Australia in Asia ‘for good times and bad’

Flinders academic and editor of Asian Studies Review, Dr Michael Barr, has welcomed the Henry Report on Australia in the Asian Century, but with a message of caution.

‘This is not the first time Australia has started facing up to its place in Asia. We were doing that in the 1990s as well, but it all fell apart when the Asian Financial Crisis spread across most of South East Asia and some of North East Asia,” Dr Barr said.

Dr Barr said Australia could not afford to fall into “short-termism” again

“The Henry Report doesn’t just address questions of Australia’s short term profit and trading dynamics. Australia is next door to Asia and that is never going to change,” he said.

“Australia’s national interest demands that as a country we are able to produce a bipartisan commitment to a program of building knowledge of Asia, Asian language skills and routine familiarity with Asia that will persist beyond the next economic downturn, the next bad headline, and the next change of government here or elsewhere in the region.

“Asia is just as important to Australia in bad times as it is in good, and we need to ensure that the commitment to making the relationship work is both bipartisan and enduring.”

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