Friday 24 Jan 2020 | 15:12 | SYDNEY
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No action for Black Hawks in war zone

Lowy Institute Military Fellow James Brown highlights the fact that Australia has never undertaken a public review of its Afghanistan operations, in this article by Paul Cleary for The Australian.

Traditional Cook Island leaders wanted water consultation sooner

Fellowing a research visit to the Cook Islands, Dr Philippa Brant comments on the Chinese aid programme. Traditional leaders in the Cook Islands say there has been poor consultation with landowners on a multi-million dollar water infrastructure project in Rarotonga.The NZ$60 million initiative, known as Te Mato Vai, is a partnership between the Cook Islands, China and New Zealand.Beverley Tse has more:The water supply on Rarotonga is currently untreated. Under Te Mato Vai, a new water system will be installed, including UV treatment, improved storage capacity and new ring mains which will deliver potable, clean drinking water to all residential and commercial properties connected to the existing network. The Cook Islands Infrastructure Minister Teariki Heather says the project is progressing well.
“TEARIKI HEATHER: I’ve just been to China with the inspection of quality assurance for us for the Cook Islands and all partners involved to make sure that what we get from China is sort of like the real thing. So I’m quite happy that the recent visit with engineers, of course, from NZ, the assurance and also the standard, it’s all A-ok.”
He says consultations are being held on Rarotonga to iron out any issues.
“TEARIKI HEATHER: We’re having sort of consultations with the people right around Rarotonga and of course with the House of Ariki, Members of Parliament, and also the people on the main island itself. So public consultations are important for us and sort of letting our people know what’s happening.”
Teariki Heather says the project will stay within the boundaries of the main road, and won’t cross into any landowners’ properties. But the clerk of the House of Ariki, Tupuna Rakanui, says traditional leaders feel they were not properly consulted on the project and have sought answers from the Business Trade Investment Board.
“TUPUNA RAKANUI: They hear that licenses will be granted to foreigners to commence developments in terms of WATSAN and yet here they are, they are the landowners. They own the lands inland where the water comes down, the reservoirs and our people own the land where these pipes will be running on. They haven’t been consulted.”
In November last year, the Cook Islands made a deal with the China Civil Engineering Company to upgrade the 26 kilometres of water pipes. A Lowy Institute researcher, Dr Philippa Brant, says she is interested in tracking the progression of China’s aid programmes, as it has faced a number of problems in the past. She has recently been in the Cook Islands to study the project, which is considered the world’s first joint aid venture between a recipient, a traditional western donor and China.
“PHILIPPA BRANT: Something that really did strike me was that there was a genuine concern on the Chinese part that particularly the Chinese Embassy in Wellington, that they wanted to I guess make sure that any future projects that they’re involved on did have a positive outcome for the people of the Cook Islands.”
The master plan for Te Mato Vai is due for completion by December and construction will begin next year.

'Good war' ends without any real wins for the West

It is the longest war in Australia's history, astonishingly bipartisan across the political divide yet contentious on whether Australia's shifting objectives were achieved in its Afghanistan commitment.

What role has Australia had in spying on neighbours?

Whistleblowing on surveillance of communications has led to Indonesia reviewing intelligence sharing arrangements with Australia. Sam Roggeveen, Editor of the Lowy Interpreter, shares his thoughts on the spying controversy.

Japan lodges protest over China's 'intrusions'

Japan has lodged a formal protest with Beijing over what its government claims is a “series of intrusions” into territorial waters by Chinese ships, the latest in a tense exchange over a group of islands in the East China Sea.

What did we learn from the war in Afghanistan?

Australia, unlike other countries, has not publicly reviewed its military mission. It's time to ask critical questions about how we fought the war. The learning really starts when the war is over. As Australia's 12-year-long Afghan campaign draws to a close there are still big questions to be answered.

New Delhi enters the Indo-Pacific

In an essay that arose out of a blogpost, Rory Medcalf, the Director of the International Security Program at the Lowy Institute for International Policy, argues that the region can't be confined to the land-and-ocean-oriented 'Asia-Pacific.'

Hope for Geneva peace talks over Syria

With the Syrian conflict in its second year, there is finally hope of some real progress from a peace conference in Geneva next month. Jim Middleton, ABC Newsline, speaks with Anthony Bubalo, Research Director at the Lowy Institute for International Policy.

India seizes US mercenary ship

The detention by Indian authorities of a private US anti-piracy ship crewed by armed mercenaries has highlighted a burgeoning private security industry in the Indian Ocean.

Pivot to Asia has not fallen off its axis

Barack Obama's absence from East Asia's two seminal economic and political meetings last week has triggered another bout of declinist commentary and regional hand wringing about the loss of US power and credibility which, if accurate, has serious implications for Australia's alliance with the US.

Alex Oliver discusses consular levy

SBS World News Australia interviewed Alex Oliver on the demands Australian travellers are making at the highest levels of government, and the impact this has on an already over-stretched Department of Foreign Affairs. 

Water supply in Cook Islands to get an upgrade

A $US50 million project to upgrade Rarotonga's water supply will begin construction in the coming weeks.The aid project is the first joint aid venture involving a traditional western donor and China.A group of workers from China will head over to Rarotonga to lay 26 kilometres of pipes while workers from New Zealand install water treatment facilities.Dr Philippa Brant has been in the Cook Islands studying the project and says it will have an effect on the supply and quality of the water in Raratonga.

Lowy Institute's Philippa Brant on potentials of Australia/China cooperation in South Pacific

In recent times China has increased its presence in the South Pacific region, especially in terms of aid and development assistance, but also its levels of investment. This has caused some anxiety in Australia over how it will impact on Australia's standing and influence in the region. Dr. Philippa Brant, a research associate at the Lowy Institute with an interest in China, and its relations with Australia, published a piece on the Guardian's Poverty Matters Blog a little while ago about how China's rise in the region presents opportunities rather than threats, and she joined Albion Harrison-Naish to discuss it.

Australia's defense capacities remain underfunded: institute

Australia's defense capacities remain underfunded and this will have serious consequences for both the nation's strategic edge in the Indo-Pacific and the U.S. alliance, a new study from the Lowy Institute for International Policy said on Wednesday.

Chance to gain wisdom on Asia

People of Australia, you're stuck in the past. This is the Indonesia message from Tony Abbott, a politician who knows what it's like to be dismissed as a throwback.

Obama Absence Gives China Opening

President Barack Obama's decision to skip a series of Asia and Pacific summits to tackle the partial government shutdown in Washington strips the U.S. of some of its recent diplomatic momentum in the region and could leave the door open for China to expand its influence.

PM disappointed as US crisis grounds Obama

Tony Abbott has expressed disappointment at Barack Obama's decision not to attend the Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation leaders' summit in Bali next week because of the US government shutdown.

Fleet review good start, now for Defence

With a glittering international fleet review, the Royal Australian Navy is marking 100 years since it first steamed into Sydney Harbour, reminding the nation we need it more than ever.

The clock is ticking on G20 preparations

In 13 months the Prime Minister will welcome world leaders to Brisbane for the G20 summit. Surely this is not something the new government needs to worry about now when it has so many other pressing issues?

Treasury prospect sees trade deal limits

A leading candidate to take the reins at Treasury when Secretary Martin Parkinson leaves next June has a different slant on trade talks from that outlined by the Abbott government.

Tony Abbott is going to have to think "Geneva" as well as Jakarta

Tony Abbott says his foreign policy emphasis is “Jakarta not Geneva” and indeed he will be in Jakarta next week, which will be the first test of his diplomatic skills as he seeks to smooth the asylum seeker issue and emphasise the importance and depth of the bilateral relationship.

Expectations Modest Ahead of Obama-Singh Talks

Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh travels to Washington on Friday for a working visit with U.S. President Barack Obama, capping a year full of high-profile exchanges between two of the world's largest democracies.

End Jakarta asylum row, Tony Abbott told by Alexander Downer

The nation's longest-serving foreign minister, Alexander Downer, has urged Tony Abbott to quickly resolve the asylum-seeker dispute with Indonesia rather than "sweeping it elegantly under a diplomatic carpet" amid signs the Prime Minister wants trade and investment to dominate his visit to Jakarta.

Bishop joins ranks of the few

There has been a lot of discussion this week - some quite witty - about the lack of women in Prime Minister Tony Abbott's cabinet, and rightly so.

Sanctions no solution to DPRK issue

While sanctions continue to heap upon the "hermit state" of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK), an Australian expert has questioned their efficacy in the face of ongoing human rights abuses, warning that sanctions "only breed hatred."

Workboats conference to assess piracy

A Middle East workboats conference is set to evaluate success of security measures as Somali piracy attacks fall to the lowest level since 2006, in Abu Dhabi from September 30.

Plea to fix mixed mine tax messages

MMG chief executive Andrew Michelmore has warned that Australia needs to remain open and attractive to foreign investment, especially China, to fund the nation's growth prospects. 

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