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Australia has many global interests and deals with countries in many regions. These relationships mainly involve states that affect the country’s strategic environment and act as trading and investment partners. Australia has many bilateral ties with the countries within the region, such as Japan, China, and its closest neighbour Indonesia.
It also has interests in nations that comprise the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN). The country has many security threats within the region. Therefore, Australian policy makers regard several issues as security threats. The country’s security policies are aimed at ensuring the safety of the country and her territories.
There is a strong link between Australia and the regional security, as Australia is a significant power within the region. Thus, the policy is not just involved in advancing for direct defence, but also stability and progress among its neighbours (Bellamy 2010). There are several security treaties established by Australia. The ANZUS treaty is the most important treaty, where signatories include the United States and New Zealand.
There are also the Five Power Arrangements, whereby an agreement was reached by Australia, the United Kingdom, and New Zealand to have forces in Singapore and Malaysia. Australia is a middle-level power located within the Asia-Pacific region.
Therefore, it has the responsibility of ensuring stability in the region and encouraging peace among states that comprise the Asia-Pacific region. The department of foreign affairs and trade is responsible for developing and implementing the various policies established by the government. Thus, it advises the government and seeks to advance the interests of the country in the Asia-Pacific region and internationally (Government of Australi 2009).
The international terrorism threat is a critical security issue in Australia. Linking with many western countries, such as the United States, Britain, and other European countries, is an important aspect of countering the effects of terrorism. The country shares many things, such as cultural, economic, political, and strategic links with the western countries.
It has led to a strong relationship between Australia and the western nations and more focus on the region. Currently, the Asia-Pacific region is responsible for about 40% of global trade and accounts for over half of the world production (Burke 2010). The region, as a whole, is an important contributor to the global economy, thus its security and stability is necessary for many western countries.
Australia policy makers believe that the threat of terrorism will not be able to persist and grow if all countries come together through international cooperation and collaboration. All stakeholders in the international arena, especially in the Asia-Pacific region, should collaborate to counter the threat of terrorism.
The security policy came into existence through the white paper titled, “transnational terrorism: the threat to Australia”. This document established the existing security threats and how to manage them. Australia has made over ten bilateral agreements in the region. These agreements encourage closer cooperation between member states (Easterly 2003).
Moreover, the signatories have also conducted joint exercises on how to combat terrorism in readiness of any threat occur that may occur. The policy was also beneficial to the member countries, as it allowed more funds for use in combating terrorism. In 2005, Australia announced an initiative whereby it would contribute over $40 million to regional countries.
This contribution would be staggered for over four years, thereby allowing the country to be practically involved in the process of combating terrorism. The funds would go to various key sectors in order to be effective. The sectors would include border control, defence, intelligence, law enforcement, and transportation security.
In another example, Australia made an agreement with Indonesia via the Jakarta Law Enforcement Cooperation in 2004, whereby it would act as the centre for supporting other law enforcement agencies in the fight against terrorism. Australia also works with the UN, which makes it an active partner in reaching more countries within the Asia-Pacific region. It makes it easier to ensure more countries cooperate with the requirements of the bilateral agreement (Tubilewicz 2010).
Proliferation of Arms
The proliferation of weapons in the region is also an important security threat to the country. Increase of access and distribution of weapons leads to dangerous situations, as it makes it easier for criminals to get weapons. Moreover, with the current advances in technology, many dangerous weapons can end up in the arms of civilians.
Even though the weapons may not be for criminal activities, they can increase the security threats already in the region. Australia has established policies to ensure effective monitoring and control of arms in the region. Thus, Australia’s policy involves the support of non-proliferation of regimes and multilateral arms control. It involves initiatives to improve compliance with the policy.
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Therefore, as more countries sign the agreement, it will lead to progress, especially reducing loopholes that criminals will take advantage of to transport and trade in weapons (Bellamy & Davies 2009). Moreover, the policy asks for the verification of treaties signed internationally, such as the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty. It will ensure that all members are aware and updated with the requirements of the agreement.
Weapons are a danger to humanity, notably when a country gets the go ahead to create weapons using dangerous technology. Australia is involved actively with the International Atomic Energy Agency to ensure that its policy requirements are also part of the policies formulated by the agency.
Moreover, the agency provides a way for the country to influence other countries to support the non-proliferation of arms. For instance, Australia, through the agency, has tried to influence countries that have nuclear programs, such as Iran and North Korea, to stop their nuclear activities.
Thus, through the agency, Australia is able to ensure that as many countries as possible come together and agree to meet the requirements of the non-proliferation treaty (Beeson 2011). Australia has also established the Australia Group, where it is a permanent member. The country seeks to limit or stop the production of biological and chemical weapons through the group. This group enjoys the support of 39 countries.
The European Commission is also a member, thereby making the group a powerful force in deterring countries from producing biological and chemical weapons. Australia is also against peaceful nuclear explosions (PNES). It views such activities as a threat to the world peace if testing occurs under disguise that it meets the PNES requirements, yet the real intention is to advance nuclear weapons (Burchill, Linklater & Devetak 2005).
Moreover, it is hard to differentiate between PNES and nuclear weapons. The PNES is a major threat, according to Australia’s policy. Thus, the country seeks to ensure the description of nuclear weapons as embodied in the treaty means that any device that cannot detonate to release nuclear energy as a weapon.
Initially, the Tlatelolco Treaty allowed for explosions under the watchful eye of international representatives, but this treaty is no longer in existence. Australia also has a treaty that guides the disposal of nuclear waste. Disposing of nuclear waste in oceans is a security threat, as it leads to contamination, which can affect the country.
For instance, Japan wanted to dump its nuclear waste in the ocean, but Australia was against the move. Based on its policies, nuclear waste can only be disposed on land or the atmosphere. Thus, radioactive matter was not to be disposed anywhere within the South Pacific Nuclear Free Zone, an area that Australia has diverse interests in.
Strategic stability is an important security threat in the Asia-pacific region. The country relies heavily on the countries in the region for trade and other collateral agreements. Thus, they reflect a shared security interest, whereby an inaugural meeting comprised of ministers happened between Japan and Australia. The United States was also part of this agreement.
It was a trilateral dialogue in 2006 to find ways of deepening bilateral relationships with countries in the region (Smith, Cox & Burchill 1996). Australia’s growth relies on a flourishing domestic economy that is competitive and has access to foreign markets. Industry, trade, and macroeconomic policies are important factors that will guarantee the success of the country’s economy.
The global marketplace is highly competitive. Thus, the state requires vital reform and policies to flourish. The region’s security interest is considered based on the geo-economic location of Australia. Australia is heavily reliant on the Asia-Pacific on for its economic activities. For instance, 55% of Australia’s exports went to the East Asian countries, while 74% went to the APEC (Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation) member states.
Moreover, Australia invests over half of its foreign direct investments in APEC (Dewar 2011). Therefore, the security of the region is vital in guaranteeing the success of the economy of Australia. Australia’s policies involve a combination of regional, bilateral, and multilateral agreements that seek to advance the country’s economic interests.
They entail gaining the best markets for the country’s products, thereby emphasizing the need to remove all barriers to trade. Therefore, the country is able to start, maintain, and establish itself as a supplier of goods for foreign markets. Therefore, it is imperative for Australia to guarantee the security of the region. Countries that are part of the agreement on economic issues will most likely be part of the negotiations about regional security.
Trade investments also place Australia in a better place in policy implementation. Australia can use its trade agreements as a way of advancing its security policies in the region. The country is able to influence other member states to support its security policies using economic influence, as they all stand to gain. The APEC membership is a vital avenue for Australia to advance its policies.
This group is comprised of membership whose contributions are not only about investments, but they also involve technical and economic issues (Tubilewicz 2010). Thus, this is an important regional forum whereby various regional leaders from the Asia-Pacific region come together. It acts as an avenue for dialogue and provides an opportunity for countries to develop their relationships. In the end, confidence and trust among regional states are established.
Immigration and human security
Human security is also an important policy area in Australia. It entails various aspects of human security, human smuggling, and unauthorized entry into the country. It is a significant problem for the country, as it requires all stakeholders to come together to solve the issues. Human security is of primary importance, while state security is secondary (Tazreiter & Yean 2013).
This policy tries to prevent the occurrence of vulnerabilities, which can lead to violence and even loss of life when neglected. Therefore, the policy seeks to avoid issues of human insecurity to help Australia protect human rights. Australia has faced an increased number of immigrants entering the country due to a variety of reasons, such as seeking employment and improved living conditions.
The country is an economic powerhouse in the region, thus it attracts people from all over the region, thereby becoming a societal threat to Australia. The issue of immigration and how to reduce the number of unauthorized immigrants entering the country has dominated the country’s policies (Government of Australia 2012). Australia is at the forefront in supporting governments in the region as a way of deterring immigration.
A growing population in a country that has no resources to support the population can lead to mass migration. Therefore, Australia will face greater costs if it does not avoid the threat of migration. Supporting governments through aid is advantageous in the end, as it would guarantee that the regimes are able to help their people.
Human smuggling is rampant in the region. It has become an economic activity for some scrupulous people, especially from Vietnam, Indonesia, and Taiwan. Smuggling occurs by boats that can easily enter the Australian territory without detection. It was a major problem in the 1990s, until Australia established policies to deter human smuggling in 2001.
The policies stipulated that people who arrive in Australia illegally will not gain immigrant status. The policies are effective, as they have led to a reduction in the rates of human trafficking. For instance, the first boat to arrive in Australian water without authorization was in 2003, three years after the passing of the Excision from Migration Zone Act (Government of Australia 2012).
The issue of immigration in Australia depends on the input from both policy makers and the citizenry, who have differing opinions. On one hand, some Australians, using a liberal approach, believe that immigrants can enter the country based on moral grounds.
Therefore, it makes no sense to deny anyone a chance to come to the country when faced with life-threatening problems in their country of origin. On the other hand, the citizenry follows a different approach, whereby immigration should only be allowed based on the needs of the country. Therefore, immigration depends on the welfare and national interests of the country as a whole.
This realistic approach has influenced the immigration policy in Australia. It has become important that people only immigrate to Australia once the country is assured that its social support system swill not suffer as a result of an increased population (McAdam 2012).
Reality of the threats
The dangers arising from security issues are real, even though they might be limited due to the presence of treaties and agreement. Many of the countries that pose threats to security are either using the threats as a means of influencing their power in the international arena, or just as a way of the regime to show its power.
Countries such as North Korea are a threat, but they are limited because they lack the skills and knowledge to create active nuclear weapons. The treaties have limited the sale of nuclear materials within the international market. Moreover, nuclear energy is a sensitive issue, whereby most countries in the international arena are trying to prevent its use (Griffiths 2010).
The international community, through the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty, limits the exportation of nuclear materials. Article 4 of the Treaty states that nuclear materials and equipment that deal with processing nuclear materials should not be exported, unless under special agreements. The special arrangements are safeguards, such as the agreements with the IAEA.
Australia has been involved in the treaty, whereby it has advanced that countries should be able to export nuclear materials, as long as they are for peaceful purposes, such as the production of energy (Smith, Cox & Burchill 1996). Countries such as Vanuatu argue that exports to countries that harbour the intention to create nuclear weapons are a risk to the world peace.
Australia is against this view because the exportation to such states, which are signatories of IAEA safeguards, can be limited by strict provisions to avoid the use of the materials in supporting their weapons programs. The rules are strict enough to prevent a diversion of the materials, which is part of ensuring responsibility in the non-proliferation agreements.
Australia is also involved in many initiatives to prevent the security issues from running out of hand. For instance, the instability in Afghanistan, even though it does not directly affect Australia, is a risk to the world peace and security. Thus, Australia has been involved in conflict and dispute resolutions (Tanter 2009). Australia is a member of NATO.
Currently, it has the highest contribution of troops to NATO. Japan, a close ally of Australia, has not contributed troops, but it has made financial contributions in billions of dollars. The funds have been beneficial in sponsoring reconstruction projects. There is a threat to the strategic stability of Australia in the region, given that Australia is located in a remote place far from its closest allies.
It is, therefore, heavily reliant on economic trade with its Asia-Pacific neighbours. Thus, if security issues would arise, then Australia’s economy would suffer. The country has many economic interests in the region, thus it is important to maintain and develop the interests. Moreover, it is important to protect these interests, as it relies on them for peace and stability (Hoadley & Rüland 2006).
International crime is also a real threat. It arises from human trafficking, whereby traffickers and cartels can use the country as a transit point. Human trafficking is a major problem in the Pacific region. Australia has established policies to counter the effects of traffickers, but it is still a long way to achieving its goals.
Australia utilizes regional forums to combat international crime. For instance, the country co-chairs the Bali Committee with Indonesia, which seeks to deal with of international crime and human trafficking (Howes 2011). Australia is a peaceful state within the Asia-Pacific region.
Therefore, many of its neighbours do not consider it a military threat and easily support its initiatives. However, the primary threat facing the region is from the Northern region. Therefore, it is important for the country to be involved in developing the security of the region, as the North is a threat to the region as a whole and not just Australia (DeRouen & Bellamy 2008).
For instance, North Korea is a major threat due to its nuclear efforts and its constant threat of testing its weapons. China also poses a threat to the region, especially regarding its military activities in the northern sea and its endless territorial disputes with other nations, such as Japan.
The major aim of the security policies it to establish Australia as a base for the defence of the region through the objectives of the security policy. The policy calls for support in aid for self-defence activities. Therefore, it is important for all countries in the region to be self-sufficient in defending their territories when threats emerge. Establishing a defence force will deter threats.
The islands in the Pacific are not attractive to terrorist attacks. Despite this, there is a threat that terrorists can launch an attack on the many tourists facilitates located in the region. Australia is also concerned about the threat posed by failing nations. Thus, the islands can act as transit points for terrorists without the proper presence of government (Burchill, Linklater & Devetak 2005). They could also serve as locations for money laundering, which terrorists can use to destabilize the region.
The regional overpopulation is a real threat to Australia. An increasing population signals the need for people to look for greener pastures. Australia is the preferred location for many people looking to migrate in Asia-Pacific region. Thus, more people will prefer Australia as the best place to move to.
Those who cannot use the legal channels will use the services of unscrupulous businesspersons to be transported through boats to Australia, which will lead to a security threat, as increasing numbers of unauthorized people will put pressure on Australia’s social structure (Tazreiter & Yean 2013). Every country has its limits. Allowing illegal arrivals will be a major problem in Australia in the end.
For instance, China has a population of about 100 million people who are seeking better employment and would quickly be attracted to better conditions abroad. In conclusion, Australia faces many threats in the region. Most of the threats revolve around international issues like economic cooperation, trade access, environmental degradation, international terrorism, weapons proliferation, strategic stability, human security, and immigration.
These issues are prioritized in Australia’s foreign policy on security. Over the years, there has been an increase in the complexity of relations among states. Therefore, it is important to encourage interdependence among countries, as this guarantees the development of countries. Australia has been able to advance its issues through local agreements and multilateral forums, such as the UN and local multilateral bodies like APEC.
The threats facing Australia are non-military, thus they cannot be said to be threatening to Australia, unless it is in the long term. Therefore, the risks require legislation at a national level and support from regional partners. The threats are varied in nature and can greatly affect the Asia-Pacific region.
Australia is significantly threatened by the issues raised because it is a dominant power in the region. It is, therefore, beneficial to develop security policies as a means of dealing with any security threats. It is encouraging that Australia is involved in influencing the security of the region through policies and regional partnerships.
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