Students and practitioners of public policy in Australia and Canada have always paid considerable attention to politics and public policy in the other country. However, this comparative focus has tended to be fixed primarily on domestic issues: comparative federalism, comparative approaches to natural resources or Aboriginal peoples, questions of social welfare, and so on. Much less attention has been paid to the similarities and differences in the way the two states have pursued their foreign policies in the 1980s. 1
This is an unfortunate omission. Australia and Canada have much in common and faced many of the same problems in the international political and economic systems in the last quarter of the twentieth century. Both states were part of the post-1945 Western alliance system: Canada through the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and the North American Aerospace Defence Command (NORAD), and Australia through its membership in the Australia-New Zealand-United States (ANZUS) alliance. Both are members of the economic club of developed nations, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), yet both suffer, much more than most of their OECD partners, from being principally, but not exclusively, commodity-dependent economies. In the pursuit of their foreign policies, both were typically 'first followers' of their major ally, the United States, in the decades following the Second World War. Their external policies inexorably reflected a sensitivity to the actions of the strong and a commitment to the economic and security systems established under American hegemony after 1945.
The changes that occurred in the international system over the 1980s, however, required both states to engage in a considerable rethinking of their international roles. From the coming to power of Mikhail S.