Australian and the United States Alliance: the future leaders who will Shape Relations in the Indo-Pacific Century

23 Jul 2019
By Imogen Keall
Australian and the United States Alliance: the future leaders who will Shape Relations in the Indo-Pacific Century
Last week the Perth USAsia Centre, in collaboration with the University of Western Australia and the United States Department of State, brought together 17 young professionals and thought leaders on the Australian-United States Alliance for a regional workshop in Perth.

The workshop is part of a two year program that involves three regional workshops to be held throughout 2019 in Perth, Brisbane and Melbourne that engage young professionals who will be the next generation of Alliance leaders.

A select group from the regional workshops will have the opportunity to proceed to a Canberra workshop in 2020, and from that cohort, a final group will be chosen to attend a capstone workshop in Washington, DC the same year.       
Between 15 and 17 July, participants were introduced to a range of Alliance issues through workshop sessions, led by established academics, thought leaders and policymakers. The workshop involved detailed discussions and presentations on topics including:
  • Shared values and democratic principles
  • US-Australia strategic relations
  • Regional geopolitical issues and emerging security challenges
  • US-Australia cooperation on trade and economics
  • Broader bilateral cooperation
On the first day of the workshop, participants were welcomed by Justin Bytheway, Acting Consul General and Meghan Higgins, Political, Economic and Public Affairs Officer from the US Consulate in Perth.

Professor David Denemark from the University of Western Australia began the workshop and spoke about the shared values and democratic principles underlying US-Australia relations. This was followed by Professor Peter Dean, Pro Vice-Chancellor (Education) of the University of Western Australia who discussed the evolution of ANZUS in the context of Australian Strategy.

The Honourable Kim Beazley AC, Governor of Western Australia and former Ambassador to the United States led a roundtable lunch where participants were encouraged to ask questions and engage in discussion.

The roundtable was followed by remarks from Professor Stephen Smith, Distinguished Fellow and Board Director at the Perth USAsia Centre, and former Minister for Defence and Minister for Foreign Affairs. Professor Smith discussed narratives and perspectives on the emerging Indo-Pacific and the challenges and opportunities this presents to the US-Australia Alliance. This was followed by a lively presentation on trade and economics in the Indo-Pacific region by Dr Jeffrey Wilson, Research Director at the Perth USAsia Centre.

Day one ended with networking drinks and dinner at Matilda Bay Restaurant. Robin McClellan, Non-Executive Director at Star Energy, and former US Consulate General joined participants for dinner and spoke about Australia’s diplomatic relationship with the United States.

Day two included presentations by David Parker, Director, External Affairs at Albemarle, and Kate Longhurst, State Director at Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. David spoke about US-Australia corporate relations while Kate shared insights on the varied work of a diplomat in Australia.

The afternoon included a strategic site visit to Woodside’s ‘Robonaught’ - just one of eight Robonaut 2 anthropomorphic systems developed by NASA, as well as a session on career development advice from Professor Peter Dean and Erin Watson-Lynn, Head of Programs at Perth USAsia Centre.


The final day of the workshop saw the participants draft; debate, and ultimately issue a joint statement focussed on the current and future issues for US-Australia cooperation in the Indo-Pacific region. This statement will help to guide and inform the discussion and sessions in the Canberra based workshop.
The workshop ended with a casual lunch in which participants were joined by Meghan Higgins, Erin Watson-Lynn and surprise guest the Honourable David Johnston, former Western Australian Senator and former Minister for Defence.

Participants came from a variety of industries, yet all shared an interest in learning more about the US-Australia Alliance. The workshop provided an opportunity for future leaders to network and gain insight into the importance of cross-industry collaboration.

Of the workshop, participant Ben Manifold said:
“The Workshop was a fantastic opportunity to deepen my understanding of the US-Australia Alliance and envisage what the Alliance can and should look like in the future. A key learning for me from the speakers was the practical importance of the depth of history of our Alliance. Speakers reflected on times that the lessons of the past and the trust built informed their approach to contemporary issues and allowed them to work in an unparalleled way with their U.S. counterparts.”

Young people with an interest in the US-Australia Alliance are encouraged to join the Ben Franklin Club. The Club is facilitated by the United States Consulate General in Perth for emerging young leaders, and provides an opportunity to attend events, listen to speeches, and network at the Consul General’s Residence. For more information on how the join the Ben Franklin Club, email:

The Perth USAsia Centre would like to acknowledge the funding provided by the United States Government that underpins these Regional Workshops. In addition, the Perth USAsia Centre worked alongside the following collaborative partners enabling the delivery of the workshops across the country: The University of Western Australia, the United States Studies Centre, Griffith University and La Trobe University. 


Imogen Keall
Imogen Keall
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