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Gillard asks business leaders to engage in Asia

Last Updated: Friday, November 16, 2012 - 11:21

Melbourne: Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard has asked the country's business leaders to engage in Asia, saying that the region holds the key to the country's future success.

The government's white paper, Australia in the Asian Century, released last month, was a plan to make the global shift "work for us", Gillard said.

"Not because we are standing on a burning platform, but because we face unprecedented opportunity," she said, adding that the region holds the key to the country's future success.

She said business engagement in the region played a vital part in ensuring the success of the government's plan and called on those gathered to look to Asia.

"Think about the connections which emerge when we use APEC to drive further deregulation in our region, when we use the Business Advisory Forum and COAG to streamline environmental regulation...Or when we lift school standards," she said.

"These are genuine and clever deployments of all the elements of national power to achieve a national goal, success in Asia," she added.

Stating that while some of the policies outlined in the whitepaper, such as NBN and pricing carbon, had been "controversial", she said this was a hallmark of the Labour government and "the policies which get us ready for Asia come from Labour governments".

By 2015, Gillard said, "China should take its pilot emissions trading scheme national and carbon markets would involve billions of consumers this decade."

"In total around 60 percent of the world's GDP is either subject to a carbon price today, or has one legislated or planned for implementation in the two or three years ahead," she said.

"This is a time when complacency equals defeat, when political negativity must be met by disdain from thoughtful people," Gillard said.

"This is a time when you only win if you do the work, when you only succeed if you shape your own future," the Prime Minister said.

Meanwhile, Australian Industry group (Ai Group) raised concern over lack of funds for creating and promoting sustainable framework for Australian business to engage with the region.

Ai Group chief executive Innes Willox said the federal government needed to put its money where its mouth is when it comes to engagement in Asia.

Willox said business was concerned by the lack of funding accompanying the government's white paper, Australia in the Asian Century.

"The government has set a very ambitious agenda," Willox said today.

"Where our issue is at the moment is that there is no funding behind that agenda. Until we see that funding, until the government puts its money where its mouth is, we're going to have concerns about how we as a country do adapt and do develop our relationship with Asia," Willox said.

He said it was vital Australia does what the white paper proposes, because of the burgeoning prosperity in the region.

"Three of the top four economies by 2050 will be on our doorstep in the Asian region," he said, adding "Australian business people are in Asia every day of the week quite clearly making deals, building relationships."

"The role of government is to try to create the framework to make that easier, better and more sustainable," he said.

The government was on the right path with the white paper, but business needed to see the delivery, he added.


First Published: Friday, November 16, 2012 - 11:18
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