Recording early afternoon on Wednesday 7 September, Allan and Darren begin by grappling with the previous day’s news of the arrival back in Australia of the last two China correspondents from Australian media outlets: the ABC’s Bill Birtles and the AFR’s Mike Smith. Darren tries to piece together his own theory of what happened, and Allan offers some insight on the mechanics behind DFAT’s role in cases like these, both in warning Australians of risks, and then the decision to shelter them, in this case while negotiating their safe departure from China. Note that the conversation occurred before more details emerged of allegations by PRC state media of “raids” on PRC journalists in Australia by national security agencies, and news of the cancellation of visas for two Chinese scholars.

The discussion turns next to the speech delivered by the Deputy Head of Mission at the Chinese embassy, Wang Xining, at the National Press Club in late August. Allan explains the types of constraints on all diplomats in giving a speech like this, and both he and Darren agree that the prepared text did seem to lean more towards conciliatory than provocative. In the context of a very low month in the bilateral relationship, which also included new investigations into Australian wine exports, the detention of another Australian citizen, CGTN anchor Cheng Lei, and Australia's blocking of an acquisition by a PRC company of a Japanese-owned milk processing company on national interest grounds, they wonder whether the speech will have any lasting impact. In light of some recent analysis Darren asks, is Australia only recently “standing up” to China, or has Australia’s approach been consistent, as claimed by PM Morrison?

Allan and Darren both weigh on the Foreign Affairs Bill announced by the Prime Minister and Foreign Minister recently, which if it becomes law is expected to enable Canberra to cancel the Belt and Road Initiative MOU signed by the State of Victoria. As a historian of Australian foreign policy, Allan cannot recall a single issue where state actions have been a real problem for Australian foreign policy, and he observes that the “national interest” test could be wielded in very different ways by different governments into the future.

Finally, the two discuss the legacy of retiring Japanese Prime Minster Abe Shinzo, and Allan offers his view on the merits of former PM Tony Abbott taking a position advising the UK government on trade policy.

We thank AIIA intern Mitchell McIntosh for his help with research and audio editing and XC Chong for research support. Thanks as always to Rory Stenning for composing our theme music.

Relevant Links

Matthew Doran and Stephen Dziedzic, “Australian correspondents Bill Birtles and Mike Smith pulled out of China after five-day diplomatic standoff over national security case”, ABC News, 8 September 2020:  

“Political retaliation: China correspondent Bill Birtles on being forced home under threats from Beijing”, ABC PM (Radio), 8 September 2020:

Jade Macmillan, “Cheng Lei, Australian anchor detained in Beijing, accused of 'endangering China's national security'”, ABC News, 8 September 2020:  

Global Times, “Australian agents raid Chinese journalists' residences, seize computers 'in violation of legitimate rights': source”, 8 September 2020:  

Wang Xining, “China and Australia: Where to from here?”, Address at the National Press Club, 26 August 2020:

Phillip Coorey, “Morrison sticks to new China doctrine”, Australian Financial Review, 31 August 2020:

Kirsy Needham, “Special Report: Australia faces down China in high-stakes strategy”, Reuters, 4 September 2020:

Elena Collinson and James Laurenceson, “Australia-China Monthly Wrap-Up: August 2020”, Australia-China Relations Institute (ACRI), 3 September 2020:

Fergus Ryan, Audrey Fritz and Daria Impiombato, “TikTok and WeChat: Curating and controlling global information flows”, ASPI Policy Brief 37/2020, 8 September 2020:

PM Scott Morrison and FM Marise Payne, Press Conference, Australian Parliament House, 27 August 2020:

Melissa Conley-Tyler, “Morrison’s foreign relations bill should not pass parliament. Here’s why”, The Conversation (AU), 7 September 2020:

Leader, “Abe Shinzo’s legacy is more impressive than his muted exit suggests”, The Economist, 3 September 2020:

Kevin Rawlinson and Heather Stewart, “No 10 urged to revoke trade role for 'misogynist' Tony Abbott”, The Guardian, 3 September 2020:

“Adam Tooze on the geopolitics of the pandemic”, Sinica Podcast, 6 August 2020:

“Adam Tooze on our financial past and future”, Conversations with Tyler podcast, 6 May 2020:

“Nuzzel” app:

In part two of Richard Maude’s return to the podcast, the conversation begins with China. Was Richard “surprised” by Beijing’s promulgation of the Hong Kong National Security Law? Should the Australian government be updating its priors regarding the level of risk China is willing to take, and would such an updating have any policy consequences? What then about Taiwan? A serious Taiwan contingency would not be a surprise—does it pose the greatest challenge for the new strategic objectives outlined by Prime Minister Morrison in his speech launching Australia’s 2020 Defence Strategic Update? And on the topic of technological decoupling, Darren tries to separate the technical dimensions of the policy challenge from the politics. To what extent are Western concerns simply a matter of a lack of trust, given the tight relationship between Chinese companies and the state? Can anything be done to alleviate these concerns, or is the larger structural force of major power rivalry depriving individual governments of any agency to arrest this trend?

The structural forces potentially driving the decoupling phenomenon link up with the next major theme—the future of international cooperation. The term “Five Eyes” has been appearing in the media a lot lately in multiple different contexts—what should we make of this trend? Does the future of international cooperation lie through the filter of trusted security partnerships, and isn’t that a problem for truly global problems like climate change?

Finally, the conversation concludes with a focus on Australian foreign policy. How well suited are the traditional instruments of Australia’s power and influence to the present moment? Does our path forward involve simply being the best version of ourselves, or is genuinely creative thinking needed to reform Australian diplomacy? And would there be merit in having a foreign affairs version of the recent Defence Strategic Update?

As always, we invite our listeners to email us at this address: We welcome feedback, requests and suggestions. You can also contact Darren on twitter @limdarrenj

We thank AIIA intern Mitchell McIntosh for research and audio editing, XC Chong for research support and Rory Stenning for composing our theme music.

Relevant links

Richard Maude’s biography via the Asia Society Policy Institute:

Scott Morrison, “Address: Launch of the 2020 Defence Strategic Update”, 1 July 2020:

Little Red Podcast, “Trump’s F*** China moment: An attitude, not a strategy”, 1 August 2020:

Sinica podcast, “Adam Tooze on the geopolitics of the pandemic”, 6 August 2020:

Marise Payne, “Australia and the world in the time of COVID-19”, Speech at the National Security College, ANU, 16 June:

This week Allan and Darren welcome back Richard Maude to the podcast, who returns after his first appearance back in February in Episode 41. Until shortly before that first recording, Richard was Deputy Secretary, Indo-Pacific Group, in the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. Prior to that, he headed the task force responsible for drafting the 2017 Foreign Policy White Paper. From 2013-2016, Richard was Director-General of the Office of National Assessments, and before that he was senior adviser on foreign policy and national security to Prime Minister Julia Gillard. Richard is now at the Asia Society Policy Institute as the inaugural Executive Director, Policy, and Senior Fellow.

Before welcoming Richard however, Darren’s big “secret” is revealed, which is that since late 2018 he has been living in Beirut, accompanying his wife Rebekah Grindlay, who is Australia’s Ambassador to Lebanon, and their children. On Tuesday 4th August, Beirut experienced one of the largest non-nuclear explosions in human history, which utterly devastated the city’s port and downtown area. Darren was at home with his family at the time, and tells the story of what happened next, including the extensive damage to the embassy and injuries to Aussie diplomats. It’s a small insight into what a DFAT crisis response looks like in the immediate aftermath of a terrible tragedy.

Richard is then welcomed, and what follows is a fascinating deep dive into some of the biggest questions of international affairs today, and what they mean for Australian foreign policy. The conversation was too long to fit into a single episode and so, in this first part, the focus is exclusively on the United States, which as the Australian government says in the recent Defence Strategic Update, remains vital for the security of our region. But can Washington continue to play the role Australia hopes, and needs, it to play? Darren asks both Richard and Allan to highlight what evidence from the Trump presidency, and the country’s COVID-19 response, helps shed light on this broader question. Is America experiencing political decay? Are the strengths that enabled it to win the Cold War now hindrances in competition with China? What does the US need to do well to continue to play a significant role in the region, and what can Australia do to help? Can Canberra perhaps mitigate some of Washington’s weaknesses?

Stay tuned for part 2, where the conversation turns to China, new models of international cooperation, and the future of Australian foreign policy.

As always, we invite our listeners to email us at this address: We welcome feedback, requests and suggestions. You can also contact Darren on twitter @limdarrenj

We thank AIIA intern Mitchell McIntosh for research and audio editing and Rory Stenning for composing our theme music.

Relevant links

Richard Maude’s biography via the Asia Society Policy Institute:

Australian Government, “2020 Defence Strategic Update and 2020 Force Structure Plan”, Department of Defence:

Ross Douthat, “The revolt of the republican strategists”, New York Times, 11 August 2020:

On this week’s episode, the deteriorating relationship between Washington and Beijing takes centre stage, including the consulate closures in Houston and Chengdu. What’s going on, and why now? How much is this all about American electoral politics, and does that even matter? Perhaps most important, how much of the trajectory of the relationship is the result of the Trump administration specifically—and could be changed if Joe Biden wins in November—and how much is structural and will persist no matter who prevails in the presidential election?

Australia’s Foreign and Defence Ministers made the big decision to travel in person to Washington DC for the annual AUSMIN consultations. But before they arrived, Australia publicly clarified its position on the South China Sea, broadly rejecting the sweeping nature of China’s maritime claims. Was the timing significant, and should we see this action more through the lens of US-China rivalry, or the positions of the other claimant states? Turning to AUSMIN, how consequential was the decision of the ministers to travel, and what messages did it send? Notwithstanding the symbolism of being there in person, the Australian side sought to establish its independence, and Allan and Darren offer their overall assessments of the meeting.

Finally, the two discuss the Defence Strategic Update, juxtaposing it with a recently announced staffing reduction at DFAT.

We thank AIIA intern Mitchell McIntosh for his help with research and audio editing and XC Chong for research support. Thanks as always to Rory Stenning for composing our theme music.

Relevant Links

Edward Wong and Steven Lee Myers, “Officials push US-China Relations toward point of no return” New York times, 25 July 2020:

Sui-Lee Wee and Paul Mozur, “China Uses DNA to Map Faces, With Help From the West”, New York Times, 3 December 2019:

The Ezra Klein Show, “Your questions, answered”, June 2020:

Rebecca Strating, “Australia lays down the law in the South China Sea dispute”, Lowy Interpreter, 25 July 2020:

Joint Statement Australia-U.S. Ministerial Consultations (AUSMIN) 2020:

Australia-United States Ministerial Consultations (AUSMIN), Transcript, 29 July 2020:

Stephen Dziedzic, “Foreign Minister makes clear Australia will not be boxed in when it comes to China or the US”, ABC News, 29 July 2020:

Japan-Australia Leaders VTC Meeting, Media Release, 9 July 2020:

Rory Medcalf, “Shinzo Abe has made Japan a leader again”, Australian Financial Review, 10 July 2020:

2020 Defence Strategic Update and Force Structure Plan:

Scott Morrison, “Address: Launch of the 2020 Defence Strategic Update”, 1 July 2020:

Sam Roggeveen, “Regional security depends on making order from chaos” Lowy Interpreter, 18 July 2020:

Dave Sharma, “A diplomatic step-up to match our military step-up”, Lowy Interpreter, 13 July 2020:

Jonathan Pryke, “DFAT cuts show our foreign policy’s khaki tinge”, Lowy Interpreter, 20 July 2020:

Zack Cooper and Charles Edel, “Australia is having a strategic revolution, and it’s all about China”, Foreign Policy, 22 July 2020:

Allan Gyngell and Isabella Keith, “New feature: The week in Australian foreign policy”, Australian Outlook, 3 July 2020:

Sam Sodomsky, “The National’s Aaron Dessner Talks Taylor Swift’s New Album folklore”, Pitchfork, 24 July 2020:

Allan and Darren welcome Stephen Dziedzic to the podcast, who covers foreign affairs in the Asia Pacific region for Australia’s national broadcaster, the ABC, based at Parliament House in Canberra. Stephen has spent more than a decade at the ABC, including five years covering federal politics. He also spent two years working for the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade at the Australian High Commission in New Delhi.

The way the media covers international affairs and Australian foreign policy has come up several times on the podcast before, and at times Allan and Darren have both expressed their frustration at some of the reporting! Stephen is asked, if not to defend, at least to explain how the media operates in reporting on Australia in the world in the year 2020, and the rationale behind the coverage.

After Stephen provides an overview of his career to date and interest in international affairs, Allan begins by asking how the media landscape has changed since the publication of Allan’s book in 2007 (co-authored with Michael Wesley), Making Australian Foreign Policy. To what extent do the traditional media outlets still act as gatekeepers? The conversation moves to some of the ins and outs of covering foreign policy in Canberra, such as government “drops” of major speeches, and dealing with embassies. Allan asks Stephen for his impression of whether DFAT does a good job of selling itself, in light of a recent critique by Dave Sharma MP.

Darren looks to zoom out, asking Stephen about the broader media landscape. How much room is there for foreign policy content and what does it mean for a story to be newsworthy? What about variation in coverage—how different is the ABC to the major broadsheets, and what about the tabloids? After his recent brush with tabloid fame, Allan puts to Stephen the critique that editors act like TV “showrunners”, working to ensure that whatever twists the plot takes, it remains faithful to a predetermined overall narrative. Is that critique unfair? Stephen’s thoughtful response covers a lot of ground, including many of the tricky ethical issues involved and the civic responsibilities of journalists. Following on, Darren is particularly interested in the decision to grant anonymity to government leaks.

Allan muses about how difficult it is to get ministers to focus on issues of long-term importance, and the immediacy of media coverage creates similar challenges. How can a journalist turn something s/he knows to be important into news, and does social media help or hurt with that?

In the final part of the conversation, Darren pivots to domestic politics, and asks specifically about the “Wolverines” group of MPs who take a hard line on China policy. Is there a political logic to their grouping? Allan asks if generational differences may play a role in explaining divides on China policy. The interview concludes on the distinction between “public interest” and “national interest” in an era of growing geopolitical rivalry.

As always, we invite our listeners to email us at this address: We welcome feedback, requests and suggestions. You can also contact Darren on twitter @limdarrenj

We thank AIIA intern Mitchell McIntosh for his help with research and audio editing and Rory Stenning for composing our theme music.

Relevant links

Stephen Dziedzic’s ABC page:

Dave Sharma, “A diplomatic step-up to match our military step up”, Lowy Interpreter, 13 July 2020:

Michael Koziol, “'Seriously damaging': ASIO says advice on border security was misrepresented”, Sydney Morning Herald, 18 February 2019:

As Allan and Darren commence with their next 50 episodes, they begin with the 2020 Lowy Poll. Allan in particular is interested in the rise in Australians saying they do not feel safe, and Darren wonders what impact this will have on public attitudes towards security policy. Meanwhile, Darren is interested whether the poll reflects the sentiments expressed in PM Morrison's "negative globalism" speech last year. 

Tensions at the Line of Actual Control (LAC) that represents the disputed border between India and China are next on the agenda. While both sides seem to want to deescalate tensions, the question is what the longer term impacts might be. Just as China's recent actions have affected domestic politics inside Australia, Darren wonders whether the deaths of Indian soldiers might push India firmly into the "balancing" column. Moreover, with New Delhi's decision to ban the China-based app Tik-Tok and a number of other Chinese apps, these consequences appear to be extending beyond the military domain.

Drama continues to define bilateral relations between Australia and China. Darren opts to focus this week on a recent report from state-owned tabloid the Global Times, which says the Chinese government had uncovered an Australian intelligence operation. These claims were supported by Chinese government spokesperson Zhao Lijian who made note that 'irrefutable evidence' of the operation existed. What might this mean for Australian nationals within China, and how can the Australian government protect its citizens? Darren looks to DFAT's 'smarttraveller' travel advice website for answers, and in doing so discovers a fresh update on Hong Kong, in light of the new national security law being imposed by Beijing. 

Finally, Darren gives Allan the opportunity to respond to his own appearance in the headlines of certain Australian tabloid newspapers in recent weeks, after he was invited to speak on China to the Labor Party shadow cabinet. While Allan has recovered fully from this brush with infamy, both he and Darren worry about what these events say about the health of Australia's political institutions. 

We thank incoming AIIA intern Mitchell McIntosh for his help with research and audio editing, and bid farewell to Maddie Gordon with many thanks. Thanks as always to Rory Stenning for composing our theme music. 

Relevant Links

Lowy Poll 2020:

Darren Lim, "A pivot to globalism, but grievances lurk", Lowy Interpreter, 24 June:

Mohamed Younis, "Americans Want More, Not Less, Immigration for First Time", Gallup, 1 July:

Fan Lingzhi and Yang Sheng, "Australia wages espionage offensive against China: source", Global Times, 29 June:

Stephen Dziedzic, "China steps up attacks on Australia, says spying allegations just 'the tip of the iceberg'", ABC News, 30 June:

Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade,, travel advice for China:

And travel advice for Hong Kong:

"Andrew Hastie and 'Wolverines' are 'crossing a line': Former DFAT head" (Dennis Richardson's defence of Allan on Sky News), 24 June:

Penny Wong, transcript of interview with Patricia Karvelas (ABC Afternoon Briefing), 25 June 2020:

China Matters website:

Bob Dylan's 'I Contain Multitudes' discussed on the ABC's The Music Show with Robert Adamson

Letterkenny pilot opening scene:

On the occasion of the podcast’s 50th episode, Allan and Darren are thrilled to welcome Australia’s most senior diplomat and foreign policy official, Frances Adamson, the Secretary of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, the first woman to hold this appointment. The interview was conducted on Wednesday 17 June 2020.

Immediately prior to her appointment as Secretary in August 2016, Frances was International Adviser to Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull. From 2011 to 2015, she was Ambassador to the People's Republic of China, also the first woman appointed to this role.

Previously, Frances served in the Australian Consulate-General in Hong Kong in the late 1980s during the early years of China's reform and opening. From 2001 to 2005, she was seconded as Representative to the Australian Commerce and Industry Office in Taipei. She was also posted twice in London, including as Deputy High Commissioner.

She was Chief of Staff to the Minister for Foreign Affairs and then the Minister for Defence from 2009 to 2010.

The conversation begins with Allan asking about how Frances, and the Department, have been dealing with the Covid-19 crisis, and Darren wonders whether the pandemic is upending the traditional practices of diplomacy. The discussion moves to the 2017 Foreign Policy White Paper – in the time since, has Frances been more surprised by the pace of change, or its direction?

Foreign policy elites have arguably been repudiated by recent political developments, such as Brexit and Donald Trump’s election victory. Allan asks Frances for her views on the political forces behind these events, and what the foreign policy establishment in Australia can learn.

Zooming out, and noting that the international system is in a state of disequilibrium at the moment, Darren asks Frances to describe how she hopes the order will settle over the next few decades. Referring to Foreign Minister’s Marise Payne’s speech the previous evening, Allan asks Frances for more detail about the audit of Australia’s participation in multilateral organisations that was recently completed. Darren asks specifically about the role of “middle powers” – should they specialise given their resources are limited?

The conversation moves to China. With so much material out there, what’s a good entry point for Australians seeking to learn about China, and make sense of the daily barrage of media coverage? What does it mean for both sides to “work harder” to manage the relationship? And Darren asks about the state of debate inside China – are there still live debates about the big questions of international affairs within the Chinese system, and has China made up its mind about Australia?

In the final part of the podcast, Darren asks about the balance between generalists and specialists in Australia’s diplomatic corps, and about effective models of work/life balance that Frances has seen in her career.

As always, we invite our listeners to email us at this address: We welcome feedback, requests and suggestions. You can also contact Darren on twitter @limdarrenj

We thank AIIA intern Maddie Gordon for her help with research and audio editing and Rory Stenning for composing our theme music. On this milestone episode, we also extend our heartfelt thanks to all our past interns. Without their help we could never have come this far. Thank you to Stephanie Rowell, Mani Bovell, Charlie Henshall, James Hayne, Isabel Hancock and XC Chong.

Relevant links

Biography of Ms Frances Adamson:

IPAA Podcast, “Getting Australians Home – The unfolding story: Frances Adamson.

Marise Payne, “Australia and the world in the time of COVID-19”, Speech at the National Security College, ANU, 16 June 2020:

Evan Osnos, Age of Ambition: Chasing Fortune, Truth and Faith in the New China: 

Richard McGregor, The Party:

ANU Centre on China in the World, The China Story Yearbook:

China Matters:

After a month away from the news, this episode Allan and Darren try to catch up. They begin with tragedy and turmoil in the United States. What do the protests and racial tensions—and Trump’s efforts to handle them—say about the US? Are there any implications for Australia? Turning next to recent events in Australian foreign policy, we now have a Comprehensive Strategic Partnership with India—is this significant? And what should PM Morrison do about President Trump’s invitation to the (delayed) G-7 summit in September?

Next, while noting the story is not over, Darren asks Allan for what lessons he draws from the Australian government’s call for an independent inquiry into the early handling of Covid-19, and everything followed, culminating in the World Health Assembly resolution in mid-May. Hong Kong is next on the agenda, with a focus on the logic behind Australia’s decision to issue two joint statements criticising Beijing's recent moves, rather than going it alone, as New Zealand did.

Finally, geoeconomic issues are very much back in Australian news, with proposed new foreign investment review powers for the government, a travel warning issued for Australia by the Chinese government, and reporting that the Five Eyes grouping is considering a coordinated strategic economic response to the Covid-19 crisis. What do Allan and Darren make of all this?

As always, we invite our listeners to email us at this address: We welcome feedback, requests and suggestions. You can also contact Darren on twitter @limdarrenj

We thank AIIA intern Maddie Gordon for her help with research and audio editing, XC Chong for research support, and Rory Stenning for composing our theme music.

Relevant links

Ta-Nehisi Coates on the Ezra Klein show podcast:

Joint Statement on a Comprehensive Strategic Partnership between Republic of India and Australia, 4 June 2020:

World Health Organization, “Covid-19 Response”, 73rd World Health Assembly, Agenda Item 3, 18 May 2020:

Editorial Board, “The Coronavirus Inquiry”, Wall Street Journal, 19 May 2020:

Chen Qingqing and Liu Xin, “Australia gets ‘slap to the face’ as global community welcomes China-sponsored resolution on COVID-19”, Global Times, 19 May 2020:

Stephen Dziedzic, “Australia started a fight with China over an investigation into COVID-19 — did it go too hard?” ABC News, 20 May 2020:

Joint statement on Hong Kong national security legislation, 23 May 2020:

Joint statement on Hong Kong, 28 May 2020:

The Little Red Podcast (Facebook page):

David Crowe, “Foreign deals set to face tougher security checks”, Sydney Morning Herald, 4 June 2020:

Max Koslowski, “Almost 400 anti-China attacks since pandemic began”, Sydney Morning Herald, 7 June 2020:

Simon Benson, “Five Eyes focus on economic pact”, The Australian, 8 June 2020:

National Security Podcast, Foreign Investment and national security with Jeff Wilson, 10 June 2020:

Wind of Change podcast:

Ta-Nehisi Coates, Between the World and Me:

Sarah Cooper’s twitter feed:

Martin Gurri, The Revolt of the public and the crisis of authority (Goodreads page):

Allan and Darren welcome Harinder Sidhu to the podcast to discuss India and Australia-India relations. A Deputy Secretary in the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Harinder recently returned from a posting as the Australian High Commissioner in New Delhi. Before she went to India, Harinder headed the multilateral division of DFAT while Australia was on the UN Security Council. Prior to that, she spent time in the Department of Climate Change, the Office of National Assessments, and the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet. She’s also previously had postings in Damascus and Moscow.

The conversation begins with India itself. What is the spectrum of views inside India regarding the role it should be playing in the world? How much does India’s domestic political system—both its strengths and continuing challenges—influence its behaviour on the international stage? What is India’s "pitch" for international leadership, and what would be the characteristics of an Indian "model" of international order? And does Covid-19 change the answers to these questions?

Turning to Australia’s relationship with India, while successive Australian governments have tended to “discover” India only for the relationship to recede, why might the foundations for a stronger and more durable partnership now be in place? What’s the Indian view of the bilateral relationship? What role does the Indian diaspora in Australia play, and what about Australians who are in India?

Finally, what was Harinder’s own experience as High Commissioner as a woman of Indian heritage? And Darren finishes with a very on-brand question for the podcast, asking for Harinder's views on the need to integrate economics and security into policymaking.

As always, we invite our listeners to email us at this address: We welcome feedback, requests and suggestions. You can also contact Darren on twitter @limdarrenj

We thank AIIA intern Maddie Gordon for her help with research and audio editing and Rory Stenning for composing our theme music.

Relevant links

Harinder Sidhu, “Celebrating the ties that bind”, Speech at Hawker Ball, the opening of the Asia Society Australia Centre, Melbourne, 3 October 2019:

University of Sydney, “Meet Australia’s High Commissioner to India”, 20 November 2019:

Australian PM Scott Morrison’s Message for Raisina Dialogue 2020, 14 January 2020:

Allan and Darren welcome Dr Heather Smith PSM to the podcast. Until January 2020, Heather was Secretary of the Department of Industry, Innovation and Science, which followed serving as Secretary of the Department of Communications and the Arts. Before that she was a Deputy Secretary in the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet (including serving as G20 Sherpa in 2014 when Australia held the G20 Presidency) and the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, as well as a Deputy Director General in the Office of National Assessments. She has also held senior jobs in Treasury, the Reserve Bank of Australia, and the Australian National University.

The interview begins with the G20, which has not performed well during the Covid-19 crisis. Is it salvageable, and what concrete things should Australia be advocating for? What else can Australia do to help our regional partners during this unprecedented crisis?

Darren shifts the conversation to industrial policy—the topic of Heather’s economics PhD thesis! How does she understand advocacy across the West for a more active state, and how is Australia positioned? Notwithstanding the vulnerabilities exposed by Covid-19, is resilience in our supply chains even realistic? And how does she view the expanding concept of national security, especially as it applies to critical technologies?

The conversation turns to the rise of populism—to what extent is economic grievance the major driver, and does Covid-19 offer a chance to “reset” public policy in its aftermath?

Allan then asks Heather, who holds a PhD in economics, what she as an economist is most likely to get wrong when observing and analysing the world? And as a non-economist, what is the thing she’s most likely to miss?

Finally, Heather, Allan and Darren all take turns in answering the question: what do you expect to be different in Australia’s world after Covid-19?

As always, we invite our listeners to email us at this address: We welcome feedback, requests and suggestions. You can also contact Darren on twitter @limdarrenj

We thank AIIA intern Maddie Gordon for her help with research and audio editing and Rory Stenning for composing our theme music.

Relevant links

Heather Smith, “Doing policy differently”, Keynote Address, Institute of Public Administration Australia, 22 March 2018:

Heather Smith and Allan Gyngell, “Technology will unite the post-virus world order”, Australian Financial Review, 23 April 2020:


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