Is Australia a bad neighbour?

An opinion piece in the Sydney Morning Herald recently describes Australia as a bad neighbour. Columnist Tim Dick writes: “If there

An opinion piece in the Sydney Morning Herald recently describes Australia as a bad neighbour.

Columnist Tim Dick writes: “If there were a neighbourhood watch group in this part of the world, Australia would be the neighbour the group had to watch”. He says Australia is “rich and large, rude and loud, and doesn’t seem to care that its behaviour brings the region down”.

There seem to be an increasing number of stories about Australia infuriating its neighbouring countries.

Sure, some of this might be due to the size of Australia; the bigger you are the more resentment there is. If you asked a Canadian their view on the United States they might talk about their neighbour in terms such as ‘bully’ or ‘obnoxious’ for example.

But there are also particular policies that people don’t like. Australia’s policy on refugees is one that immediately comes to mind, but while it might be an unpopular policy it has been shown to be working. Drowning deaths going from 1,200 to zero and there appears to be a reduction in the number of people being held in detention.

There is a certain inequality of treatment between Australia and New Zealand with many of the privileges extended to Kiwis living in Australia having been withdrawn by Australia, while Australians living in NZ enjoy all of the benefits afforded to it by NZ.

It’s probably no surprise to anyone that Australia is acting in its own self-interest.

As a ‘bigger country’ is Australia not just thinking about Asia, the Pacific and the US? However, Tim Dick highlights an interesting argument. As a bigger country, dealing with smaller countries like NZ, East Timor, Papua New Guinea and Nauru, surely Australia has an obligation to put its self-interest to one side for the well-being of the region?

Australia could be forgiven for being a bit distracted by its liaisons with China and further afield to the US, but long-term holding Australia accountable and getting it to pay attention to the way in which it relates with other nations could be the real test.

It’s hard to dispute the case presented in Dick’s article, and if Australia continues to behave badly it could lose some of its influence in the rest of the world.

With a similar culture, although there are distinct differences, NZ has developed quite a good reputation for its thoughtfulness towards other countries. Perhaps this is reflected in they way Helen Clark’s candidacy for United Nations secretary-general position is being considered.

Let’s talk. Is there a concern about the way in which Australia is conducting itself towards its international neighbours?

  1. I do not think we are a bad neighbour! The US is the biggest user of psychotropic drugs, 23.3 million people are on these prescription drugs. This however has not deterred them from interfering in everybody else’s business. China has taken the South China sea and build fortresses on coral reefs and has become a major threat to the region. North Korea’s population is starving to feed the ego of its leader. The Filipinos are treated like……… by their government. Indonesia is very, very corrupt. People are leaving Sri Lanka by the boat load. India is not that well known for looking after their poor, and lots of them are ready to depart at the earliest opportunity. Ditto for Pakistan, Afganistan, and North Vietnam.
    Are we bad? Compared to what?

  2. Anne Wolski  

    We have become a very racist country and some of our policies are nothing short of disgraceful. We will end up with a civil war in this country and we will have brought it on ourselves. So yes, in my opinion, we are a bloody awful neighbour

    • Hi Anne;
      According to the latest figures we have a diverse population mix in Australia. This does not indicate that we are a racist country at all, nor do we have a religious preference.
      Of all person living in Australia, 24% were born elsewhere, and 76% were born in Australia.
      The main sources of immigration are:
      UK and Ireland 6.35%
      New Zealand 1.7%
      Italy 1.32%
      China 0.95%
      Vietnam 0.91%
      Former Yugoslavia 0.82%
      Greece 0.71%
      Germany 0.65%
      Americas 0.59%
      Philippines 0.56%
      Netherlands 0.51%
      Malaysia 0.48%
      India 0.46%
      South Africa 0.35%
      Other European 4.28%
      Other Asian 2.63%

      Australian Population by Religion
      Christian %
      Roman Catholic 27.0
      Anglican 22.0
      Uniting Church 7.5
      Presbyterian & Reformed 3.8
      Orthodox 2.8
      Baptist 1.7
      Lutheran 1.4
      Pentacostal 1.0
      Jehovah’s Witness 0.5
      Church of Christ 0.4
      Salvation army 0.4
      Other 2.4

      Islamic 1.1
      Buddhist 1.1
      Jewish 0.4
      Hindu 0.4
      Other 0.4
      No religion 16.6
      Not stated 9.1

  3. It might also be a good thing to remember that 250 year ago we had no racial diversity at all. 1 race (aborigines)broadly related to the Australoid race.
    In a 2006 census, 73% of the Indigenous population reported an affiliation with a Christian denomination, 24% reported no religious affiliation and 1% reported affiliation with an Australian Aboriginal traditional religion. A small but growing minority of Aborigines are followers of Islam.

  4. kate  

    From speaking with friends when travelling overseas I believe that it is the actions of our Federal politicians that gives us this reputation. Boorish, bullying, dismissive and patronising just about sums them up.
    Why do they think they can respond to people of other countries and cultures as they so frequently do to us – because no one pulls them up when they do.
    They shame us every time they open their mouths and get us a reputation of being ugly Australians.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *