The change of federal government will likely lead to better relations between Australia and international partners in the region, according to a former ASIO head.
New Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has pledged his government will take the region's geo-strategic environment seriously.
"My government will take action, we will engage much more strongly with our neighbours," he told Sky News on Thursday.
"China is seeking to extend it's influence into the region. During the election campaign the Solomon Islands (security) deal was front and centre, but we know that from China's perspective, that's just the first of a range of deals they want to exercise."
Speaking on the Australian National University's National Security podcast, former director-general of ASIO and national security adviser Duncan Lewis said there was optimism for the new Labor government.
However, Mr Lewis told the podcast, Mr Albanese was likely to face challenges on the international front.
"If you're going to start a meaningful conversation with other countries in the region about the future, that needs to be done on the basis of some trust and some goodwill," he said.
"You don't start in opposite corners.
"To this extent, the current that the change of government has just taken place might allow better, freer, more free-flowing discussions to take place."
Mr Lewis said Australia may have been too critical of China in its rhetoric, with diplomatic relations sinking in recent years.
"My concern in the last few years has been that we have been rather louder than we should have been," he said.
"We've been in the forefront of some of the criticism of states such as China, when we might have been better to have been one back and one wide. Speak softly, but carry a big stick."
Mr Albanese spent his first few days in the top job meeting world leaders at the Quad Leaders' Summit in Tokyo.
He discussed issues in the Indo-Pacific alongside US President Joe Biden, along with the recent AUKUS pact.
"We simply couldn't afford, given the geo-strategic challenges that are occurring in our region, to not be represented at the Quad Leaders Summit," he told Seven News.
Mr Lewis said the AUKUS security pact with the United Kingdom and United States had been a game changer for the region.
He also told the podcast the relationship with Indonesia would be critical.
Mr Albanese had indicated he wanted Australia to have closer ties with Indonesia and vowed to strengthen relations with the Asian nation.
"Indonesia is a relationship which requires even more attention than it has over the years. It is a critical relationship," Mr Lewis said.
"It is one where we have enormous resource in this country of knowledge about Indonesia, and it's not ... being properly harnessed."
Australian Associated Press
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