The Australian government is set to reveal potential changes in the way it engages with the United Nations and other global bodies – after a review sparked by Scott Morrison’s concerns last year about “negative globalism”.
The foreign affairs minister, Marise Payne, is expected to address the issue when she makes a major foreign policy speech “on the Covid-19 period and beyond” at the Australian National University tonight.
Payne “will outline Australia’s agenda, including the central focus of our national interests and the importance of global institutions delivering on their mandates”, according to an event alert issued by the ANU’s national security college.
In an apparent reference to the forthright role Australia recently played in pushing for an international coronavirus inquiry – a move that triggered China’s ire – Payne is expected to “discuss international cooperation throughout the Covid-19 crisis and Australia’s role in promoting our values to support the rules-based global order”.
The speech, which begins at 6pm, is set to outline any changes to Australia’s engagement with global bodies, stemming from the review Morrison announced in his speech to the Lowy Institute last October when he warned against “a new variant of globalism that seeks to elevate global institutions above the authority of nation states to direct national policies”.
The prime minister argued at the time that Australia should avoid “any reflex towards a negative globalism that coercively seeks to impose a mandate from an often ill-defined borderless global community, and worse still, an unaccountable internationalist bureaucracy” – rhetoric that drew immediate comparisons with Donald Trump.
Contrary to that early positioning, however, there is speculation the “audit” may actually have recommended a more active role for Australia in the multilateral system.
The Australian newspaper reported last week that the review conducted by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade called on the government to seek more Australian representation in key committees, push more strongly for democratic-nation candidates to take leadership positions, and press for reform when necessary.
Incidentally, a government bill to replenish funding for a number of global bodies sailed through the Senate last week.