"Our approach … is to use the ‘soft power’ of business," he says. "These businesses have influence as powerful economic actors and in countries in Africa and Southeast Asia; they are often very important to the local economy. [...] Soft power is one option, but companies could potentially use their economic clout by threatening to pull out of a country. 

Bubner, from Victoria University in Melbourne, is one of more than 10,000 young Australian students in the past three years to win government sponsorship to study or take up a short internships across about 35 countries in Asia, under a program known as the New Colombo Plan. [...] The exchange program is a favourite of Foreign Minister Julie Bishop, the goal to connect the next generation with the growing economies of the neighbourhood.

Three political parties and two independents running in the Australian federal elections set out their human rights priorities in response to a Human Rights Watch questionnaire, Human Rights Watch said today. The parties gave their positions on a range of domestic and foreign policy human rights issues, including whistleblower protection and offshore asylum policy, in advance of polls on July 2, 2016.

An art project at an Islamic school in Melbourne's north has led to a remarkable cultural exchange between the country's oldest Australians, some of the newest and some of the toughest. [...] The piece will be at the centre of Ilim College's commemorations for the National Aboriginal and Islander Day of Celebration (NAIDOC) in July and celebrates the shared history of Aboriginal and Muslim people in Australia.

Chinese influence in Australia is growing across a broad front, from political donations to Confucius Institute teachings in primary schools and university institutes funded from Beijing. These continuing efforts to spread soft power have found a new friend, with an announcement that content from Chinese newspapers and wires will run in Australian media and on the Sky TV cable television channel.

In recent weeks, business deals between Australian and Chinese media groups have raised concerns over potential Chinese government influence in the Australian press. But according to a report in the Australian Financial Review, the media is not the only institution that has recently received Chinese government money as part of a soft power push by Beijing.

Australians think China already dominates Asia – more than the Chinese even believe it themselves. [...] It's all in a sobering set of survey results that point to the success of Chinese soft power diplomacy here in Australia, according to Simon Jackman, chief executive of Sydney University's US Studies Centre, which carried out the survey.

Australian animals have long been dispatched internationally as a form of diplomacy. In the past two years however, it has been koalas, rather than the platypi, who have shot to international notice as key Australian contenders in political power plays.