Australia: Grey issue, white paper- Jakarta Globe columm

Australia's Prime Minister Julia Gillard and her government have initiated an extraordinary undertaking. The PM has set up a panel to develop a White Paper on the social, cultural and economic implications for Australia of what is increasingly known and accepted as the Asian Century.

Australia's Prime Minister Julia Gillard and her government have initiated an extraordinary undertaking. The PM has set up a panel to develop a White Paper on the social, cultural and economic implications for Australia of what is increasingly known and accepted as the Asian Century.

This is not your standard fact-finding exercise or report with recommendations that might generate positive media when published - and then be shelved, not to be looked at again. The purpose of a White Paper like this is to help the government find its voice, with community support, to guide the direction of future policy in an area of vital importance.?

There are two reasons why it's extraordinary. The first is its independence. It's unusual that a government White Paper panel should include such a diverse membership - in this case the members of the panel are: Professor Peter Drysdale of the Australian National University; Catherine Livingstone, the chair of Telstra; and senior officials from the Treasury (Dr. David Gruen), the Prime Minister's Department (Dr. Gordon de Brouwer) and the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (Dr Heather Smith); and lastly, myself.

We are all part of the multi-agency task force responsible for the preparation of the White Paper and are led in that task by the former Treasury Secretary, Dr. Ken Henry, in his role as Special Adviser to the Prime Minister. I am proud to be included.

The second is the transparency of the process: the panel called for submissions in October last year and the response was impressive, with submissions from ordinary citizens, educational institutions, ethnic and religious groups, industry associations, business, both small and larger-scale, unions and NGOs, from all manner of people, in all walks of life, and anyone can read them because they're all on the website, with the exception of a very few who requested privacy.

Prominent position for Indonesia

It would not surprise you that Indonesia has featured strongly in these submissions, a country which has heightened significance given the strategic importance of a neighbor whose friendship and partnership we value and where developing closer links enjoys the highest priority, especially where on both sides there has perhaps been at times a lack of clarity or direction as to how best we can achieve shared imperatives.

It is true that Australia and Indonesia have taken great strides towards more meaningful links over the past 50 years, despite the problems that emerge from time to time. A recurring message is that as near-neighbors with different social and political systems, both sides know we must work together and make a success of it. We also know that the whole range of complimentarities we enjoy should be exploited to our mutual advantage.

Our relations across all the areas you'd expect reflect a growing maturity, yet there can be no room for complacency, as we can do a lot more together. From the Australian side, we'd like to see a further enhancement of ties, and we seek community input across the board to increase awareness and purpose to build an appropriate place for Australia in this great Asian Century.

As an example, Indonesians have long seen Australia as a desirable place to study. We welcome this and we also recognize the mutual benefit this brings. Yet, at the same time, we'd like to see more Australians studying in Indonesia and to understand why Asian languages are not particularly popular amongst young Australian students.

A recent survey revealed that Australia currently is more valued in Indonesia than previously thanks in part to the Australia-funded pesantren (religious school) development program, yet we also know that views about Australia are not always positive or even.

Breaking through comfort zones

How can we deepen understanding? This is a key challenge. The White Paper is a step forward but is not an answer in itself. We have to keep building and remain persistent.

The massive effort required to break through our comfort zones and traditional thinking will require steely resolve and commitment. Issues such as immigration and regional security also present complex challenges to the community that require consistent and sensitive policy responses.

And we should not be afraid as part of this process to look objectively at how we are mutually perceived in our respective countries. The White Paper should help galvanize us to move into the Asian Century as better prepared and more confident players.

These sentiments are all reflected in the submissions to the White Paper, but the process reaches much further than just calling for submissions. The panel has consulted widely and travelled to many of our Asian neighbors to consult on the ground, and to see first-hand the huge change the Asian Century is bringing, the speed at which that is happening, and the impacts on people, society, economies, business, governments, security and regional trade and economic relationships.

It is essential that this is effectively communicated in Australia too, as Australians must understand the wave of change that is yet to have its full impact in order to accept policies that will result.

These parts of the White Paper process are almost complete and we in the panel are now gathering as a group to digest the vast variety of information we have and, from that, distil policy directions.

Four themes are emerging:

  • The need for Australian to boost our "Asia-relevant capabilities" – the tools Australians will need to engage with Asia in the decades ahead. I'll talk about that some more later.
  • People-to-people links, including in international education, cultural and artistic pursuits.
  • Asia's Rise, which is a broad theme taking in issues like economic growth, resource and food security, energy and strategic power and bilateral relationships,
  • And finally, Australia's competitiveness, in which issues like trade and investment policy, infrastructure, taxation, in short Australia's domestic economic settings are raised.

The prospect of the Asian Century is a somewhat daunting challenge for Australia, despite the enormous opportunity it brings. Australia is large in geography, and Asian markets are our most important. Our closest Asian neighbor, Indonesia, is also large geographically, and much larger in population. China even more so. Whilst blessed with proximity to Asia and with solid cultural, trade and political links with Indonesia and the other great Asian neighbors, Australia must find an optimal place in the Asian Century, as we all must.

Australia and Indonesia are already the two most economically integrated nations in East Asia. Our mutual challenge is to capitalize on this opportunity.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

Most awarded firm and Australian deal of the year
Australasian Legal Business Awards
Employer of Choice for Women
Equal Opportunity for Women
in the Workplace (EOWA)

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

Some comments from our readers…
“The articles are extremely timely and highly applicable”
“I often find critical information not available elsewhere”
“As in-house counsel, Mondaq’s service is of great value”

Mondaq Advice Centre (MACs)
Related Video
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
Email Address
Company Name
Confirm Password
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Media & IT
 Real Estate
 Wealth Mgt
Asia Pacific
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
United States
Worldwide Updates
Check to state you have read and
agree to our Terms and Conditions

Terms & Conditions and Privacy Statement (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd and as a user you are granted a non-exclusive, revocable license to access the Website under its terms and conditions of use. Your use of the Website constitutes your agreement to the following terms and conditions of use. Mondaq Ltd may terminate your use of the Website if you are in breach of these terms and conditions or if Mondaq Ltd decides to terminate your license of use for whatever reason.

Use of

You may use the Website but are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the content and articles available (the Content). You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these terms & conditions or with the prior written consent of Mondaq Ltd. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information about’s content, users or contributors in order to offer them any services or products which compete directly or indirectly with Mondaq Ltd’s services and products.


Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the documents and related graphics published on this server for any purpose. All such documents and related graphics are provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers hereby disclaim all warranties and conditions with regard to this information, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. In no event shall Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use or performance of information available from this server.

The documents and related graphics published on this server could include technical inaccuracies or typographical errors. Changes are periodically added to the information herein. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers may make improvements and/or changes in the product(s) and/or the program(s) described herein at any time.


Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including what sort of information you are interested in, for three primary purposes:

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, newsletter alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our information providers who provide information free for your use.

Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) do not sell or provide your details to third parties other than information providers. The reason we provide our information providers with this information is so that they can measure the response their articles are receiving and provide you with information about their products and services.

If you do not want us to provide your name and email address you may opt out by clicking here .

If you do not wish to receive any future announcements of products and services offered by Mondaq by clicking here .

Information Collection and Use

We require site users to register with Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to view the free information on the site. We also collect information from our users at several different points on the websites: this is so that we can customise the sites according to individual usage, provide 'session-aware' functionality, and ensure that content is acquired and developed appropriately. This gives us an overall picture of our user profiles, which in turn shows to our Editorial Contributors the type of person they are reaching by posting articles on Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) – meaning more free content for registered users.

We are only able to provide the material on the Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) site free to site visitors because we can pass on information about the pages that users are viewing and the personal information users provide to us (e.g. email addresses) to reputable contributing firms such as law firms who author those pages. We do not sell or rent information to anyone else other than the authors of those pages, who may change from time to time. Should you wish us not to disclose your details to any of these parties, please tick the box above or tick the box marked "Opt out of Registration Information Disclosure" on the Your Profile page. We and our author organisations may only contact you via email or other means if you allow us to do so. Users can opt out of contact when they register on the site, or send an email to with “no disclosure” in the subject heading

Mondaq News Alerts

In order to receive Mondaq News Alerts, users have to complete a separate registration form. This is a personalised service where users choose regions and topics of interest and we send it only to those users who have requested it. Users can stop receiving these Alerts by going to the Mondaq News Alerts page and deselecting all interest areas. In the same way users can amend their personal preferences to add or remove subject areas.


A cookie is a small text file written to a user’s hard drive that contains an identifying user number. The cookies do not contain any personal information about users. We use the cookie so users do not have to log in every time they use the service and the cookie will automatically expire if you do not visit the Mondaq website (or its affiliate sites) for 12 months. We also use the cookie to personalise a user's experience of the site (for example to show information specific to a user's region). As the Mondaq sites are fully personalised and cookies are essential to its core technology the site will function unpredictably with browsers that do not support cookies - or where cookies are disabled (in these circumstances we advise you to attempt to locate the information you require elsewhere on the web). However if you are concerned about the presence of a Mondaq cookie on your machine you can also choose to expire the cookie immediately (remove it) by selecting the 'Log Off' menu option as the last thing you do when you use the site.

Some of our business partners may use cookies on our site (for example, advertisers). However, we have no access to or control over these cookies and we are not aware of any at present that do so.

Log Files

We use IP addresses to analyse trends, administer the site, track movement, and gather broad demographic information for aggregate use. IP addresses are not linked to personally identifiable information.


This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that Mondaq (or its affiliate sites) are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of these third party sites. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this Web site.

Surveys & Contests

From time-to-time our site requests information from users via surveys or contests. Participation in these surveys or contests is completely voluntary and the user therefore has a choice whether or not to disclose any information requested. Information requested may include contact information (such as name and delivery address), and demographic information (such as postcode, age level). Contact information will be used to notify the winners and award prizes. Survey information will be used for purposes of monitoring or improving the functionality of the site.


If a user elects to use our referral service for informing a friend about our site, we ask them for the friend’s name and email address. Mondaq stores this information and may contact the friend to invite them to register with Mondaq, but they will not be contacted more than once. The friend may contact Mondaq to request the removal of this information from our database.


This website takes every reasonable precaution to protect our users’ information. When users submit sensitive information via the website, your information is protected using firewalls and other security technology. If you have any questions about the security at our website, you can send an email to

Correcting/Updating Personal Information

If a user’s personally identifiable information changes (such as postcode), or if a user no longer desires our service, we will endeavour to provide a way to correct, update or remove that user’s personal data provided to us. This can usually be done at the “Your Profile” page or by sending an email to

Notification of Changes

If we decide to change our Terms & Conditions or Privacy Policy, we will post those changes on our site so our users are always aware of what information we collect, how we use it, and under what circumstances, if any, we disclose it. If at any point we decide to use personally identifiable information in a manner different from that stated at the time it was collected, we will notify users by way of an email. Users will have a choice as to whether or not we use their information in this different manner. We will use information in accordance with the privacy policy under which the information was collected.

How to contact Mondaq

You can contact us with comments or queries at

If for some reason you believe Mondaq Ltd. has not adhered to these principles, please notify us by e-mail at and we will use commercially reasonable efforts to determine and correct the problem promptly.