Category Archives: Economics and Public Policy

China-Australia: Australia has only itself to blame

It may be an uncomfortable truth, but Australia has monumentally mishandled its relationship with China. If the future with our largest trading partner is now uncertain, we overwhelmingly have ourselves to blame. China is Australia’s largest trading partner – it has been sheer luck that Australia has had the commodities that a booming China wants […]

Brexit vote to take the UK into uncharted territory

The vote by the UK parliament on whether to accept the European Union deal for an agreed exit of the UK from the EU on Tuesday (UK time) will mark the most important decision to be taken in that country’s post-war history. And it is very likely that the UK parliament will take the worst […]

US-North Korea summit: the hard work is yet to come

President Donald Trump and Chairman Kim Jong-Un have bested their doubters and not only smiled and shaken hands but have signed off on a document committing both to the Holy Grail of contemporary diplomacy – the de-nuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula. Both will be able to go home with a win in their pocket and […]

China, the White Paper and the decline of the US

It is unsurprising that Australia’s 2017 foreign policy white paper says little of direct substance and is cautious about change. The world around us is rapidly changing and increasingly uncertain, and our foreign policy boffins generally don’t like unpredictability. But that’s what they have, and have managed to allude to it without providing a detailed […]

Australia – Timor-Leste Timor Sea agreement thrown into doubt

Australia’s agreement with Timor-Leste to settle a permanent maritime boundary in the Timor Sea may have hit a snag as Timor-Leste’s politics is thrown into turmoil. On 30 August this year, the two countries announced they had reached the ‘central elements’ of an agreement to end a falling out over the disputed waters – and […]

Independence driven by emotion, rarely pragmatism

The powerful emotions that produce the call for ‘independence’ have been increasingly seen on the streets of Barcelona is recent days. Those powerful emotions can drive people to extremes, in some cases including killing and dying. Yet for the high price often paid, independence movements are rarely successful and their outcomes are usually less than […]

Autonomy in Hong Kong may mean less in practice than in theory

Hong Kong’s ‘one country, two systems’ is sometimes referred to as constituting Hong Kong’s autonomy from China. This is, in principle, confirmed under Hong Kong’s 1997 Basic Law. However, autonomy arrangements can reflect less, and rarely more, than their legal framework implies. Issues in determining the functional status of autonomy arrangements include the terms of […]

Budget cuts to aid to fund fight against terrorism

Australia’s 2017-18 budget is expected to announce further cuts to Australian foreign aid to help fund an expansion of the country’s counter-terrorism activities. There is no doubt that counter-terrorism is both necessary and expensive, but it is a failure of logic – as well as Australia’s commitment to international welfare – to conflate foreign aid […]

Jakarta elections mark Indonesia’s increasingly conservative turn

The overwhelming defeat of Basuki Tjahaja Purnama as Jakarta’s governor has marked the most divisive and religiously focused major election in Indonesia’s post-Suharto period. The election was marked by sectarian protests and has resulted in a strong win by former Education and Culture Minister Anies Baswedan. Purnama – better known as ‘Ahok’ – a Christian […]

Timor-Leste’s king-maker delivers to Lu-Olo

Timor-Leste’s presidential election looks to have produced a strong victory for Fretilin’s serial candidate, Francisco ‘Lu-Olo’ Guterres. While results remains unofficial, based on a largely complete tally, Lu-Olo was looking to have around 57 per cent of the total vote for the mostly ceremonial role of president. This means that Lu-Olo will comfortably surpass the […]