With all the focus this week on new Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s domestic challenges, less attention has been paid to the international impact of the leadership change and any new directions for Australian foreign policy.
Morrison’s foreign policy credentials are slim and his interest in foreign policy is low, not rating even a mention in his first speech to the nation as PM.
As immigration minister, Morrison presided over the “stop the boats” policy that was so unpopular with Australia’s neighbours and negotiated the disastrous and expensive Cambodia asylum deal. He may also be perceived by Muslim-majority nations as unfriendly to Muslims after the 2011 shadow cabinet leak that he urged his party to capitalise on the electorate’s growing concerns about immigration and Muslims in Australia.
It is therefore a good idea indeed that Morrison will make his first trip overseas as prime minister this week to Jakarta to hasten the Australia and Indonesia free-trade agreement and shore up one of our country’s most crucial relationships.