Today, finally, is polling day for the 2016 Australian election. With polls indicating Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull is likely to return to office, Sam Roggeveen explored what a victory at the polling booths could mean for Turnbull's future agenda:
...the public sees Turnbull as having been co-opted by his party rather than the other way around.
Turnbull might have hoped that a big election victory would loosen those shackles, but that doesn't seem likely now. Still, he has two possible opportunities. The first is a hung parliament in which he is forced to ally with independents or minor parties in order to govern. This will give him a good excuse to embrace a new agenda. The second opportunity is the same-sex marriage plebiscite — an overwhelming victory could allow him to silence his internal opponents.
All of this presupposes that there is 'another Turnbull', an ambitious moderniser with a clear vision for the nation and his party. It is quite possible of course that, as Gertrude Stein had it, there's no there there. The 'other Turnbull' may be a mirage. We will know soon enough.
Former Secretary of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade Richard Woolcott argued that neither major party had adequately addressed how to best react to the changing landscape of the Asia Pacific:
The government elected on 2 July and the subsequent opposition will need to show real leadership, rather than simply responding to the popular political attitudes which have so far characterised this campaign. Both will need to acknowledge the fundamental changes in our region and the need for Australia to reshape our national psyche
Whoever leads Australia after the election, escalating US-China tensions are likely to strain Australia’s foreign policy positions, wrote Geoff Kitney:
Regardless of who wins the US presidential election, US policy towards China appears likely to harden. Even before then, tensions could well escalate over the South China Sea territorial disputes. How will a Turnbull government respond to this or, under a President Trump, the US possibly walking away from the Trans-Pacific Partnership and escalating tensions with China over trade?
A recent article in Foreign Affairs on offshore balancing by John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt has thrown the strategy back into the spotlight. Christine Gallagher took a look at what a US adoption of offshore balancing in Asia would mean for Australia:
Despite the drawbacks, any strategy which limits US military intervention in East Asia is likely to be better for Australia. There has been ongoing debate about the consequences for Australia if tensions between the US and China escalate, as Australia would potentially face a conflicting choice between honouring a security alliance or protecting economic interests. This is less likely to eventuate if the US is offshore.
This week saw yet another bombing in Istanbul. Over 40 were killed and around 240 wounded in gunfire and explosions at Atatürk Airport. President Erdogan must do more to counter jihadi cells within the country, wrote Lauren Williams:
As ISIS increasingly turns its sights to once hospitable Turkey, Erdogan will be forced to adjust. Turkey now needs to be seen to be cracking down on jihadi networks and cells that have been allowed to proliferate inside Turkey. The country's security apparatus needs to be seen to be addressing the real and immediate threat ISIS presents.
The fallout from Britain voting to leave the European Union continued unabated this week. Annmarie Elijah and Ben Wellings analysed how it might affect Australia-UK and Australia-EU relations:
Brexit will absorb time, energy and resources in Europe and the UK. Australia may find itself low down in the list of priorities. But both the UK — or what remains of it — and the EU will need new friends. The Brexiteers need alternatives to Europe and Australia will be in their sights.
Though we’re only a week out, the decision feels historically momentous. John Edwards called it the 'silliest English decision since Suez':
Brexit is a tragedy. But considered in the context of the campaign, of the vacancy in the political leadership of both major British political parties, of the cross purposes and confusion of the victorious leaders of the campaign to remove Britain from the European Community, Brexit is also a farce. It is a supremely serious event, hard to take seriously. It lacks the dignity of tragedy.
Tristram Sainsbury argued that the G20 would be unwise to ignore the worldwide resentment at the current state of globalisation, which helped fuel the ‘leave’ vote:
The G20 has been relatively impotent in addressing the longer-term challenges of globalisation… the graph of growth of real income in recent decades is elephant-shaped; winners have been the global 1% and middle income people in emerging economies. Those left behind are the poorest, who remain locked out of growth, and the lower-middle class in developed economies.
And Stephen Grenville saw the decision as economically ‘inexplicable’:
The economic case for remaining in the EU is so overwhelming that Brexit has to be counted as yet another case where the economic arguments never gained traction.
Relax, argued Brett Hogan and John Roskam, ‘reports of the UK's impending economic demise have been grossly exaggerated’:
As time passes, wise heads will likely prevail, bruised egos will heal, and the strength of existing relationships and the need to accept the democratic will of the people will ensure that the world does not end. The vote was not a declaration of war, or a global financial crisis, so there is no genuine need for the pound or the stock market to come under sustained pressure, short of speculation or the initiation of business-unfriendly policies by the new government.
Still reeling from the vote, many pundits around the word are throwing around the 'f' word. But are we really witnessing the rebirth of fascism? Whatever it is, it’s not the solution to the world’s problems, writes Volker Prott:
History demonstrates that, whether we call it fascist or not, parochial nationalism, aggressive unilateral foreign policy and high-tech walls are not solutions to the global political challenges of our time. Just like in the 1920s and 1930s, they instead threaten to lead us down a path of growing xenophobia, nationalist rivalries and economic recession.
This week Rodrigo Duterte was inaugurated as President of the Philippines; on Monday the Lowy Institute released a paper by Nonresident Fellow Malcolm Cook analysing how Philippine security policy would likely change under this new leader. Part of this predicted upheaval would be extending an olive branch to the militant communist party, wrote Cook:
Duterte has restarted the peace process, which was largely moribund under Aquino, for the decades-old, nation-spanning communist insurgency … negotiating to end the insurgency and the disruption and death it causes across the archipelago will likely gain public and international support.
Finally, in Indonesia President Jokowi affirmed his country’s sovereignty over the Natuna Islands, the waters of which Chinese officials have referred to as ‘traditional fishing grounds’, wrote Catriona Croft-Cusworth in her weekly update from Jakarta:
The Indonesian navy has clashed with three Chinese fishing boats off Natuna Islands in the past three months. The most recent involved the navy firing warning shots, which China says injured one person. China does not dispute Indonesia's territorial sovereignty over the islands. But after the last stand-off at sea, China's foreign ministry said the two countries held 'overlapping claims' to some waters off the islands.
Photo: Getty Images/Ryan Pierse