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Australia in the World this Week

05 Oct 2018
By Allan Gyngell AO FAIIA and Dr Darren Lim
Credit: twitter @BishnuRimal.

This episode looks at the recent leaders’ meetings at the United Nations General Assembly in New York, the US-China trade war and the state of the Australian aid program in the context of the Sulawesi earthquake and tsunami.

The analysis of recent events opens with a focus on the recent leaders’ meetings at the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) in New York. Donald Trump made the most headlines by bringing his “America First” doctrine to the heart of global multilateralism, and Darren asks about the extent to which we should attach any significance to this fact. The discussion turns to Australia, and new Minister for Foreign Affairs Marise Payne’s UNGA speech and its contrast with Trump. While she was in New York, Senator Payne also met with China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi, hopefully advancing the “reset” in bilateral relations that was kicked off by former Prime Minister Turnbull. Finally, Allan and Darren discuss New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern’s “baby diplomacy” in New York and the genuine soft power success it represents.

Discussion then turns to the trade war between the US and China, which escalated in September with a fresh round of tariffs being imposed by both sides. Darren elects to play devil’s advocate, posing three arguments to Allan for why the trade war might actually be positive for Australia’s interests: one economic, one strategic, and one political. Allan dismisses each in turn.

Finally, against the background of the recent earthquake and tsunami that has devastated the Indonesian island of Sulawesi and particularly the city of Palu, Darren and Allan briefly take stock of the current state of the Australian aid program, given the downgrading of the portfolio from a ministerial position.

Allan Gyngell AO FAIIA is National President of the Australian Institute of International Affairs and an Honorary Professor at the ANU’s College of Asia and the Pacific.

Dr Darren Lim is a Lecturer in the School of Politics and International Relations at the Australian National University. 

Allan and Darren would like to thank the people who helped make this possible, in particular: AIIA interns Stephanie Rowell (research assistant) and Mani Bovell (audio engineer); Martyn Pearce and Maya Bhandari of the Crawford School for technical support; Rory Stenning for composing the theme music; and AIIA National Executive Director Melissa Conley Tyler for her hard work behind the scenes to help make this happen.