29 October 2012

The Federal Government’s Asian Century White Paper, which has just been released, has placed Australia’s relationship with Asia centre stage on the political landscape, just as the 2012 Annual Hawke Lecture will focus on this relationship.

Former diplomat and expert on Australian-Asian relations, Richard Woolcott AC, will discuss Australia’s role in the Asian Century, when he presents the 2012 Annual Hawke Lecture next week. 

As special envoy to several Prime Ministers including Bob Hawke, John Howard and Kevin Rudd, Mr Woolcott will share his unique insights into the challenges and opportunities Australia faces in the South East Asian and South West Pacific region.

The lecture, which will be held at Adelaide Town Hall on November 5, is the premier national event on the public lecture calendar for the University of South Australia’s Bob Hawke Prime Ministerial Centre.

The release of the White Paper, and Mr Woolcott’s key role in Australia’s successful UN Security Council bid, have ensured this year’s lecture is both topical and timely.

“The Asian Century is being driven by the spectacular rise of China and the rise of India. It is also being reinforced by the existing strong economies of Japan and South Korea and by the potential of countries like Indonesia and Vietnam, Thailand and Philippines,” said Mr Woolcott.

“There is a seismic shift of influence in this region as wealth is being transferred from the West to the East. The Asia Pacific region now is where the world’s major power relationships closely intersect, where the template for the US and China relationship will largely be shaped.”

Mr Woolcott regards Australia to be in a unique position to play an integral role as changing dynamics shape the region over the coming decades, and suggests the country should not be afraid of loosening its historic Anglo—US ties, as it looks towards its regional neighbours.

“Forging our future will rely on a much more effective response to our geography. In the last 18 months, for the first time in our history the main source of both migrants and students into Australia has been from Asian countries.

“Australia can use the influence it has through its alliance with the US and in its relationship with China, which is a stable purchaser of Australian resources, in a cooperative and helpful way.

“These are big picture issues and how to work out the interrelationships should be part of regular bilateral consultation at all levels. Australia needs a fundamental change in its psyche focussed more on Asia than on our established links with the UK, USA and Europe.

“The younger generation realises that the world is changing and the way in which Australia needs to change its attitudes, its style of diplomacy and approaches, are what I will be talking about.”

Elizabeth Ho, Director of the Bob Hawke Prime Ministerial Centre, welcomed Mr Woolcott in delivering this year’s lecture.

“In presenting the 15th lecture in this series, I am again confident that the public will be given perspectives and insights that substantially inform us both as Australians and members of a wider world. That is a key role of the Hawke Centre,” Ms Ho said.

“The importance of our place in Asia is beginning to be more widely appreciated, and we have in Richard Woolcott arguably the most knowledgeable Australian about our Asian region prospects in the 21st century.”

To book interviews with Mr Woolcott:

Mr Woolcott is available for phone interviews from 29 October and will be in Adelaide from the 2 November.

Contact: Louise Carnell - Hawke Centre office (08) 8302 0371 mobile 0401 693 312 email louise.carnell@unisa.edu.au


Media contact: Will Venn office 8302 0965 email Will.Venn@unisa.edu.au

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