Australia to join ASEAN

Australia was recently called out to expand their future in Asia through joining the Association of Southeast Asian nations. According to SBS News, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull will be preparing to host the ASEAN leaders at an event in Sydney on March 17-18, 2018. A released report of Australian Strategic Policy Institute on Tuesday will reportedly make the case for membership.

“Joining ASEAN is the best way to give full expression to our future in south-east Asia and in Asia more broadly. The Sydney summit can stir ambition into the symbolism, reaching towards substance,” says report author Graeme Dobell. He also suggested that by 2024, Australia and New Zealand could take up a new form of membership as ASEAN community partners.

Mr. Dobell added, “ASEAN, as a middle power grouping, needs extra middle power heft from Australia and New Zealand.” He explained how Southeast Asia is experiencing the pressure from Asia’s big beasts: China, India, Japan and in the US. Moreover, the report recognizes the potential uphill battle to obtain membership into the ten-country organization. One possible hurdle is Australia’s own perspective. Belong to any club that would accept me as Dobell shared, “Australia confronts a version of the Groucho Marx line, ‘I do not want to one of its members.” More money in the bank is surely needed to complete the cause!

On the other hand, Former Prime minister Paul Keating of Australia has advocated for the country to seek membership of ASEAN in order to find security in Asia not from Asia. “Or Canberra muses on a complicated semi-Groucho conundrum: ‘Love the club. Think it is a wonderful, vitally important club. But we would never want to join. Oh, and they do not want us.” ASEAN members include the following countries:

  • Brunei
  • Cambodia
  • Indonesia
  • Laos
  • Malaysia
  • Myanmar
  • Philippines
  • Singapore
  • Thailand
  • Vietnam

It can be recalled how Australia had a “strategic partnership” with ASEAN since 2014.