Our ‘International Identity’: Approach to Foreign Affairs, Defence Role and Spending, Humanitarian Crises and Foreign Aid

While the United States of America is a very important international player, the major Australian political parties are scared to fully embrace all that Australia can bring to the table itself; the extent of the leadership we could show. We need more progressive leadership in foreign affairs and we need to uphold more sophisticated diplomacy. We need to help reframe current world debates. We need to focus less on religion and more on harmony and collaborative goals.

We must achieve a clearer strategic direction for the Australian Defence Force. We need to better define our role, both in the Asia-Pacific region and globally. This includes being more savvy with defence spending. We could be spending significantly less. For too long, defence spending has been placed in the mould of a ‘long term insurance policy’, despite the very dynamic environment that we exist in. We need to have greater emphasis on risk management, where we try to prevent crises occurring through a more sensitive use of defence as well as other national assets (including foreign affairs and aid). A more dynamic linking of such ‘national tools’ as a way of maintaining stability is desirable. This would allow Australia to portray itself as a more constructive and more independent power.

The way world powers respond to humanitarian crises has been labelled “broken” by world leaders. Addressing the distinct lack of progressive action with regards to world humanitarian crises is essential. Australia can play a lead role in this regard. We must also increase our foreign aid budget.