Ministerial foreword

Julie Bishop
Minister for Foreign Affairs
Steven Ciobo
Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment

The 2017 Foreign Policy White Paper sets out a comprehensive framework to advance Australia’s security and prosperity in a contested and competitive world.

Informed by our values, it describes Australia’s national interests and the Government’s international engagement priorities. It is our agenda for opportunity, security and strength.

Over the decade ahead, technological change, challenges to globalisation and the rules-based international order, continued economic dynamism and growth in Asia, shifts in strategic power regionally and globally, Islamist terrorism and climate change are among the significant trends shaping our world.

Some of these developments challenge Australian interests. Others bring opportunity. Australia should respond with confidence. We are a regional power with global interests. Our strong economy and institutions, innovative businesses, educated and skilled population and secure borders provide solid foundations for success.

As this White Paper makes clear, in a complex and uncertain environment we will have to work harder to maximise our international influence and secure our interests.

We will need to keep reforming our economy, boost our competitiveness and resilience, and invest in the other domestic foundations of our national strength.

A framework for the future demands active and determined diplomacy and strong partnerships to help advance a secure and prosperous Indo–Pacific and strengthen the rules-based international order. We must step up our efforts to support a more resilient Pacific. A diverse and evolving set of national security threats requires strong defences at home and resolute action abroad to keep Australia safe, secure and free.

We must guard against protectionism and build robust support for open economic settings by ensuring all Australians have the opportunity to benefit from our growing economy. Our trade and investment agenda will assist by boosting jobs and supporting higher living standards.

It has been 14 years since the last comprehensive white paper on Australia’s international engagement. While national interests are enduring, the international environment in which we pursue them has changed significantly, and so too has Australia.

We hope that future Australian governments regularly take the opportunity to engage the Australian community on our place in the world and explain the reasons for our international engagement. For our part, the Government will keep the policy settings in this White Paper under review against a changing external environment.

We thank state and territory governments and the many individuals and organisations who made submissions to the White Paper and who engaged directly in our public consultation process.

The development of the White Paper encouraged a wide-ranging public discussion about Australia’s place in the world and promoted greater understanding of our diplomatic activities and how the Government seeks to enhance Australia’s security and prosperity through foreign policy.

This has been immensely valuable and we will ensure it continues.

Julie Bishop
Minister for Foreign Affairs

Steven Ciobo
Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment