Rudd, Labor Close the Gap in Australia’s Elections: Part II

Rudd, Labor Close the Gap in Australia’s Elections: Part II

Editor’s note: This is the second of a two-part series. Part I looked at the domestic politics of Australia’s upcoming elections. Part II examines the foreign policy issues at stake.

Bipartisanship is generally the hallmark of Australian foreign policy, and this election is no different. As a result, no matter who wins September’s polls, the focus of Australian policy will remain how best to capitalize on the trading benefits flowing from the economic rise of Asia, while navigating carefully through the security uncertainty that such growth brings to the stability of the region. A particular challenge will be how best to balance the relationships with—and manage potential conflict between—its largest trading partner, China, and closest military ally, the United States.

While the governing Australian Labor Party (ALP) and the opposition Liberal-National coalition broadly share the same foreign policy goals—that is, to maximize economic growth while maintaining security—the ALP places more emphasis on building relations through multilateral forums, such as ASEAN, the U.N. and the development of the East Asia Summit. Indeed, Foreign Minister Bob Carr has spoken of aligning Australia’s foreign policy more closely with that of ASEAN in order to position Australia in the “zone of prosperity.”

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