Australia’s chance to lead when leaders are needed

Robert C. Johnston.


A version of this was printed in The Manly Daily, on October 3rd 2009.

WITH a relatively small population and limited military power projection, Australia as a nation has historically found it a challenge to exert its influence in world affairs. It is encouraging to note, however, Prime Minister Rudd rising to the occasion at the UN climate change talks in New York last week.

It is in global diplomacy such as this where Australia, equipped with its reputation as a democratic, multicultural, honest, tolerant, developed middle-power, can grasp opportunities. We have the chance to use understanding and friendly brinkmanship not to coerce opposing views into submission, but to set a standard and lead by an example that others in the global community, developed and developing nations alike, will seek to emulate.

To ensure our success, we must remember that all politics is local: what we do in our own backyard affects our chances of positive and persuasive influence in the world – of making a real difference, whatever the issue.

Roadtrip robert c. johnston 1With the Copenhagen conference on climate change fast approaching, let’s make certain that Australia arms itself with its own worthwhile, yet realistic, self-imposed emission reduction targets, and be in the process of fast-tracking the development of significant – not token – renewable energy infrastructure to back up our rhetoric. We’ll need it in the future, so let’s build it now.

Do we want to sit by and wait till Copenhagen to see how other nations might tackle climate change? I don’t. We as a nation are in a privileged position that would allow Australia the opportunity to lead when leaders are needed – to stand up and be the template. Let’s stand up and lead.


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