The theme of Senator Penny Wong’s address to the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy is “Peace and Prosperity in a Time of Disruption”. As Australia’s Opposition Spokesperson for Foreign Affairs, Senator Wong will outline a future Labor government’s approach to working with ASEAN to secure stability and economic growth at a time when the international rules-based order is under challenge. Emerging powers are beginning to employ less conventional and less traditional approaches to staking their claims to an expanded role on the global stage. The divergence between economic and military power as avenues for strategic influence poses new challenges to middle-ranking powers like Singapore and Australia.
Senator Wong will suggest that confidence and optimism, rather than fear or vacillation, should inform evolved international policy settings. Confidence and optimism are the consequence of a clear appreciation of national interests – the purposive determinants of foreign policy – and, for middle-ranking nations, constructive internationalism.
Senator Wong will endorse the constructive role that ASEAN currently plays in managing the consequences of disruptive changes in Asia, and the importance of adapting existing institutional frameworks to meet emerging challenges. She is a strong advocate for closer collaboration between Australia and ASEAN in the day-to-day design and delivery of innovative approaches to managing the consequences of disruption and realising the opportunities that disruption inevitably presents. Rather than advocating any change in the formal arrangements between Australia and ASEAN, Senator Wong supports a gradualist, action-oriented approach to cooperation that delivers improved security and economic outcomes for all the nations of the Asia-Pacific region.