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Australia: The Foreign Policy Of The Hawke Keating Government

1529 words - 7 pages

The paradigm shift of Australian foreign policy from reliance on security through ‘‘great and powerful friends’’ towards the formation and strengthening of diplomatic and cultural relations with the Asia-Pacific region began arguably under the Whitlam government and has since become the predominant focus of foreign policy for both major parties. As a result, there exists a latent similarity in the foreign policy of successive Australian governments across the last 40 years that becomes more pronounced when comparing them within their respective partisan delineations. Thus, the apparent similarity in the foreign policy of the Hawke-Keating and Rudd-Gillard governments is hardly ...view middle of the document...

Following the Vietnam War, the United States moved towards military disengagement from the Asia-Pacific under the Guam doctrine, taking a more passive role in the region and retreating from its previous unconditional guarantees regarding the defence of its allies. Australia’s traditional reliance on ‘’great and powerful friends’’ thus became outmoded, leading the Whitlam government to develop an independent Australian foreign policy premised on an increased economic and diplomatic engagement with Asia and defence through self-reliance that continued under Hawke-Keating. Australia’s economic development under Hawke-Keating began with the reduction of tariffs and removal of restrictions preventing foreign banks from operating in Australia, signaling the government’s desire to further distance itself from the protectionism and reliance on trade with the United Kingdom and Europe that had dominated Australia’s trade patterns prior to Whitlam. However, the Hawke-Keating government’s willingness to commit troops to the Gulf War illustrated a desire to retain strong ties with the US. An increased focus on regional trade began with the Closer Economic Relations trade agreement with New Zealand eliminating all trade quotas and tariffs between the two countries and continued with the promotion of economic cooperation with Indonesia through the Timor Gap treaty. On a multilateral scale, the Australia-led formation of the Cairns group in 1986 further reflected a governmental impulse towards trade liberalization and Australia’s economic engagement within the Asia-Pacific. However, the Hawke-Keating government’s most significant step in promoting regional economic cooperation was the establishment of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation forum (APEC). By facilitating economic interdependence between Australia and the Asia-Pacific, the Hawke-Keating government aimed to establish an alignment of interests between Australia and regional powers that would ensure Australia’s place within a framework of cooperative security and mutual prosperity. In adopting this approach, the Hawke-Keating government also attempted to draw the more intransigent regimes within the region into rational dialogue through the economic benefits of trade. Of particular importance was the bilateral relationship between Australia and its ‘’nearest, largest neighbor’’ Indonesia, with the 1995 Australian-Indonesian Agreement on Maintaining Security, the first security treaty signed by Indonesia with another state, securing a ‘’warm and deep’’ relationship between the countries. In a broader sense, the Hawke-Keating government’s push towards economic integration reflected its explicit desire to establish an inclusive pan-Asian regional identity, and by lobbying for an Australian republic independent of its colonial roots, the administration complemented this with an attempt to develop a national identity more congruent with Asia. However, in its efforts to ingratiate itself...

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