Faced with eroding United States hegemony and the rise of a more multipolar distribution of global power, Australia has embraced a new foreign policy platform built around advocacy for a 'rules-based global order'. In this essay I first argue that the emerging characterisation of multipolarity overemphasises the centrality of the United States and overlooks the legacies of Asian colonisation, decolonisation, state-building and local norm development. I then consider the reasons for the embrace of the rules-based global order construct, locating it as an instinctive reaction to issues arising from the South China Sea dispute, the raw use of power, and the inclination to share the ideas of a close ally. I note, however, that linking Australia closely with the United States approach to global rules has drawbacks, given the United States' explicit attempts to reserve a right to use force outside the UN Charter. I suggest that Australia would be better served by clearly delineating a separation between its military alliance with a United States, a policy for worst-case scenarios, from its support for international law and institutions, which should form the mainstay and leading edge of its foreign policy.