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The Adolescent Country: A Lowy Institute Paper

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The great crises that threaten Australia's national prosperity come from abroad. So do the grandest opportunities. But in Australian politics the big matters are commonly crowded out by the small. International policy is used for domestic point-scoring. Leaders are criticised for travelling beyond the water's edge. Measured against its potential today and its needs tomorrow, Australia is seriously underperforming. It is wasting valuable opportunities to strengthen its position and help shape the world.
Drawing on exclusive interviews with prime ministers, foreign ministers and other policy-makers, Gold Walkley award-winning journalist peter Hartcher argues Australia needs to shake off its 'provincial reflex' and become a mature player in global affairs.

75 pages, Kindle Edition

First published January 1, 2014

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About the author

Peter Hartcher

12 books8 followers
Peter Hartcher is the political and international editor of The Sydney Morning Herald. His books include Bubble Man, The Sweet Spot and To the Bitter End. His first Quarterly Essay, Bipolar Nation, was published in 2007.

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Displaying 1 - 2 of 2 reviews
Profile Image for Andrew Carr.
471 reviews86 followers
December 20, 2014
There's a strange disconnect in this book. The target of Hartcher's ire is largely the politicians, yet his examples of success are largely instances of policy and his examples of failure those of the wider public debate, led as much by the media and public as the politicians themselves. As such, the book manages to point to a flaw, but never quite grasps its hands around why it exists or how to resolve it.

Hartcher claims a major cause of this problem is that our political class treat foreign policy like domestic policy, yet another arena for their debates. Hence the lack of interest and small minded squabbles. Only I think that's exactly wrong. While I don't have the space to detail it here (I have a journal article on the issue coming out next year however), I see the lack of interest in foreign policy is driven by our desire for bipartisanship and our unwillingness to treat foreign policy as a normal arena of national debate.

Still, this is a good use of the Penguin Special format. Provoking and just the right length (and thankfully with footnotes to track down claims). I'd recommend checking out the Lowy Interpreter debate about the book, in particular Hugh White who nails the underlying structure that is overlooked (as does Mahbubani), and Sam Roggeveen who nails the 'so what' question.

Worth a read for those interested in federal politics.
Profile Image for Andrew Roberts.
107 reviews
November 8, 2015
This short piece raised some important and little-discussed issues for Australia and Australian politics. It would have been interesting to see how the end would have been written differently in the post-Abbott time we are now in.
I was surprised at the author's take on Abbott's international interest, policies and standing given the run of gaffes after his election.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
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