How to win the Trump era in Australia
Australia is set to become a world power again, and the Turnbull government is trying to build a national reputation for leadership.
But it faces the daunting task of trying to do so without alienating its most powerful ally and most powerful political player, China.
And the biggest threat facing Australia’s foreign policy could be a series of crises with Beijing, from a territorial dispute with Japan to a rising military threat from North Korea.
Australia’s relations with China have deteriorated over the past decade, with Beijing’s assertiveness and aggressive posture in the South China Sea.
In 2017, the two nations traded barbs and threats over a disputed island in the disputed South China sea and the ongoing territorial dispute in the East China Sea, with China threatening to sink Australian fishing boats in a bid to block their access to the waterway.
China is also the main trading partner for Australia’s second-biggest trading partner, Japan, which has been under a trade embargo for more than half a century.
The rise of the Trump administration has been a major blow to Australia’s relationship with Beijing.
But it is not the only reason.
The Trump administration is also ramping up its own assertiveness, including a military buildup and increased military spending.
Australia, by contrast, has been relatively quiet in the wake of the United States’ election win and has avoided a major military response to North Korea’s missile and nuclear tests.
Australia is also facing rising regional tensions, including over its defence treaty with Japan, and China’s growing economic clout.
In the past, Australia has made clear that it does not seek to build relations with the United Kingdom or the United Arab Emirates.
But in recent years, the Turnbull administration has seen a shift towards closer relations with Japan and the Philippines, two countries that Australia views as key to its own security.
The new administration also has signaled that it is willing to use its influence in Canberra to push through changes to the Australian constitution to give it more power to legislate on the matter.
But Australia’s relations are complicated by the fact that it has two prime ministers and a number of ministers, all of whom are at least partly loyal to the Abbott government.
Australia has also had to work with a number in the Abbott cabinet, most of whom have been seen as supportive of the Turnbull-era policies.
For example, former Labor foreign affairs minister Chris Bowen, who was prime minister from 2013 to 2016, and is now a Liberal MP, has supported the Australian Defence Force’s deployment of Australian troops to the Philippines.
The Turnbull government has also been faced with a series in the past few months with the resignation of its minister for foreign affairs, Robert Menzies, and former Foreign Minister Julie Bishop.
Menzies was a vocal critic of the Rudd government’s handling of the South East Asia crisis, which led to the creation of the new regional body.
He has been one of the leading voices in Australia’s push for Australia to remain involved in the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which is expected to take the lead in determining how the world responds to the looming threat of climate change.
But while Menzys is not a climate change denier, he was a staunch supporter of the climate change sceptic-turned-climate-change-denier Anthony Watts, who has made a name for himself as a climate sceptic on Australian television.
The move by Menzios successor, John Fletcher, to become foreign minister came after he was given a high-profile post as an early minister in the new coalition government.
Menzis predecessor, Anthony Albanese, was a strong advocate of an Australian military presence in South East Asian countries such as the Philippines and Indonesia.
Menzos departure from the cabinet is likely to be seen as a setback to Australia as it attempts to navigate a new, more difficult political landscape.
Australian Foreign Minister Murray McCully, a Liberal, was widely seen as the front-runner for the top job in the Turnbull cabinet, but he is likely not to be in the running to succeed Menzias.
McCrully has been heavily criticised for his handling of several foreign policy challenges, including the dispute with China over the South Chinese Sea.
He has also faced criticism over his handling as a foreign minister of the refugee crisis in Europe and his decision to deny asylum to the Iranian nuclear scientist Gholamreza Niknamani, a controversial Iranian national.
Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has also seen his support ratings drop, as he faces a backlash over his leadership on the climate issue.
His support for the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a trade deal between 12 Pacific Rim nations including Australia, is seen by many as a major reason for his downfall.
Turnbull was the most popular leader among Labor’s MPs in Australia and was the party’s prime minister for three years.
However, the TPP is expected by some to become the largest economic deal in history, with Australia expected to reap billions of dollars in additional trade benefits and a reduction in tariffs.
Australia also is a major buyer