News / Asia

    Foreign Policy Challenges Await Australia's New PM

    Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd (C) greets members of the Opposition including Opposition Leader Tony Abbott (L) and Deputy Leader Julie Bishop before Parliament starts at the Parliament House in Canberra, June 27, 2013.
    Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd (C) greets members of the Opposition including Opposition Leader Tony Abbott (L) and Deputy Leader Julie Bishop before Parliament starts at the Parliament House in Canberra, June 27, 2013.
    Phil Mercer
    Australia's former leader, Kevin Rudd, was sworn in Thursday as prime minister, three years after being ousted from the post by Julia Gillard.  Among the challenges awaiting the Mandarin-speaking former diplomat are a range of foreign policy issues, including relations with China, and a steady flow of asylum seekers arriving by boat. 

    In his first term as Australia’s Prime Minister in 2007, Kevin Rudd pursued what many considered a humane and moral approach to refugees.  He closed down offshore processing camps in the South Pacific set up by his conservative predecessor.  Rights groups criticized conditions inside the facilities, but following Rudd’s removal as leader by Julia Gillard in 2010, the centers in Papua New Guinea and Nauru were reopened to accommodate a steady flow of asylum seekers arriving in Australian waters by sea.

    The new prime minister is now being urged to again bring in more compassionate refugee policies.

    Labor party lawmaker Doug Cameron says that families with children should not be held under Australia’s mandatory detention policy for asylum seekers.

    “I would like to see kids out of camps. I think that is important," he said. "I think we need to get some situation where we can get refugees and asylum seekers actually if they're put into the community, actually having a living, a capacity to make a living. I don't want an underclass created and these are big questions.”

    Rudd is a former Australia foreign minister with a particular interest in global affairs.  He is a fluent Mandarin speaker, whose daughter is married to a Hong Kong-born banker. 

    Among the international challenges facing the new Rudd government are relations with Indonesia, a key partner in the fight against radical Islamic terrorism, and commercial ties with China, Australia’s biggest trading partner.

    Chinese demand for natural resources, most notably iron ore, has insulated the Australian economy from the ravages of the global recession. But Rudd concedes that the minerals bonanza is coming to an end.

    “I believe that what the nation needs now is strong, proven, national economic leadership to deal with the formidable new challenge Australia now faces with the end of the decade-long China resources boom," he said.

    Despite his fascination with international affairs, Rudd’s biggest challenges lies at home.

    The call for spot elections followed a series of opinion polls that indicated wide public dissatisfaction with the government.  Most Labor MPs believe only Rudd can save them from electoral defeat. Thus, one of the new leader’s top priorities is to unite the party and convince voters that a divided government deserves another chance at the next election.

    Voting takes place in September, but the campaign promises to be bruising.

    You May Like

    In Britain, The Sun Still Doesn’t Shine

    Invoking Spitfires and Merlin, Leave voters insist country can be great again, following surprising 'Brexit' vote last week

    Double Wave of Suicide Bombings Puts Lebanon, Refugees on Edge

    Following suicide bombings in Christian town of Al-Qaa, on Lebanon's northeast border with Syria, fears of further bombings have risen

    US Senators Warned on Zika After Failing to Pass Funding

    Zika threats and challenges, as well as issues of contraception and vaccines, spelled out as lawmakers point fingers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Slow Rebuilding Amid Boko Haram Destruction in Nigeria’s Northeasti
    X
    June 29, 2016 6:15 PM
    Military operations have chased Boko Haram out of towns and cities in Nigeria’s northeast since early last year. But it is only recently that people have begun returning to their homes in Adamawa state, near the border with Cameroon, to try to rebuild their lives. For VOA, Chris Stein traveled to the area and has this report.
    Video

    Video Slow Rebuilding Amid Boko Haram Destruction in Nigeria’s Northeast

    Military operations have chased Boko Haram out of towns and cities in Nigeria’s northeast since early last year. But it is only recently that people have begun returning to their homes in Adamawa state, near the border with Cameroon, to try to rebuild their lives. For VOA, Chris Stein traveled to the area and has this report.
    Video

    Video Clinton Leads Trump, But Many Voters Don't Like Either

    In the U.S. presidential race, most recent polls show Democrat Hillary Clinton with a steady lead over Republican Donald Trump as both presumptive party nominees prepare for their party conventions next month. Trump’s disapproval ratings have risen in some recent surveys, but Clinton also suffers from high negative ratings, suggesting both candidates have a lot of work to do to improve their images before the November election. VOA National correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.
    Video

    Video New US Ambassador to Somalia Faces Heavy Challenges

    The new U.S. envoy to Somalia, who was sworn into office Monday, will be the first American ambassador to that nation in 25 years. He will take up his post as Somalia faces a number of crucial issues, including insecurity, an upcoming election, and the potential closure of the Dadaab refugee camp in Kenya. VOA’s Jill Craig asked Somalis living in Kenya’s capital city Nairobi how they feel about the U.S. finally installing a new ambassador.
    Video

    Video At National Zoo, Captivating Animal Sculptures Illustrate Tragedy of Ocean Pollution

    The National Zoo in Washington, D.C., is home to about 1,800 animals, representing 300 species. But throughout the summer, visitors can also see other kinds of creatures there. They are larger-than-life animal sculptures that speak volumes about a global issue — the massive plastic pollution in our oceans. VOA's June Soh takes us to the zoo's special exhibit, called Washed Ashore: Art to Save the Sea.
    Video

    Video Baghdad Bikers Defy War with a Roar

    Baghdad is a city of contradictions. War is a constant. Explosions and kidnappings are part of daily life. But the Iraqi capital remains a thriving city, even if a little beat up. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on how some in Baghdad are defying the stereotype of a nation at war by pursuing a lifestyle known for its iconic symbols of rebellion: motorbikes, leather jackets and roaring engines.
    Video

    Video Melting Pot of Immigrants Working to Restore US Capitol Dome

    The American Iron Works company is one of the firms working to renovate the iconic U.S. Capitol Dome. The company employs immigrants of many different cultural and national backgrounds. VOA’s Arman Tarjimanyan has more.
    Video

    Video Testing Bamboo as Building Material

    For thousands of years various species of bamboo - one of the world's most versatile plants - have been used for diverse purposes ranging from food and medicine to textiles and construction. But its use on a large scale is hampered because it's not manufactured to specific standards but grown in the ground. A University of Pittsburgh professor is on track to changing that. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Orphanage in Iraqi City Houses Kids Who Lost their Parents to Attacks by IS

    An orphanage in Iraqi Kurdistan has become home to scores of Yazidi children who lost their parents after Islamic State militants took over Sinjar in Iraq’s Nineveh Province in 2014. Iraqi Kurdish forces backed by the U.S. airstrikes have since recaptured Sinjar but the need for the care provided by the orphanage continues. VOA’s Kawa Omar filed this report narrated by Rob Raffaele.
    Video

    Video Re-Opening Old Wounds in a Bullet-Riddled Cultural Landmark

    A cultural landmark before Lebanon’s civil war transformed it into a nest of snipers, Beirut’s ‘Yellow House’ is once again set to play a crucial role in the city.  Built in a neo-Ottoman style in the 1920s, in September it is set to be re-opened as a ‘memory museum’ - its bullet-riddled walls and bunkered positions overlooking the city’s notorious ‘Green Line’ maintained for posterity. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Brexit Resounds in US Presidential Contest

    Britain’s decision to leave the European Union is resounding in America’s presidential race. As VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, Republican presumptive nominee Donald Trump sees Britain’s move as an affirmation of his campaign’s core messages, while Democrat Hillary Clinton sees the episode as further evidence that Trump is unfit to be president.
    Video

    Video NASA Juno Spacecraft, Nearing Jupiter, to Shed Light on Gas Giant

    After a five-year journey, the spacecraft Juno is nearing its destination, the giant planet Jupiter, where it will enter orbit and start sending data back July 4th. As Mike O'Sullivan reports from Pasadena, California, the craft will pierce the veil of Jupiter's dense cloud cover to reveal its mysteries.
    Video

    Video Orlando Shooting Changes Debate on Gun Control

    It’s been nearly two weeks since the largest mass shooting ever in the United States. Despite public calls for tighter gun control laws, Congress is at an impasse. Democratic lawmakers resorted to a 1960s civil rights tactic to portray their frustration. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti explains how the Orlando, Florida shooting is changing the debate.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora