Very few limits in tough Australian anti-terror laws

Australian Attorney-General George Brandis at a press conference. (Photo: AAP).

Author: George Williams, UNSW

Australia, like other nations, is facing an enhanced threat to its national security from citizens who travel to conflicts in Iraq and Syria, and then return home with a radical outlook and training in terrorism. This has led the government to raise the nation’s terrorism public alert level to ‘high’, which indicates that a ‘terrorist attack is likely’. Read more…

Australia’s false China choice over Taiwan

Students protesters pass around sunflowers outside the parliament building after they ended an occupy protest over a contentious trade pact with China, in Taipei on 10 April 2014. Protestors are concerned that increasing economic influence from China will undermine Taiwanese democracy. (Photo: AAP).

Author: Paul Dibb, ANU

Arguments currently raging in Australia about the so-called China choice have not addressed the crucial issue about what specific concessions must be made to accommodate a rising China. Instead, debate consists of generalised statements that the US needs to provide China with strategic space by acknowledging its legitimate strategic interests.

China has identified Taiwan, Tibet and, more recently, the South China Sea as core national interests. Read more…

When the carnival is over: Australia’s surprising G20 legacy

Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott addresses representatives of G20 Leaders and Finance Deputies and Central Bank Deputies at the half way point of Australia’s presidency. (Photo: Commonwealth of Australia / Australia 2014 G20 website).

Author: Peter Drysdale, East Asia Forum

The genesis of the G20 is a tale of two crises. The first — the Asian financial crisis — led to the creation of the G20 as a meeting of finance ministers and central bank governors from 19 of the world’s largest economies plus the EU. The second — the global financial crisis — led then-US president George W. Bush to elevate the G20 to a leaders’ level meeting. Read more…

Cutting off Australia’s international television arm

The Australian Broadcasting Corporation, home of popular characters like the Bananas in Pyjamas, has lost government funding for its international service. (Photo: AAP).

Author: Ross Tapsell, ANU

What does the Australia Network’s closure and the launch of Sky News’ Australia Channel mean for Australian soft power?

Since their inception, Australia’s international media organisations have trodden a fine line between promoting Australia’s interests in the Asia Pacific region and upholding the values of the Fourth Estate which sees critical reporting of government as central to its role. Read more…

The ‘Indo-Pacific’: absent policy behind meaningless words

Australian Minister for Foreign Affairs Julie Bishop and Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi shake hands before giving opening remarks before the next round of the Australia–China Foreign and Strategic Dialogue in Sydney, 7 September 2014. China is likely to endorse the term Indo-Pacific, which Julie Bishop directed her department to use in 2013.-minihighres

Author: Trevor Wilson, ANU

Some may not have noticed when it happened but Julie Bishop, after becoming Australian Foreign Minister in September 2013, directed the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) to use the term ‘Indo-Pacific’ instead of the traditional ‘Asia Pacific’ which has now been in use throughout the world for more than forty years. According to some, Bishop was not initially wedded to ‘Indo-Pacific’ but she seems to have become a convert, although she still occasionally uses ‘Indo-Pacific/Asia Pacific’. Read more…

Refining the role of government in the Australia–Indonesia live cattle trade

Indonesian workers unload Australian cattle from a ship in Jakarta, Indonesia. (Photo: AAP).

Author: Ray Trewin, ANU

The governments of Australia and Indonesia have become heavily involved in the live cattle trade. The 2011 Australian ban on live cattle exports to Indonesia, after some animal cruelty was drawn attention to, may have been the blackest day for Australian agricultural politics. And the issues continue, as governments inappropriately use trade policy to address sensitive domestic non-trade issues (like Australian animal welfare and Indonesian self-sufficiency). But government involvement, rather than disadvantaging trade and livelihoods by raising uncertainty and lowering prices as is the case now, could help solve these issues. Read more…

Australia, Japan make history by moving on from it

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Prime Minister Tony Abbott smile after signing the Japan-Australia Economic Partnership Agreement and Agreement on the Transfer of Defence Equipment and Technology, 8 July 2014. (Photo: AAP).

Author: Christopher Pokarier, Waseda University

For 60 years Australian governments in their dealings with Japan have chosen to make history rather than be bound by it. This was never politically easy and many Australians continue to be disappointed by reports of influential Japanese who appear to sanitise Japan’s wartime record. Australian soldiers and civilians who fell prisoner to Japanese forces suffered brutal treatment, as did other allied forces and many peoples of East Asia. Read more…

Australia, Japan take a ‘domino approach’ to regional integration

Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe speaks with Australian prime minister Tony Abbott ahead of a signing of a trade agreement between the two nations at Parliament House in Canberra, Australia, 8 July 2014. (Photo: AAP).

Author: Takashi Terada, Doshisha University

The recently signed Australia–Japan economic partnership agreement (EPA) is an example of the dynamic domino effect of regional trade and investment. This is where the benefits an FTA brings to one country, such as eliminating tariffs, generally disadvantages a third country not included in the agreement. This third party is thereby pressured to engage in seeking FTAs of their own. Australia’s regional integration strategy has adjusted itself well to this environment — in which big economies, each with different rules and ambitions, struggle with each other for trade advantages. Read more…

Abe strikes a delicate balance in Australia

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe listens to Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott during a meeting with members of Abbott's cabinet on national security at Parliament House in Canberra, 8 July 2014. (Photo: AAP).

Author: Thomas U. Berger, Boston University

Today, Japan finds itself in a remarkably difficult diplomatic and domestic political situation. While Japan continues to be secure from any existing external threat, the rise of a nuclear North Korea and an increasingly powerful and assertive China are creating major challenges for Japanese security policy. Read more…

The Abe and Abbott show: a meeting of minds and interests

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe speaks at a joint press conference with his Australian counterpart Tony Abbott at Parliament House in Canberra, 8 July 2014. (Photo: AAP)

Author: Jim Rolfe, Victoria University of Wellington

The ANZUS Treaty was signed 63 years ago by Australia, New Zealand and the United States, in part as a counter to the US security treaty with Japan and the final peace agreement following the end of World War II. ANZUS then was intended to stand against any possible resurgence of Japanese military power in the Asia Pacific region. Read more…

Why whaling will remain a thorny issue for Australia–Japan relations

A Japanese whaling fleet leaves from Ayukawa port in Ishinomaki City, northern Japan, 26 April 2014. Japan killed 30 minke whales off its northeast coast, in its first hunt since the International Court of Justice ordered Tokyo to stop killing the whales in the Antarctic. (Photo: AAP).

Author: Donald R. Rothwell, ANU

Shinzo Abe’s July visit to Australia will be the first for a Japanese prime minister since 2007. It comes at a good time for bilateral relations following Tony Abbott’s ‘closest friend in Asia’ praise for Japan in October 2013, and the success of Abbott’s April 2014 visit to Tokyo. Yet the vexed issue of Japanese whaling in the Southern Ocean continues to dog the relationship, even after the judgment of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) on 31 March 2014. Read more…

Smoke and mirrors in trade disputes will harm public health

Some worry that the Trans-Pacific Partnership will make public health measures, like the plain packaging of cigarettes, liable to be challenged by foreign companies. (Photo: AAP).

Author: Matthew Rimmer, ANU

The 2014 World Cancer Report, issued by the World Health Organisation (WHO), indicates that the number of new cancer cases has reached an all-time high. On the 19 May 2014, Dr Margaret Chan, the Director-General of the WHO, gave a stirring speech to the 67th Health Assembly on the heavy health burden associated with cancer. Chan was particularly interested in public health measures designed to combat the global tobacco epidemic. Read more…

Broadcasting soft power: Australian telly inks new deal in China

The set from the Australian Broadcasting Corporation's (ABC) ‘At The Movies’ show. The ABC runs the Australia Network which recently announced they had secured an agreement with the Shanghai Media Group. (Photo: Jason IIagan/Flikr).

Authors: Benjamin Day and Susan Harris Rimmer, ANU

Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s recent trip to East Asia was all about drumming up business for ‘Team Australia’. An unprecedented 630-strong trade mission, including three ministers and five premiers, fanned out through China to show Australia was ‘open for business’. Given this focus on dealmaking, it’s surprising how little fanfare greeted the Australia Network’s announcement that they had secured an agreement with the Shanghai Media Group Read more…

Japan and Australia ‘beef up’ relations

Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott shakes hands with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe during the National Security Council in Tokyo on 7 April 2014. (Photo: AAP)

Author: Aurelia George Mulgan, UNSW Canberra

The Economic Partnership Agreement that Japan recently concluded with Australia (JAEPA) has everything to do with Japanese trade strategy and little if anything to do with agricultural reform.

Some of the commentary on the agreement has argued that JAEPA was the product of Abe’s reform agenda, but it is neither part of that agenda nor will it advance it. Read more…