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Australia’s International Image in Asia

From The New Daily:

Is Australia in danger of becoming ‘Asian white trash’? There is a tremendous opportunity for Australia to establish itself as a ‘hinge nation’ for the future economic power bases in East and South Asian societies. Unfortunately, Australia has an image problem … and it’s doing us no favours, writes Andrew Macleod.

International Student Violence Melbourne

International Students Melbourne

Australia has a once in a millennium opportunity to reposition itself. The country has the chance to be the centre of the global power shift, but only if it gets the ‘brand’ right.

Most know of the emerging economies and the shift away from Europe and the US. But have you really stopped to let the impact on Australia sink in?

Think about this. Three hundred years ago, China was 22% of the global economy and India was 24.5%. Both these countries catastrophically shrunk to 4.6% and 4.2% with the age of exploration, the growth of Europe and the settlement of the US.

Massive shifts in global centres of power do not happen in a few years, nor even a couple of generations. They take time. But decisions made by one generation of leaders lay the foundation for relationships which literally last centuries. Henry VIII’s foundation of the Church of England, the colonial borders in Africa set by Europeans, the decision by the USA to buy Alaska from the Russians, are just three examples….

.. My work has taken me in just the past six months to China, India, Indonesia, Europe and the US. To many senior leaders I have met, Australia has gone backwards in terms of its image.

In the 1990s, Australia’s engagement with Asia was positive, welcomed and reaped mutual benefits. But benefits were just flowing when Australia chose to turn back.

Business leaders recognise that post-Tampa, both parties have promoted a reputation in the region due to Australia’s chosen asylum policy. Australia chooses to promote an image that the country is unwelcoming to those seeking asylum. Only naive Australians would think that asylum seekers are the only people who hear that message….

.. Think again about Australia’s best interest. If Australia wants to be the ‘hinge point’ between economies as global power shifts, then Australia must be seen as welcoming and trustworthy by all cultures.

Australia is smart enough to fashion a policy that creates a welcoming perception and protects its borders. It is just that Australia does not yet choose to do so. It is the next generations that will wear the consequences of this choice.


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