TOPIC: FOREIGN AFFAIRS
Labor welcomes today’s launch of the public consultation process for the Foreign Policy White Paper.
While no historical period is static, the economic, political and strategic shifts now unfolding are transformational in their scale and nature.
For Australia, the reshaping of the global order raises questions about our place in the world, our identity, our national interest and our ability to influence developments.
As such, Labor believes the White Paper needs to analyse the implications flowing from this reshaping and develop an articulated framework for how Australia navigates these changes.
The starting point, as always, should be to identify our vital interests and key opportunities.
To contribute to Australia’s ability to secure our interests and realise the opportunities, the White Paper will need to grapple with a number of hard questions.
- How should Australia respond as the global centre of gravity shifts from the Trans-Atlantic to the Indo-Pacific?
- How should Australia work within the US alliance to maintain Washington’s focus on Asia?
- How does Australia continue to balance the development of our economic interests and our strategic and security interests within a rules based international system?
- Is the world moving from a unipolar to a bipolar or multipolar system and how does Australia best prepare for these possibilities?
- What does a contemporary road map for Australia in Asia look like?
- What are the key risks and challenges facing multilateralism and what role can Australia as a middle power, play in reinforcing it?
- What changes are needed to the UN and other post-war Bretton Woods institutions to engage emerging powers in the international rules-based order?
- How does Australia best position itself to work with both traditional allies and new partners to address non-traditional security challenges, such as combating violent extremism and non-state actors such as Daesh?
The White Paper should also be the basis of a trade and investment strategy for the nation, with a focus on advancing Australia’s economic and security interests in our region, including an Asia Pacific trade agreement with all 21 APEC members.
There is also an opportunity to improve the transparency and effectiveness of Australia’s trade negotiations.
At the last election Labor committed to making trade negotiations more transparent and we believe the Government should take steps to ensure this occurs in this White Paper.
Labor urges the Turnbull Government to examine how industry could be better involved in trade negotiations and consider the recommendations of the cross-party Joint Standing Committee on Treaties report into the Trans-Pacific Partnership concerning independent economic analysis of trade agreements.
The White Paper should also reverse the Turnbull Government’s position on the removal of labour market testing and the inclusion of Investor State Dispute Settlement clauses in free trade agreements as they did in the failed Trans-Pacific Partnership.
The White Paper needs to guide our responses to immediate events while providing a road-map to our longer-term objectives.
It will only achieve this if it grapples with the difficult questions and adopts a clear set of strategic priorities.
In the long tradition of Australia’s bipartisan approach to foreign policy Labor welcomes today’s launch and looks forward to the opportunity to contribute to the development of the Foreign Policy White Paper.