Continuum: The Australian Journal of Media & Culture
Vol. 8, No. 2, 1994
Critical Multiculturalism
Edited by Tom O'Regan

Broinowski versus Passmore: a dialogue of our times

Stephen Frost

Over the past decade, a closely monitored interpretation of the necessity and strategy for Australian enmeshment with the Asia-Pacific region has been established. This was demonstrated recently when the eminent Australian philosopher Emeritus Professor John Passmore was criticised after he gave a talk at the Australian National University. In a public lecture delivered on 10 June 1992, he raised what he believed were important questions central to the established attitude that Australia should enmesh with Asia. Passmore's lecture, entitled "Europe in the Pacific", attracted criticism from proponents of enmeshment, most notably the prominent author and diplomat Alison Broinowski. Her response in the nationally distributed Australian Left Review depicted Passmore as 'ignorant' and by implication Eurocentric; an attack aimed at denying the validity of his opinions on enmeshment. (Ironically, Passmore's opening remarks at his lecture were on 'the creation of new pejorative expressions'. Amongst the most common, he argued, was 'Eurocentrism' - a word that has 'been freely circulating as a new form of vituperation in Australia'.)

Broinowski's response is a notable public example of how proponents of what could be called the new orthodoxy are currently shaping and policing the boundaries of opinion on the subject of Australia's changing relations with the Asia-Pacific region. Her account of Passmore's lecture deliberately and actively misrepresented his ideas as at best Orientalist or Eurocentric; at worst racist. None of those words honestly describes Passmore's intellectual or moral position. Firstly, he argued that there are valuable lessons to be learnt from Europe. Secondly, he claimed that Australians must think carefully about the implications of Prime Minister Keating's exhortation that Australia become part of Asia. Broinowski's insinuation that Passmore said otherwise is representative of a new way of seeing both what it is to be an Australian and the best way to enmesh with the region.

For Broinowski, the issue of Australia's future in the Asia-Pacific region is reduced to whether we should be a part of Asia or a part of Europe. In this she is not alone. The consequence of this dichotomy has been the intensification of an "us versus them" division; people supportive of or opposed to "enmeshment", Asia-centred curricula, "informed" views about Asian peoples or cultures, language training, and cultural exchanges. However, the propagation of a discourse of binary opposites is a decidedly one sided affair. The so-called "Europeanists" like Passmore turn out on closer inspection to be not arguing for Europe or Asia; it is the Broinowski's that push for these alternatives.

The categorisation of Australians into two camps (those who support enmeshment and those who oppose it) narrows the definition of enmeshment. Broinowski's rejoinder to Passmore had two aims. The first was to silence a dissenting opinion and assert her authority as a senior public servant and expert to shape and make enmeshment policy decisions as an enlightened Australian. The second was to keep intact the boundaries for debate over Australia's role in the region. This is not the first time that this process has occurred. Other examples include the crisis in Australian-Indonesian relations precipitated by David Jenkins' now celebrated piece on the Suharto family's business dealings (see Robison); the diplomatic furore surrounding the ABC's television drama series Embassy that soured Australian-Malaysian relations during 1991-2 (see Kessler; Perera; Mitchell; Frost); and the public outcry in Australia over the Dili massacre in East Timor in 1991 that strained relations with Indonesia. In every instance elite policy makers and shapers sought to block Australian criticism of governments in Indonesia and Malaysia.

Passmore's Lecture and Broinowski's Response

Passmore's "Europe in the Pacific" was intended to 'make some of the issues [in the debate over Australia's place in the region] a little clearer' (29). Those issues were, first, Australia and its European heritage, and second, Australia's place in the region. On the first, the talk secured the somewhat misleading headline "Australia a European nation: Passmore" in the ANU Reporter (Washington). Passmore's understanding of Australia as a European nation, whilst problematic, is not as simplistically 'Eurocentric' as Broinowski subsequently portrayed.

The first section of Passmore's lecture was dedicated to arguing that rather than being Eurocentric, Australians have in fact 'paid far too little attention to Europe' (1).

We should have seen the European countries, for one thing, as social laboratories which are worth studying, sometimes as offering us useful hints, as we set about modifying our own political, educational, and social structures...Every English-speaking country displays the same symptoms of a declining manufacturing base, unbalanced budgets, adverse trade balances, increasing crime and public squalor, decaying educational, medical and public facilities, unemployment, homelessness, youth suicides, and increasing gaps between the wealthy and the poor...should we not be looking more carefully at European models, less fanatical in their economic rationalism? Admittedly they, too, are experiencing many problems similar to our own. But we can learn from their failures as well as their successes (2).

His first theme, then, was that we have a great deal to learn from Europe. However, Passmore's major theme in the first section of the paper was 'that to understand, and take advantage of, our place in the world we shall do best to think of ourselves not as "a part of Asia" but as a European country which has special opportunities and confronts special problems in virtue of its close proximity' to Asia (6). By the term 'European country' Passmore meant Australia was a nation in which

[t]he most important events in our history, the ones which have done the most to make us what we are, occurred in Europe, taken now to include the British Isles, even in a Europe itself profoundly influenced by Egypt and the Middle East. They occurred in Ancient Greece and Rome, both in the form of classical literature, philosophy and law and, with the conversion of the Gentiles, in the form of Christianity and the formation of the established Churches; they occurred in Europe generally with the Renaissance, the Reformation, the French and the Scottish Enlightenment, the birth of the concept of toleration and of representative government, the industrial and agricultural revolution, the Chartist movement, the rise of feminism, the penal reforms under the auspices of Bentham and Beccaria. As Rupert Brooke might have written: 'what do they know of Australia who only Australia know?' (14)

The second major issue that Passmore raised focused on the question of his Eurocentrism, or what he referred to as his supposed 'genteel form of Asia-bashing' (16). Having argued that Australia should think of itself as a European nation, rather than the Hawke/Keating assumption that we are a part of Asia, Passmore went on to assert that he 'thoroughly approve[d] of what at present is being urged about our relationships with Asian countries - that we should set out to understand them better, should teach their languages, should try to extend our economic relationships with them' (16). But the most important point of the second section was that "enmeshment" with Asia presents Australia with a dilemma.

A dilemma which arises out of Australia's being a European country...Is it to say: 'We are an Asian country; let us forget about human rights, about permitting opposition, about freedom of the Press, in order to reduce the risk of offending Asian sensibilities'. (28)

Passmore can be criticised for his stance, but not in the terms Broinowski proposes. As the eminent Singaporean scholar Chua Beng-Huat has forcefully argued, Western intellectuals like Passmore need to

cease to lay proprietary claims to several concepts and societal developments that have Western origin but now have gained global proportions. Three obvious candidate terms must be immediately de-Westernized and internationalized; namely capitalism, Modernity, and its political entailment, democracy. (30)

To forever view these concepts as Western is to 'view the rest of the world [as] always wanting...and to cling to the presumed superiority, in every sense of the word, of the West in a global society' (31). But to accept this position would be to have a very different view of enmeshment than espoused by Broinowski. It would insist, pace Passmore, on identifying the particular Asian sensibilities offended rather than asserting a generalised 'Asian sensibility'.

By contrast, Broinowski argued in her rejoinder for a very different interpretation of what it is to be supportive of enmeshment and, by her definition, opposed to Eurocentrism. Coming to terms with 'Asian sensibilities' was defined negatively. 'The loudest to urge 'coming to terms' with Asia are those who have not done so and don't intend to do so themselves...have never learned an Asian language and won't employ those who have'. Clearly, Broinowski's notion of 'coming to terms' is closely aligned with language training; that is, a belief that to understand Indonesia, for instance, one should learn Bahasa Indonesia. (However, Humphrey McQueen has recently argued that language competency is best reserved for specialists. More important, for most students, is 'a grounding of the histories of particular Asian societies, as well as some understanding of...the global needs of capitalism'.)

Broinowski went on to assert that...

those with professional and cultural umbilical cords tied to Europe strongly resist transferring them to Asia. They rationalise their distaste and disguise their ignorance, as Professor John Passmore of ANU did in June, by stating that Australians are heirs to a superior civilisation (27).

It is difficult to know exactly what Broinowski means by the term 'cultural umbilical cords'. Is she implying that we require such conduits to Asia instead of Europe? If she isn't, and I suspect that she does not, her position is closer to Passmore's than she would care to admit. The missing parameter is external influences: Broinowski must admit that even Passmore acknowledges Asia in a way that is impossible for one allegedly exclusively professionally and culturally connected to England or Europe.

Passmore's attempt at clarity, it seemed, had only muddied the waters. But had it? Was the issue simply one of Broinowski giving Passmore a very public rap over the knuckles for expressing, in her terms, his distaste of enmeshment with Asia, or was something more at stake? Clearly, Broinowski drew a long bow in her portrayal of Passmore as a person who found Asia and Asians offensive. Others not only agreed with her but took the matter further. Jamie Mackie (the former Head of the Department of Political and Social Change at the ANU) supported Broinowski's position. In November 1992 he argued that Australians, contra Passmore,

are inexorably becoming a less "purely European" people than we once were...But to face the fact alarms many Australians, who cling to the security blanket of their European heritage and ethnicity...They seem unable to come to terms with the possibility that the changes occurring are more likely to result in cultural enrichment rather than loss, and in a more diversified and complex identity, far more appropriate to the very heterogeneous world we belong to than our Anglo-Celtic exclusivism...it is of the highest importance at this stage in Australia's history, when our images of Asian countries must be liberated from the legacies of ancient imperialist and "Orientalist" myths, that the images young Australians are now forming about Asian countries and their peoples should not be distorted by the residues of all that nonsense that lives on in outdated terminologies (84-86).

The issue that divided Passmore and Broinowski, then, was the point at which Australia abandoned aspects of its European heritage in favour of its future in Asia. The argument, to my mind, boils down to this: On the one hand (Broinowski) is the view that the greatest single impediment to Australian enmeshment with Asia is its colonial-minded European heritage. On the other (Passmore) is the conviction that it is precisely Australia's European heritage (with distinctly Australian characteristics) that allows it to enmesh, but could also cause problems. There are, of course, a number of aspects to this divide. First, rather than take sides and argue one or the other point of view I want to examine more closely the issues that arose not from the ideological and philosophical split, interesting and important though it is, but instead examine in some detail the manner in which Passmore's thesis was intercepted, interpreted as Orientalist and so dispensed with. Second is the nature of Broinowski's response to Passmore. Instead of attacking the fallacious nature of Passmore's argument, Broinowski chose to focus on its subversive position in relation to the dominant orthodoxy and that orthodoxy's invocation of the 'national good' for its own ends.

Australian Crisis and "Enmeshment" with Asia

One of the commonplace assumptions made in Australia today is that our future lies in "enmeshment" with Asia. The term "enmeshment" is understood here in the sense used by the then Prime Minister Bob Hawke in 1984; that is, Australia should seek to 'enmesh our economy into that most dynamic, growing region of the world [Southeast Asia]' (Higgins 110). This policy is presently emulated by his successor, Paul Keating. The current Australian Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade Senator Gareth Evans has placed a slightly different emphasis on the term. Evans argues that although Australia has yet to realise its aim of 'enmeshment', it is no longer the 'odd man [sic] out' in the region but the 'oddest man in' ("Australia" 7). Since 1989 and the publication of Ross Garnaut's Australia and the Northeast Asian Ascendancy, a series of reports have been undertaken to outline the strategies for a successful Australian push into Asia. On the one hand are those informed by, according to Cloney, broadly neo-classical economic tenets (Garnaut Ascendancy; Hughes; East Asia Analytical Unit). On the other hand are those drawing on theories of strategic intervention (Pappas; Yetton). However, the common thread that unites the public discourse of 'enmeshment' is its explicit and constant reference to Australia as a nation in economic crisis.

Hawke's 1984 statement was taken up by adherents of economic rationalism in the Labor Party. These included Keating (then Treasurer), Finance Minister (until 1990) Senator Peter Walsh, and to a lesser extent Senator John Button, all of whom believe that Australia's economic future is closely linked to Asia. Keating's current push-into-Asia-pronouncements contain a liberal dose of economic validation and reference to the necessity of economic 'enmeshment'. Evans' 'odd man in' pronouncements were made in reference to Australia being 'just another [economic] player in the region', and a call for greater Australian investment in Indonesia. (He believed, however, this perception had possibly failed to filter down into the community as a whole.) And each of the reports since 1986 paint a picture of an economically depressed Australia and the opportunities abounding in rapidly expanding Asian economies. These either emphasise the positive effects of market competition and urge caution against government intervention, or cautiously argue for reduced protectionism but more selective government intervention to rejuvenate Australia's manufacturing base (Cloney). Public statements and documents such as these underlie and inform Australia's push into Asia. They demonstrate the priority given to 'enmeshment' as legitimated by 'Australian economic crisis'. In doing so, a multiplicity of other kinds of 'enmeshments' forged through immigration, professional contacts, cultural exchanges, tourism both ways, non-government organisation activities in the area of the environment and human rights, union linkages, and sporting exchanges are ignored or marginalised in the process.

The establishment of a hierarchy of significance that ranks economic enmeshment over others explains the ascendancy of orthodox opinion shapers in the public sphere. Thus, economic 'enmeshment' as the most important type of 'enmeshment' is legitimised by the notion of 'nation in crisis' with the maintenance of Australians' living standards being dependent on closer relations with Asian nations. This position in turn legitimises the relegation of concerns about human rights, workers' rights, gender issues, democratic processes and environmental concerns in Asian countries to the category of "less important". This argument appears to be an Australian variant: the USA criticises unfair Asian restrictions exploiting the openness and transparence of the US in order to protect its living standards; Australia talks of economic enmeshment to protect its. In both cases there is a common imaginary, as Chua points out, of the 'West' falling behind and being overtaken. In Chua's terms, Australian enmeshment would be a version of the Western lack of engagement with Asia. Perhaps what is occurring here is that 'enmeshment', for all its fine sounding Asia rhetoric, is after all a version of "protecting our way of life". In other words, a new way of remaining the same that is, in the end, a position very much like Passmore's but seeking not to be like him.

Currently, this orthodox opinion suggests that the single most important obstacle to 'enmeshment' is that Australians do not understand Asia or Asians. Or more precisely, trade and investment linkages with Asia are frustrated by Australia's inadequate knowledge of business cultures and philosophies of the Asia-Pacific region. More importantly, however, is the explicit assumption that 'misunderstandings of etiquette' (Keesing 50), whilst problematic - though unintentional, are not as damaging as ignorant and insensitive remarks from various groups. Those organisations concerned with human rights issues and so on are, it is asserted, undermining 'enmeshment'; economic 'enmeshment'. This argument is made whenever ruptures in Australian-Asian diplomatic relations occur, and manifests itself in several ways, but one in particular dominates.

The dominant thesis, although articulated in a number of ways, is one that interprets Australian knowledge of Asia as Orientalist, as informed by interpretations of Said. It seeks to highlight the "insensitive", "arrogant" and "ignorant views" that Australians have of Asia. These terms are used by politicians to describe people who possess different opinions to the adherents of the orthodox view (including conservation and human rights groups, journalists, filmmakers, unionists and academics). The argument that Australians have failed to understand Asian cultures and Asian peoples originates from two quite different sources. On the one hand there are the groups in Australia who subscribe to the economic 'enmeshment' orthodoxy. On the other are those who subscribe to broader cultural enmeshment. Typically, representatives of the former group are critical of views originating in Australia that upset ruling elites in Asian countries. Thus, Embassy - the ABC drama series at the centre of an Australian-Malaysian diplomatic row in 1991-92 - was criticised as a product of insensitive, arrogant Australian perceptions of Asia largely because the Malaysian Prime Minister Dr Mahathir chose to criticise it as such. However, such views failed to take into account a variety of reasons (political and economic) that motivated Mahathir, none of which were because the show upset him (Frost).

Thus, the kind of "respectful listening" of those adhering to the economic 'enmeshment' orthodoxy; an example of which occurred during the Embassy affair when the ex-Australian ambassador to GATT and presently managing director of International Trade Studies' Alan Oxley, argued that as Australian business people 'learn the detail of what is bugging Mahathir, there is an increasing view that he has a point' (McKanna). Here this means that a rumour had circulated that Australian investment was possibly at risk, and that Embassy was the cause. Less "respectful" listeners suggested that 'there must be domestic political pressures on [Mahathir] that make this [the Embassy row] politically worthwhile' (Gawenda 31), and that indeed in 'the kampongs the Malays are grinning like Cheshire cats...They reckon Mahathir's brought the colonial blighters to their knees' (Mellor 32).

The other type of "respectful listening" can be seen with respect to state-sponsored cultural forms and was demonstrated at the 1993 Warana Festival in Brisbane. With $500 000 in sponsorship from the Indonesian government, the Warana organisers promoted the theme 'Celebrate Indonesia'. The issue confronting the Warana Festival was, however, 'Which Indonesia?' McQueen notes that until local opposition forced a reversal, a 'Brisbane-based group of East Timorese dancers was denied the right to perform'. (As would be expected, state sponsored cultural formations are not only used to exclude peoples, but also to incorporate them. In the mid-1980s, the then Indonesian Foreign Minister, Mochtar Kusumaatmaja, led a gathering of Indonesian dance troupes to the US and Europe that included dancers from Irian Jaya; a cultural legitimation of (contested) Jakarta rule over its eastern most province.)

Southeast Asian governments, then, have significant input on Australian understandings of cultural forms. It is clear from the above examples, however, that what it is to be Malaysian or Indonesian is contested terrain. Leaders like Dr Mahathir have been overtly critical of not just Australia, but the West in general on issues ranging from human rights (see, for instance, Vatikiotis and Delfs) to free trade (Mahathir). Mahathir's criticisms are seen as proof positive that Australians have in fact failed to understand the region. Hence, political utterances motivated by often domestic issues impact heavily on the economic 'enmeshment' orthodoxy here in Australia. That Mahathir, or an array of other Southeast Asia political elites, interpret criticism of their governments from Australia as Orientalist, arrogant or just plain racist is in turn interpreted here in Australia as evidence of just that.

However, as happened recently in Australia during the visit of the Vietnamese Prime Minister Vo Van Kiet, it is clear that some of the structural opposition to Asian regimes originates from victims of and refugees from the persecution and exclusion by the very government structures that Australia accommodates. It is unimaginable that Australians of Vietnamese descent protesting human rights abuses by the present regime in Vietnam could be labelled insensitive, ignorant or arrogant (or for that matter Orientalists or racists) for suggesting that Australian investment to the region be curtailed until conditions improve. Yet such charges are levelled at a number of individuals and groups who question the activities of neighbouring governments (most of which have close connections with Asian Australian activists).

The Northern Territory's closer links with Indonesia, particularly Eastern Indonesia, provide a telling case in point. For the past two decades, successive Chief Ministers of the Northern Territory have forged strong ties with Eastern Indonesia. The relationship culminated with the signing on 21 January 1992 of the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that formally linked Darwin's Trade Development Zone (TDZ) with the Makassar Industrial Estate at Ujung Pandang in Sulawesi. Touted as the most significant step in forming the so-called "Land Bridge" concept (where Darwin is developed as a land bridge between Asia and the rest of Australia), the MOU offers 'likely and immediate prospects for the development of industry and trade between the Northern Territory and Eastern Indonesia' ("Information"). Such a relationship has brought into stark relief the wishes and aspirations of a large local population of East Timorese people and their supporters with those of the Northern Territory government and sections of the business community. For instance, after the Dili massacre in November 1991, the emotional protests led by members of the East Timorese community outside the Indonesian Consulate in Darwin which were supported by local people and trade unionists drew fire from a prominent local businessman, Bob Matthewson. A letter by Matthewson published in the Northern Territory News soon after the November massacre is worth quoting at some length. (It is also worth noting that Matthewson was Chairman of the TDZ when the MOU was signed, and his plywood import interests are based on merchandise from Eastern Indonesia.)

The alleged atrocities in Indonesia [the Dili massacre], if proved, deserve the condemnation of the world community. The outbursts by union leaders in this community and threats of action against Indonesia and Indonesian interest [sic] also deserve condemnation... Australian interests are also at stake, especially those in the Northern Territory...Emotional rhetoric, gun rattling and union intervention at this stage will achieve little.

Matthewson's condemnation of union threats to withdraw unionised labour services from the Indonesian Consulate make no mention of active East Timorese involvement in the protests (who were in fact among the most vigorous resulting in damage to property). Indeed, if there is one group whose aspirations and interests cannot be recognised in 'economic enmeshment' it is the very Asian peoples in Australia whose enlistment of journalists and unionists in activism is often responsible for the "arrogance" and "insensitivity" in the first place.

Broinowski's The Yellow Lady and "Plugging into Asia"

Broinowski's criticisms of Passmore emerged from her longstanding interest in Asia. In March 1992 her book The Yellow Lady: Australian Impressions of Asia was published and heralded as a major study on Australian Asian relations. Governor-General Bill Hayden (quoted in TYL i) wrote 'that it will become an indispensable reference book for all those who take an interest in Australia's relations with our Asian and Pacific neighbours - and who can afford not to, these days?' Richard Austin (quoted in TYL i) of the Courier Mail wrote that the book was 'well written and attractively produced [and] will be worthy of a place on the library shelves, not only for the Asian specialist but also for the general reader'. Perhaps most flattering of all was Robin Gerster (quoted in TYL i) writing in the Age who proclaimed the book 'a 'pioneering' work'; a sentiment upheld on the back cover of the paperback edition which stated, '[The Yellow Lady is] one of the most talked-about books of recent years', and by the fact that the paperback reprint appeared in the same year as the initial hardback run ( an indication of the numbers sold).

Broinowski, a writer and diplomat who 'has spent a total of fifteen years in Japan, Burma, Iran, the Philippines, [and] South Korea' (TYL Back cover), seemed well placed to write the book, and with backing from influential regional specialists such as Mackie was assured of serious consideration. Mackie (TYL v) wrote the 'Forward' and set the tenor for the book with the claim that:

In the 1990s, communal opportunities are dragging Australia into close collaboration with Asians more than ever before...Soon, very soon, we will have to be capable of meeting them on their own terms, to comprehend their very different business cultures...Opportunities for trade, investment and even jobs are emerging almost obviously in Japan and the fast growing countries [read economies] of Southeast and East Asia, also in India to a lesser extent, as well as opportunities for selling and buying educational services, film, music and the arts, or even spiritual enlightenment, according to one's tastes or capacities. (My italics)

Mackie's declaration in the 'Forward' was reiterated in The Sydney Morning Herald (SMH) in the following May where he expressed his dismay that having spent half a lifetime 'plugging into Asia' (my italics), Australians' thinking is still 'rudimentary, abstract and lacking relevance...Until we have much stronger commercial connections with our neighbours...most Australians [will] see little point in learning Asian languages or coming to grips with Asian cultures when these have no meaning or relevance to them'. Of the nine ways he outlined to 'plug into Asia', five of them are themes dealt with (either implicitly or explicitly) in Broinowski's book. They are: stop using words like 'Asia' or 'Asians'; enmeshment should be an organic process; more interchange between people from Australia and the region; expand teaching and learning of other languages; and redress the appallingly Eurocentric complacency in Australian cultural life.

His notion of how and why we should 'plug' into Asia is, however, a strange one. Mackie's (SMH) belief that 'commercial connections' will act as a sort of pragmatic magnet and attract people into Asian studies sits uneasily with his seventh method of 'plugging' into Asia. This states that idealistic groups should stop deluding themselves that the masses in Asia share the Marxist dream of, I suppose - though it is unstated, a working class revolution and the consequent ownership of the means of production. For one who here, and elsewhere (Mackie Chinese 79-80), decries Marxism's economic reductionism, the statement that cultural change will automatically follow economic is a more vulgar reductionism than simplistic interpretations of Marx's ideas that maintain that the superstructure is a mere reflection of the base. It is, however, not an unusual position for adherents of Australia's push into Asia to advocate. Ross Garnaut (AQ) predicates his thesis of increased Australian linkages with the region on an economic reductionism that presumes the 'dense web of trade and other economic ties' that defines the Asia-Pacific region (359) will usher in a new age of cultural and political understanding. It is worth quoting him at some length on this issue as his co-association of the phrases 'trade and other economic ties' with 'cultural and political values' assumes that the latter stems from the former, and the latter inevitably leads to the former.

I look forward to the day when economics appears less often on the front pages, and when the deeper seams of cultural and political values fuel Australia's Asia-Pacific journey. But we will not reach that point until the Australian economic base has been built anew...Until that day, the first cause of social democrat, conservative and liberal Australians must be a common cause...a sustainable solution to the economic problem (AQ 361). (My italics)

Garnaut is engaged here in a process of reconstructing what it is to understand politics and culture. Cultural and political understanding are, in his view, developed not just through cultural exchanges, immigration or geo-political understandings. More importantly, Garnaut argues, they are developed through trade and a quite disjunctive 'building anew' (a revolution of sorts but economically).

Broinowski's book dovetails intellectually with and legitimates Garnaut's and Mackie's vision for Australia's future. Both Garnaut and Mackie envisage economic disaster if we cannot successfully enmesh. From this it follows that the single most important obstacle to enmeshment is that Australians do not understand the region either politically or economically. The Yellow Lady reinforces that belief, and in doing so recommends actions similar to those advocated by Garnaut. For although Broinowski's book is ostensibly 'a study of impressions of Asia in Australia, and of how they have been formed, reflected and changed throughout Australia's history by the arts'(TYL x), it concludes with a recommendation:

It is clear from their [the artist's] work that images of Asia reflect and affect Australians' images of themselves. Further, it is clear that until Asia occupies a place equal to that of the West in Australian minds, the nation's pursuit of its interests will remain distorted. If Australia's identity and self-image are to change, they must therefore do so in a way that locates Australia in the Asia-Pacific hemisphere. (TYL 205)

It seems that until we can understand Asia the national interest will be both misrepresented and unrealised.

Since the publication of The Yellow Lady, Broinowski has become a public expert on Australian-Asian integration, or more precisely, the lack of it. As such, her book has been well received by the policy making and shaping classes here in Australia. This is hardly surprising since the book's central thesis - that Australians generally have failed to appreciate or understand Asia in anything but the most superficial manner - underpins both the 'enmeshment' and 'nation in crisis' discourse. In the most straightforward terms so far Rob Goodfellow recently took the argument to its logical conclusion in a short analysis of Australian perceptions of Indonesia. As shortly as I can summarise, his argument is that Australians 'demonstrate a disturbing lack of basic knowledge about [Indonesia]' (5). Ignorant perceptions of our closest neighbour have

almost certainly led to the reluctance of many Australian businessmen and women to grasp regional trade opportunities. This may also account for Australia's comparatively late recognition that we must become a part of the Asian economic community if we are to maintain our standard of living and position as a regional power. (6)

Both Broinowski's and Goodfellow's arguments are informed by the commonplace assumption that Australia must enmesh with the region. That Australia is failing to enmesh is simply put down to a 'national blind spot' (Goodfellow 6).

Broinowski's thesis and the enmeshment orthodoxy are in turn informed by and validate each other in a closed cycle of referentiality. Broinowski concludes that until 'Asia occupies a place equal to that of the West in Australian minds, the nation's pursuit of its interests will remain distorted'. Adherents to the enmeshment orthodoxy accept Broinowski's case and interpret Australia's 'failure to understand the region' as the explanatory factor for reluctance to integrate economically. Yet Broinowski's book was timely for the very reason that it sought to analyse the reasons for Australia's failure to, in Hawke's words, enmesh with the region.

This approach fails to understand the complex constraints that may explain Australian manufacturers' reluctance to invest in the Asia-Pacific region. These include strategic decisions made in anticipation of new trading arrangements in Europe and North America, disappointment with previous investments in Southeast Asia, and the 'effects of the sale to non-Australian interests of Australian companies with investments in Southeast Asia' (Business Challenge 120). It is also worth noting that the level of Australian direct investment in ASEAN fell from 38.9 per cent in 1981 to 4.5 per cent in 1991 while Australian direct investment in both the USA and the UK rose substantially over the same period (Business Challenge 121). Total Australian investment in the whole of ASEAN in 1991 totalled A$1.6 billion (East Asia Analytical Unit Business Challenge 121). In contrast, cumulative South Korean foreign direct investment in Indonesia to 1992 totalled nearly US$ 4.5 billion (Shin and Lee).

Despite these other reasons, Broinowski's thesis that Australians have failed to understand Asia, and the enmeshment orthodoxy's acceptance of it as an explanatory cause of the failure to enmesh, continue to inform policy making and shaping classes. The Yellow Lady - a book about literary and artistic perceptions - explicitly associates cultural perceptions with Australia's economic crisis; and by telling how only a handful of Australians (artists in this instance) understood this in the past, it paves the way for only a handful, including Broinowski, doing so in the present. In this way cultural misrepresentation authorises a new way of seeing and interpreting Asia, giving rise to so called Asia literacy.

Asia Literacy and the New Exemplar

In September 1992, the newly established Asia Education Foundation (AEF), as part of its inaugural publicity, conducted a survey that involved 270 nine and ten year old school children. Each child was asked to draw his or her 'image of Asia and attach a caption' (Hawes). According to the AEF's director Jenny McGregor (quoted in Hawes), the results indicated 'the need for greater education in the Asia-Pacific region...there is a devastating absence of knowledge of contemporary Asia'. The reasoning behind the statement was that when analysed, the children's drawings revealed an overriding stereotype of Asia as a 'Third World region of poverty, pandas and pollution' (Hawes). The breakdown of images was as follows: 28% of the children drew traditional stereotypes; 24% Third World images; 24% showing images of scenic views and wild animals; and the remainder representing themes of modern cities, religions and wars (Hawes). The premise of the AEF's convictions are clear: Australians know little about the region, and if we are to enmesh we will need to know very much more.

The AEF is an important component of Australia's push into Asia. With $3.5 million to be injected into the Centre over three years, the AEF has the full support of both the federal government and Asialink at the University of Melbourne. (Asialink is a Centre of the University of Melbourne and its 'mission is to help create a new generation of Asia-literate Australians' (AEF 1992), founded by, amongst others, Jenny McGregor.) The AEF aims to achieve the following objectives:

a) development of appropriate Asia-related materials for Australian school children;

b) promotion of support of the study of Asia across all curriculum areas in Australian schools;

c) promotion of the study of Asia within teacher eduction;

d) education of the broader community about the importance of school students undertaking studies in Asia.

The justification for spending $3.5 million over three years to achieve these goals is economic: 'half our trade is with Asia'; 'last February Singapore passed Australia in terms of income per head'; 'more that 60% of Australia's merchandise exports go to Asia'; 'in 1991, the ASEAN countries became our second largest export market'; 'of Australia's top 1,000 companies, subsidiaries of Australian companies earned more profits in Asia in 1991 than any other region'; 'exports to Korea have grown by 14.7%'; and so the list goes on. The message is loud and clear; Australia needs Asia, and to take advantage of the dynamic economic growth in the region we need to be able to understand the peoples who populate it. Thus, the AEF is committed to the construction of 'exemplary' practices that will lead Australia's school children into Asia.

Exemplary practices in Victoria, according to the AEF, can be found in several schools, and it is worthwhile outlining their Asian curriculum because these are seen as models fit for imitation. One, McKinnon Secondary College, is the only government school to offer Korean language tuition and 'forty-eight enthusiastic Year 7 students chose the subject, many in the belief that it will enhance their employment prospects' (AEF 1992). Another, Cantebury Girls' Secondary College, has established a Japanese club that includes activities like sushi making, origami and quilt making. McGregor's assertion that children are subjected to education and knowledge of Asia that gives rise to overriding stereotypes do not appear to be borne out by the exemplary practices that her institute actually applauds. Sushi and origami, although common, are not central to an understanding of Japanese culture, and children's images of Asia (pictures of women in conical hats, people living on boats, or polluted environments), whilst not representative, are as legitimate as the ones encouraged by the AEF. Just as not all Japanese people fold paper storks, many woman who live in the Asia-Pacific region still wear conical hats, people live on boats and in polluted cities. The representation of Bangkok, for instance, as a polluted city is not a 'white paternalistic' stereotype; automobile dependence is a serious issue worldwide, and nowhere is the problem more serious than in that city (Wangwongwatana 1992). It seems that what is promoted are stereotypical images of Japan that embrace the tea ceremony and origami alongside images of Asia's new rich.

The image of the latter is variously interpreted, but a recent edition of Asiaweek illustrated the manipulation of statistics that is becoming typical in discussions in Australia. In an article that asked the question, 'Can Indonesia become a world power?' the magazine included the following table that purported to indicate the spending power of Indonesians ("Indonesia" 34).

At first glance, the percentage rates appear impressive; the percentage of urban households who own refrigerators is an incredibly high 87%. The number appears impossibly inflated, even for a country with the impressive economic growth rates experienced by Indonesia, and even discounting the estimated 80% of Indonesians who live in rural areas. Even so, 87% of urban dwellers is still fantastically high. Then the small print informs us that the table only shows those urban households with household expenditure of more than US$340 (approximately A$550). Given that the minimum wage in Jakarta in the manufacturing sector is less than the equivalent of A$2 per day it is clear that few Indonesians could afford to own a refrigerator. In fact, only approximately 5% of Indonesians (about 9 million people) would earn enough to be able to spend the amount indicated on household goods per month. The real figure, then, of Indonesians who own refrigerators is closer to 4.35%.

This is not to argue that the new rich of Asia do not exist; they do (Asia Research Centre). However, the new Asia literacy as formulated by the AEF, Asialink and others is founded on the imperatives of the Australian business community along with its allies in the government, bureaucracy, media and academia. Taking as given that Australian ignorance and arrogance is hindering enmeshment, these forces then argue that a specific type of knowledge about Asia is needed to turn that trend around. Broinowski's book reinforces those beliefs, as do pronouncements like Dr Mahathir's that cultural constructs like the ABC's now defunct Embassy programme hamper Australian integration into the region. A widely held belief is gaining prominence that assertions like Mahathir's that portray Australians as ignorant and arrogant in their perceptions of the region are representative of all Malaysians. However, the promoters of the new type of Asia literacy, whilst maintaining that Mahathir's attack on Australia proves that we must have in fact failed to understand or take into consideration specific Malay cultural mores, have themselves failed to acknowledge the ethnic, political and economic tensions shaping Malaysian society and politics. In their quest to placate Mahathir, proponents of Asia literacy have ignored the genuine grievances of many Malaysians, not only in Malaysia, but here in Australia (and those grievances have often led them to study or migrate to Australia).

Similar forces were evidently at work in the recent ABC television series Mini Dragons II. The original Mini Dragons series, analysing the economic dynamism of South Korea, Taiwan, Singapore and Hong Kong, was screened on the ABC. It incurred the wrath of the Singaporean government over comments during the episode on Singapore where Lee Kuan Yew's ruling People's Action Party was labelled authoritarian. When its successor, Mini Dragons II, was shown on the ABC in 1993, in particular the episode focusing on Indonesia's economic development, it was clear that the Suharto government would have little to complain about. Suharto's hand-picked Minister for Research and Technology B.J. Habibie was portrayed favourably, as was the so-called 'forest king' Bob Hasan. Hasan was introduced to viewers as the tenth richest man in Indonesia, and leader of one of the largest logging companies. The actual size of the company was not indicated, but that the largest logging conglomerate is led by Prajogo Pangestu who controls some 5.5 million hectares of forest ("Mana Bisa") gives some idea of the proportions involved. Hasan is not universally accepted in Indonesia as a model of propriety, and informal discussions about the show with Indonesians ranged from mirth to incredulity at the show's portrayal of him. One even expressed, half jokingly, the belief that the show must have been financed by Hasan himself.

Although the comment was intended to elicit laughter, there is a serious undercurrent to it. It is almost as if the ABC had put on hold its critical traditions and those of the documentary generally to produce a corporate sponsored documentary. The screening of Mini Dragons II on the ABC is the exemplification of a new discourse that insists Australian see elite Asians on their terms. Private discourse in Indonesia is rife with talk of the business practices, presidential connections and environmental damage Hasan inflicts on the forest (which seeps into the press by implication, "Hutan kita"). The ABC's depiction of the 'forest king' has little in common with the discourse of ordinary Indonesians. Its commonality is with Hasan himself and his class. That is, an elite (and in this case state) understanding of what it is to be Indonesian. Here enmeshment means the suspension of critical faculties. And this gives a clear signal to many Indonesians who watched it that Australia is primarily interested in enmeshing with companies like Hasan's, despite the wishes of ordinary Indonesians.

The new discourse of Asia literacy seems to be predicated not on extensive knowledge of Asia, but the reverse. Asia literacy is in many instances a synonym for Asia illiteracy.

Orientalism and Self-Orientalisation

In The Yellow Lady, Broinowski defines Orientalism as 'the European vision of all Eastern peoples as exotic, remote, inferior, and subject to the political, military, economic, cultural, and sexual dominance of the West' (2), and argues that it permeates Australian thinking about themselves and the region. Just as she finds hundreds of Orientalist images from about the 1850s onwards, Broinowski contends that such visions demonstrate the backwardness of the images that Australians hold of themselves, are a direct result of 'their ignorance and ambivalence towards Asians' (Back cover). Passmore is obviously perceived as one such Australian, and although she never refers to Passmore as an Orientalist, Mackie does ("What's to be done"). The Yellow Lady is a book full of Orientalist images such as the 1888 Mongolian octopus's grip on Australia juxtaposed to a similar image of a Japanese octopus reaching into Australia published in the Australian in 1989 (9); paintings and sculptures that portray Asian woman as morally lax (51); and excerpts from books that show the manner in which Australians attributed certain characteristics to all Oriental people. Indeed, when reading the book it is possible to imagine that Broinowski has discovered every image ever produced by Australians in the last century and her work has the feel of an annotated bibliography, and as such it is a valuable contribution. Nevertheless, there are contradictions that are neither exposed nor alluded to that have important ramifications for her work.

The most noticeable void in her Orientalist interpretation (and one that is evident in many other works of this nature), is that there is no indication that the discourse in Australia surrounding Asia is not solely a product of ignorant and insensitive Australian minds produced in a vacuum. The "Orient" is not solely a Western construction; for that would assume, firstly, that only Westerners create Orientalist images, and secondly, that each discrete population in the region is homogenous - culturally, politically and economically.

In her 'Preface' to the book, Broinowski writes, 'What this study has taught me is how powerful images are and, once received, how resistant to change. Asian images of Australia may be equally inflexible' (x, my italics). Whilst acknowledging that not only Australians espouse insensitive views of other populations, she fails to acknowledge that class, gender and ethnic fractions within those populations give rise to, among other things, Orientalist images. Probably the most famous example of this nature in Southeast Asia is the current Malaysian Prime Minister Dr Mahathir's 1970 book The Malay Dilemma. Broinowski (TYL 12) sees that '[a]nti-Asian prejudice began, as all racism does, with attributing certain characteristics to all Oriental people and, when that became unsustainable, to certain 'types'', and uses the travel writer J. Hingston, who wrote in 1880 that the Malays have 'no gratitude, no energy, no industry, no manners of any kind', as an example to prove her case. Ironically, Mahathir wrote similarly offensive prose in outlining the Malay dilemma and the solution to it nearly a hundred years later.

The Malay Dilemma is a political tract written by a man recently expelled from his party for open criticism of the leadership, and was almost immediately banned by the government upon its publication and was out of print until 1981 when Mahathir was elected Prime Minister. The book is, ostensibly, an explanation for the infamous May 13 riots in Kuala Lumpur in 1969 which saw sections of the Malay and Chinese communities murder each other on the streets. But most importantly for my purpose, the book is interesting because it is a cultural explanation for differences that divide Malaysia's ethnic communities.

Unlike Indonesia, the Chinese population in Malaysia is high, around 33 per cent, and despite government policies designed to stimulate Malay participation in business, holds a 45 per cent share of equity capital (Crouch 145). The high participation rate of Chinese in the business sector - at least those sectors not controlled by foreign capital - was a dominant trend even under British rule (with Malay dominance of the bureaucratic class), and continued after Malaysian independence in 1957. The rioting in 1969 was largely due to the perception that Malays were falling further behind the Malaysians of Chinese descent economically, and Mahathir's book poses the question, 'What went wrong?' (4-15). With chapters dedicated to a pseudo-scientific explanation of the influence of heredity and environment on the Malays, Mahathir (97) concludes that:

The Malay claim to being discriminated against in Malaysia is based not on laws but on the character and behaviour of the major racial groups in Malaysia. The Malays are spiritually inclined, tolerant and easy-going. The non-Malays and especially the Chinese are materialistic, aggressive and have an appetite for work.

Such an analysis informs current policy in Malaysia, first under the New Economic Policy (NEP), from 1969 until 1990, and thereafter the New Development Policy. It also assists our understanding of the uses of culture by leaders like Mahathir; they legitimate specific policy implementation. Hence, while individuals in Australia propagate a narrative of enlightenment that posits Orientalist perceptions as the sole preserve of Westerners, and engage in a simplistic taxonomy of images, they ignore the construction of like-minded discourses in Asian countries that legitimate discriminatory practices that fail even to provide espoused outcomes; in this case, redistribution of wealth from wealthy Chinese to Malays generally. For instance, Mahathir has helped concentrate economic power in the hands of a limited number of bumiputeras (Malays and indigenous peoples - literally sons of the soil) and the development of a new rich class has arguably come at the expense of the traditional power base of UMNO, groups like teachers and peasants (Gomez "Political Power"). Furthermore, during the 1980s under Mahathir's stewardship, UMNO has expanded its business interests to control one of the largest business empires in the country (Gomez Politics). The discrimination against the Chinese population has benefited Australia of course, as many Malaysian students paying full fees in Australian universities are of Chinese descent who cannot enter educational institutions at home, and professionals of Chinese descent who emigrated to Australia to further professional careers blocked at home.

The contradiction facing the proponents of the narrative of enlightenment is that, on the one hand, they have created a space for critiquing insensitive Australian discourse about the region, but on the other, have failed to articulate the differences within each country. There has, in the case of Malaysia for instance, been a conflation of a state-managed elite Malay culture with popular cultural forms that are dominant. In this way a state-sponsored culture is used to represent Malaysians in general.

A conflation of this nature, however, should come as no surprise given the economic imperatives Australians are told confront them every day. Neo-classical orthodox economists who are in a strong position to shape government policy, such as Garnaut and Arndt, have strongly argued that Australia is in no position to upset its neighbours. Garnaut takes aim at the

rude treatment [that has] held back our relationships with Malaysia [and] the need to handle issues such as corruption and human rights, with the sensitivity to the concerns of different cultures...Careful analysis of the real effects of our actions will usually argue for less rather than more overt and public pressure, less noise, and less activism. (Insight 10)

Arndt goes further.

Most Australians (and not least most of those of continental European origin) remain vaguely fearful and suspicious of Asians. The Australian media, in their self appointed role as guardians of human rights in Asia, miss few opportunities to affront our Asian neighbours...But that Australia's economic and political future depends on the most rapid possible progress towards overcoming the cultural impediments is a fact that might well have been much more strongly underlined in the report. (Accelerating Change 19-20)

Both Garnaut's and Arndt's vision for Australia involves massive structural readjustment (zero tariffs, workplace reforms and deregulation), and Australia's perception of Asia has become the terrain over which these battles are presently fought. However, just for a moment imagine that Arndt's piece read as follows: Most East Timorese/Vietnamese/Malaysian Chinese/Chinese students given a four-year visa extension following Tiananmen Square/Tibetans in Australia remain vaguely fearful and suspicious of Suharto's/Vo Van Kiet's/Mahathir's/Deng Xiaoping's government. Who amongst the proponents of the narrative of enlightenment would dare to accuse them of railroading Australian-Asian relations? Thus, adherents of the narrative of enlightenment continually resort to criticising not ordinary Australians but "the Australian media" and other public institutions.

For Australian liberals (left and right) this presents a problem. At a range of sites in Australia there exists a politics that can not be articulated; one that is fully able to criticise the policies of neighbouring regimes while at the same time asserting that it is neither Orientalist nor Eurocentric in doing so. It may in fact be as (or more) sympathetic to enmeshment with Asian cultures. Unfortunately, however, individuals or groups who take a stance on the racist and discriminatory practices of Malaysia's UMNO party and the infringements of human rights in Indonesia by the Suharto regime are caricatured as either Orientalists or ignorant of the "real" conditions that "temporarily hinder" the implementation of those rights to all people. In this sense it appears that neo-dependency analysis is dominant.

The complex relationships that link Australia with the Asia-Pacific region can no longer be defined in classical dependency terms. Dependency theory of the 1960s and 1970s that sought to explain (primarily 'Third World') underdevelopment as the consequence of (primarily 'First World') development has failed to explain the economic rise of the newly industrialising countries (NICs). Nor can it explain the fact that regimes in these countries are capable of not only promoting development, but sustaining it (Petras and Brill 418). And as Petras and Brill point out, the corollary of the economic development in the NICs has been the emergence of regimes that are 'frequently repressive and promote inequalities' (418). The governments of Indonesia and Malaysia are no exception.

Despite the critiques that dependency theory suffered through the 1970s and 1980s, predominantly at the hands of Marxists, the school of thought has, according to some, only recently come of age. And although the battle over the (ir)relevance of this theory was fought out over a decade ago, the entire metropole/periphery paradigm of the dependencistas is reemerging in cultural studies. Smith argues that some cultural theorists (Said in this instance) advance the same theoretical frameworks to explain the construction of perceptions and images as the dependencistas proposed to explain the economic relations between the north and south (550). However, just as core/periphery explanations for economic relations of exploitation are unsatisfactory, so too are they when applied to images and perceptions.

In the same way that dependency theory fails to explain the complex class, ethnic and gender fractures within societies they maintain are exploited by the developed nations, so too does some cultural theory. Therefore, while it is true that Australian business is increasingly turning its attention to Asia, so too are Korean chaebols (family owned business conglomerates) and Taiwanese small and medium sized firms pushing into Indonesia, South China and now Vietnam. Whether the capital is sourced in Korea or Australia is irrelevant: the fact is that it flows to specific regions in Asia to take advantage of cheap and compliant labour (Shin and Lee; Hewison and Brown; Lambert), lax environmental legislation (Chu 3) and significant tax concessions afforded to companies investing much needed foreign currency into local economies. The point is that the relationship between capital, whether indigenous or foreign, and workers is an often exploitative one. To suggest, then, that "Australia" exploits "Asia", whether economically or in the context of Orientalist images, ignores the fact that a class of local capitalists are benefiting from foreign investment just as much as their foreign counterparts. Just as policies are enacted by the Indonesian or Thai governments to restrict worker anger focussing on low wages and appalling conditions for the benefit of both foreign and local capital, so too are images used by local and foreign elites to legitimise that exploitative relationship.

Elite representations supporting the push into Asia are, in their fervour to reduce Australia's problematic relations with countries like Indonesia and Malaysia to ones of cultural 'misunderstandings of etiquette', abetting an ideological turn around in the way Australia sees the region. In their enthusiasm to demonstrate the economic power of emerging social forces and their consequent importance for Australian markets, they have constructed a picture of Asian countries as differing only in cultural terms. Mackie (ASR), for example, has embarked on a crusade to prohibit the use of the term 'Asia'. I support his efforts to encourage Australians to think of each nation individually and to breakdown stereotypes that perceive all Asians as similar. However, the reservations that I have for his project are centred on its cultural or "racial" bias. The fact that Thai culture is different from Malaysian culture, and even that cultural formations in Peninsula Malaysia may differ to those in Sabah and Sarawak, ignores specific differences within those societies that are not cultural or "racially" based. The culturally-based interpretation fails to take into account regulatory policies that discriminate against union activists, workers, women, peasants, the urban and rural poor, and non governmental organisations.

Despite this, closer contacts are emerging between groups in Australia and Southeast Asia that do take into account the wishes of civil society. Increasing linkages between Non Government Organisations in Australian and Southeast Asia are successfully bringing to the attention of ordinary Australians the political and economic plight of groups such as workers in manufacturing industries, the urban poor, different ethnic groups, peasants and women in Malaysia and Indonesia. For instance, recent moves by the ACTU to formalise links with the state union in Indonesia (SPSI) led to such concern on informal electronic communications networks like the Internet that it caused a rethinking of official ACTU policy (for a good account of SPSI and its unwillingness to represent workers' interests see Lambert).

Conclusion

Broinowski's response to Passmore's challenge to Keating's notion that Australia should become an Asian country is an example of a significant trend taking root in Australia. The cry that Australians like Passmore who fail to understand Asia (are 'ignorant') is often a technique of disempowerment. The Australia-Asia policy process, as shaped by individuals like Broinowski, is informed by an elitist discourse that has resulted in appeasement that tolerates and recapitulates the views that Australians have not only failed to understand Asia, but have in the process jeopardised Australia's economic future. Such policy founded on the tenets of economic rationalism has firmly linked cultural sensitivity to continued trade and investment. The elitist roots of the discourse have resulted in the construction of state-sponsored versions of Indonesian or Malaysian culture that often has little majoritarian support from the peoples in both countries. Other than its failure to be informed by popular culture in the Asia-Pacific countries that it purports to represent and understand, this elitist discourse is also uninformed about and neglects the complexity of Australian multicultural society that does not conform to "the ordinary Australian's view of Asia" that is implicit in elite criticisms of a crass and ignorant Australian mass culture that has failed to enmesh with Asia.

Asia literacy, as expounded by the adherents of the new orthodoxy, is largely an instrument for achieving the economic objectives set out by business interests and their allies in the government, bureaucracy, media and academia. Whilst I agree that the study of language, culture, history and politics of the countries in the Asia-Pacific region is vital, its purpose is too often seen as merely a tool to assist with enmeshment on the terms of representatives of economic enmeshment. The orthodox discourse of enmeshment attempts to silence its critics by portraying them as anti-enmeshment, and by association somehow anti-Asian. Broinowski's response to Passmore is an exemplification of a discourse that is both unwilling to listen and is firmly rooted in a politics and economics that is becoming increasingly and unacceptably authoritarian.

I would like to think Gerard Greenfield, Bev Hooper, Tom O'Regan and Garry Rodan for reading and commenting on earlier drafts of this paper.

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