How a beginner reshaped Australian Foreign policy
North Sydney, NSW: Penguin, 2022
Paperback 256pp RRP $12.99
Reviewer: Neville Taylor, May 2022
This Lowry Institute paper examines the foreign policies that Scott Morrison has put in place since becoming Prime Minister in August 2018. He was confronted by a rapidly changing world order: a belligerent Chinese approach to trade with Australia, rising tensions between the United States and China, and a COVID pandemic with its impact on our economy and resulting in world supply shortages.
With an approach based on creating a balance of power that favours freedom, Morrison has always put Australian identity foremost in his approach, building advantageous international alliances particularly relating to our security, and not being prepared for Australia to undertake any action detrimental to Australia’s benefit.
On becoming Prime Minister, Morrison quickly acted on domestic issues, but realised the importance of foreign affairs. His time as Immigration Minister and Federal Treasurer stood him in good stead as he hastened to work with world leaders to strengthen relationships and international ties. A stance of not being bullied by China won him and Australia international recognition.
The relationship with the last two United States presidents meant that the approach to dealing with Trump and Biden necessitated being at opposite ends of the spectrum. Care was taken to not commit Australia to being totally locked into any commitments unfavourable to Australia. The nuclear submarine project with the US and the UK (AUKUS) had been planned with the utmost secrecy for some time before being announced – demonstrating the partners’ extreme security commitment. China’s increasing militant moves in the Indo-Pacific played a major factor in the AUKUS agreement. Australia has traditionally spent more in aid to the countries in the Southern Pacific than other countries, and Morrison hopes to use those alliances against China’s aggression.
As each aspect of foreign policy has been discussed, they have been commented upon by Australia’s leading experts in politics and foreign affairs. Criticism of poorly-implemented policies or statements, along with the advantages and disadvantages of policies punctuate the text.
This is a most-readable and succinct analysis and commentary on Scott Morrison’s creation and implementation of a foreign policy that he hopes will be Australia’s template in the years ahead.
The RUSI – Vic Library thanks the publisher for making this work available for review.