Australia would become far more deeply ingrained in Asia, from languages to our nightly TV news bulletins, under the core elements of a policy White Paper released today.
The Asian White Paper, headed by former Treasury secretary Ken Henry and commissioned by Prime Minister Julia Gillard, is the Government’s largest effort to articulate the link between Australia and countries to our north.
With a heavy focus on Australian education standards and overall links between the two areas, the White Paper argues Australia’s economic future is tied to that of Asia.
While the paper canvasses the increasing demand for minerals such as iron ore, coal and LNG by Asia, it also argues that Australia’s economic interests will be best served by also focusing on areas such as food production and services.
Ms Gillard said Australia could not rely on luck to benefit from the rise of Asia.
“In this century, the region in which we live will become home to most of the world’s middle class and will be the world’s largest producer of goods and services, and the largest consumer of them,” she said.
“The scale and pace of Asia’s rise is staggering, and there are significant opportunities and challenges for all Australians.”
The White Paper sets out a range of targets for the nation including a lift in Australian GDP per person to be among the top 10 in the world.
That would take it from around $62,000 per person last year, 13th in the world, to at least $73,000 per cent by 2025.
It also commits Australia to aiming to have a school system ranked among the top five in the world with 10 universities among the world’s top 100.
Studies of Asia would become a core part of the Australian school curriculum while students would have access to learning the “Asian priority languages” of Mandarin Chinese, Hindi, Indonesian or Japanese.
Businesses and the public service will be pressed to link more closely to countries across Asia.
The ABC and SBS will be asked to promote more coverage of Asia across all of their programming.
While the paper highlights areas of change it is also heavy on some of the Government’s already existing policies, such as the NBN.
Trade Minister Craig Emerson will now add to his job the responsibility of delivering on the objectives of the paper.