Australian Outlook

Australia in the World

28 Feb 2019
By Allan Gyngell AO FAIIA and Dr Darren Lim
New year, new look? A rocky 2018 saw Julie Bishop, Rex Tillerson and Malcolm Turnbull bumped from their respective positions as Australian Minister for Foreign Affairs, US Secretary of State and Australian Prime Minister. Source: US State Department, Flickr

Returning for 2019, this instalment of Australia in the World is all about looking back and looking forward. Allan and Darren reflect on the effectiveness of Australia’s foreign policy throughout the past year and then turn their attention to the challenges approaching in the year ahead.

In this first podcast recording of 2019, Allan Gyngell and Darren Lim use the opportunity provided by the new year to look back at 2018 and ask how the events of the past 12 months have shaped their worldviews. Allan focuses on the speed in which the international system is changing, while Darren wonders at the extent to which political institutions are able to moderate some of the wilder swings in politics and policy within democracies across the globe.

On the topic of Australia’s performance in 2018, while there is no doubt that the government was focused very much on itself for much of the year, the two disagree on whether, overall, Australia could still have performed better in its foreign policy. Allan is less forgiving, while Darren wonders whether the structural constraints were too great for any government to overcome.

Looking forward, the two discuss Sino-US relations and in particular the common challenges faced by Australia and its partners in managing the trade-offs in relations with China. Allan is also keenly watching the impact of science and technology on competition between nation-states, and Darren wonders whether both governments and the general public may rapidly change their approach to using and regulating social media.

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.