Relocating Middle Powers: Australia and Canada in a Changing World Order

By Andrew F. Cooper; Richard A. Higgott et al. | Go to book overview
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second cut at the problem would come in 1986, when Harris added one more report on Australia's foreign policy organization to the many which had accumulated over the previous decade. He authored the Review of Australia's Overseas Representation, released in 1986, which suggested that the separation of foreign economic policy and foreign policy could best be resolved by the establishment of a coordinating committee at the bureaucratic level. His suggestion was the creation of a Secretaries' Committee on Overseas Representation (SCOR), which would be chaired by the secretary of the Department of Foreign Affairs. Represented on the committee would be the permanent heads of the departments of Defence, Prime Minister and Cabinet, Immigration and Ethnic Affairs, Trade, Finance, and Local Government and Administrative Services. In addition, the managing director of Austrade and a member of the Public Service Board would sit on this committee. 58

The 1986 review thus stopped short of embracing the logical bureaucratic solution to Harris's concern about the separation of bureaus into economic and political spheres: their amalgamation into one department. That, however, was to come in the following year, when the broader restructuring of government departments also embraced the departments of Trade and Foreign Affairs. It was not a development which Harris regretted.

In Harris's view -- put in a number of addresses over the course of 198859 -- the amalgamation would achieve a number of purposes. It would improve the advice to ministers on the full range of foreign policy issues and, in particular, those issues of greatest importance to Australian security -- economic issues. It would 'enable us to focus more directly on the trade and related challenges that face us.' This rationale was repeated frequently by the two ministers for foreign affairs during this period, Bill Hayden and Gareth Evans. 60


Conclusions

The amalgamations of the Australian and Canadian foreign ministries were of considerable importance to the evolution of the particular brand of middle power diplomacy pursued by both states in the 1980s. These amalgamations suggest that Canadians and Australians learned in the 1980s what European middle powers had learned last century: that foreign economic policy and, particularly, external trade are of vital importance to the well-being and security of states of middle size and rank, and an integrated foreign ministry is needed to reflect that importance. Australians and Canadians were learning that a bureau

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