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.
TEXT SIZE - +
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

Photogallery Pope's Easter Prayer: Peace in Ukraine, Syria

Pontiff also calls for end to terrorist acts in Nigeria, violence in Iraq, and success in peace talks between Israelis and Palestinians More

Abdullah Holds Lead in Afghan Presidential Election

Country's Election Commission says that with half of the ballots counted, former FM remains in the lead with 44 percent of the vote More

Russia-Ukraine Crisis Could Trigger Cyber War

As tensions between Kyiv and Moscow escalate, so too has frequency of online attacks targeting government, news and financial sites More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politicsi
X
Michael Eckels
April 19, 2014
There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politics

There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Face of American Farmer is Changing

The average American farmer is now 58 years old, and farmers 65 and older are the fastest growing segment of the population. It’s a troubling trend signaling big changes ahead for American agriculture as aging farmers retire. Reporter Mike Osborne says a new report from the U.S. Census Bureau is suggesting what some of those changes might look like... and why they might not be so troubling.
Video

Video Donetsk Governor: Ukraine Military Assault 'Delicate But Necessary'

Around a dozen state buildings in eastern Ukraine remain in the hands of pro-Russian protesters who are demanding a referendum on self-rule. The governor of the whole Donetsk region is among those forced out by the protesters. He spoke to VOA's Henry Ridgwell from his temporary new office in Donetsk city.
Video

Video Drones May Soon Send Data From High Seas

Drones are usually associated with unmanned flying vehicles, but autonomous watercraft are also becoming useful tools for jobs ranging from scientific exploration to law enforcement to searching for a missing airliner in the Indian Ocean. VOA’s George Putic reports on sea-faring drones.
Video

Video New Earth-Size Planet Found

Not too big, not too small. Not too hot, not too cold. A newly discovered planet looks just right for life as we know it, according to an international group of astronomers. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Copts in Diaspora Worry About Future in Egypt

Around 10 percent of Egypt’s population belong to the Coptic faith, making them the largest Christian minority in the Middle East. But they have become targets of violence since the revolution three years ago. With elections scheduled for May and the struggle between the Egyptian military and Islamists continuing, many Copts abroad are deeply worried about the future of their ancient church. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky visited a Coptic church outside Washington DC.
Video

Video Critics Say Venezuelan Protests Test Limits of Military's Support

During the two months of deadly anti-government protests that have rocked the oil-rich nation of Venezuela, President Nicolas Maduro has accused the opposition of trying to initiate a coup. Though a small number of military officers have been arrested for allegedly plotting against the government, VOA’s Brian Padden reports the leadership of the armed forces continues to support the president, at least for now.
Video

Video More Millenials Unplug to Embrace Board Games

A big new trend in the U.S. toy industry has more consumers switching off their high-tech gadgets to play with classic toys, like board games. This is especially true among the so-called millenial generation - those born in the 1980's and 90's. Elizabeth Lee has more from an unusual café in Los Angeles, where the new trend is popular and business is booming.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
AppleAndroid