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30 August 2018


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This is probably more important to the Soft Power Review but if Australia is to have any positive influence in the Pacific and Asia it has to tidy its own house first.

Apart from its active engagement, one of the reasons that New Zealand has a strong voice in the Pacific is because it comes across as a decent and humane nation.

Australia, on the other hand, is tainted by issues like asylum seekers and the impression that many of its politicians, such as Peter Dutton, are simply uncaring thugs.

It is also tainted by the reductions in its aid budget, even though its emphasise has been shifted from places like Africa to the Asia/South Pacific.

A further detraction is the preoccupation of our Foreign Minister on regions outside the Asia/Pacific.

The reason for this is obvious in that we are dragging on the USA tail. We need to stop being so compliant and show a level of independence if we are to become an attractive alternative in the Asia/Pacific.

Our Foreign Minister also needs to be someone who doesn't use the post as a personality base.

We really need a dedicated minister for the Asia/Pacific and in particular one that knows what he or she is doing.

The new Foreign Affairs Minister, Marise Payne, seems wholly lacking in experience and the Assistant Minister for International Development and the Pacific, Anne Ruston, has publicly stated that she doesn't know why she got the job.

Then there is the issue of climate change. This is of paramount importance to Pacific Island nations. Yet we have a government with sections that publicly proclaim climate change a hoax, wants to withdraw from the Paris Agreement and wants to build more coal fired power stations.

And let's not forget the appalling treatment of Timor Leste by a very greedy Australia over oil and gas in the Timor Sea. That we were happy to withdraw from international agreements to steal their resources sends a really negative and nasty message to our neighbours.

There are other issues that I could point to but you should be getting an idea about what I'm talking about.

We have become a nasty, inward-looking, uncaring, inhumane and exploitative nation.

If we continue to be so and expect the Asia/Pacific to listen to our attempts at soft power, including broadcasting, we need to tidy our act up first.

We need, perhaps, to take New Zealand as an example of how it should be done and follow suit.

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