Today Mr. Peter Varghese AO, Secretary of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, delivered a speech at the Lowy Institute, presenting his perspectives on key themes in Australia's Foreign Policy.
An excerpt appeared as a "sneak peak" in the Australian newspaper this morning and part of it struck me a being very relevant to Australia's relationship with Timor-Leste - especially the current impasse on the settlement of maritime boundaries.
I certainly support the perspective of Mr. Varghese that he presents in the following paragraphs and will be keen to follow up on his full speech as it becomes available.
Regarding Foreign Policy in the region the head of DFAT says:
"Ultimately this is about the strategic culture we wish to see embedded in the Indo-Pacific region. Will it be a culture of raw power or of consultation and collaboration? Will strategic behaviour flow from what you can get away with or will it reflect core principles about respect for international law?
Bilateral relations are the bedrock of our foreign policy. But we can neither bully nor buy our way in the world, so an international rules-based order is in our best interests. An effective multilateral system is the surest way to get there."
Consultation and collaboration, and an understanding that an international rules-based order is in Australia's best interests - Bravo!
If these principles can characterise the position of DFAT and the Australian Government regarding the settlement of maritime borders of Timor-Leste then we are heading in the right direction.
If not these words ring hollow ...