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

Karzai's Legacy: Missed Opportunities?

Afghanistan's president leaves behind a much different nation than the one he inherited, yet his legacy from 13 years in power is getting mixed reviews More

US Urges Restraint in Hong Kong Protests

Protesters angered by Beijing's decision to only approve candidates that it sanctions for Hong Kong's leadership elections in 2017 More

Archive of Forgotten UCLA Speeches Offers Snapshot of History

Recordings of prominent voices in social change, politics, science and literature from 1960s, early 1970s now available on YouTube More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenyai
X
Gabe Joselow
September 29, 2014 6:20 PM
Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenya

Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Iran's Rouhani Skeptical on Syria Strikes

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani expressed skepticism Friday that U.S.-led airstrikes in Iraq and Syria could crush Islamic State militants. From New York, VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports the president was also hopeful that questions about Iran’s nuclear program could be resolved soon.
Video

Video US House Speaker: Congress Should Debate Authorization Against IS

As wave after wave of U.S. airstrikes target Islamic State militants, the speaker of the Republican-controlled House of Representatives says he would be willing to call Congress back into session to debate a formal, broad authorization for the use of military force. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports from Washington, where legislators left town 10 days ago for a seven-week recess.
Video

Video Ebola Patients Find No Treatment at Sierra Leone Holding Center

At a holding facility in Makeni, central Sierra Leone, dozens of sick people sit on the floor in an empty university building. They wait in filthy conditions. It's a 16-hour drive by ambulance to Kailahun Ebola treatment center. Adam Bailes was there and reports on what he says are some of the worst situations he has seen since the beginning of this Ebola outbreak. And he says it appears case numbers may already be far worse than authorities acknowledge.
Video

Video Identifying Bodies Found in Texas Border Region

Thousands of immigrants have died after crossing the border from Mexico into remote areas of the southwestern United States in recent years. Local officials in south Texas alone have found hundreds of unidentified bodies and buried them in mass graves in local cemeteries. Now an anthropologist and her students at Baylor University have been exhuming bodies and looking for clues to identify them. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Waco, Texas.
Video

Video Ebola Robs Liberians of Chance to Say Good-Bye to Loved Ones

In Liberia, where Ebola has killed more than 1,500 people, authorities have worked hard to convince people to allow specialized burial teams to take away dead bodies. But these safety measures, while necessary, make it hard for people to say good bye to their loved ones. VOA's Anne Look reports on the tragedy from Liberia.
Video

Video Reconstruction? What Reconstruction? Life After War in Gaza

It’s been a month since Israel and the Palestinians agreed to a ceasefire to end 52 days of an air and tank war that left 60,000 homes in Gaza damaged or destroyed and 110,000 homeless. Sharon Behn reports that lack of reconstruction is leading to despair.
Video

Video US, Saudi Arabia and UAE Hit Islamic State's Oil Revenue

The United States, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have bombed oil facilities operated by Islamic State militants in Syria. It was a truly collaborative effort, with the two Arab countries dropping the majority of the bombs. The 12 refineries targeted were estimated to generate as much as $2 million per day for the terrorist group. VOA Pentagon correspondent Carla Babb has the story.
Video

Video Russia's Food Sanctions Raise Price Worries, Hopes for Domestic Production

Russia retaliated against Western sanctions imposed for its actions in Ukraine by halting food imports from the West. The temporary import ban on food from Australia, the European Union, Norway and North America has Russian consumers concerned that they could face a sharp increase in food prices. But in an ironic twist, the restrictions aimed at the Kremlin have made Russia's domestic food producers hopeful this can boost their business. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
Video

Video Washington to Pyongyang: 'Shut This Evil System Down'

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is calling on North Korea to shut down prison camps and other human rights abuses following a United Nations Commission of Inquiry into "widespread and systematic human rights violations." VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from the United Nations.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid