OPINION: Australia and the South Pacific: trade, security and media soft power

Three things Australia didn’t want to do in the South Pacific came to culmination this year.

Two of them were things Australia hadn’t wanted to do, but then changed its mind on. Having made the u-turn, Canberra embraced the previously shunned causes and pushed doggedly to completion: the regional mission to assist/save Solomon Islands (RAMSI) and the South Pacific free trade agreement (PACER Plus).

The third thing was something Australia had been doing for nearly 80 years—shortwave broadcasts to the Pacific islands. Then the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) decided it didn’t want to do that anymore and cut shortwave transmissions in January.

The three cases fall into different categories of trade, security and broadcasting/soft power. Yet they deserve to be analysed together because they’re all aspects of how Australia thinks about—and deals with—the South…

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