Australia last sat on the Security Council in 1985-1986, and there was no great enthusiasm when the current Labor government announced it would seek one of the council’s rotating, nonpermanent seats for the current period. The opposition and much of the media claimed it would involve unnecessary expense, require concessions on policy to win over uncommitted votes and be unlikely to succeed.
In something of a geographic absurdity, Australia has to compete with Western European states for a Security Council seat, and Finland and Luxembourg were already vying for the 2013-2014 seats at the time Australia tossed its hat into the ring. In the end, Australia won a decisive vote on the first ballot, and it was Finland that missed out. While most Australians cared little about the outcome, it was, in fact, an important victory for Australian diplomacy. (It may also reflect a feeling that, with Britain and France as permanent members, the European Union is already overrepresented on the council.)
One of the criticisms of Australia’s candidacy had been that Canberra’s foreign policy is perceived as too close to the United States and therefore unlikely to win support among the majority of U.N. member states. It is true that Australia has been a strong ally of the U.S. and an eager participant in wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, as well as often being among the half-dozen countries that routinely line up with the U.S. in support of Israel.