Australian Foreign Policy Essay, Research Paper
What is Foreign Policy?Foreign Policy is a nations? attitude, actions (ie economic sanctions, peacekeeping, military activity) as well as our dealings with other countries (ie trade, immigration, aid, defence) and anything that is directed towards preserving and furthering certain national interests. Foreign Policy seeks to maintain national security, promote economic and trade interests, expand regional and global links, and promote the nation as a good global citizen.
Why is FP unique in terms of FP making?Indeed, FP is unique in terms of policy making, largely because it requires little legislation. In essence, governments do not have to face a review of their policy enshrined in legislation in the Senate. Arguably FP may be made with little reference to Parliament as it usually obtains bi-partisan support as recently exemplified by the outstanding Labor Party support for an additional Medicare levy to cover the costs of Australian peacekeeping forces in East Timor. Consequentially, FP is seldom a topic for elections as it does not directly affect the electorate, nor does it gather the same level of community participation or interest as many other policies.
Key features?A 1997 White Paper on Foreign and Trade Policy called ?In the National Interest? is the most important single statement on FP in recent years. It set the guideline for FP according to the National Interest. Implicit in the National Interest is to maintain national security through international diplomacy and readiness to defend the continent and territories against possible armed attack or other aggression, to protect and promote the nation?s economic welfare and living standards, which increasingly depend on global economic growth, free international trade and the confidence of global international markets, and to keep our democratic way of life, and our civil and political liberties.
A more recent foreign policy priority is the promotion of the nation as an active and responsible global citizen. Success in this area is measured by our response to human rights, terrorism, third world debt, and drug issues. Australia already has a well deserved international reputation because of the work of previous foreign ministers, e.g Bill Hayden and Gareth Evans on human rights.
Key players and their roles?Decisions about FP are made by the executive and the bureaucracy making it incompatible with the democracy that Australia is. The government can dominate foreign policy in a way that it cannot dominate domestic policy. The specialised nature of the development, ultimate secrecy and lack of legislative obligations give priority to the executive. For these reasons, Backbenchers, Parliament and the Opposition have a minor role in influencing the development of FP.
The close relationship between ministers and the Prime Minister implies that the PM is closely involved in FP making. A PM?s particular interests can help shape FP as exemplified by Paul Keating who was a keen free trader and gave priority to relations with the Asia Pacific region.
DFAT is responsible for protecting and advancing Australia?s National interests by contributing to international security, national and economic trade performance and global cooperation; maintaining consular and passport services to Australian citizens; projecting a positive and accurate image of Australia internationally and enhancing public understanding of Australia?s foreign and trade policy.