Saturday 18 Jan 2020 | 11:22 | SYDNEY
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Global Issues

At the UN, paying dues and having a say

The recent news that Tonga was among seven countries that had lost their right to vote in the United Nations General Assembly over unpaid dues has brought an additional element to an already complex issue over the financing of the United Nations. In 2019, the Secretary General highlighted the UN’s

The Australian lag in tech policy

Last month, Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced a much-awaited reform package to regulate the tech giants and their immense market power. Australia was to be “the model jurisdiction” for “dealing with digital platforms”, he declared. However, strong language aside, the promised reform

Australia’s new strategic geography

Australia’s strategic geography is not what it used to be. Technology has made the “sea-air gap”, an artefact treasured since the 1980s by a generation of Australian strategic planners, obsolete. Three developments compromise the idea that geography offers Australia defensive depth and

New Year on Australia’s fire ravaged coast

This was supposed to be an idyllic week on the east and south coasts of Australia, when thousands of families traditionally set off after Christmas for their beach holidays at houses, caravan parks and campgrounds scattered down our long, magnificent coastline.  We were among

Best of The Interpreter 2019: A festival of democracy

After the polling stations closed across Australia in May and the count rolled in, the public and pundits alike did a double take, and Sam Roggeveen asked, what the hell just happened? Not everyone who was hoping for a Labor victory took the loss well. But if, as the sore losers claimed, the

Best of The Interpreter 2019: The world of sports

Some people believe politics and sport should never mix. Not here at The Interpreter. The field of play may provide a distraction from a world of troubles, and great achievements may bring together a divided folk, but sport is also a theatre of symbols – of power, money, identity – that carries

Best of The Interpreter 2019: Technology

The endless blessings of technology – where would we be without them? Not reading this page, for a start. Several decades into the so-called digital revolution (depending where you mark the start), tech has become almost as essential to our everyday lives as air and water, and yet behind the

Best of The Interpreter 2019: Your most read

This year has seen more than 20% increase in the number of readers for The Interpreter, with a growing audience in Papua New Guinea, Singapore, Indonesia and Philippines, as well as new readers from the US, Britain, India, and, of course, Australia. Your interests are many, predominately

Should you lie to your children about reality?

Is the world currently too awful to contemplate for the so-called “snowflake generation”, which apparently can’t face the realities of life in even the most fortunate of nations? Should responsible parents attempt to insulate their offspring from some of life’s less pleasing aspects for as

How many Cold Wars does it take to make a “new” one?

The Cold War is not an easy term to define, which makes its increasing use as a term of reference for any great power conflict today problematic. When any “new” Cold War is announced, what exactly about the “old” Cold War is being invoked? Traditionally, the grand narrative of the Cold War

Hollowed out, but not unhinged

Sam Roggeveen has written a lively essay on the current state of Australian federal politics, centred on the hypothetical scenario that one of the two major parties takes an anti-immigration policy to an election, overturning Australia’s post-war bipartisan commitment to immigration to gain

Behrouz Boochani: Still in limbo

Although Behrouz Boochani has never set foot on the Australian mainland, his is a familiar name in the country, a link to the men on Manus Island subject to Australia’s offshore processing arrangements in the Pacific. His escape to be “free in New Zealand” this month, after six years

Shock therapy: why Australia needs a political jolt

In recent years, the world has witnessed a number of “black swan” events – surprises with massive implications for the particular countries involved and also the international system. The global financial crisis, Brexit, and the election of Donald Trump to the US presidency are the most

Review: Australia, real and imagined

Review: Tim Watts, The Golden Country: Australia’s Changing Identity (Text Publishing 2019) Summer reading bins have been well stocked with memoirs by retired Australian parliamentarians casting experienced eyes over political lives lived hard and full. It’s not often we find engaging books

Beijing’s cryptic blockchain gambit

China is going berserk for blockchain these days, and doing so with oh-so-very Chinese characteristics. The recent hype is certainly not without cause. After years of cautious support for the game-changing digital ledger technology behind Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, Beijing has been

The Rohingya Football Club

I’ve worked a lot in development areas, but I have never run a charity before. So, when I decided to set up a locally based international aid and development not-for-profit, it was with as much fear as hope.  As an ex-player, I turned to football (soccer). The world’s leading team sport by

The worrying precedent of Turkey’s “safe zone”

There is a reason the Kurds say they have “no friend but the mountains”. Time and again human rights atrocities have been perpetrated against them, and they are not strategically important enough for any country to take their side. News of death of Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi

Antarctica and the China test

At the current meeting in Hobart for CCAMLR, the Convention for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources, Australia is once again moving to establish marine sanctuaries off the east of Antarctica with the support of the US, Europe, and a coalition of environmental organisations. And

Are free trade deals expanding a digital divide?

E-bills, e-signature, the electronic transfer of funds – advancements in technology are bringing about remarkable changes in the business landscape, domestically and internationally. All this change is facilitating the faster movement of goods across borders and forcing governments to keep pace.

“Accepting the science”, rejecting the action

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has a problem. Australia’s Pacific Island neighbours urgently want industrialised economies to reduce their greenhouse-gas emissions and make policy commitments beyond existing pledges. Senior ministers in the Morrison government, however, do not accept the latest

Poles apart: The long shadow of US-China competition

From trade to cyber, from the South China Sea to outer space, strategic rivalry between the United States and China is shaping the international order. The polar regions seem no exception. At the recent Ministerial Meeting of the Arctic Council held in Rovaniemi, Finland, US Secretary of State

Can the ICC bring justice to Myanmar?

More than 700,000 men, women, and children, many identifying as Rohingya, crossed the border from Myanmar’s Rakhine State into Bangladesh in 2017, fleeing violence at the hands of the military and security forces. A UN Fact-Finding Mission was established to determine the facts and circumstances

An educated idealist is still a believer

Book review: The Education of an Idealist: A Memoir, by Samantha Power (Harper Collins 2019) Samantha Power, an Irish immigrant whose tenacity and intellect earned her a place at Yale and Harvard and led her to become a war correspondent in the Balkans, rose to prominence when her 2002 book, A

INTERFET and the defence of Australia

Today marks the 20th anniversary of the establishment of the International Force East Timor (INTERFET), a multinational mission led by Australia to stabilise the country in 1999. As a former Army officer posted to Timor-Leste after INTERFET, I’m proud to be back in Dili today to represent the

At sea, safety is just as important as security

The extraordinary rescue of crew from a stricken South Korean freighter off the US coast this week might have taken place on the other side of the world, but it serves as a reminder that safety of life at sea is a challenge everywhere. Closer to home, the Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA) has made

Who wants to be a peacemaker?

The candidates for two non-permanent seats on the United Nations Security Council for 2021–22 are now in, with three countries heading to the final stage to gather support and votes for their respective bids: Canada, Ireland, and Norway, representing the “Western European and Others” group,

Disinformation and democracy: Podcast out now

In May 2016, before Brexit and Trump, the right-wing populist Rodrigo Duterte was elected President of the Philippines amidst a co-ordinated disinformation and trolling campaign on social media. In a nation of 105 million where Facebook is embedded into everyday life, political

Deep fakes could have real consequences for Southeast Asia

In Malaysia, a sex-tape scandal engulfing the country in recent months has threatened to destabilise the governing coalition. While the tape has been determined by the police to be authentic, and not a forgery, it is still questioned in some quarters. The truth of the video itself is a point of

All may not be smooth along China’s Digital Silk Road

Make no mistake about China’s vast and continuous trajectory of technological expansionism. Even as the US aims to ring-fence Huawei’s reach into the US and overseas consumer markets, a “digital silk road” paved by Chinese tech giants has long been built to span from the Asia-

Indonesia should put more energy into renewable power

Air pollution is worsening in Jakarta and West Java, while tens of millions of people experienced a day-long blackout earlier this month after gas-powered electricity generators failed and significant proportions of eastern Indonesia have do not have reliable power supplies. So why does Indonesia

Keep calm and fly on … unless someone stops me

Shame is a powerful emotion, but is it powerful enough to save the planet? Almost certainly not. But the question has assumed unexpected prominence as the sensitive Scandinavians and the schoolgirl activist Greta Thunburg spearhead a campaign to encourage us to fly less, simply because it’s the

The (other) continent we can’t defend

For all the back-and-forth Hugh White has generated with his latest book, How to Defend Australia, in a national preoccupation with the China question, little serious discussion has been devoted to how to defend Australia’s southern front and cope with China’s increasing Antarctic footprint.

Climate change is a national security issue

If only a minister of the Morrison government would be as forthright in identifying climate change as a massive destabilising force in Australia’s region as the Chief of the Defence Force Angus Campbell has been. In a private speech in Bowral in June, General Campbell is reported to have sounded

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