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President's Desk

From the President

We are into the last month of winter, and the last two days were vivid reminders of what Winter can deal to us. COVID-19 continues to play havoc with people’s lives and travel, and is having a major impact on international relations as we, and the world’s policy makers and leaders, try to find new and innovative ways of doing business. AIIA in Tasmania is, in its small way, working to make its events interesting, exciting and accessible for members and the public. Thanks to the Events team at the University of Tasmania it has been a shared quality experience through the UTas  ‘Island of Ideas’ program, to which we have contributed in no small way.

July 15 saw the first Tasmanian AIIA and University webinar linking overseas, national and local sites. The Hon Lord Chris Patten in London and the Hon Gareth Evans in Melbourne, with the support of our AIIA  and UTas team in Hobart and Launceston,  joined in a thoughtful and scintillating conversation on the state of our world post COVID, ranging from Brexit, the US presidential election, the situation in Hong Kong, Taiwan and the role of China, together with popularism and the potential conflicts of trade and security policies.

On August 5 Prof Mark Beeson, renown international relations academic from the University of West Australia, spoke on The Decline of the West: What Is It and Why Might it Matter? Mark’s usual engaging style and challenging presentation on a potential new world order was viewed by 395 people from Tasmania, nationally and internationally. The Tasmanian webinars are being shared by a significant number of AIIA branch members interstate, which somehow brings us together!

If you missed either of these events you can view them through the UTas Island of Ideas Youtube channel at https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCtHM5hf5uUBSi5ZaNidrssQ

Next up will be the roundtable on the US Presidential elections on August 31 from 5pm to 6.30pm. This event has been organised by Dr Matt Killingsworth from the UTas Department of Politics and International Relations, co-hosted by the AIIA, and will feature John Barron from the ABC’s Planet America and The Drum, Prof Alison Dagnes from Shippensburg University of Pennsylvania and Dr Gorana Grgic from the US Study Centre in Sydney. This promises to be another outstanding event. If you haven’t registered yet the link is https://www.utas.edu.au/events/2020/august/us-presidential-election-roundtable?SQ_DESIGN_NAME=new&SQ_PAINT_LAYOUT_NAME=new

Talking of outstanding events, our special panel on the health of the planet is now set for September 24 from 5pm to 6.15pm. The health of our planet has been one of the defining issues of 2020 including record-breaking bushfires, major coastal erosion and the COVID pandemic. Our panel will tackle the challenges of global environmental change, human health and their impacts on the economy and international affairs. How are our oceans, atmospheres and ecosystems changing? How can climate finance help us reduce greenhouse gas emissions and meet the aims of the Paris agreement? How can we increase resistance to future pandemics in the Asia-Pacific region? Panellists will be scientist and Young Tasmanian of the Year Jess Melbourne-Thomas, former diplomat and climate economist researcher Ruth Adler and international public health researcher Dr Sara Davis. They will join AIIA council member Steven Phipps who will MC this webinar. Registration links will be circulated in two to three weeks.

Our Government House lecture is still planned for November 16, but, until travel arrangements in relation to border crossings are clearer, we can’t confirm our potential exciting speaker. Apologies…

We are hoping to have our AGM in late October as a welcome face-to-face gathering where we can meet up, share some conversation and a drink and nibbles and listen to an entertaining informal speaker. We are in the process of checking possible suitable venues of the safe distancing sort and will let you know the date and place in the next newsletter.

Keep safe and warm, and thank you for sharing in our terrific webinar series.