New Australian PM unlikely to mean new Pacific policies
An Australian think-tank says yet another change of Prime Minister is unlikely to bring any great changes to the country's policies on climate change and the Pacific.
An Australian foreign policy academic says yet another change of Prime Minister is unlikely to bring any great changes to the country's policies on climate change and the Pacific.
Malcolm Turnbull was yesterday sworn in as Prime Minister after he ousted Tony Abbott as Liberal Party leader in a late night ballot.
The Lowy Institute's Jonathan Pryke says Mr Turnbull's attention will be very much focussed on domestic issues, leaving foreign policy to his deputy Julie Bishop, who remains foreign minister.
However, Mr Turnbull has in the past attacked Tony Abbott's record on the environment and climate change, calling for a "strong, credible policy framework" to cut carbon emissions.
He has also spoken out about the detention of children at Australia's asylum seeker detention centres on Nauru.
But Mr Pryke told Jamie Tahana the new Prime Minister has already ruled out changing climate change policy, and he's not likely to change other regional policies either.
JONATHAN PRYKE: The leaders of the Pacific Island countries have stated in the [Pacific Islands] Forum communique that they really want to ramp up their target going into [climate change negotiations] in Paris at the end of the year. Prime Minister Turnbull has already made it clear that there will be no changing of Australia's policy with regards to what targets we will be taking to those negotiations. But I think we can expect to see at least a lightening of the tone with regards to discussions with Pacific Island countries in regards to climate change issues. We've already seen that through minister Bishop's office in a speech she gave to a conference in Canberra last week where she talked about how receptive the aid programme was to working with Pacific Island countries on climate change mitigation and adaptation programmes and we do continue to fund multilateral agencies like the Green Climate Fund and other international agencies that deliver climate change adaptation funding and projects.
JAMIE TAHANA: OK so there's not likely to be any change?
JP: In terms of the overall policy I can't see it happening. Prime Minister Turnbull's going to have his hands full really tackling the domestic economic agenda he has staked his claim for being Prime Minister on so I don't think he'll really want to get bogged down in the issues that have already been settled within cabinet prior to him taking over the reigns.
JT: So much the same? He's likely to steer clear of foreign policy?
JP: I think Julie Bishop has proven herself both as a shadow foreign minister and then as the foreign minister over the last two years to be more than competent in handling foreign policy within the coalition government. So whilst there will be quite a lot of disruption in domestic policy and through the rest of cabinet I think, in this context with her track record consistency is a good thing.
JT: There's only a year until the next election in Australia. Should Malcolm Turnbull continue to that next election as leader, could we expect any difference when it comes to the campaign, or if he wins another term in terms of how he looks to the Pacific?
JP: He has already changed the Asia-Pacific in terms of making Australia seen in the region as a land of opportunity as opposed to a land of threat, a line Tony Abbott has in the past taken. So I think there will be a lightening and softening of the tone and engagement with the region and that will flow to the Pacific as well, but I think overall leading up to the next election Pacific engagement will be left largely to the foreign minister.
JT: Another big thing is Australia's immigration policies and the detention centres on Nauru and Papua New Guinea. Will there be any kind of lightening there? I think Malcolm Turnbull has in the past has said children should be removed from Nauru. Could there be any change on this front?
JP: Again, I can't see it happen. The coalition has really staked its reputation on stopping the boats and they will claim it as one of their key victories coming into the next election. Whilst in the past Prime Minister Turnbull has stated that the current policies of the treatment of asylum seekers in offshore detention is definitely not desirable. The message of being able to stop the boats and stopping the deaths at sea is a strong message that resonates with the Australian populace. So I can't see a softening or any change in policy positioning on that issue.
To embed this content on your own webpage, cut and paste the following: