Mike Callaghan is Director of the Lowy Institute's G20 Studies Centre.
The G20 Leaders' summit in St Petersburg on 5-6 September 2013 continues to be a factor influencing the timing of the Australian federal election.
But it says something about the status of the G20 when commentators argue that the Australian prime minister should attend the summit not because it is an important international meeting in its own right and we should be represented by our leader, but because Brisbane will host the summit in 2014.
As evidenced in the discussion on ABC's Insiders program on 14 July, the main reason the Prime Minister may schedule the election so that he can go to St Petersburg, apart from any electoral advantage, is because Australia will be chairing the forum in 2014.
It certainly would not be a good look for the Prime Minister to miss the 2013 G20 summit when Australia takes over as chair for 2014. But what if, in November 2014 when Australia hosts the summit, other G20 leaders face domestic electoral or political issues which make a visit to Australia problematic? Except for Turkey, chairing the G20 in 2015 would not be a reason to ensure that they would attend the Brisbane summit.
As I have said previously, a trip to Australia eats into the time of very busy people. If leaders are balancing domestic political or other pressures against a visit to Australia, they may well skip the Brisbane summit if they do not consider the meeting sufficiently important.
If the G20 truly is the premier forum for international cooperation, then all leaders should put a very high priority on attending the summit, regardless of other domestic or international pressures. The challenge facing Australia in 2014 is to elevate the G20 such that no leader will want to miss the Brisbane summit because it will be a focused, important meeting where things will be achieved.
Photo by Flickr user Downing St.