“We are stronger when we build coalitions of like-minded nations to support the structures that have brought so much benefit to the world."
"Sometimes I don’t think we appreciate how significant our voice can be and how much influence we can have.”
— The Hon Julie Bishop
In this increasingly uncertain global context, we propose that there is a dire need to defend liberal democracy. For the first time since the Cold War, the liberal international system of economic and diplomatic interconnectedness is dislocating, driven by rising inequality, migration crises, strategic competition between the US and China, and the failure of national governments to adequately respond to the challenges faced by their citizens. Each and every of these issues has been exacerbated by COVID-19.
Globally, the working class report feeling increasingly disenfranchised by the political establishment, resulting in nationalist politics which further pits nations against one another on the world stage. The resulting reduction of freedom of movement and trade has negative consequences for global prosperity. Hence, a vicious cycle between domestic politics and internationalism is further entrenched.
Growing tensions between the US and China is driving particularly difficult challenges for Australian foreign policy, as we are caught between our largest military partner and largest trading partner. Many other nations are facing a similar dilemma as they weigh up ongoing relationships with both superpowers. Yet, these changes also come at a time when global collaboration is desperately needed. Challenges posed by technology, biosecurity risk and artificial intelligence demand global responses. Success in balancing relationships between Washington and Beijing will play a significant role in whether we succeed.
This area of research will analyse how Australia, as a middle power in the Asia-Pacific, can promote sensible policy solutions that advance freedom, justice, stability, and economic growth.