JOHN MENADUE. 2017 Foreign Policy White Paper.

Nov 24, 2017

Yesterday, the government released the 2017 Foreign Policy White Paper.

  A group associated with Pearls & Irritations made a submission in the preparation of the White Paper:  Submission on foreign policy white paper – filling the void.

The media release concerning the White Paper follows.  That media release also carries a link to the full White Paper.

Next week Pearls and Irritations will be reviewing and commenting on the White Paper

MEDIA RELEASE  23 Nov 2017 

Prime Minister, Minister for Foreign Affairs, Minister for Trade, Tourism & Investment  

The 2017 Foreign Policy White Paper is the first comprehensive review of Australia’s international engagement for 14 years.

It delivers a framework to ensure our prosperity and security by guiding our international efforts over the next decade and beyond.

Opportunities for Australia in our region and across the world are immense if we continue to engage proactively with the rising economies of the Indo-Pacific. This will allow Australia to become even more competitive, create and support more and better paying jobs, remain an attractive destination for foreign investment and maintain our reputation as a reliable trading partner offering high quality goods and services.

We are also in an increasingly uncertain and contested time for the region and globally, with rising protectionist sentiment and challenges to the international rules-based order.

The White Paper will help us shape the external environment in a way that advances Australia’s interests and values, protects the independence of how we make decisions and preserves the strength and integrity of our institutions.

The White Paper’s fundamental objectives are to:

  • Work to keep our Indo-Pacific region secure, open and prosperous;
  • Maximise opportunities for Australian businesses and workers by fighting protectionism, and implementing policies that help Australians take advantage of the benefits of an open, competitive economy;
  • Ensure Australians remain safe, secure and free in the face of threats like terrorism;
  • Promote a world with fair rules and strong cooperation to ensure the rights of all states are respected; and
  • Increase support for a more stable and prosperous Pacific.

To achieve these objectives, the Government will:

  • Increase our efforts to ensure we remain a leading partner for Southeast Asia, including through an ASEAN-Australia Special Summit in 2018, an increase in our investments in regional maritime security capacity-building, and stronger bilateral ties (for example, our new strategic partnership with Vietnam);
  • Extend our ‘step up’ in the Pacific on economic and security issues, including by establishing with our Pacific partners a new Australian Pacific Security College to deliver security and law enforcement training at the leadership level;
  • Establish a new civilian deployment programme, Australia Assists, which will deploy over 100 humanitarian specialists each year to countries and communities affected by disasters;
  • Extend our network of FTAs to cover more partners, including to ensure that by 2020 we have FTAs with countries that account for 80 per cent of our trade (currently 64 per cent);
  • Implement a non-tariff measures strategy to better identify these barriers to trade for Australian businesses and respond to them;
  • Develop a stronger “nation brand” to market our commercial, educational and cultural credentials in a competitive global market.

Australia has considerable national strengths. We have a flexible, competitive and growing economy, formidable defence and national security capabilities, including cyber, a cohesive and resilient society built on our values of freedom, equality and the rule of law. We are a regional power with global influence.

With this White Paper, the Government will build on these strengths to pursue our objectives with confidence, ambition and purpose for the benefit of all Australians.

For more information please visit the 2017 Foreign Policy White Paper website.


Next week in Pearls & Irritations we will be reviewing and commenting on the White Paper.  A feature of the White Paper, as reported, seems to highlight the growing menace of China.  We will be examining that along with other issues.

Disappointingly, the White Paper was not released by tabling in parliament.  It is important that White Papers should almost always be tabled in parliament. This highlights the importance of the document which then leads to a parliamentary debate. Too often Foreign Affairs and Defence issues, including the commitment of Australian Defence Forces to war is not considered and debated by parliament.  That absence of proper scrutiny and debate is one reason why we make so many ill-informed decisions like deciding to involve ourselves in the US invasion of Iraq.

The  week’s sitting of Parliament that was cancelled could have been very usefully used to debate the White Paper.

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