Why didn’t anyone think of this before? Such a brilliant idea, and so original.

The federal government has commissioned a white paper on “Australia in the Asian Century” — to be prepared by former Treasury secretary Ken Henry and evaluated by the full cabinet next year — that aims to help Australia maximise the potential of “transformative economic growth and change in Asia”.

To save time and money, let’s look at its key findings in advance:

  • Australia’s engagement with China is not keeping up with China’s rapid growth, economically and politically, and we need to invest more resources into the diplomatic relationship.
  • Australia will be tested by the growing tensions between China and the US, and will need to balance our critical economic relationship with China with our critical strategic and defence relationship with the US.
  • Australia must work harder on its relationship with India, and reconsider its current policy of not selling uranium to India while selling it to China.
  • Australia needs to progress more rapidly with free trade agreements with China, Malaysia, South Korea, Japan, India and Indonesia, and develop deeper trading relationships with countries in Asia in order to be less dependent on China trade.
  • The government must do more to encourage and facilitate the study of Asian languages in Australian schools and universities.
  • Growing populations in Asia will add to perceptions in Asian countries that Australia’s immigration and refugee policies are inappropriate for a rich Western country.
  • Australian government leaders and officials should spend more time in Asia engaging with their counterparts to strengthen our ties with the region.
  • Australia should apply greater resources to participate in regional forums and cultivate deeper co-operation with our Asian partners.

Oh, and one more …

  • Asia is the world’s fastest growing region economically and Australia has a great opportunity to be part of the “Asian century”.

Why not just do it?

Peter Fray

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