One of the more notable political consequences of the globalization of the world economy is its capacity to both exacerbate concerns about national identity and project this concern into the international relations domain. An interesting feature of this anxiety in the Australian case concerns the recently felt need to integrate a culturally European state into a geographically Asian region. This need has generated in both academic and popular discourse a growing preoccupation with the national character, the constitutional state, and what sort of regional order would be most in accord with them. In particular, in the course of the 1980s a policy elite in Canberra and their journalistic minions became increasingly interested in what former prime minister Paul Keating termed the new regionalism, The closing of the Cold War in Asia afforded the irresistible prospect of a multilateral order in which Australia, as a middle power, could play an enhanced role. For the Labor government that ruled Australia uninterruptedly from 1983 to 1996 this constituted a unique window of opportunity.