d e a n   f o r b e S                                                            w a l k i n g ,  n o t  r u n n i n g . . .
 

Making a Difference: Australian International Education

Edited by Dorothy Davis and Bruce Mackintosh (UNSW Press, Sydney, 2011)


MEDIA commentary 2018




Planning Asian Cities: Risks and Resilience

Edited by Stephen Hamnett and Dean Forbes (Routledge, London,  2011)

paperback

eBook version

Sustainable Development in China edited by Curtis Andressen, Mubarak A.R., and Wang Xiaoyi (Routledge, London,  2013)

BLOGS 2018

Scroll down to read


  1. Bullet Wilson Center

  2. Bullet Incorrigible optimist

  3. Bullet Shuffling into 2018

WILSON CENTER


Congratulations are in order. The Wilson Center in Washington DC has been ranked as the #1 regional studies think tank in the world. Overall it is the #5 ranked think tank in the USA. I’m, in general, a little cynical about rankings exercises but the Global Go To Think Tank Index that comes out of the University of Pennsylvania is one of the better ones.


I should acknowledge that I spent several months at The Wilson Center in 2013 and enjoyed it immensely. Even when the Government shutdown meant the permanent staff of the Wilson Centre were absent for a few weeks. (7/2/18)



INCORRIGIBLE OPTIMIST


Being opposed to the Vietnam War I joined the Campaign for Peace in Vietnam in the late 1970s. My name went into the ballot for conscription into the army with the possibility of being sent to Vietnam; fortunately my number was not called.


I retained an interest in Vietnam’s gradual recovery from the trauma. A deeper concern about Vietnam and particularly its cities developed in my time at the ANU in the early 1980s. In September 1990 with three colleagues we decided to host a conference on Vietnam. It was modelled on the long running Indonesian Update, and proved very successful. The Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Gareth Evans, delivered the opening address. It was a substantial piece, well written and argued, and helped set the tone for the 160 people who attended. 


Evan’s father was a tram driver and he attended public schools, albeit one a special high school. His talent was recognised at an early age. He became a prolific writer and headed several Ministries in the Hawke-Keating governments, but the Foreign Ministry was his favourite. As a committed and knowledgeable Foreign Minister his new book, Incorrigible Optimist. A Political Memoir, is an essential read. 


I found the first 40 or so pages hard work. There was the go-go-go, and the ever-present ego, but I couldn’t get a grip on the inner Gareth. He describes himself as having ‘an urge to get things done’ (p x) and as a consequence the book radiates a relentless ‘my views and my place in history’ vibe. This is the bloke who knows everyone and everything. And a touch of humour is part of the mix. He can’t resist bagging Bronwyn Bishop for her negativity in the Senate, and quietly mentions her maiden name was B Setright (p 47). In general, though, he exposes little of significance about his private life and the darker aspects of his career.


I started warming up when I reached the chapter on diplomacy. It was ‘the most exciting and productive period of my professional life’ (p 100) he says of his years as Foreign Minister, from 1988-1996. Not surprisingly, Evans believes Australia is a ’middle power’ and its foreign policy needs ‘more self-reliance… more Asia… less United States’ (p 117). He has no confidence in Donald Trump. 


Evans reminds us that the Hawke and Keating government’s main focus was on business and the growth of the economy, combining ‘very dry economic policies with very warm and moist policies’ (p 88). Their strategies overlapped with British PM Tony Blair’s Third Way democratic socialism.


Evans barely mentions his longest-serving successor, Alexander Downer, and, not surprisingly, was largely unimpressed by the performance of John Howard’s government. Nor does he mention Ross Garnaut, Hawke’s advisor on economic matters including the Asian economies.


Advice flows. Evan’s offers his thoughts on how to balance relationships with the USA and China (pp 172-176), why golf enables the building of relationships (p 166) and the reasons for Australia to be wary of significant defence links with Japan (p 171). He admits to being unable to achieve much in the Indian Ocean region (pp 177-179) and says loudly that the UK ‘has brought nothing of significance to the region’s defence since the fall of Singapore’ (p 132).


A lengthy chapter on education expands on Evan’s activist undergraduate years at Melbourne University, and his fellow students who went on to high profile elite roles. A stint at Oxford followed enabling him to continue to travel to different parts of the world and to build more international links. The core of the chapter is about his time as Chancellor at The Australian National University. Typically, Evan’s turns it into a lesson for the reader on the role of Councils and Chancellors and why the Australian practice of Chancellors’ chairing Council is superior to the UK where, he says, Vice-Chancellors chair Council.


He brings to the book experiences over a series of major jobs, a finely tuned intellect, a serious interest in detail and a ribald sense of humour. When the term memoir is used I am programmed to expect more subtlety, more reflection, more introspection. If only he chilled… but, of course, he wouldn’t. Does he have an inner life? If he does there’s not a lot of it in the book. Now Evans calls himself a CLOOF Clapped Out Old Fart (p 266). It’s a joke, of course. He is anything but a CLOOF. I wonder what book he is writing now?


Gareth Evans 2017 Incorrigible Optimist. A Political Memoir, Melbourne University Press, Melbourne



SHUFFLING INTO 2018


The New Year thickness in my head is very slowly starting to dissipate. The New Year fireworks in Sydney were spectacular, I’m reliably told; I took on the child-sitting duties and managed to see the 9.00pm display.


It is time to transfer commitments across to my 2018 Moleskine.


The new addition is to update a chapter in Understanding Contemporary Asia Pacific, which was edited by Katherine Palmer Kaup from Furman University in South Carolina. The book was published by Lynne Rienner (Boulder and London) and released in 2007. My chapter on ‘Population and Urbanization’ will need quite a lot of work. Cities have grown rapidly in size and number over the last decade - think of China and its ghost cities.


I am hoping the book edited by Rita Padawangi and titled Routledge Handbook of Urbanization in Southeast Asia will be published later this year. My chapter is titled ‘Knowledge, Creativity and the City’. (5/1/18)










BLOG 2018                                                       scroll down to see more 2018 blogs