School of Media and Communication

Phil Taylor's papers


How we 'buy' hearts and minds (Australian PD) by B Watts

Sunday, 18 February 2007

How we 'buy' hearts and minds
Brad Watts

AUSTRALIA spends a meagre 17c a person on "cultural diplomacy", compared with $19 a head in Britain, a Senate inquiry has heard.

Research done by Asialink an offshoot of Melbourne University has found that Australia's spending on cultural diplomacy or promoting ourselves overseas lagged well behind other nations.

Cultural diplomacy was defined as much broader than official diplomacy, conducted by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. It focused on how governments, private enterprise, universities and cultural institutions promoted Australia globally.

The question is being examined by a standing committee on the nature and conduct of Australia's public diplomacy.

A committee member, Labor Senator Mark Bishop, said the Government did not appreciate the need to sell Australia and its strengths to attract more business and investment.

"We are at the bottom and it's a miserable amount. We've fallen well behind the eight ball," he told the Canberra Sunday Times.

"Major nations in Europe are using a whole range of government departments, think tanks, agencies, not-for-profit organisations and cultural institutions to promote the merits and worth of their own agencies.

"Public diplomacy [is] a mechanism for the attraction of business and the sale of services."

Another committee member, Liberal Senator Russell Trood, said cultural diplomacy was vital in trying to "win over hearts and minds".The Defence and Foreign Affairs Department told the Canberra Sunday Times that spending on "public diplomacy" in 2005-06 was $93.5million.

A DFAT spokesman said the Australia Council spent $7.4million and Radio Australia $14.8 million last financial year.

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