Hervé Lemahieu, Director of the Asian Power and Diplomacy Program at the Lowy Institute, addressed the AIIA on the possible future balance and distribution of power in the Asia-Pacific. His projections were based on the findings of the 2018 2018 Asian Power Index, an analytical tool that uses over 100 indicators to measure power in 25 countries in the Asia-Pacific including the US, Australia, China, Russia, Japan and New Zealand.
Major General Michael Smith spoke to the Institute, drawing on his extensive career experience in the Australian Defence Force and long association with the United Nations, including field experience in Cambodia, Kashmir, Libya, Myanmar, Nepal, Timor-Leste, and Yemen. As the current National President of the United Nations Association of Australia, the Major General sought to reinvigorate continued support and understanding of the United Nations and its objectives.
Mr Dinny McMahon addressed the Institute on the issues surrounding the US-China trade war and the trajectory of the Chinese economy. Mr McMahon has ten years’ experience as a financial journalist in China with The Wall Street Journal and Dow Jones Newswires in Shanghai, alongside an academic portfolio which has culminated in his book China’s Great Wall of Debt – Shadow Banks, Ghost Cities, Massive Loans, and the End of the Chinese Miracle.
The Institute celebrated a lively year with a talk by Lyndon Terracini AM, Artistic Director of Opera Australia, on the Opera’s tour of China featuring Matthew Oxembould’s production of Puccini’s Madama Butterfly. His address was followed by festive food and drinks.
The AIIA NSW interns debated the proposition “That the Responsibility to Protect (R2P) has been forgotten”. The debate was adjudicated by international law expert Kevin Boreham. The R2P commitment was endorsed by all member states of the United Nations at a 2005 World Summit in order to address four key concerns: to prevent genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity.
Up until now, Sweden has maintained a stable political system. Underlying this has been Sweden’s identity as progressive, prosperous and open. However, the 9 September elections rocked this status quo. The Institute welcomed Dr Joakim Eidenfalk who shared his insights on the Swedish election and the rise of populist parties in Europe.
Associate Professor Matthew Sussex, Academic Director at the National Security College at the Australian National University, engaged the Institute’s audience in a lively presentation addressing the negative impacts of cyber propaganda on politics and social cohesion and the tendency of governments to over-securitise the cyberspace.
The Institute welcomed Mr Richard Woolcott AC, former Secretary of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and prominent commentator on international affairs, to speak on the future of Australian foreign policy making and the problem raised by community phobias of Russia and China.
Brigadier-General (reserve) Yossi Kuperwasser, Director of the Project on Regional Middle East Developments at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, joined senior AIIA NSW members, councillors and interns for a free-flowing discussion. He was accompanied by Oved Lobel, policy analyst and staff writer at the Australia/Israel and Jewish Affairs Council (AIJAC).
Brazil is facing the most polarising election the country has seen since its military dictatorship ended in 1985. Given Brazil’s status as the country with the fifth largest population and the eight largest economy in the world, the results of this election will undoubtedly have consequences that will rebound on the international stage. Dr Deborah Barros Leal Farias of the School of Social Sciences at the University of New South Wales treated the AIIA to a lively presentation analysing the nuances of this election and the way it is dividing families and communities across Brazil.
The current AIIA NSW interns addressed the Institute on topics of their choice.
The Institute welcomed John Barron, host of the ABC program Planet America and an expert on US affairs, to speak about the upcoming US mid-term elections. He explored the range of possible outcomes and the effect of the Congressionals next month on Trump’s ability to govern and on the presidential election in 2020.
The uncertain and unprecedented state of global affairs, characterised by complex global problems and the rise of populism, is undisputed among global commentators and analysts worldwide. Dr Sabine Selchow shared with the AIIA a unique assessment of this troubling context. Selchow revealed a novel and useful framework for interpreting the world and its issues, positing that only through radically altering our commonly-held conceptualisations will global problems be addressed, which will allow for approaches to globalised governance to be achieved and the structural shortcomings of nation-states to be countered.
The Institute welcomed Dr Geoff Raby, business and strategic consultant and former Australian ambassador to China, to share his analysis on the rise of a new world order. Dr Raby began with two overarching assumptions. Firstly, the world order has changed: the time of a US dominated unipolar system, dating from the end of the cold war, has passed. Secondly, the new world order will not be familiar or comfortable for Australia and will require a greater diplomatic effort.
As the centenary anniversary of the First World War armistice approaches, it is timely to reflect on the evolution of peace. The Institute welcomed the renowned academic Dr Robert Howard, who shared his insights on the evolution of debates on peace and the prospects of peace in the 21st century.
Pakistan is well-known for being located in one of the most consistently tumultuous and fractious regions in the world and it will be interesting to see how newly-elected Prime Minister, Imran Khan, will tackle the challenges facing the country. The AIIA (NSW) was provided with insight into the challenges Khan faces by Dr Zahid Shabab Ahmed, Research Fellow at Deakin University.
Educator, researcher and policy-maker John West gave an interesting address to the Institute about the contents of his latest book, Asian Century … On a Knife’s Edge. In his talk, he suggested that the hype surrounding the ‘Asian century’ is largely overstated, and explored the challenges for the realisation of the Asian century.
The Institute welcomed associate professor Dr Jinghong Zhang from the Centre for Social Sciences at the Southern University of Science and Technology in Shenzhen, who shared her insights on wine consumption in China – specifically what influences shape Chinese wine culture, how Chinese people perceive imported wine and what symbolic values are attached to foreign wine.
Artificial intelligence is certainly a hot topic at present, unnerving some and exciting others. The AIIA was treated to an intriguing talk on the topic by Alasdair Hamilton, partner and Chief Technology Officer at Remi AI (an artificial intelligence research firm). Alasdair illuminated what the current capabilities of AI are around the world, how it has been used to improve the lives of ordinary people, and the very real threats posed by this developing technology. Alasdair also provided insight into the various directions AI is taking and the numerous challenges this will pose to both lawmakers and wider society.
The Institute welcomed the renowned China analyst, government adviser and former journalist John Garnaut, who shared his insights on the domestic political factors driving China’s extraterritorial influence campaigns and Australia’s response. Garnaut began with a broad overview of the conundrum Australia faces in reconciling its economic dependence on China with its democratic allegiances. Garnaut noted that other countries are looking to Australia’s example when formulating their own responses to Chinese influence.
The Institute welcomed the Ambassador of the Republic of Korea to Australia, HE Lee Baeksoon, who spoke on the long-standing and complex issues of Korean peninsula security and on ROK-Australia bilateral relations. The Ambassador began with the observation that since 2016, despite ever more UN sanctions, tensions on the peninsula had intensified because of North Korea’s three nuclear tests and continued development of its long range missile program and the tone of US President Trump’s rhetoric.
The Institute welcomed renowned academic and internationally-respected China specialist Professor Bates Gill for a discussion on US relations with Asia under Donald Trump. Professor Gill structured his presentation into three parts. In the first part, he explored Trump’s policy on Asia over the past two years. From the beginning, since the 2016 US presidential elections, Trump’s emphasis on the ‘America First’ policy sowed the seeds of doubt for America’s role in the region.
HE Wahidullah Waissi, Ambassador of Afghanistan to Australia, addressed the Institute on what the future holds for Afghanistan. He commented that, despite Afghanistan having over 5000 complex years of history, it is quite a young country in terms of population with over 65% under the age of 25. Education is a major recipient in the budget; post 9/11 many institutions have been built, including universities, and the quality of education is a major current focus.
The Institute hosted an address by Jan Hutton, head of the team in the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade responsible for implementing the 2017 Foreign Policy White Paper.
The Institute welcomed NSW Supreme Court judge and author Michael Pembroke, who spoke on the topic of his most recent book, Korea – Where the American Century Began (Hardie Grant, 2018). Pembroke was joined in discussion by Richard Broinowski, author and former Australian Ambassador to Vietnam, the Republic of Korea, Mexico, the central American republics and Cuba.
The Institute hosted the launch of Dr Michael Cohen’s book When Proliferation Causes Peace: the Psychology of Nuclear Crises (Georgetown University Press, 2017). Dr Cohen, senior lecturer at the ANU College of Asia and the Pacific, examines how acquiring nuclear weapons has historically led states to adopt two sequential responses: a phase of political aggression and posturing, followed by diplomacy and international cooperation. His arguments draw on three key precedents: the Suez Crisis of 1956, the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962 and the India-Pakistan standoff of 2001, all of which, despite periods of heightened aggression and potential nuclear escalation, eventually facilitated summits and diplomacy.
Niko Besnier, Professor of Cultural Anthropology at the University of Amsterdam and Research Professor at La Trobe University, gave a searching insight into the political and social dynamics of the global sport industries, particularly the effects of athlete migration upon the Global South in rugby, soccer, cricket, marathon running and Senegalese wrestling.
The Institute hosted the launch of Dr Elaine Kelly’s recently-published first book, Dwelling in the Age of Climate Change: The Ethics of Adaptation, based on her post-doctoral research at the University of Technology, Sydney. Elaine is now a Sydney-based independent scholar and writer. In dialogue with Professor Nick Mansfield, Dean of Higher Degree Research at Macquarie University, she explained some of the concepts that she explores in her book and sought to demonstrate the need for a more ethical approach to migration issues in the context of a rapidly changing climate.
The Institute hosted a well-attended address by Avner Gvaryahu, Executive Director of the Israeli NGO Breaking the Silence. Through his own experiences in the Israeli Defence Force (IDF), Avner was motivated to join Breaking the Silence to spread knowledge of the fear and terror among Palestinians that he, as a soldier, had helped perpetuate.
The AIIA NSW hosted its regular interns’ debate. Arguing that the international rules-based order is dead were current interns Diana Lambert and Alex Tu, joined by 2017 intern Mitchell Travers. The negative team were Isabella Svinos, Michael Nguyen and Chris Khatouki.
Dr Elizabeth Thurbon, Associate Professor of International Political Economy at the UNSW School of Social Sciences, gave a talk on the new Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP-11) and its impacts on the Australian economy. Dr Thurbon discussed whether it is beneficial for Australia to ratify the deal and, unlike many officials in government, argued that the risks which the deal poses ultimately outweigh its benefits.
Former AIIA president and senior diplomat, academic, author and media commentator Richard Broinowski was welcomed by a large audience at Glover Cottages. Drawing on his personal experiences in Iran, Richard discussed the recent political developments of the country and sought to dispel some of the misconceptions conveyed by Western media.
John Mikler launched his new book, The Political Power of Global Corporations. Mikler delivered a much-needed insight that global corporations are not merely market entities but have increasingly also become political actors. Challenging the somewhat entrenched methodology of assessing the international political economy through ideologies such as (neo)liberalism, nationalism and Marxism, Mikler instead argues that focus should be directed towards the global corporations that have not only realigned the political landscape to their advantage, but also brought the state under their will.
The AIIA (NSW) held its bi-annual internship presentation evening. The Institute has been extremely fortunate to have the assistance of five interns and on Tuesday evening each one had the opportunity to make a presentation on any area of their interest. Attendees were treated to exceptional analysis and discussion on issues ranging from human rights to Facebook.
Sitting on his balcony overlooking the beauty and chaos of Jerusalem, John Lyons – with his wife Sylvie Le Clezio – observes daily life in Jerusalem. John’s balcony in Jerusalem is the perfect metaphor of his role in narrating the Middle East conflict, treading a thin line between two hostile parties.
A special panel discussion was held on government-to-government measures to deter refugees. The event was co-hosted with the Kaldor Centre for Refugee Law at the University of New South Wales and the Macquarie University Law School. Discussion was moderated by Leanne Smith, director of the Whitlam Institute at Western Sydney University and an international human rights lawyer.
Tom Switzer – executive director of the Centre for Independent Studies and presenter of ABC Radio National’s Between the Lines – presented a minority, conservative, realist perspective on the prevailing hostile consensus on Russia and warned of the cataclysmic consequences of continuing down our present Russiaphobic foreign policy path.
The Institute hosted Professor Steven Freeland, an international authority on international and human rights law, Australian representative on the UN Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space, and Dean of Law at Western Sydney University. He dealt with the development of legal principles for outer space, building on the principles the law of the sea and International Humanitarian Law (governing armed conflict).
Elaine Pearson – the Australia Director at Human Rights Watch – discussed the role that Australia can play in advocating for human rights across South East Asia. Ms Pearson made a compelling case for Australia, as a country with reasonable clout in the region, to hold the South- East Asian nations to account for their human rights records.
The ASEAN summit hosted by Australia in Sydney on 16 and 17 March provided the Institute with a number of opportunities to support this significant Australian-hosted event and to extend public knowledge of ASEAN-related issues.
Lesley Hughes, Professor of Biology and Pro Vice-Chancellor (Research Integrity & Development) at Macquarie University, discussed the science, impacts and future of climate change. Professor Hughes began with a comprehensive analysis and discussion of anthropogenic (human-induced) climate change trends.
Professor James Laurenceson, the Deputy Director of the Australia-China Relations Institute at the University of Technology Sydney, detailed how Australia’s relationship with China had been severely harmed by the recent antagonistic rhetoric in Australia.
Dr Suriya Chindawongse, director-general of ASEAN affairs in the Thai foreign ministry, gave an address on the economic and security challenges of ASEAN and about the upcoming Thai chairmanship of ASEAN in 2019. During his address, Dr Suriya discussed both the internal and external challenges ASEAN faces and particularly highlighted the importance of ‘ASEAN centrality’ within the Asia Pacific region.
Clive Kessler – Emeritus Professor of Sociology and Anthropology at the University of New South Wales – discussed the upcoming general elections in Malaysia. Mr Kessler delineated the current political situation in Malaysia, and discussed the rise of Malay-Islamic Supremacist ideology, propagated by the ruling party: The United Malays National Organisation (UNMO).
Andrew Greene, defence and national security correspondent of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, gave a talk outlining the readiness and capability of the Australian defence establishment and its armed services in 2018. Mr Greene discussed the strategic threats and risks perceived within the defence community. He drew attention to a new reality which Australia faces in 2018, the rapid rise of China and its growing assertiveness within the Asia–Pacific region. The possibility of conflict, while still distant, must be actively considered.
AIIA National President Allan Gyngell delivered the annual AIIA NSW Charteris Oration. It was Gynell’s first formal address since becoming the AIIA national president in October and he used it to articulate the importance of broader public awareness and discussion of foreign affairs. A transcript of the speech is available here.
The Chinese Consul General in Sydney, Gu Xiaojie, called at his request on AIIA NSW President and Councillors at Glover Cottages. The free-ranging discussion covered the October Peoples’ Congress, the Australian Foreign Affairs White Paper, China’s Belt and Road Initiative, Presidents Trump’s visit to Beijing, North Korea, and nuclear disarmament.
A delegation from Afghanistan visited Glover Cottages on to discuss relations with Australia. It was led by Ambassador to Australia Wahid Waissi, and included a former Agriculture Minister, Assadullah Zamir, a political counselor from the Afghanistan Embassy in Washington, Sayed Zafar Hashemi, a television executive, Lotfallah Naja Fizada, and the co-founder of the philanthropic group Artlords, Omaid Sharifi.
Youssef Amrani – senior member of the Moroccan Royal Cabinet – delivered his perspective on the fragmentation of the Arab world and the diplomatic strategies required to harmonise the region. Throughout his address, Mr Amrani was careful to steer clear of partisanship and adopted what he would have seen as an ‘objective’ approach.
AIIA NSW President Richard Broinowski and Vice-President Ian Lincoln received a call from the High Commissioner-designate of Mauritius, HE Christelle Sohun, accompanied by Dr Roseline Yardin, CEO of Trade and Investment at MauriTrade in Sydney, and Arvind Radhakrishna, CEO of Enterprise Mauritius in Port Louis, Mauritius.
Former Australian diplomat Dr Ross Burns shared his insights on the current state of Aleppo. Ross said that now the historically rich city is no longer in the media spotlight, it is a significant time to reflect on what happened, and consider what is required for recovery. He focused on the four sections of the city where the conflict inflicted the worst damage, mostly in central east Aleppo and surrounding the citadel.
Former Prime Minister John Howard addressed a full house at Glover Cottages. He covered issues such as American and Chinese politics, the situation in North Korea and Australia’s place in the Asia-Pacific, and concluded with some observations on the state of the modern Australian political process.
The AIIA NSW hosted a panel discussion on ‘The Serious Threat of Nuclear War’. The panellists were former AIIA NSW president Colin Chapman, councillor Robert Howard, and John Hallam from People for Nuclear Disarmament and Coordinator of the Human Survival Project. A special guest was Gemma Romuld, a founding member of the International Campaign against Nuclear Weapons (ICAN), which has just won the 2017 Nobel Peace Prize. The discussion was moderated by current NSW president, Richard Broinowski.
Her Excellency Beryl Rose Sisulu, South Africa’s High Commissioner to Australia, gave a detailed overview into the prospects and current issues of the country, as well as what we might expect from domestic politics in the next two years.
AIIA NSW hosted a visiting Chinese delegation to discuss the state of bilateral relations. The Chinese leader was Mr Zhang Junsai, a former Ambassador to Australia, accompanied by Professor Zhou Fangyin, Director of the Centre for China’s Regional Strategies Guangdong Institute for International Strategies; Mr Ding Gong, National Institute of International Strategy, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences; Ms Hou Dongfang Third Secretary Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Beijing and Mr Wang Fanfu of the Chinese Consulate, Sydney.
Dr Max Grömping, a research fellow at the University of Sydney, discussed the global patterns of electoral integrity and what older democracies can learn from younger ones. He emphasised that having elections and electoral integrity does not necessarily equate to a democratic system of governance.
Professor Johannes Chan SC of the University of Hong Kong, and Emeritus Professor John Wong of the University of Sydney discussed the current legal and political situation in Hong Kong. Professor Chan outlined three recent ominous developments that threaten Hong Kong’s ability to maintain any kind of democratic system within the PRC: the disappearances of booksellers, the disqualification of Legislative Council members for refusing to swear oaths of loyalty to Beijing, and the jailing of pro-democracy protesters from the ‘Umbrella movement’.
Dr Peter McCawley, Visiting Fellow in the Indonesian Project, ANU, shared his insights about the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and its work in transforming Asia over the past five decades.
Michael Griffin AM, former army brigadier and current head of the Australian Commission for Law Enforcement Integrity (ACLEI) provided insight into the role of ACLEI in investigating corruption within commonwealth law enforcement agencies. Michael outlined his powers as Integrity Commissioner and provided an overview of the greatest challenges to Australia’s border security in the near future.
Senator the Hon Concetta Fierravanti-Wells – Minister for International Development and the Pacific – presented the framework for Australia’s engagement with countries in the Indo-Pacific region in relation to aid. Minister Fierravanti-Wells outlined the Government’s refocused aid policy, which looks to bolster the security and stability of our region through new development partnerships.
Professor Ihsan Yilmaz, Chair of Islamic Studies at Deakin University, analysed the current situation in Turkey. He said President Erdogan has a strong character and uses conspiracy theories to control the Turkish population. He cleverly manipulates popular ambivalence towards both the EU and the US, portraying the West as both a strategic ally and a threat. This is reflected in a 2013 poll that highlights how 66% of the Turkish nation have a negative view of the EU, but more than 50% of them also want to join it.
The new director of National Security Policy at the ANU, Jacinta Carroll, talked about the growth of international terrorism and strategies by counterterrorist agencies to foil them. She focused particularly on the remarkable work of counterterrorism agencies in Australia.
At the law firm Mallesons, AIIA NSW co-hosted the book the launch of China Matters: Getting it Right for Australia by Bates Gill, Professor of Asia-Pacific Studies at the Strategic and Defence Studies Centre, ANU, and Linda Jakobson, noted authority on China and founder of China Matters, an Australian public policy initiative.
Tom Sinkovits OAM, an experienced Australian immigration officer who is now with the UN International Organization for Migration (IOM) discussed the daunting nature of global migration flows was daunting. Displacement from the Middle East and North Africa region surpasses any other and of 65.3 million people forcibly displaced, 39% originate within Middle Eastern countries, 29% from Africa and 15% from the Asia-Pacific
Dr Andrew Beattie said the key issues were unemployment, refugees, marriage equality and leadership. At only 3.8 percent, unemployment is currently at an all-time low, enhancing Merkel’s leadership promise of stability but the refugee crisis is divisive…
Professor Emeritus Carlyle Thayer said that undefined maritime borders, coupled with the inability to force cooperation between states, has made the area one of immense importance in shaping Indo-Pacific geopolitics.
Associate professor James Reilly discussed China’s use of economic statecraft to further its overseas political objectives. James characterised China’s economic statecraft as having three traits that reflect the country’s unique economic conditions and system of governance.
Former Australian ambassador to Syria, Robert Bowker discussed three aspects of Syria: the factors that have led to the stabilization of the Assad regime, a future contest of control with Islamic State, and the challenges of rebuilding in a post-conflict era.
Associate Professor Megan MacKenzie asks “do women belong on the front lines of war?” Do we need to move on from the band-of-brothers myth, the idea that the demands of combat require infantry troops to form strong emotional relationships based on trust and mutual dependence?
Andrew Ritchie, a member of AIIA NSW, presented on his experiences of Iran. Andrew was one of a group of twenty-four that participated in a sixteen day study tour organised by AIIA Victoria. The group visited and interacted with a variety of civil society organisations, and met with the Australian Ambassador to Iran, Ian Biggs.
Dr John Mikler, associate professor in the Department of Government and International Relations at the University of Sydney, noted that since 1970 – by 2012 there were some 100,000 businesses which could be described as international, multinational, trans-national or global.
Rhys Carvoso, intern at AIIA NSW, has provided an in-depth report on the proceedings of the evening.
“That a more aggressive line must be taken by the US and its allies against North Korea”
A hard-fought and much anticipated debate took place at the end of our interns’ six-month placements at Glover Cottages. Harrison Howard, Farah Al Majed and Phillip Alphonse argued for the proposition, Toby Findlay-Williams, James Levy and Declan Molloy against.
Michael Pembroke, NSW Supreme Court judge, writer and historian, and Peter Rowe, former Australian ambassador to both Koreas discussed the current situation on the Korean peninsula, and the likely aims of the North Korean regime.
The European Union Special Support Programme for Peace and Reconciliation, developed by the EU, had established extensive systems of local district partnerships: each of the 26 local government council areas had a board bringing together local government and community representatives including trade unions. A condition of this process was that the DUP and Sinn Fein had to come up with cross party agreement on development proposals…
At Glover Cottages on Tuesday 30 May 2017, our distinguished guest, Trevor Wilson, former Australian ambassador to Myanmar (2000 – 2003), discussed the current political and economic situation in Myanmar and the transition it has undergone in the last few years.
Professor Greg Barton is a leading Australian scholar on Islam and its role as both a constructive and destructive force. He has a deep commitment to building understanding in Australia of Islam and Muslim society. Accompanied by one of Sydney’s leading moderate Muslims, Ahmet Polat from the Islamic group Affinity Intercultural Foundation, Greg came to Glover Cottages on Tuesday 9 May 2017 to talk about Turkey.
At Glover Cottages on 2 May, the first Tuesday after ANZAC Day, a timely book edited by Dr David Stephens and Dr Alison Broinowski was on show. The Honest History Book includes twenty essays by prominent Australian historians, and it is intended to fill out the details in the ANZAC ‘legend’ and in some cases correct them. The aim of the editors was to transfer the emphasis from what Australians did in war to what war has done to Australia.
On Wednesday evening, 26 April, our immediate past-president, Colin Chapman, addressed a somewhat weary post-ANZAC Day crowd at Glover Cottages on the future of Europe. Colin thinks that the future of France – and its influence on the EU – hang on a knife edge.
At Glover Cottages on Tuesday 11 April, we hosted the NSW launch of Navigating the New International Disorder – Australia in World Affairs 2011-2015 (OUP/AIIA 2017). This is the twelfth edition of the Institute’s Australia in World Affairs, a series which began in 1950.
At Glover Cottages on Tuesday 4 April 2017, our distinguished guest, Michael Kirby, former judge of the High Court, discussed the current situation in North Korea as far as he could decipher it. In his earlier address to the Institute on 10 March, 2015, he had described his experiences as chair of the UN Commission on Human Rights in 2013-14: a finding of gross systematic denial of human rights, including fettering the North Korean press, depriving people of food, imprisoning those whose opinions were deemed to be against the ill-defined interests of the state, forced abortions, public executions and international abductions.