New South Wales

In this section

President's Report

Charteris Dinner & Oration 2019

November 27, 2019

On Wednesday, November 27th, AIIA NSW held their annual Charteris Dinner and Oration 2019 at the Sydney Hilton.  HE the Hon Margaret Beazley AO QC gave the oration which you can read here.

Rock the vote: Young voters and the Democratic Party in the US

November 12, 2019

Elliott Brennan (Research Associate at the United States Studies Centre at Sydney University) joined AIIA NSW to discuss the US Democratic Party’s prospects for attracting young voters. He debunked several popular assumptions about the 18-29 age demographic and delved into the future of their relationship with the Democratic Party.

Brexit – are we there yet?

October 22, 2019

David McCredie, CEO of the Australian-British Chamber of Commerce, spoke to AIIA NSW about the path to Brexit, its evolution since the referendum and the possible outcomes for the October 31 deadline.

Climate change and international relations: ‘ecomodernism’ and the role of technological innovation

October 15, 2019

The AIIA NSW welcomed Dr Jonathan Symons from Macquarie University to speak about the need to accelerate the global pace of technological innovation in response to climate change. Drawing on his new book Ecomodernism: Technology, Politics and the Climate Crisis, Dr Symons detailed the potential of state-sponsored low carbon technology innovation to address the challenges that international society faces due to climate change.

Jokowi 2019: A Transforming President

October 08, 2019

The AIIA NSW welcomed historian and former diplomat Dr David Reeve to speak on a transforming Indonesia under the second term of Joko Widodo (Jokowi) as president.  His talk preludes a pivotal point in Indonesia’s history: over the next five years, Jokowi’s visions may engrave him in the history books.

Should Australia sign the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons?

October 01, 2019

Abbey Dorian, James Dunn and Jasmine Brinsmead (affirmative) and Toby Warden, Ludmilla Nunell and Alice Guirguis (negative) – the Institute’s interns for July-December 2019 – debated this topic before an audience of AIIA NSW members and subscribers.

Arms Control Round Table

September 26, 2019

AIIA NSW hosted a lunch-time round table with Marc Finaud, former French Consul-General in Sydney (2000 to 2004) and now Senior Adviser on arms proliferation at the Geneva Centre for Security Policy (GCSP). Participants included AIIA NSW councillors and senior members and participants in community organisations concerned about nuclear arms.

Book Launch: An Outline of International Law

September 24, 2019

Former international law diplomat Dr Dominique De Stoop launched his new book and addressed AIIA NSW on the current state of international law. Dr De Stoop began by defining international law as all of the legally binding rules between sovereign states and intergovernmental organisations. These legally binding rules can be categorised into international conventions, international customs, general principles of law recognised by civilised nations, and judicial decisions of international courts. Over time, treaties have become the most important source of international law.

Knowledge, Technology and the New Cold WarWhither Thailand? An Update on Thai Politics

September 17, 2019

Professor Michael Wesley, Dean of the College of Asia and the Pacific at the Australian National University, addressed AIIA NSW on the contemporary rivalry between the US and China. Professor Wesley contextualised the US/China tensions through the lens of the USSR/US Cold War.

Whither Thailand? An Update on Thai Politics

September 16, 2019

The AIIA NSW welcomed James Wise, former Australian Ambassador to Thailand, for an address based on his recently-published book Thailand: History, Politics and the Rule of Law. In his presentation, Mr Wise offered interesting insights into the nature of Thai politics as well as the unique economic challenges that Thailand faces as a middle income country.


Unravelling Yemen’s Forgotten War

September 03, 2019

Dr Sarah Phillips, Associate Professor of Government and International Relations at Sydney University, addressed the AIIA NSW  on the ongoing conflicts in Yemen. Drawing on her years as a student in Yemen, she spoke of the devastation caused by the confluence of regional, international and historic factors and the way these exacerbated existing divides.


Brazil after (almost) a year of Bolsonaro: the good, the bad, and the ugly

August 27, 2019

The AIIA NSW welcomed Deborah Barros Leal Farias to discuss Jair Bolsonaro’s administration of Brazil since his inauguration in January of this year. As a native Brazilian and a professional in politics and international relations, Deborah assessed Bolsonaro’s tenure against ongoing national social struggles and his place in the wider context of global politics.


Myanmar: the Struggle for Reform, the China Embrace

August 20, 2019

The AIIA NSW welcomed Sean Turnell, Special Economic Consultant to Myanmar’s State Counsellor, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi; Professor Turnell is also the director of the Myanmar Development Institute and a Professor at Macquarie University. He spoke about Myanmar’s economic challenges and the intensification of Sino-Burmese relations. Through his role in Myanmar, he is tasked with advising economic reformers on how to help the country achieve stability and growth after decades of political and economic turmoil. One of the largest challenges the country faces is in managing relations with its biggest neighbour, China.


Applied History: the uses and misuses of the past

August 13, 2019

The AIIA NSW welcomed Professor Fredrik Logevall, Laurence D. Belfer Professor of International Affairs and Professor of History at Harvard University, to discuss the connection between history and policymaking. Professor Logevall explored the fraught enterprise of employing historical reasoning to craft and justify policy.


East Timor and Australia: a Love-Hate Relationship

August 06, 2019

The AIIA NSW welcomed Sydney solicitor and business man Rodney Lewis to discuss Australia’s fluctuating relationship with East Timor. Rodney explored key stages of the modern relationship from WW2 to the resource disputes which have followed East Timorese independence. He illustrated key events with a personal account from his experience with the International Commission of Jurists during the decades of Timorese struggle.


Zionism and the Foundations of the Jewish State

July 30, 2019

The AIIA NSW welcomed Mr Alex Ryvchin, Co-Chief Executive Officer at the Executive Council of Australian Jewry, whose book Zionism – the Concise History will be released in September. Mr Ryvchin specialises in the Arab-Israeli conflict, anti-Semitism, and religion and identity. In his address to the Institute, Mr Ryvchin explored the origins and aims of Zionism and its accomplishments and failures as well as prospects for peace and coexistence between Israel and Palestine.


What’s Wrong with Australia’s Middle East Policy?

July 23, 2019

Dr Ian Parmeter, Research Scholar at the Australian National University’s Centre for Arab and Islamic Studies and former Australian Ambassador to Lebanon, addressed AIIA NSW on Australia’s policy-making failings in the Middle East.


Politics and Civil Society in Southeast Asia: the case of organised labour and Indonesia’s elections

July 16, 2019

Professor Michele Ford, director of the Sydney Southeast Asia Centre at the University of Sydney and professor on Southeast Asian labour movements, spoke to AIIA NSW on the development of trade unions’ participation in Indonesian elections in the twenty first century.


The Dragons and the Snakes: Evolution and Adaptation in a New Era of Conflict 

July 11, 2019

The AIIA NSW welcomed Dr David Kilcullen, an author, strategist, and leading expert in the fields of modern warfare and unconventional armed conflict. He gave an overview of the defence environment since the end of the Cold War, as well as a summary of his upcoming book “The Dragon and the Snakes: How the Rest Learned to Fight the West”.


Australia’s Relationship with President Xi’s China 

July 02, 2019

The AIIA NSW welcomed Philipp Ivanov, CEO of the Asia Society Australia, to discuss China under President Xi Jinping and the Australia-China relationship. Mr Ivanov outlined the transformations of China’s political system and foreign policy that have occurred under Xi’s rule and tied these changes into the Australia-China context.


Semester One Intern Debate 

June 25, 2019

The AIIA NSW hosted a debate by its semester one interns. The topic was “Australia should join China’s Belt and Road Initiative”.  Arguing for the affirmative were Euan Moyle and Alex McManis. For the negative, Lucy Nason and Kevin Fine. Kevin Boreham moderated the debate. Mr Boreham coordinates the International Law Clinical Program at the ANU College of Law where he taught International Law from 2002 – 2017.


The Battle for Venezuela 

June 18, 2019

Dr Luis Angosto-Ferrández, a senior lecturer in Anthropology and Latin American Studies at the University of Sydney, addressed AIIA NSW on the topic of Venezuelan domestic and international politics. Dr Angosto-Ferrández’s talk centred on how Nicolas Maduro, the President of Venezuela, has clung onto power. Dr Angosto-Ferrández suggested it is implausible that Maduro has stayed in power by repressive means alone. Rather, that there are a majority of people within Venezuela that either support Maduro, do not trust the leadership of the opposition, or feel the institutional processes of Venezuelan politics, which delivered Maduro re-election in 2015, should be respected.


Revolution and Counter-Revolution in North Africa: The Arab Spring Redux 

June 11, 2019

The AIIA NSW heard from Dr Noah Bassil, Associate Dean of Higher Degree Research for the Faculty of Arts at Macquarie University. Dr Bassil spoke about the recent uprisings in Sudan and Algeria, which have been largely characterised as a mini-Arab Spring and have resulted in the overthrow of two long-serving autocrats: Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika and Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir.


The Lessons of Tragedy: Statecraft and World Order

June 4, 2019

The AIIA NSW heard from Dr Charles Edel, Senior Fellow at the United States Studies Centre at the University of Sydney. Dr Edel spoke about his recently published book The Lessons of Tragedy: Statecraft and World Order co-authored with Hal Brands, which pays homage to the Ancient Greek idea of tragedy and how it can be utilised to explain and respond to the growing fractures in the current international order.


The Great China Firewall

May 28, 2019

The Institute welcomed James Griffiths to discuss his recently published book, The Great Firewall of China: How to build and control an alternative version of the internet. Mr Griffiths explained how China’s internal internet censorship regime functions and how China is championing increasing internet regulation globally.


Intern Presentations

May 21, 2019

The Institute’s current interns addressed a range of topic in a thoughtful and provoking manner.


The New Global Disorder and the Rise of Despotism

May 14, 2019

Professor John Keane of the University of Sydney spoke to the Institute about the rise of new political regimes threatening established, power-sharing democracies around the world, best described by an old term, despotism. Rising global powers such as Russia and China, and many smaller countries like Turkey, Hungary, Saudi Arabia and Turkmenistan, all share similarities that distinguish them from more customary labels such as totalitarian, authoritarian or dictatorial.


Election Interference and Social Media

May 7, 2019

With increasing evidence of the use of social media for interference in the 2016 US election, and the Australian federal election just around the corner, the presentation given by Associate Professor Tiffany Jones at the Institute was both timely and topical. As concerns mount about our individual and collective vulnerabilities to the tactics of foreign influencers via social media, Professor Jones questioned our preparedness and political will to respond to attempts to sow division in our societies.


Empire of the Winds

April 30, 2019

Philip Bowring gave a presentation to the Institute in which he discussed his new book “Empire of the Winds: The Global Role of Asia’s Great Archipelago.” Philip is a British journalist who has been based in Asia since 1973. He has written and reported extensively on Asian financial and political issues during a prolific career with the likes of the Financial Times, the International Herald Tribune, the South China Morning Post, the Wall Street Journal and the Far Eastern Economic Review. He is an alumina and Fellow Commoner of Cambridge University.


Is Peace possible in Afghanistan?

April 16, 2019

Professor Theo Farrell, Executive Dean of Law, Humanities and the Arts at the University of Wollongong, addressed the Institute on the topic of whether peace is possible in Afghanistan. Prior to taking up his current position, Professor Farrell was the head of the Department of War Studies at Kings College London, which has close links with the UK Ministry of Defence. He was invited to do two reviews of International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) efforts in Afghanistan for the UK government and NATO.


ANSTO: realising the foreign policy benefits of Australia’s nuclear knowledge

Dr Adi Paterson, the CEO of Australia’s Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO), spoke to the Institute about the important work conducted at ANSTO in nuclear research and developing effective nuclear-related government policy. Dr Paterson has been CEO of ANSTO for over ten years, after having worked to reconstruct South Africa’s systems of scientific innovation post-apartheid.


Mexico – Bordering on Chaos?

The AIIA NSW hosted immediate past AIIA NSW President and former Ambassador to Mexico, Richard Broinowski, who spoke on the recent inauguration of Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador and how he will face the pressure from a hostile United States to deal with the US-Mexico border crisis.


Australia House, London

The AIIA NSW hosted the Sydney launch of Dr Eileen Chanin’s new book Capital Designs, Australia House and Visions of an Imperial London. In conversation with Neal Blewett AC, Dr Chanin discussed how the construction of Australia’s oldest diplomatic mission, Australia House, transformed central London.


Australia and France: Global Partners in the Indo-Pacific

HE Mr Brendan Berne, Australian Ambassador to France, addressed the Institute.  The event was held under the Chatham House rule.


Round table discussion with Indonesian policy planning group

The AIIA NSW hosted a round-table discussion with a visiting delegation from the Indonesian Foreign Ministry’s Centre for Policy Analysis and Development on American and European region. The group comprised Dr Ben Perkasa Drajat, Head of the Centre, Mr Arsi Firdausy, Mr I Made Wardhana, and Ms Arshie Ramadhani, accompanied by Hermanus Dimara and Joanne Hajjar from the Indonesian Consulate-General in Sydney.


Argentina’s G20 Presidency and the Future of the Group

Argentinian Ambassador Dr. Hugo Gobbi gave a presentation at the Institute on the topic of Argentinian’s Group of Twenty (G20) Presidency and the 2018 G20 Buenos Aires summit. After completing a PhD in Political Science from the Université Catholique de Louvain, Belgium, in 1985 His Excellency joined the Argentinian Foreign Service Institute, serving in a range of high-profile diplomatic and economic policy positions. He has been the Ambassador of the Argentine Republic to Australia since 2016.


Brexit: Really?

Professor Richard Whitman, Director of the Global Europe Centre and Professor of Politics and International Relations at the University of Kent, addressed AIIA NSW on the topic of Brexit and the state of UK politics.


Australia’s Pacific Pivot: destiny, duty, and desires

Graeme Dobell FAIIA of the Australian Strategic Policy Institute presented his forthcoming research on Australia’s Pacific “pivot”.  Australia’s 2017 Foreign Policy White Paper declared that the stability and economic prosperity of the arc of countries from Timor Leste though Papua New Guinea to the Pacific island countries is of fundamental importance to Australia.


How Power Adapts in a Changed World

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.


The United Nations: Australia’s Role

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.


The Trade War and the Weakening Chinese Economy

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.


End of Year Event: Madama Butterfly in China

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.


Has the Responsibility to Protect been Forgotten?

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.


Did Sweden almost go Populist?

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.


Cyber Interference: The New Challenge to International Security

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.


Making Australian Foreign Policy: overcoming the China and Russia Phobias

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.


Roundtable on Israel’s Strategic Priorities

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’s Divisive Election: Stark Choices

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.


An Evening with the Interns

The current AIIA NSW interns addressed the Institute on topics of their choice.


High Stakes: Will Congressionals be the End for Trump?

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 Renegotiation of Europe in Times of Brexit and Trump

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.


Australia’s Dystopian Future

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.


The Future of Peace

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.


Captain’s Knock: Can Imran Khan Delivery for Pakistan?

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.


Asian Century … On a Knife’s Edge

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.


Chinese Wine Culture

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.


The Impact of Artificial Intelligence

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 China Conundrum

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.


Historic Summits and Beyond

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.


US Relations with Asia under Trump: Taking Stock

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.


Afghanistan: What Next?

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.


Australia and the World: Where is the White Paper leading Us?

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.