Kevin Rudd and Malcolm Turnbull—The challenge of China

Event status:

Kevin Rudd and Malcolm Turnbull discuss La Trobe University is honoured and delighted that Kevin Rudd AC and Malcolm Turnbull AC, two respected and perceptive former Australian Prime Ministers, have agreed to come together online with Dr Bec Strating, Executive Director of La Trobe Asia, to discuss some of the most critical questions posed for Australia and the world by China’s rapid rise.

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Tuesday 10 August 2021 05:00 pm until Tuesday 10 August 2021 06:30 pm (Add to calendar)
University Events
Presented by:
Ideas & Society Program, La Trobe Asia
Type of Event:
Public Lecture; Public
Free to register
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The recent emergence of China as an economic and military super-power, rivalling the United States, is one of the most significant and challenging developments of the present era.

La Trobe University is honoured and delighted that Kevin Rudd AC and Malcolm Turnbull AC, two respected and perceptive former Australian Prime Ministers, have agreed to come together online with Dr Bec Strating, Executive Director of La Trobe Asia, to discuss some of the most critical questions posed for Australia and the world by China’s rapid rise.

  • Why have relations between China and Australia deteriorated so comprehensively in recent years?
  • Has the threat China poses to Australia been exaggerated by conservative politicians and the Murdoch media?
  • Has Beijing decided to isolate and punish Canberra as a warning to other nations not to challenge Chinese interests and ambitions?
  • What, if anything, can Australia do to restore more amicable relations with China?
  • Should Canberra encourage Washington to attempt to maintain its supremacy in Asia?
  • Is the sharing of power between the United States and China in the Asian region a realistic possibility and an acceptable outcome?
  • Should Canberra encourage Washington to follow a policy of containment with regard to China, the kind of policy that succeeded with the former Soviet Union?
  • To what extent should the China policies of Washington and Canberra be determined by human rights considerations, like Hong Kong, Tibet and Xinjiang?
  • How might the United States and China find a way of cooperating on international issues, including the existential question facing humankind, catastrophic climate change?
  • Or is a new Cold War, or something even worse, already inevitable?

Registrations for this forum—which will afford members of the audience the opportunity of asking Kevin Rudd and Malcolm Turnbull questions of their own—are now open and free of charge.

Do not miss out on this unique event.


Dr Rebecca Strating

Dr Rebecca Strating is the Executive Director of La Trobe Asia and a Senior Lecturer in Politics and International Relations at La Trobe University.

Bec is a recognised authority on the international politics of maritime disputes in Asia and Australian foreign policy. She was an Asian Studies Visiting Fellow at the East West Center in Washington DC in 2019 and was awarded the prestigious Boyer Prize by the Australian Institute of International Affairs in 2018.

The Hon. Kevin Rudd AC

Kevin Rudd AC served as Australia's 26th Prime Minister (2007-10, 2013) and as Foreign Minister (2010-12).

Since 2015, he has been President of the Asia Society Policy Institute in New York.

In office, Mr Rudd led Australia's response to the Global Financial Crisis, reviewed as the most effective policy in the developed world. Australia was the only developed country to avoid recession. His government also ratified the Kyoto Protocol, delivered the National Apology to Indigenous Australians, implemented a mandatory renewable energy target, delivered the national school curriculum, negotiated major reform of the health system, introduced national paid parental leave, and pursued the world's first plain-packaging regime for tobacco. He is the author of two memoirs, ‘Not for the Faint-Hearted' and ‘The PM Years’.

The Hon. Malcolm Turnbull AC

Australia’s 29th Prime Minister (2015-2018) had international careers in law, business and the media before entering politics at the age of 50.

As Prime Minister, he reformed Australia’s personal income tax, education and childcare systems, oversaw the legalisation of same sex marriage and announced the construction of Snowy Hydro 2.0 the biggest pumped hydro scheme in the southern hemisphere. Mr Turnbull embarked on the largest peacetime investment in Australian defence capabilities and set out Australia’s first national cybersecurity strategy.

Globally, Mr Turnbull played a leading role in reviving the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP-11 or CPTPP) after the United States withdrew. He also struck deals with US Presidents Obama and Trump to accept refugees who tried to arrive in Australia illegally by boat.

As a young lawyer, Mr Turnbull successfully defended former MI5 agent Peter Wright against the British Government in the 1986  “Spycatcher” trial before entering business where he ran his own investment banking firm for a decade before joining Goldman Sachs as a partner in 1997. Both before and after his political career, Mr Turnbull has been a successful venture capitalist. He co founded OzEmail Limited, the first Australian tech company to be listed on the NASDAQ.

Since leaving politics, Mr Turnbull has resumed his business career. He is a senior adviser to KKR and an investor in, and adviser to, many Australian technology businesses. He is a director of the International Hydropower Association.  Mr Turnbull speaks and writes on a range of issues including cyber security, geopolitics and renewable energy.

Welcome remarks:

Professor John Dewar AO

Professor Dewar AO is a graduate of the University of Oxford, where he was also a Fellow of Hertford College from 1990-1995. He taught at the Universities of Lancaster and Warwick in the UK, and worked for the London law firms Allen & Overy and Farrer & Co. He came to Australia in 1995, and held senior leadership positions at Griffith University and the University of Melbourne, where he was Provost, before taking up the position of Vice-Chancellor of La Trobe.


Emeritus Professor Robert Manne

Robert Manne is an Emeritus Professor of Politics, Vice-Chancellor’s Fellow and Convenor of the Ideas and Society Program at La Trobe University.

He is the author or editor of twenty-seven books, including The Petrov Affair: Politics and Espionage; The Culture of Forgetting: Helen Demidenko and the Holocaust; In Denial: The Stolen Generations and the Right; Left, Right, Left: Political Essays 1977-2005; Making Trouble; Cypherpunk Revolutionary-On Julian Assange; The Mind of the Islamic State; and most recently On Borrowed Time. Manne was editor of Quadrant between 1990 and 1997 and has been chair of the boards of both The Australian Book Review and The Monthly.

He has been a regular public affairs columnist for several Australian newspapers and magazines since the mid-1980s and a frequent commentator on ABC radio and television.  He is a Fellow of the Academy of the Social Sciences in Australia.

Online Series



23rd Jan 2022 10:28pm

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