A belated Happy New Year to all our members and I am pleased to advise that the year has got off to a good start with some first class addresses and a cracker program to follow.
Following the reopening of the Institute’s office on 14 January, Peta McDermott has been hard at work recruiting interns, putting in place administrative details for the Myanmar study tour, setting up our initial addresses, servicing meetings of the Executive and Council in January and dealing with some unanticipated maintenance. So much for a quiet start to the year!
Internationally, Australia took its non-permanent seat on the United Nations Security Council on 1 January. There are signs of improvement in some key economies which could have important spill over effects for a soft landing, French troops intervened in Mali to remove Islamic militants from key population centres in the north of the country which they had occupied, and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) conducted a nuclear test to near universal international condemnation in February. At home the Government released the first Australian national security strategy on 13 January.
Program We will be covering all of these issues fairly early on this year’s program. Acknowledging that we can’t cover the waterfront and follow developments in all countries and regions, we will craft our program around a number of key elements – the world economy and the prospects for a soundly based recovery from the GFC; regional economic and political developments with an emphasis on China, Indonesia, India, Japan, the Republic of Korea and the DPRK; regional defence and strategic issues; the Middle East and the remnants of the Arab Spring. As this year’s study tour is to Myanmar we will also look at developments in that country assisted by reports from members of the study tour. We will also take opportunities provided by the presence of interesting visitors and local experts to comment on current issues outside these areas.
As you will have seen, our program for 2013 kicked off on 13 February with an interesting and provocative address by Professor Neville Norman of the Department of Economics at the University of Melbourne on the topic “The Global Economic Crisis - So Far”. This was followed by a lunchtime address by the Hon Dr Craig Emerson MP, the Minister for Trade and Competitiveness and Minister Assisting the Prime Minister on Asian Century Policy, on the implementation of the recommendations of the White Paper.
Subsequent speakers will be Mr Paul Robilliard, Head of the United Nations Security Council Secretariat in DFAT on the challenges and opportunities presented by our non- permanent seat on the Council (28 Feb); the newly appointed State Director for DFAT in Victoria Mr John Richardson (previously Ambassador to Argentina) on Australia’s relations with Latin America (13 March); in conjunction with ACBC and Baker and McKenzie, Ambassador Swajaya (19 March), Indonesia’s Ambassador to ASEAN will talk about Australia’s relations with ASEAN and ASEAN trade agreements; and Professor Spencer Zifcak of the Australian Catholic University will discuss the doctrine of the responsibility to protect (RTP) (27 March).
Regrettably Tim Healey has been ill and unable to head the program committee – our best wishes go out to Tim. Laurence Wade has made time in a very busy professional career to guide the committee’s work and the thanks of all of us are due to him.
Recruitment of an Executive Director, Development In my last report I mentioned that the Council at its meeting in November 2012 had reviewed the Institute’s Strategic Plan and concluded that the only way for the Institute to prosper and survive into the future was to build up our appeal, increase membership and revenue and develop linkages with like-minded organisations. It was clear that this would be beyond the capacity of a single Executive Officer assisted by a group of essentially transient interns and volunteers.
At its meeting on 2 February, the Council approved the recruitment of a salaried Executive Director, Development, to work part time to complement the work of the Executive Officer, the interns and volunteers. The position will be advertised shortly, including among our membership.
Council membership At its meeting on 2 February 2013, Council discussed succession planning in the face of the anticipated retirement of at least half of the Council and Executive during 2013. There are currently 11 Ordinary members of Council - of whom six will have served two successive three year terms at the next AGM which triggers compulsory retirement; in addition some others have indicated that they intend to step down from the Council and the Executive during 2013.
The constitution provides that “The number of Ordinary Council Members of the Institute will be such number (being not less than 10 and not more than 21) as determined by the Council from time to time.” There shall be 4 Office Holders.
The Institute needs a strong Board with the capacity to steer the Institute in directions which will ensure its future as an effective organization able to fulfil its charter. It is incumbent on all of us to give consideration to individuals both amongst the current membership of AIIAV and from outside who would have the necessary skills, background, and enthusiasm to join the Council. While some involvement in international relations would be of use, it is by no means the only or the major criterion. We need people who can contribute and implement pragmatic ideas to develop our strategic plan and put the Institute on a firm footing for the future. We will also be looking to recruit members from a variety of backgrounds who will be representative of the diversity of the Institute.
My purpose in raising this is to ask you to consider whether you would be prepared to join the Council. Council Members are expected to play an active role in the full range of the Institute’s activities, including attendance at most events, active participation in Council Meetings; membership of one or more of the Institute’s standing committees; and general support, promotion and encouragement of the AIIAV’s activities. Active recruitment of new members is strongly encouraged.
The Council normally meets five times a year, and Councillors can expect to be appointed to at least one standing committee and, from time to time, special committees convened for ‘one-off’ purposes. The dates and times of these meetings will be determined by the chair of the committee in conjunction with committee members. If you are interested or know someone who might be, please contact me to discuss.
Chairs for sale We have some of the original Madigan Room chairs still available for sale at the very reasonable prices. To purchase any chairs, contact Peta McDermott at the Institute on 03 9654 7271 or
, or Robyn Byrne, Chair of the Building Committee, on 0417 241 772.
New members I am delighted to welcome the following new members to the Institute: Prof Baogang He, Miss Lauren Oakey, Ms Sophie Reid, Ms Elizabeth Douglas, Mr Alcides Flores, Ms Claire Poyser, Mr Christian Wood, Dr Chengxin Pan, Ms Rebecca Strating, Miss Rachel Bui, .Ms Lucinda Edselius, Ms Kate Hilgendorf, Ms Valeria Coscini, Mr Eric Owen, Mr Ronald Wiber, Mr Ken Toleman, Mr Andrew Silagy, Mr Iain MacGillivray, Mr Badrus Sholeh, Ms Natasha Down, Ms Saskia Lillywhite and Mr Andrew Reynolds.