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Zoe Piper is now contributing to a Challenge Australian Soft Power

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Michele Chaseling is now contributing to a Challenge Australian Soft Power

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Gerarda Frederick is now contributing to a Challenge Australian Soft Power

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David Kearns is now contributing to a Challenge Australian Soft Power

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David Kearns commented on the Challenge Australian Soft Power

Make greater use of the best international resource we have: our higher education sector.

Many international students who graduate from Australia's universities return home to form the next generation of leaders in their countries. While they are here, we have the opportunity to build the connections and cultural influence that's vitually impossible at a distance.

I've worked in or around tertiary education for many years. Sadly, too many international students live fairly isolated lives while studying here. By working hard to engage with and inspire these young people, we have a chance to sow the seeds of Australian soft power around the world in the future.

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Lisa Geraghty is now contributing to a Challenge Australian Soft Power

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William Bell is now contributing to a Challenge Australian Soft Power

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William Bell commented on the Challenge Australian Soft Power

Developing deep soft power with integrity or shallow soft power without integrity

For long-term soft power, we need to consider soft power with integrity that is alignment between perception and reality. Otherwise, soft power becomes a hollow marketing exercise in propaganda and people will eventually see the misalignment and the country losses credibility.

An example of a misalignment and loss of credibility includes the soft power image that German products are high quality and produced by people of integrity. The company VW and the diesel emissions scandal punctured this soft power image. The consequence is that people question the value in paying a premium for German products when high quality and cheaper versions are usually available from either Japan or South Korea.

We can view soft power as derived from either natural or social resources. Australia’s natural resources are immense and well marketed to create a positive image for Australia.  However, there is a misalignment between perception and reality or lack of integrity, including

  • the decline in the quality of the Great Barrier Reef and waterways and
  • the ongoing land clearance to develop marginal farming land but with large capital gains.

Weak governance is allowing our natural resources to be undermined. This weak governance highlights flaws in our democracy that is one of Australia’s principle social resources and a foundation of Australian values, showing a lack of integrity. For example, the inability to address climate change and growing wealth inequality highlights weaknesses in Australia's democracy. There are at least two major causes:

  • Political donations misalign the interests of the electorate and politicians, and
  • Binary politics and political wedging reduce the ability to address complex problems.

There is a conflict of interest between politicians’ electoral duty to perform evidence based decision-making in an impartial manner to the benefit of the electorate and taking political donations from companies within the fossil fuel industry, banking industry or wherever else. There is a major accountability and integrity requirements gulf between public servants and politicians. Political donations are a major source of this gulf. The privileged political access gained by political donations is at odds with core Australian principles of openness and fairness. Funding for political activities require independent review by the Productivity Commission to realign the interest of politicians with the electorate to result in transparent government in line with Australian values.

Australia’s hybrid US Federal and UK Westminster political system was a combination of the two most powerful and successful democracies at the time of federation. However, one hundred years later, the didactic approach of the binary political system is proving inadequate to solve the more interconnected complex problems in a more interconnected world. Diversity proves important in solving these wicked problems. Fostering diversity is a core Australian principle but lacking in the makeup of Australian politicians. Proportional representation can improve the diversity of ideas discussed in parliament. The Productivity Commission would be well placed to lead the public discussion on an upgrade to Australia’s dated political system and make an international comparison of the effectiveness of proportional representation systems to solve wicked problems. Australia’s government functions well at solving non-wicked problems.

Developing deep soft power would require putting in train processes to address the above deficiencies in Australia’s integrity. Developing shallow soft power would only require a marketing budget to produce propaganda.

The ideas in this article are expanded upon in the publication “Inclusive growth and climate change adaptation and mitigation in Australia and China: Removing barriers to solving wicked problems”. http://apo.org.au/node/133226

 

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Nicholas Vaccari commented on the Challenge Australian Soft Power

@Victor Perton, could not agree more with this:
"And, there's an entire pessimism industry led most vocally by opposition politicians, consultants and charity foundations telling Australians they are "doing it hard." Doing it hard compared to whom?"
So many Australians suffer only from first world 'problems' and have no idea how fortunate they are to do so. But instead of encouraging us to do more to help others, the media just goes on as if it's we should feel sorry for our own circumstances. Our poor struggling economy didn't grow as fast as we were hoping. Our road toll was outrageous last quarter. How bout that storm you all had to live through with a solid roof over your heads.
We must do something to treat this disease within so we are perhaps more inclined to help those with real needs.

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Nicholas Vaccari is now contributing to a Challenge Australian Soft Power

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Alexandra Wake commented on the Challenge Australian Soft Power

Australia used to have a very effective tool for soft power in the region through ABC Radio Australia and Australia Network. While the ABC still operates internationally in a fairly curtailed way, this needs to be boosted again. Provision of good information - in radio, tv, and digital forms - from a reliable and trusted source such as the ABC is one of the best things we can do for our neighbours. 

Secondly, Australia could do more to train journalists and other media workers in the region. China is spending quite a bit of money flying journalists into there for education - Australia could be doing the same. Also, more money could be spent on Australian trainers support local media sectors with our neighbours. This is back to the main point that having access to good and trustworthy information is vital to our neighbours, and a very good way of using soft power.

 

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Alexandra Wake is now contributing to a Challenge Australian Soft Power

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Debbie Roache is now contributing to a Challenge Australian Soft Power

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Rosie Odsey is now contributing to a Challenge Australian Soft Power

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Alison Bailey commented on the Challenge Australian Soft Power

Further to Mark Davis's point, I sometimes think that Australian 'soft power diplomacy' works in spite of government, not because of it, in much the same way that individual Americans are wonderful, warm and hospitable people, but often cringe about their government's standpoints. Aussies are a practical and mostly friendly bunch and those who travel the world spread the image of the relaxed, 'no worries' approach to life. Then there's our amazing natural wonders - beautiful beaches, ancient landscapes, indigenous culture, convivial climate (and the wow factor of our either lethal or adorable wildlife) - what's not to love? Now, if only we could get on the front foot on climate and energy...

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Deborah Wildgoose is now contributing to a Challenge Australian Soft Power

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Michael Norwood is now contributing to a Challenge Australian Soft Power

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Kathleen Rabel is now contributing to a Challenge Australian Soft Power

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Colleen Morgan is now contributing to a Challenge Australian Soft Power

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Bob Dick is now contributing to a Challenge Australian Soft Power

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Mark Davis commented on the Challenge Australian Soft Power

I've been working in the Pacific Islands for the last two years, mainly focused on providing technical assistance to five of the top 10 most vulnerable countries on the planet (LDCs/SIDS) whose low lying land is disappearing below the waves.

On one hand Australian leaders have emphasised how important the Pacific island region is to geo-political stability while on the other hand promoting coal, this inability of leaders to understand basic science and the impacts of business as usual (IPCC RCP 8.5) undermines stability and credibility. 

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Lindley Edwards is now contributing to a Challenge Australian Soft Power

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Craig Manning is now contributing to a Challenge Australian Soft Power

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Mark Davis is now contributing to a Challenge Australian Soft Power

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Margaret SHANAHAN is now contributing to a Challenge Australian Soft Power

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Elissa Doxey is now contributing to a Challenge Australian Soft Power

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Ron Curry is now contributing to a Challenge Australian Soft Power

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Jessica Pincombe is now contributing to a Challenge Australian Soft Power

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Pamita Mund is now contributing to a Challenge Australian Soft Power

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Peter Armand is now contributing to a Challenge Australian Soft Power

 
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