including a potential free trade agreement with the growing superpower. AAP/Dan Himbrechts

Middle power meets Middle Kingdom: Abbott looks to China

Tony Abbott’s initial forays into foreign relations are exceeding expectations. True, the bar was set pretty low for many critics, but the new team is clearly intent on sending positive signals about the…
Three West Papuan activists ‘took refuge’ in Australia’s consulate in Bali on the weekend. What is the actual state of play in the troubled region? EPA/Bagus Indahono

Will Australia take a stand on West Papua?

Recent commentary has compared the situation in West Papua to genocide and drawn parallels to East Timor. There seems to be little doubt that human rights abuses have occurred over a long period of time…
Tony Abbott’s first foreign trip to Indonesia yielded some return, but time will tell if his ‘Jakarta focus’ is a success. EPA/Adi Weda

Was Tony Abbott’s Jakarta trip a success? We’ll see

Evaluating the success of Tony Abbott’s first prime ministerial visit to Indonesia depends, of course, on what you saw as its objectives. Those with high hopes – that it would mark a breakthrough in discussions…
West Papuan refugee Amos Wainggai is on board the Freedom Flotilla, headed for Papuan shores from Australia. What will it mean for our relations with Indonesia? AAP/Cleo Mary Fraser

What will the West Papua flotilla mean for Australia-Indonesia relations?

Given the extreme sensitivity with which the issue of West Papua is viewed in Indonesia, the “Freedom Flotilla” heading from Australia to the Indonesian-controlled territory is sure to create tension…
Julia Gillard’s visit to Papua New Guinea - including meeting PM Peter O'Neill - yielded little in advancing Australian or regional causes. AAP/Eoin Blackwell

Novel for its lack of novelty: Gillard in Papua New Guinea

Prime minister Julia Gillard returned from her first official visit to Australia’s nearest neighbour and former colony Papua New Guinea (PNG) on Saturday with little to show for it. Reports of the visit…
The administration of Barack Obama - seated here with South African President Jacob Zuma - has been criticised for not focusing more foreign policy attention on Africa. EPA/Olivier Douliery

Africa and the US presidential campaign

This year’s US presidential election has been notable for the lack of focus on foreign policy issues by either candidate. Certainly Mitt Romney, the Republican candidate, has attempted to gain traction…
West Papuan activists protesting at the Hague for independence of the Indonesian-held province. Apdency/Wikimedia Commons

All the ingredients for genocide: is West Papua the next East Timor?

Allegations that Australia is funding death squads in West Papua have brought the troubled province back to Australian attention. Blanket denials by both Indonesian and Australian governments – standard…
US President Barack Obama with Prime Minister Julia Gillard on his first trip to Australia in November last year. AAP/Alan Porritt

Explainer: foreign relations and the US elections

Brendan O'Connor from the University of Sydney discusses the foreign policy implications for Australia, Iran and China ahead of the US presidential elections, produced in collaboration with SBS Online…
Tony Abbott is seeking credibility on foreign policy issues, but his recent rhetoric on China has done him few favours. AAP

Abbott’s stance on China needs to evolve with the times

Opposition Leader Tony Abbott’s recent overseas trip to help burnish his international credentials has revealed more of the potential direction of the Coalition’s foreign policy. Following his visit to…
An article in the New Statesman reports that Taliban have signalled their willingness to negotiate an end to the conflict in Afghanistan.

Is Afghanistan the unwinnable war? The Taliban seems to think so

The current situation in Afghanistan is a dramatic example of the old adage that all foreign policy is merely an extension of domestic politics. Last week, the British weekly, New Statesman, reported an…
The coalition needs to tread more lightly when it comes to Indonesia. AAP Image/Alan Porritt

Attention Tony Abbott: Indonesia wants collaboration, not confrontation

In his budget reply speech last week, opposition leader Tony Abbott said Indonesia was to be a “vital partner in Australia’s future”. He’s right, and for now, at the government-to-government level, Australia-Indonesia…
Julia Gillard has enjoyed mixing with Barack Obama on the foreign policy stage. AAP/AusPic Howard Moffat

Should the Prime Minister and foreign policy mix?

When President Obama begins his long-awaited visit to Australia today, he’ll have a keen tour guide in Julia Gillard. They’ve developed an apparently firm friendship in recent months. But should the Prime…
Growing a moustache isn’t simply about the style. It could help you win friends and influence people abroad. AFP/Wildbird

Going beyond Movember: Facial hair and foreign affairs

You may notice more than a few of your friends and colleagues are a little more hirsute than normal this month. The annual charity event Movember encourages men to grow moustaches to raise money and awareness…

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