Issues in Australian Foreign Policy: July to December 2012
In the first week of January 2013 the Sydney Morning Herald published its list of ten issues that will decide the coming Federal election; foreign policy, predictably, was not amongst them. Historically, Australian foreign policy has demonstrated a high degree of policy continuity with bilateral support for the US Alliance, an emphasis on creating wider trade opportunities within neoliberal globalization, particularly in East Asia, and in international engagement with the world through multilateral bodies such as the United Nations and its agencies. At a broad level, then, continuity in policy is the norm, while at the regional level there is rarely any difference in approach when governments change. The six-month period under review saw an elegant back-flip on asylum seeker policy, a diplomatic triumph with a seat on the UN Security Council, and some interesting developments in the regional security environment with drawdowns of the defence force in Timor-Leste and Solomon Islands. In a period where many in the world stood up and paid attention to Australia’s Prime Minister after her much reported “Misogyny Speech” went viral on YouTube, we start our review with the return to the Pacific Solution before shifting to the UN Security Council election. We then examine the Australia in the Asian Century White Paper, before turning to alliance relations and summits. Finally, we focus on the linking of gender concerns to aid delivery in the region previously referred to as the Arc of Instability or Responsibility. This section combines a number of themes as it discusses the government’s development aid agenda that increasingly involves an emphasis on UN Security Council Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security, as well as our military and policing commitments in what some are now calling the “Arc of Opportunity”.