The future of Australia’s soft power | ANU-CPD Policy Dialogue | December 2019

On 3 December, we hosted our fifth ANU-CPD Policy Dialogue for 2019. Our focus was the future of Australia’s soft power. The roundtable discussion featured opening remarks from Professor Geoffrey Wiseman (Director, Asia-Pacific College of Diplomacy, Australian National University) and Jemima Garrett (Freelance journalist and co-author of Hard News and Free media as the sharp edge of Australian soft power, ASPI).

The roundtable was jointly hosted by CPD with ANU, and brought together 18 leaders from government, philanthropy, civil society, media, business and academia. The roundtable was moderated by ANU Chancellor and former Foreign Minister, the Hon Gareth Evans AC QC, and held under the Chatham House Rule. The interactive discussion was a chance for the diverse group to discuss the current and future state of soft power for Australia, considering both the domestic and international context.

Discussion

The discussion opened with expert participants giving an outline of soft power as a policy concept and provided context for how soft power can be better integrated through government policy, leveraging Australia’s rich multicultural heritage as well as its creative industries to navigate and build relationships in our region. Further details were also provided on the media’s role in the debate, focussing on the Pacific as a key case for Australia.

The discussion touched on:

  • How other countries are using the influence of soft power within the region, particularly through media, whilst Australia is committing fewer resources to this area.
  • The importance of Australia’s domestic policy decisions, including our approach to Indigenous issues, on our standing with other countries in the world.
  • Understanding the unique position Australia is in to invest more into soft power activities and the reach that we could potentially have in strengthening our international diplomacy.

Participants

Andrew James (Commercial Manager, Mondo); Anthea Hancocks (Chief Executive Officer, Scanlon Foundation); Daniel Flitton (Managing Editor, The Intepreter, The Lowy Institute); David Livingston (Manager, International and Civic Services, City of Melbourne); Gareth Evans AC QC (Chancellor, Australian National University); Geoff Heriot (Director, Heriot Media & Governance); Geoffrey Wiseman (Director, Asia Pacific College of Diplomacy, Australian National University); Jemima Garrett (Freelance journalist); Jewel Topsfield (Melbourne Editor, The Age, Fairfax Media); Ilaria Walker (Audience and Content Expert, International Strategy, ABC); Katriina Heikkanen (Indigenous & Social Policy Manager, Australian Football League); Mark Lawrence (Managing Director, Mark Lawrence Group); Melissa Conley Tyler (Director, Asialink Diplomacy, Asialink); Michael Rowland (Journalist, ABC); Nicole Bieske (Head of Program, Transparency International Australia); Susan Coles (Deputy State Director Victoria, Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade); Tanya Hosch (General Manger of Inclusion and Social Policy, AFL); Travers McLeod (Chief Executive Officer, Centre for Policy Development); Vipul Lhosla (Manager of Research, ABC International Development).

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