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Contributing to Australia’s understanding of, and role in, Asia & the Pacific

The National Institutes Grant enables ANU to support the development of Australia’s national unity and identity, including by improving Australia’s understanding of its Asia-Pacific neighbours, and its place in the international community.

Reimagining the Japan relationship

Associate Professor Shiro Armstrong, Director of the ANU Australia-Japan Research Centre, has called for Australia to rethink its relationship with Japan in a major new report, Reimagining the Japan Relationship.

While the relationship between Australia and Japan has never been closer, the report finds it needs to be reimagined to deliver its full potential and cope with accelerating economic, environmental and social changes in both countries and a dramatically changing geopolitical environment.

This involves rethinking both the economic and strategic relationship through two main pillars of engagement with Japan. The first is working together with partners in the region to define and commit to a common goal of comprehensive security, which integrates national security, economic and environmental sustainability objectives.

The second is focusing on the impacts of energy and demographic transitions under way in both countries.

Japan shares many of Australia’s regional and global strategic interests. The hope is that this report might advance Australia’s engagement with Japan towards developing a shared vision of a bilateral relationship that can deliver both countries’ future national interests.

Private security could improve public safety in Papua New Guinea

A report from ANU researchers highlights the vital role of private security in public safety across Papua New Guinea (PNG). The report, Private Security in Papua New Guinea – A networked approach, shows that while the industry needs greater regulation, PNG would likely face more insecurity without it.

The report notes private security is a critical part of PNG’s broader security network, especially given shortfalls in public trust and confidence in PNG’s police. Despite this, private security is overlooked in PNG policy discussions about security. In addition, Australia – as PNG’s leading international donor and security partner – needs a much better understanding of how security provision works in PNG.

Report co-author ANU Associate Professor Sinclair Dinnen said, “We hope this report will lead to better understanding of private security in PNG and, in particular, how it relates to and interacts with other security providers, including the police, NGOs, local communities and the corporate sector”.

The report provides insights into how the industry can help address insecurity in PNG as part of an integrated public–private approach to security.

Australia could be true energy superpower

The International Energy Agency has confirmed the world is undergoing a major transformation in global energy markets: fossil fuels are dying and renewables are on the rise. ANU Associate Professor Christian Downie has outlined how Australia can take advantage of the changing geopolitics of energy.

In an article published in The Conversation, Associate Professor Downie said energy market changes will reorder patterns of cooperation and conflict between states. He outlined three ways Australia can benefit. First, harness renewable resources, as Australia’s leverage as a dominant goal and gas exporter declines. By exploiting renewables Australia could become energy self-sufficient and reduce vulnerability to supply disruptions, such as from international conflicts. Second, aim to become one of the primary exporters of clean electricity, hydrogen and critical minerals, as demand for electricity increases in Asia. Third, leverage Australia’s energy advantage to influence other countries and shape intergovernmental arrangements such as those governing the future of international trade in hydrogen.

“This opportunity won’t last forever. Countries that move first will gain an advantage in new industries, technologies and export markets. Those that wait may never catch up,” said Professor Downie.

Australia urged to support global COVID-19 vaccine equity

An expert from ANU is urging Australia to support international calls at the World Trade Organization (WTO) for pharmaceutical giants to not only waive intellectual property protections for the COVID-19 vaccine, but teach countries how to replicate the vaccine in the lab.

In an article published in Development, ANU Professor Susan Sell said Australia must support a waiver on COVID vaccine patents at the WTO, as the United States and others have done.

The emergence of the Delta strain highlighted the importance for all nations, particularly low- and middle-income countries, of being able to produce vaccines locally. Countries like India, South Korea, Brazil and South Africa have the capacity to produce COVID vaccines if the major firms allow it. Professor Sell said it is time the major pharmaceutical companies put human lives before profit and licence COVID technologies for safe and accelerated production and universal access.

“We’re in a race against these mutant variants. The longer it takes for the world’s population to get vaccinated, the more mutations are likely to arise that can render current vaccines ineffective,” said Professor Sell.

Understanding security effects of criminal deportations to the Pacific

ANU PhD student and Fulbright scholar, Henrietta McNeill, is researching security effects of criminal deportations from Australia, New Zealand and the United States to Pacific states.

“My research is about how the securitisation of identity plays out in the criminal deportation and reintegration process in the Pacific,” said Ms McNeill.

Ms McNeill is researching who is deported and why, as well as the surrounding laws and discourses. She is also looking at reintegration processes in the Pacific, including how deportees are accepted back into society, the challenges they face and the effect on regional security.

Ms McNeill believes language is the key to unlocking the barriers faced by people in the Pacific who have been criminally deported and how they are reintegrated back into society. This includes whether there are opportunities for language learning before deportation to assist with reintegration.

“What I want is for my PhD to contribute to good policy making around reintegration approaches and what’s best for Pacific states,” said Ms McNeill.