Under the Liberals, Australia’s diplomatic effort has been under-resourced for a country of our economic weight and status. It is in Australia’s national interest to enhance our diplomatic efforts, particularly in our region.
Given the growing importance of Australia’s relationship with Indonesia, a new post there will be a priority.
Labor will establish a new category of geo-economic counsellors across our diplomatic network. Bangkok, Beijing, Hanoi, Jakarta, New Delhi, Tokyo and Washington will be important initial locations. These positions will identify improved ways of connecting and leveraging Australian private sector and civil society activities in the interests of broader foreign policy objectives.
The geo-economic counsellors will also help to ensure our development, trade and diplomatic policies are integrated and that our development assistance programs across the region are visible to, and coordinated with, the various Australian enterprises operating there.
Labor will also provide an additional $4 million to expand the existing Australian Cultural Diplomacy Grants program.
This additional funding will focus on Australia’s cultural activities in Asia and the Pacific – helping to present to the region an accurate image of who we are. It will support more exchanges and partnerships with arts organisations here in Australia to promote greater collaboration in both performance and production.
While Scott Morrison is seeking to use foreign policy as a political tool, Labor is doing the work to put in place the foundations for a more prosperous relationship with our region.
These policies have a budget cost over the forward estimates at $20.6 million for the four new Posts, $3.6 million for the new geo-economic counsellors, and $4 million for the cultural diplomacy grants program.
We will pay for these initiatives by making multinationals pay their fair share and closing tax loopholes used by the top end of town.