This week on Policy Forum Pod, we unpick Australia’s step-up to the Pacific, take a look at how the country should respond to regional leaders’ growing concerns of a climate crisis, and ask what China’s expanding presence means for the future of the region.

In November, Prime Minister Scott Morrison promised to take Australia’s engagement with the Pacific to a new level, announcing five new diplomatic missions, and a $2 billion infrastructure financing facility. But the country’s relationship with the Pacific is increasingly being overshadowed by its lack of serious action on climate, with Pacific leaders warning that the step-up will fail, unless Australia takes meaningful action to address the issue.

On this episode of Policy Forum Pod, host Mark Kenny is joined by Katerina Teaiwa, Pichamon Yeophantong, and Graeme Smith to discuss why the step up needs go beyond securing Australia’s backyard, while focusing on human security and climate change. They also look at why people in the Pacific don’t want to become pawns in a new power game, and how good relations can be built without spending big bucks.

Pod presenter Julia Ahrens also hears from Avery Poole about the internationalisation of university curricula, and the two of them tackle some of your questions and comments.

Avery Poole is a Senior Fellow at The Australia and New Zealand School of Government and an Honorary Senior Lecturer at the Crawford School of Public Policy at ANU.

Graeme Smith is a fellow in the ANU Department of Pacific Affairs. He also hosts the Little Red Podcast with the Australian Centre for China in the World.

Katerina Teaiwa is Associate Professor at the ANU College of Asia and the Pacific’s School of Culture, History & Language. She is also Vice-President of the Australian Association for Pacific Studies.

Pichamon Yeophantong is an Australian Research Council DECRA Fellow and Senior Lecturer in the UNSW Canberra School of Humanities and Social Sciences at the Australian Defence Force Academy.

Mark Kenny is a Senior Fellow in the ANU Australian Studies Institute. He came to the university after a high-profile journalistic career including six years as chief political correspondent and national affairs editor for The Sydney Morning HeraldThe Age, and The Canberra Times.

Julia Ahrens is a presenter on Policy Forum Pod.

Show notes | The following were referred to in this episode:

The Australia-Indonesia Centre

‘Australia in the Asian Century’ White Paper

Scott Morrison at the Pacific Islands Forum

A climate plea to Scott Morrison from a churchman of the Pacific’s sinking nations (SMH) – Rev James Bhagwan

Australia’s Pacific Step-up

Push for Asia literacy in Australia

How to Defend Australia – Hugh White

The Free and Open Indo-Pacific strategy: a way forward – Simi Mehta

Political Gabfest (podcast)

FiveThirtyEight (podcast)

The Party Room (podcast)

Chat 10 Looks 3 (podcast)

Game of Drones (podcast)

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