RSOG Strategic Public Policy Discourse

In Pursuit of Strategic Partnership: The Australia Experience


HE Mr. Andrew Goledzinowski AM


When: 25 September 2018

Where: Razak School of Government

Guest Speaker: HE Mr. Andrew Goledzinowski AM



The framework of the Session 

In today’s landscape of change and uncertainty, nations must find a right balance between sticking to tried-and-tested ideas and exploring new and innovative approaches. This is especially true for Australia: a nation that faces many challenges brought about by technology and globalisation. As a regional power in the Indo-Pacific, Australia has considerable influence in global diplomacy, not least as a voice of democracy and multiculturalism. Its most recent Foreign Policy White Paper outlines a framework to solidify Australia’s position in a more dynamic setting. Against the backdrop of terrorism, shifts in global powers and environmental challenges, this document will be crucial in understanding Australia’s stance and direction on the international platform for the foreseeable future. How did this document come to be, and to what extent did Australian values influence the Foreign Policy White Paper? This session will explore the nuances and considerations in the process of crafting foreign policy.


Key Takeaways from the Session

White paper is a medium for governments to present its policy direction and legislation to the public. The document, which is an in-depth report on a specific topic with problems identified, is meant as reference and can be used to gauge public support over a particular political solution posited by the government. White papers have a long history, tracing back to the British Government in 1922 as the earliest example under this utilisation. Almost a century on, the Guest Speaker shared how political leaders and bureaucrats worked on a document named Australia’s Foreign Policy White Paper and how the document aims to shape Australia’s future in the era of continued globalisation and rapid technological advancements.

In the post-Cold War era, a known American political scientist posited the idea of soft power, as opposed to hard power of military prowess and threats. Soft power encompasses cultural, ideological and institutional influence of a nation over the other on the basis that others are more willing to follow a culture and ideology that is attractive to them. The quest and maintenance of this influence through soft power remains a pressing challenge even for a government as experienced in soft power and diplomacy such as Australia.

Therefore, in 2017 a review of the nation’s strengths and capabilities in soft power was called for through the publication of its Foreign Policy White Paper, in which written feedback was encouraged for submission by 28 September 2018. The rationale for a publicly available written document by the Government stems from the academic tradition of public policymaking. It exercises discipline of thinking strategically by refining ideas and instituting transparency through openness of sharing what the Government of the day is pursuing.

The process of this review exercise can be chunked into four phases – the architecture phase which necessitate identification of structures and committees responsible for the paper, followed by the development, in which stakeholders’ views are sought for, engaged, and reviewed. The third phase is the communication which consisted of pre-launch, launch, and post-launch. The session at RSOG constitutes as a communication phase of the paper, whereby the content of the paper was articulated and verbalised with views sought from the participants. The Guest Speaker reiterates the idea that a good policy is of no use if it is not implemented. Therefore, the final stage is the implementation, to ensure that the ideas outlined are executed to deliver its intended public value.

Some of the considerations of this process include ensuring that it is led by a Department, which in the case of this White Paper was Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade of Australia. However, the paper is a collaborative effort whereby all government departments and agencies contributed as Australia’s soft power assets includes the nation’s education institutions, tourism, culture, aid programmes, and economic partnerships. Another consideration was to ensure that only one unit was responsible for the write up of the document. This is to ensure the consistency of tone, clarity of ideas, and coherence of concepts and cases that was put forth.

The recurring three strategic areas are geopolitical, economic, and philosophical. It maintains the need for a peaceful, safe and secure Indo-Pacific region, clarifies the desire for wealth and prosperity and the burgeoning contestation of ideas – the ability to agree and disagree objectively. What does the paper mean to Malaysia and other nations, especially those in the Indo-Pacific region? It reiterates the shared histories that many nations have and how this influences decision-making and problem solving. Whether shared history necessarily constitutes as shared interest are often up to the leaders and policymakers to shape its direction.

The sharing of Australia’s Foreign Policy White Paper was an example of how public diplomacy can play a very important role in influencing other nations, how the world can be shaped for decades to come, and how the nation itself can play a role in this. The document can become a reference point for ministries and agencies towards realising government’s objective and having a clear, concise and coherent document helps in policy implementation. Inevitably, the purpose of the paper is to secure the nation’s security and prosperity in an increasingly volatile world. The process in which the document was formulated, introduced and engaged for is food for thought in how meaningful public participation and consensus building can take place in Malaysia in any strategic public policymaking process.

Key issues raised

  • Unilateral trade are often short-sighted means of economic prosperity, therefore having global rules of trade between nations is a more sustainable approach.
  • In addition to prior experience, having good systems in place and strong institutions help in managing periods of transition and change.
  • Superpowers cannot be contained on its own, therefore having international regulations and strengthening multilateral institutions would ensure that smaller nations can play a better role in maintaining order.
  • Priority areas of collaboration between Australia and Malaysia include institutional reforms, education, mainstreaming gender, strengthening bilateral economic partnerships, and judicial training, among others.


About the Speaker

HE Mr. Andrew Goledzinowski AM is a senior career officer with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and was most recently Ambassador for People Smuggling and Human Trafficking. He has previously served overseas as Ambassador and Deputy Permanent Representative to the United Nations, New York, and at the Australian Embassies in Geneva, Port Vila and Pretoria. His Excellency was an Adviser and Senior Adviser to Foreign Ministers Gareth Evans and Alexander Downer and has served as Chief of Staff to the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, as the Senior Australian Official in the Coalition Provision Authority, Baghdad and as the World Bank’s Representative in Iraq. He holds a Bachelor of Jurisprudence and a Bachelor of Laws from the University of New South Wales and is a Member of the Order of Australia.