Julie Bishop delighted the foreign policy glitterati in August when she revealed, via a drop to the SMH’s gun gallery journo James Massola, that there would be a foreign policy white paper — the first in 13 years. Michael Fullilove, the State Department’s loyal local spruiker and the man who brought convicted criminal leaker David Petraeus to Australia, trilled his delight.
Only one problem — is there actually going to be a white paper? Bishop, it appears, leaked too soon: she never formally announced there would be a white paper, despite retweeting Fullilove’s praise of her. And today when asked about a white paper, the new head of Foreign Affairs Frances Adamson refused to say if there would be one — instead, DFAT was working on a “foreign policy strategy”, not a “white paper” — there’s a significant difference, given white papers have an important policy role in any government of formally laying out a long-term policy. Under persistent questioning from Penny Wong, Adamson would only say that eventually cabinet would decide whether there’d be a white paper or not — for now, all we’re going to get is a strategy. Bishop might want to apologise to Massola.