The Values of Australian Foreign Policy and the 2019 Election: A Potential Contest of Political Philosophies?


Australia’s political system is dominated by its two main parliamentary parties: the conservative Liberal-National Party Coalition, which has been in government since 2013; and the social-democratic Labor Party. Australian politics is thus typically a contest of the rival political philosophies and values commonly observed in modern liberal democracies, that of conservatism versus social democracy.

While Australia’s electoral competitions usually sharply debate economic and social policies, foreign policy is generally considered to be a bipartisan field. Both Labor and the Coalition traditionally express mutual commitment to the core values of Australian foreign policy: maintaining the US alliance, expressing support for the values of the ‘rules-based international order’, and promotion of the neoliberal free trade agenda.

However, as a national federal election is due to be held by May 2019, several foreign policy issues have recently arisen, which may be points of contention to influence the forthcoming campaign. These include: Australia’s treatment of asylum seekers; participation in the US-led military campaigns in Afghanistan and Iraq; environmental treaties; and diplomatic relations with various countries, including China, Japan, and Israel.

Economic management policy issues are still expected to dominate the 2019 election; the leadership instability in both the Liberal and National Parties over the previous year will also certainly be exploited for political gain by the Labor opposition, which has consistently held an advantage over the Coalition government in opinion polling. At least partially differing visions for foreign policy will nevertheless be an important supplement of Australia’s upcoming electoral battle.

Author Information
Craig Mark, Kyoritsu Women's University, Japan

Paper Information
Conference: ACERP2019
Stream: Philosophy - Philosophy and Public Policy

This paper is part of the ACERP2019 Conference Proceedings (View)
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Posted by James Alexander Gordon