Troubling Policy seminar series - Can Australia strengthen national interests by greater foreign policy independence? - 23 July 2019

The term ‘the national interests’ is often used by foreign policy makers to justify their arguments. The term is less commonly explained.

John Langmore and Allan PatienceDr Allan Patience in conversation with Professor John Langmore  

About the event

We live in a time of great turbulence in global politics and are witnessing rapidly changing alliances and shifts in the balance of forces both regionally and globally. Australia is currently one of the closest allies of the United States and regularly accompanies it in foreign military missions and supports it at the UN. It is unclear if this closeness is always reciprocated. At the same time we have close economic ties with China, whilst trust between the two countries is unsettled. John Langmore will ask if our current foreign policy is fit for purpose and whether we should aim for a more independent stance? He will be in conversation with Dr. Allan Patience.


John Langmore has worked as a public servant in Papua New Guinea, an economic advisor to the Labor Party at the time of the Accord, and was elected in 1984 as the Member for Fraser in the House of Representatives and re-elected four times. He retired from parliament in 1996 to become Director of the UN Division for Social Policy and Development in New York for five years and then Representative of the International Labour Organization to the United Nations for two. Apart from his teaching, John has published extensively in books, journals and in the media, including Dealing with America: the UN, the US and Australia, and To Firmer Ground: Restoring Hope in Australia.

Allan Patience was educated at Monash University and the LSE. He has a PhD from the University of Melbourne where he is an Honorary Principal Fellow in the School of Social and Political Sciences where he co-convenes the subject Australian Foreign Policy. His recent publications include: Australian Foreign Policy in Asia: Middle power or awkward partner? (London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2018); “Interlocutors for Peace? Bringing middle powers in from the theoretical cold," in T.S. de Swielande et al. (eds.), in Rethinking Middle Powers in the Asian Century (London: Routledge, 2019); Co-author, "Chinese Students in Australia," Journal of Australian Studies (forthcoming, 2019).

Download the lecture notes

About the series

The ‘Troubling Policy’ seminar series asks difficult questions about controversial or intractable policy challenges, seeks to find new ways of looking at these, and embraces insights from across disciplines.  The series aims to explore the societal and political context in which policy is developed, including the knowledge/s and expertise used, the technologies deployed, how these combine to shape regulation, the relationship between controversy and the policy process, and the effectiveness (or otherwise) of policy implementation. The series is hosted by the Melbourne School of Government.