Recognising women voices in the Australian national security debate

26 May 2017

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Delivering an address on 22 May 2017 at the ANU Strategic and Defence Studies Centre, based at the Coral Bell School of Asia Pacific Affairs, Secretary of the Department of Foreign Affairs, Ms Frances Adamson launched Dr Shannon Tow’s book, ‘Independent Ally: Australia in an Age of Power Transition’.

Ms Frances welcomed another woman’s voice to the Australian national security debate, emphasising that “we do not yet have enough women making decisions on national security at the senior executive level.”

She added, “Australia needs women’s perspectives at all levels as we analyse, understand and prosecute our national security priorities.”

“Shannon’s book is timely, coming as the Government is preparing a new Foreign Policy White Paper.”

The book is the product of Dr Tow’s research from newly released archival material and interviews with prominent former policymakers, examining how six different Australian Prime Ministers successfully navigated great power relationships over the last century.

Independent Ally challenges the prevailing view that regional powers in the Asia-Pacific have to choose between China and the United States. Far from being a ‘dependent ally’ that simply follows the policies of its great and powerful friends, Dr Tow explores how Australia has repeatedly developed a strong relationship with a rising power while simultaneously preserving its alliance with a dominant global power.

“Shannon’s work shows that, from 1908 onwards, Australia has made our interests in the transition of power the main business of our international affairs,” Ms Frances said.

“As Shannon’s book shows, diplomacy is not about taking sides, it’s about pursuing the full range of our national interests.”

“We will continue to forge our own path in Asia and beyond. We will continue to build shared expectations of the kind of region we all want and can in fact achieve.”

“Australia’s success will depend, in large part, on the quality of our thinking; on informed, tested and proven ideas about power transition in our region – and, of course, on the quality of diplomacy.”

Independent Ally: Australia in an Age of Power Transition is part of a Defence Series of publications, aimed at publishing outstanding works of research on strategy and warfare with a focus on Australia and the region. The series focus is principally on the hard power elements of military studies, in particular, the use or threatened use of armed force in international affairs.

Shannon Tow is a Visiting Fellow at the Strategic and Defence Studies Centre at the Australian National University. She has authored several works on Australian foreign policy, the Australian-US alliance, and the international relations of Southeast Asia. Her work has featured in leading international relations academic journals.

The full speech by the Secretary of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT), Frances Adamson is available on the DFAT website.

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