to a news report that Indonesian investors would buy a majority share in a hugecattle station and import live cattle into Indonesia. Prime Minister Abbott will haveto reassure Indonesia about the reliability of Australian cattle sales.
The case of Indonesia is illustrative of the Abbott Government’s greater stress on
bilateral relations. Australia can also be expected to improve bilateral relations withboth China and India. It is notable that both the defence and foreign ministers comefrom Western Australia which borders on the Indian Ocean.Q2. Australia has tried to hedge between Beijing and Washington. Do you think it ispossible with Abbott's conservative nature?ANSWER: IMany Australian would not accept the premise of your question. Hedgingrefers to the strategic behavior of a country vis-à-vis two major powers. Australia isand will remain a treaty ally of the United States and Canberra
s strategic policy willbe closely aligned with Washington. Under the Abbott government there is likely tobe increased receptivity to a greater US military presence in Australia.At the moment US-China relations are heading in a positive direction, and that isfavourable for Australia. The Abbott Government will push for a Free TradeAgreement with China and work to improve the climate for Chinese investment.
China is Australia’s largest trading partner but the United States is Australia’s largest
investor. American investment dwarfs Chinese investment. Australia will alsodevelop its own unique set of bilateral relations with China, including defence ties.As Australia permits US Marines to rotate through Darwin, it will invite China andIndonesia to participate in multilateral humanitarian assistance and disaster relief exercises.Q3. How will the new diplomatic policy impact on the region's geopoliticallandscape?
ANSWER: Foreign policy did not feature prominently in Australia’s recent national
election. The most serious area of disagreement between the two major parties wasover the boat people/asylum seeker issue.Both parties support a strong alliance with the United States. The AbbottGovernment will give more stress to bilateral relations with key regional states suchas China and Indonesia.
However, there will be more continuity in the Abbott government’s relations wi
thAsia than change. For example, the Abbott Government extended the term of
Australia’s current ambassador in Washington, appointed by the Labor Government.
A new government has the opportunity to change specific policies that weren’t
working well or to develop new policies.In the case of China, the former Gillard Government reached agreement withChinese leaders to hold annual high-level meetings. The new Abbott Governmentwill capitalize on this to enhance relations with China. Both Prime Minister Abbottand Foreign Minister Julie Bishop will visit China to develop the bilateral strategicrelations at the invitation of the Chinese Government.