Problems in Australian Foreign Policy: July - December 1990

Joseph A. Camilleri, “Problems in Australian Foreign Policy: July - December 1990”, Australian Journal of Politics and History, Vol. 37, No. 2, 1991, pp. 183-199.

During the second half of 1990, Australian foreign policy had to contend with
considerable economic and political uncertainty at home and an external environment
which fell markedly short of the expectations generated by the end of the Cold War.
Characteristic of the Australian response was a curious mixture of initiative and
conservatism, which reflected a desire to adapt to and even shape a rapidly evolving
political landscape, but also a tendency to accept almost unquestioningly the received
wisdom of the past. On the one hand, the decisions and statements of Australian policy-
makers indicated a keen appreciation of the changing pattern of security relations both
globally and in the Asia-Pacific context. On the other hand, there was a reluctance to
subject LO probing scrutiny the constraining effect of long-standing policies and
relationships. There was a growing conviction that Australian security, at least in a
military sense, was not under threat, yet only a vague sense of how this relatively benign
environment could be exploited to create a viable defence policy or a comprehensive
framework of regional security.