Dr Brendan Nelson.
Former defence minister Brendan Nelson believes Australia should build a better relationship with Europe while examining the consequences of a possible split in the European Union.
He also argues that NATO and the EU should look Australia's way and understand the scale and the pace of the transformation of the Asia-Pacific region.
Dr Nelson returned to Australia from Brussels earlier this year after his posting - by Kevin Rudd - as ambassador to the EU, Belgium and Luxembourg as well as Australia's special representative at the World Health Organisation and NATO.
He is a former opposition leader and is now director of the Australian War Memorial, where he has introduced significant changes.
Dr Nelson will give an address at the National Press Club next Wednesday, where he will outline his views about the need to recognise changes in international relations.
Dr Nelson said Australia was a traditional Euro-sceptic country.
''We were deeply scared by Britain's entry into the common market in the early '70s,'' he said.
''The European Union is largely an anathema to us - handing over some of your sovereignty to an amorphous bureaucracy, as we might describe it, in Brussels and then having a commission, if you like, dictate things to you.''
Dr Nelson said Australia had narrowly defined its relationship with the EU around the conflict in agriculture and market access.
''Our nation needs to further develop a broader and deeper engagement with the European Union and what might be the consequences for us if, for example, the European Union were to splinter,'' he said.
Dr Nelson said Australia had virtually no relationship with NATO when military forces were sent to Afghanistan in 2005 for a NATO-led operation.
''We dealt with Washington, London, Kabul and The Hague,'' he said.
''In hindsight, I think NATO suffered because it didn't know how to deal with countries like us, non-NATO members, turning up with military capability, political will and resources.
''Also, in hindsight, I think there's more we could have done and done more effectively had we had that relationship with NATO.
''That has all now been fixed … now, I believe, of the non-NATO countries, we have the closest relationship with NATO, beyond Sweden and some of those countries that have been partnering with NATO for some time.''
Dr Nelson will also use his nationally televised address at the press club to talk about his vision for the war memorial.