UK sovereignty over the islands of the British Indian Ocean Territory (also known as the Chagos Archipelago) has been ruled to be illegitimate by the International Court of Justice and the UN General Assembly. US and British concerns over Mauritian sovereignty of the territory are centred on the possibility that the US military might be evicted from Diego Garcia, but retaining the US presence has strategic and financial value for Mauritius.
Indonesia in 2020 and Beyond: Bill Sullivan – Part Two: COVID-19, Economic Reform, Foreign Relations, 2024 Election
In its relationship with China, Indonesia faces very similar issues to Australia and is realising that having a close relationship with Beijing brings risks for Indonesian sovereignty and interests. Given their historical closeness, Indonesia may follow India’s lead and develop a closer relationship with the United States as a way of counterbalancing Chinese expansionism.
Indonesia in 2020 and Beyond: Bill Sullivan – Part One: Australia, Legal System, IA-CEPA, Mining and Resources
The Australia-Indonesia relationship will inevitably include rocky patches and may never be truly close, but there are enough incentives for both countries to enjoy a productive working relationship. The principal challenge faced by all foreign investors and businesses in Indonesia is the opaque and non-transparent nature of the Indonesian legal and court systems that are inherently difficult for foreigners to deal with.
Indonesia’s decentralised, three-tiered regional autonomy structure of governance exacerbates the difficulty of doing business in the country and has heightened the confused responses to Covid-19. While Australia and Indonesia are working very well together across a range of issues, awareness of that needs to be raised in both countries because any coverage of the relationship still tends to be dominated by the things that go wrong, rather than by all the things that are going right.
The energy sector faces significant challenges in attracting foreign investment, as the Indonesian Government is moving towards nationalising the industry. There is a push to bring defence down to the people, and which is largely supported by the public, with a focus on the equipping of a more localised military force, as opposed to expenditure on aircraft and submarines. Australia has arguably gone backwards in its understanding of its giant neighbour and needs to develop a deeper awareness of the shifting geopolitical realities in the region.
Phytophthora dieback poses a significant threat to the Australian environment. This introduced plant pathogen spreads easily, causing disease, death and potential extinction in susceptible plants and the loss of habitat for native animals. It poses a major threat to over 40 per cent of the native flora in Western Australia, particularly in the South-West regional area. Justin Bellanger, from the South Coast Natural Resource Management agency recently spoke to FDI, outlining the extent of the disease, its impacts and the work his organisation is doing in dealing with the problem.
Recent catastrophic bushfires on the east coast of Australia have forced many Australians to question the sustainability of a lifestyle that has been both cherished and taken for granted. The prospects, however, may not be as bleak as some sources predict. Chris Ferreira of the Forever Project, an organisation dedicated to protecting our environment for a sustainable, happy and prosperous future, maintains that a key consideration for dealing with future bushfires, is to inspire and empower members of fire-affected communities to be better prepared.
FDI has taken the opportunity to again interview Doug Pow, a cattle breeder and avocado farmer from Manjimup in Western Australia’s South-West. The interview identifies and discusses a range of positive outcomes achieved by incorporating regenerative agricultural practices while retaining greater flexibility than full organic certification. He also discusses his use of biochar.
In looking at the situation confronting some of the key actors in the Middle East – Iran, Israel, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Russia and the United States – there is a growing sense of uncertainty and weakness that is bringing increasing societal fragmentation and sectarianism to much of the Middle East, and which is occurring at the same time that the Iranian regime is actively striving to achieve regional hegemony. That has pushed the Arab countries into a defensive mode while leaving Israel with so few choices as to be on an eventual collision course with Iran, most likely in Syria.
An increasing number of Western Australian grain producers are committing to farming methods that avoid the use of extensive tillage and synthetic chemicals. One such producer is Nick Kelly of Hollands Track Farm near Newdegate in southern WA. Over the last two decades, Nick has focused on nurturing soil health by building and maintaining soil organic material to promote biological activity in his soils.