Leading Across Cultures: Challenges for Australia in the Asian Century (Chancellor's Lecture series)

Uploaded by swinvideos on 11.07.2012

Swinburne University of Technology.
Good evening, ladies and gentlemen,
alumni, colleagues and friends of Swinburne.
My name's Michael Grigoletto and I'm from Alumni and Development
and it's my great pleasure to welcome you all here this evening
for tonight's Chancellor's Lecture.
I'd like to begin by respectfully acknowledging the traditional owners,
the people of the Kulin Nation, as the custodians of this land.
We also pay respects to all Aboriginal community elders, past and present,
who have resided in the area and have been an integral part
of the history of this region.
It's a pleasure to see so many of you in attendance this evening
for a very special Chancellor's Lecture.
Before we get started, a few housekeeping matters.
Can I remind you all just to have your phones either switched off
or at least set to silent.
We will also be having a lucky door prize,
a business card draw at the end of the lecture,
so hopefully you've all had a chance to drop your card into the fish bowl.
Tonight's lecture will be recorded for podcasting, including the questions.
So when you put your hand up to ask a question,
just take a moment and we will give you the mic
to make sure that both the question and the answer are recorded.
Tonight's speaker, Professor Ken Chern,
is the executive director of the Swinburne Leadership Institute.
And I'd just like to take a moment to set some context
around the Swinburne Leadership Institute.
A couple of years ago, a Swinburne alumnus and very generous benefactor,
a Mr Steve Graham, shared a vision with Swinburne
to create a centre of learning, research and advocacy
to foster the kind of leadership
equal to the challenges facing today's society.
The leadership and vision shown by Steve
and our vice chancellor, Linda Kristjanson,
has led to the creation of the Swinburne Leadership Institute,
an endeavour for which we hold great aspirations.
The Swinburne Leadership Institute
enjoys the support and guidance of an advisory board,
the external members of which are alumni of Swinburne.
And I'd like to thank these members and Mr Steve Graham,
Mr Graham Goldsmith, Mr Richard Simpson and Mr Paul Choiselat
who are joining us here tonight.
Their tireless efforts and generosity
have been instrumental in establishing this endeavour.
It's now my great pleasure to introduce you to our vice chancellor,
Professor Linda Kristjanson.
Thank you very much, Michael.
Chancellor, distinguished guests, one and all, good evening.
Let me begin by offering you a very, very warm welcome tonight
to our alumni, to our colleagues, our friends of Swinburne.
It's very special that you're with us
and giving time to be with us at this very important event.
This is the first Chancellor's Lecture for 2012
and like other Chancellor's Lectures,
I'm sure you will find this a very exceptional occasion.
Professor Ken Chern, who is a professor of Asian Policy at Swinburne
and the executive director of the Swinburne Leadership Institute,
will deliver tonight's lecture.
Ken will give us an insight into how he thinks
leadership in Australia needs to be tackled in the Asian Century
and how we need to position ourselves with our neighbours
if we are to grow and be a key player in the region.
Some of those leadership qualities that Ken will touch on,
such as integrity, courage, balance, innovation and communication,
are values associated with Swinburne.
These are values that the Swinburne Leadership Institute
is seeking to encourage and instil in the leaders of tomorrow.
The Swinburne Leadership Institute is an initiative that has been inspired,
as you've heard, by our alumnus Steve Graham,
and I'm delighted that Steve and Margaret Graham can be with us tonight
and we're very honoured and value very much
your passion and support for Swinburne, so thank you so much.
The Swinburne Leadership Institute will undoubtedly enrich our university,
our city and our nation through its insights, training
and spotlight on leadership issues that matter.
It's through education that we prepare future generations
and help them develop the intellect needed
to keep Australia at the cutting edge of global knowledge.
For centuries, universities have played the leading role
in extending the boundaries of knowledge,
introducing new perspectives, new cures for disease,
new materials for construction
and new insights into our origins and development.
At a time of almost unanimous outcries about the superficiality of politics,
the moral crisis within business
and the decline of leadership in general,
universities must step up to the plate
to reclaim our true role as thought leaders of and for the community.
It is this leadership role that is driving the transformation
that Swinburne is embarking on.
Last Friday, I made an announcement
about significant changes that Swinburne will be taking
to help the university move forward on its journey
to be Australia's leading university for science, technology and innovation.
The changes we announced are designed to support our vision for Swinburne in 2020
that will position us for future growth
and ensure that we remain competitive and strong.
I know that many of you might have heard the news
and you will be receiving more information as alumni about the changes
through email tomorrow, just to keep you well informed, as well.
But I would like to take this opportunity to assure you
that we are working closely with our staff and our students
to ensure that there is a new and smooth transition towards the future.
This will involve regular communication and on-going consultation
as we implement our vision for the future.
This is something I'd be happy to talk to you about later this evening.
But for now, I'd like to bring our focus back to the lecture tonight.
Over the years, we have been fortunate to have some very engaging speakers
take part in this Chancellor's Lecture series.
Among them was Dr Ziggy Switkowski
who spoke about a subject that he's passionate about
but is controversial for many.
His passion and knowledge of nuclear power
certainly inspired a lively debate in this room
and provided us with much to think about.
We have also been fortunate to have another Swinburne alumni,
Sonny Tilders, as a guest speaker.
Sonny has spent the last 20 years making critters and unusual contraptions
for the theatrical and film industries.
Examples of his work have featured in Walking With Dinosaurs
as well as films such as Peter Pan, Ghost Rider
and The Chronicles of Narnia.
So it's a great privilege to have a range of speakers
from diverse backgrounds for this very popular lecture series.
It's not only a wonderful way to keep our Swinburne community connected,
but also an important medium through which to create dialogue and direction.
We're delighted to see so many of you here this evening
for what promises to be a fascinating and engaging lecture.
So welcome again and thank you for joining us.
Thank you, vice chancellor.
It's now my pleasure to introduce our chancellor, Mr Bill Scales.
Thank you, Michael. And if I could echo Linda's words
and say how pleased we are that so many of you are here tonight.
As I've said on the evenings of other Chancellor's Lectures,
we regard this as being one of the highlights of the year
for a number of reasons, not the least because it gives us an opportunity
to be able to say thank you to our alumni
for all the support that they give us during the year,
for all of our friends and supporters
for the way in which they, like Steve Graham and others, are supporting us
through all of the activities that we're involved in.
So these are really quite important nights for us.
They're also important nights because, as Linda indicated,
they do give us an opportunity to be able to have,
in a university environment,
the opportunity to be able to listen and to learn from people
who are involved in some of the most difficult,
controversial or topical issues of our time.
And the sorts of people that Linda was talking about I think fit that category.
Gary Banks, for example, head of the Productivity Commission,
was also one of the others that came and spoke to us
about what might seem like an esoteric subject,
but it's about the whole issue about informed policy debate
and how that might play itself out in a broader political context
and the way in which it enlivens and strengthens our lives.
So these are really important debates and tonight will be no exception.
Can I just divert slightly and just say a note of thank you to Linda
for what she's been doing over the last week?
You would've read about some of the changes that are going on at Swinburne.
They are the right changes at the right time
and we're doing them in the right way.
But over the last three days,
Linda has been talking to all of our staff in all of our campuses.
I don't know why she's actually here.
She should be asleep. She should be exhausted.
But she's doing what, of course, many of you would be doing
in your own businesses
and that is trying to make sure that
we communicate with our staff when change happens
in an honest, open and considerate way,
in a way which hopefully encourages people to participate in this change
and to be part of it as we're going through it.
And so, Linda, thank you very much
for all the terrific work you've been doing over the last week
and over the last 12 months. We really appreciate it.
Let me now turn to Ken Chern.
As Linda indicated, Ken was appointed the professor of Asian Policy
and the executive director of the Swinburne Leadership Institute
in January of this year.
Previously Ken was professorial research fellow
at the Murdoch University in Perth
following a significant career in the United States Foreign Service.
He served as the United States Consul General in Perth
for three years from 2007.
His immediate prior assignment was as Deputy Consul General
in Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam.
Before that, he served as deputy director
of the Office of the Philippines in Malaysia, Brunei,
and Singapore Affairs at the United States State Department.
Of course, his focus, as we will hear tonight,
is on East Asian and Pacific affairs
and he's also been posted to Beijing, Taipei, Hong Kong,
Manila and many other parts of the East Asian and Asian regions.
In his Washington assignments,
he's worked at the State Department's China desk, the Japan desk,
and very importantly, of course, the Australia/New Zealand desk.
He served in the White House as Director of Asian Affairs
at the National Security Council,
helped to organise the very first of the APEC leaders' meetings,
hosted by Bill Clinton in Seattle.
Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome Ken Chern.
Chancellor, vice chancellor,
colleagues, honoured guests,
I'm delighted to be with you to present the Chancellor's Lecture this evening.
It's a wonderful opportunity to engage with alumni,
staff members and friends of this university and the wider community
on a topic I believe of compelling interest.
Namely, the question of leading across cultures,
challenges for Australia in the Asian Century.
It's especially meaningful for me since, as the chancellor noted,
I've spent my entire working life dealing with Asia
and I've spent a number of those years
dealing with Asia by working with Australia.
Having spent most of my career in the Foreign Service,
I do feel a bit humble about commenting on the state of affairs
that diplomats helped to create.
I'm reminded of the story of the businessman, the lawyer,
the doctor, the priest and the diplomat.
They were all debating about who had the most important job.
The diplomat said, "Well, clearly, my role is key."
"Business, prosperity and jobs depend on me."
The attorney disagreed, saying, "Well, society needs lawyers more
because without a legal framework, business will run amuck."
The doctor remarked, "Perhaps, but without medicine,
human birth is at risk, life itself is at risk."
The priest responded, "Yes, but don't forget,
preceding life and birth is the divine."
"Without the divine, all is chaos."
And the diplomat said, "Who do you think created the chaos?"
In that spirit of humility, I'm happy to share some thoughts with you tonight.
Kim Beazley, the former Australian defence minister,
leader of the opposition and current ambassador to the United States,
has pointed out that Australia,
which was situated in a backwater area of the world during the Cold War,
now sits astride the world's centre of economic and strategic gravity,
the Asia-Pacific.
Prime Minister Gillard's government has responded to this
by inviting submissions to its white paper on Australia in the Asian Century
that most of us are familiar with.
And this has stimulated considerable public debate here.
Appreciation of the new reality is bipartisan.
Not long ago, opposition leader Tony Abbott
advocated integrating Australia more closely with the economies of Asia
and establishing a new two-way Colombo Plan
for educational exchange with Asia.
The question I'll raise tonight is how Australia can position itself
to do good and do well.
How can it do good
and yet advance its own national interests in the Asian Century
at the same time and not get into a quagmire?
Answering that question is kind of like threading a needle, it seems to me.
Democracies like Australia, Japan, the UK and the United States
consistently try to reconcile interests and values in their foreign policy.
Often times, interests trump values.
To thread the needle, Australia's going to need real leadership,
authentic leadership.
That is to say, the advancement of an enlightened self-interest
encompassing Australian economic and security concerns
as well as reaching across cultural divides
to promote civil society, human rights and democratisation
in a vast, crucial and bafflingly complex region of the world.
Political scientists refer to nations like Canada and Australia
as "middle powers".
They are neither super-powers, like the United States,
nor big powers, like Germany,
nor small powers, like Denmark.
Middle powers generally can't force action like the big ones,
so they use their wits.
Australia's population is small, but it has vast resources,
a continental size,
a high level of education and technology,
the 13th largest economy in the world with that tiny population,
and a credible voice in international affairs.
For many decades, Australia has punched above its weight
in a number of niches.
Working to help establish the United Nations,
Minister Evatt in 1945 played a clear intellectual role and political role.
Much later, the creation of APEC in the 1990s.
Crafting of the Chemical Weapons Convention.
Engineering a peace settlement in Cambodia.
Trust development exercises with Southeast Asian countries.
Australia's all over the place.
And I was pleased to be there at the payoff
for Prime Minister Bob Hawke's earlier leadership
as I helped to organise the inaugural APEC Leaders' Meeting,
that was mentioned by the chancellor in his introduction, in 1993.
Not everybody recalls that the Hawke government laid the foundation
for a key piece of the Asia-Pacific's emerging regional architecture.
Australian leaders such as former foreign minister Gareth Evans
often pursue what's known as middle power diplomacy,
seeking coalitions with likeminded nations in multilateral groups
to advocate public good,
such as APEC or the Cambodia Settlement.
Other leaders, like former Prime Minister Howard,
have placed more stress of bilateral relationships,
particularly with the United States
and particularly to build security and combat terrorism.
Such a dichotomy needs to be overcome.
Leadership in the Asian Century
will require Australia to transcend this duality
and excel at both multilateral and bilateral diplomacy.
LBJ, the American president, Lyndon Johnson, in the 60s
had a good way of putting it.
"You need to be able to walk and chew gum at the same time."
Australia needs to do both.
Such leadership will require integrity, courage,
balance, innovation, communication, practicality.
The values that the vice chancellor mentioned in her introduction
and the values so closely associated with Swinburne University
and values that our new Swinburne Leadership Institute
is seeking to study and encourage.
If an ethical individual is required to speak truth to power,
Australia must speak truth to powers.
Great powers, like China and the United States,
and to smaller powers, such as Indonesia and Burma,
using its knowledge, its creativity,
its cultural literacy and its credibility
to advance both its national interests
and the quest for a peaceful and prosperous Asia.
Someone was saying to me just before the lecture
that Australia was seen in China 20, 30 years ago
as less threatening than the United States.
It wasn't an imperialist.
And I think Australia can take advantage of
the relatively high trust level even today in Asia
to do more than sometimes even larger powers, like the US, can do.
The first task of all is to ensure that Australia develops and keeps that edge
in knowledge, creativity and credibility.
Australia must do this in order to cooperate with Asia,
to compete with Asia and to influence Asia.
And the lucky country can do this
only if it ensures that its human resources match its mineral resources,
its energy resources and its agricultural resources.
Like the US, Australia faces problems
in producing enough top scientific talent
and is dissatisfied with its mediocre educational rankings
vis-a-vis other industrial democracies in Europe and Asia.
Kim Beazley made the point well a few years back,
noting that the best statistic he had seen about Western Australia
was not the amount of iron ore it pulled from the ground
or the amount of natural gas it shipped to Japan,
it was that, of all the mining software used around the world,
70 percent was developed in WA.
That's a statistic to grab hold of
and think of as a model for what this country should be doing.
The larger point is clear.
We need to jump-start our education
so that no matter what the state of the mines,
no matter what the price of natural gas
or the world market for cattle a generation down the line,
our young people will have the skills and the intellect
to keep Australia at the cutting edge of a global knowledge economy.
After all, China is endorsing education
and investing massively in research and development,
rapidly expanding and improving its university system,
graduating half a million science and engineering majors every year.
India has also made huge strides.
I don't have time to focus on India tonight but that's another lecture.
Huge strides in scientific education and research.
The BRIC countries are on the move.
Not to mention the world-class educational systems
that drive Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong.
Yet in Australia, it's unclear if the recommendations of the Gonski review
will be fully implemented.
The new secondary school physics curriculum has been criticised
for containing too much sociology of physics and not enough equations.
The chief scientist has warned that a growing anti-science culture
and the avoidance of science courses by Year 11 and 12 students
may threaten Australian education, Australian innovation
and Australian economic well-being.
It took protests by Australia's leading scientists last year,
Fiona Stanley and others,
to avoid a $400 million cut to the nation's medical research budget.
A related problem,
flagged for me by someone who's worked recently at the institute,
is the difficulty faced by many top science PhDs
in even establishing a research career,
suggesting the need for stepped-up research infrastructure development
in other scientific fields that would help Australia remain competitive.
And there's been a decades-long erosion
of Asian language studies in Australian schools
which must be reversed if Australians are to acquire the cultural
as well as technical literacy
that will enable them to capitalise on
all those economic and professional opportunities
that Asia is going to offer.
Government, business and academia need to innovate, to lead,
in capturing the imagination of a new generation.
Why not establish a major fund,
not $36 million, we're into the billions now,
a major research fund
providing thousands of special fellowships each year,
call them Asian Century fellowships,
to study science, engineering and critical languages?
Without developing its human potential, Australia cannot lead
or even compete in this Asian Century.
Australia must also invest more
in the key instrument of its smart power projection in Asia, its Foreign Service.
Middle powers must be savvy and nimble
to discern and seize opportunities for international leadership.
When I served as Australia desk officer in the State Department in the mid-90s,
my counterparts at the Australian Embassy in Washington
displayed that kind of savvy.
In fact, they seemed to know what was going on at the White House
before I did.
I had to put my jets on afterburners just to keep up with them.
But they were spectacularly effective.
However, Australia's investment in its department of Foreign Affairs and Trade
has languished for over a decade under both parties.
Alex Oliver and Andrew Shearer of the Lowy Institute
last year referred to Australia's diplomatic network
as over-stretched and hollowed out.
This year's budget cuts will reduce Australia's diplomatic staff
by another 150 to 200 positions,
placing Australian overseas missions at yet more risk of burnout
in perusing both bilateral and multilateral diplomacy.
Without restoring and increasing its diplomatic muscle,
Australia will have trouble helping steer events in the Asian Century.
No event today is more important for Asia,
nor for Australia and world politics, than the rise of China.
And there is no bigger question mark for the future
than the role and the attitude of China.
For 30 years, China has sky-rocketed
from the shambles of the cultural revolution
which I witnessed during my first visit to China in 1976.
It's now seized the second spot among all world economies in 2011.
It's created vast opportunities, as Australians well know,
for Asia-Pacific trading and investment partners,
and a huge network of foreign economic ties with China.
But China's rapid military growth
and its assertive disputation of territorial claims
in the East and South China Seas in recent years
have put neighbouring countries on edge.
Japan, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam
have all enhanced their security dialogues
or defence ties with the United States.
Professor Hugh White,
the distinguished analyst from the Australian National University,
has suggested that we're at an inflection point of power shift
where China's economic and political rise,
along with US weakness occasioned by the global financial crisis and two wars,
portends three possible outcome.
According to Hugh White,
the first possibility is a US retreat from the Asia-Pacific.
The second possibility is an unlikely though desirable concert of powers,
including the US, China, Japan and India.
The third possibility envisioned by Hugh White is rising US-China tension
and the deterioration of the Asia-Pacific system.
Professor White and others have warned
that the US strategic rebalancing of its military posture toward Asia,
in effect resisting Chinese challenges to US primacy,
creates a risk of escalating tensions with China.
White has criticised Australia's welcome for 2,500 US marines to train in Darwin
as, in effect, a US-Australian view of ANZUS as directed against China.
I disagree with White's arguments
that China will overtake the US in strategic terms any time soon.
And I disagree with his view
that the US marine deployment to Darwin is provocative.
However, White's thesis is an important part of the discussion and debate
about how to accommodate the Asia-Pacific
and the world to China's rise.
Australia has a huge stake in US-China relations
because, quite obviously, while China is Australia's greatest market,
the US is Australia's closest ally.
And like all nations in the Asia-Pacific,
Australia will be greatly affected by the inability or the ability
of China and the United States to get along.
My feeling is Australia has acted shrewdly
in developing economic and political ties with China
whilst strengthening its economic, political and alliance ties
with the Unites States.
Although Australia is not in a position, obviously,
to single-handedly alter the course of US-China relations,
Australia benefits from the reality that China and the US,
both in economic relations and other fields, need each other
and will continue to need each other for the foreseeable future.
There is much parallelism, it seems to me,
between US-China and Australia-China relations.
In particular, the vast web of economic ties
that bind both Australia and the US to China.
Australia and the US share a common interest in developing those ties
and in utilising incentives and disincentives
to encourage China's movement
toward more positive and constructive relationships
in the Asia-Pacific and beyond.
The goal that World Bank president Robert Zoellick articulated
for China to emerge as a responsible stakeholder
in the Asia-Pacific and global systems has not changed.
Defence Minister Stephen Smith's indication
during the Indonesian presidential visit last week
that Australian, Indonesian and US forces
would undertake disaster relief military exercises at the top end in 2013
and that China would be invited to observe,
send observers to those exercises,
is a good case in point of Australian transparency and outreach to China
that should help mitigate Chinese suspicions
that Australia is part of any attempt to contain or encircle China.
Such transparency and communication
are vital to a continuing successful approach by Australia to China.
I would also endorse the recommendation
by Linda Jakobson this autumn of the Lowy Institute
that Australia pursue an annual
strategic and economic dialogue with China
at the cabinet ministerial level,
in parallel with similar dialogues
that the US and others countries maintain with China,
to convey Australia's perspectives on the US alliance
and other aspects of Australian strategic intent
while better discerning China's own concerns and intentions
and building communication and trust.
Above all, to play a positive role
as a knowledgeable and influential middle power, to lead, China...
Excuse me. ..Australia will need to maintain a policy of balance,
continuing to nurture its ties with China
but standing up for the interests it shares with other nations
in the peaceful resolution of disputes
and the free flow of trade in Asia-Pacific waters.
Above all, too, Australia must display the courage to speak truth to powers.
To the United States as an ally, as it has done before,
and to China as a friend, as it has done before.
The Americans understand and value Australian candour.
As a politician in Perth told me while I was Consul General there,
"We're mates but we don't always agree."
Chinese leaders also recognise
Australia's commitments to the international system
and its ties to the United States.
In sum, there is no need either for provocation of China
or for pre-emptive capitulation to China.
Another country, not a great power like China,
but just as important to Australia in the Asian Century, is Indonesia.
The world's fourth largest population,
its third largest democracy
and its largest Muslim nation,
Indonesia straddles vital sea lanes and is a close-by neighbour.
What happens there...
..cannot be exaggerated in its importance to Australia's future.
Canberra and Jakarta seem to be getting on well,
security cooperation is productive,
the two governments work harmoniously in multilateral and other groupings
on issues like deforestation and climate change.
President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono,
whose government has made great strides in democratisation, decentralisation,
economic growth and international participation,
views Australia as a close friend.
However, it seems to me that the burden for Australian leadership
in relationship to Indonesia
is to dispel public mistrust
arising from the cultural gap between the countries
and stereotyped perceptions between the two countries
and to help Indonesia build a civil society
and an economic foundation for a prosperous future.
Australia needs to drive this process
before President Yudhoyono retires in 2014
and high-level relations enter uncharted waters.
Australia has creditably supported
Indonesian civil society via development assistance
despite the culture gap.
If Australia... Excuse me, if Indonesia modernises
and its governance becomes more democratic
and it deepens its nascent traditions of civil society,
the gap could dissipate
as a vibrant, pluralistic society resonates with Australian values.
And such a society would also, as a by-product,
present a compelling model for the developing world,
particularly Muslim countries.
However, it seems to me that certain factors in Indonesia's governance
may frustrate this interest.
Former White House Asia Director and Indonesian specialist, Karen Brooks,
has commended Indonesia's progress under president Yudhoyono.
But she has also flagged persistent corruption at all levels of government,
including at high levels in the president's political party.
And, ironically, along with decentralisation of power,
decentralisation of graft.
Now you don't just have to pay off the people in Jakarta,
you have to pay off the people in the provinces and the villages.
Kickbacks at all levels.
These phenomena threaten the prospects
of an Indonesian model of multi-party democratic government.
Indonesia has also backslid on international commitments
to reduce or eliminate trade barriers,
a development that Mr Greg Moriarty, Australia's ambassador to Indonesia,
terms "rising economic nationalism."
Australian trade with Indonesia
is less than two thirds of Australia's trade with New Zealand,
which has only two percent of Indonesia's population
and only one fifth its GDP.
Australia must find ways to help Indonesia renew its attack on corruption
and to re-engage firmly with the world economy
if Australia's trade, investment and democratic political system
are to anchor its economic development and its international role.
Because of the culture gap, it seems to me
that purely official efforts to encourage reforms
in Indonesia's trade policy and governance
would likely be taken as condescending.
This is an area where the concept of second-track diplomacy
can and should be brought into play.
The second track,
that is the involvement of the private sector in foreign policy,
has been cogently advocated by observers such as John Denton,
chairman of the Global Engagement Task Force
of the Business Council of Australia.
Denton notes that private sector organisations and individuals
can contribute directly and indirectly
to Australia's foreign policy objectives.
Businesses, NGOs, think tanks, universities
have the knowledge, the connections and sometimes the credibility
that can ascertain the sources of influence abroad,
facilitate the exercise of Australia's soft power
and augment official policy.
Applying this theory to Indonesian policy,
the Commonwealth government should jump-start
its engagement with private sector organisations
knowledgeable about the Indonesian trade and governance issues.
Canberra should stimulate second-track dialogue
with Indonesian counterparts on these issues
and organise a long overdue state visit by the prime minister to Jakarta
with a strong private-sector contingent.
Given the sensitivity of the issues and the culture gap,
this must be done with tact and discretion.
The risk of offence is real
and Australians should exercise cross-cultural leadership,
approaching the task in the spirit of the Chinese aphorism...
That is to say, "Learn from each other, help each other."
A touch of humility makes it more likely that we'll be listened to.
For the long haul,
addressing the cultural literacy deficit will be crucial.
Perhaps as Hugh White has suggested,
through a government-funded programme
to send 10,000 young Australians a year to Indonesia
to study Bahasa and learn about the country,
something related to my earlier thought about a major fellowship programme.
A hallmark of Australia's leadership in Asia
has been, and should continue to be,
its commitment to civil society, democratisation and human rights.
This is important not only because it's the right thing to do,
but also because it's in Australia's long-term national interest.
In the early 1990s, prime ministers Mahathir and Lee Kuan Yew
spoke for Malaysian and Singaporean elites
in articulating Asian values, as they called it,
to rebut foreign criticisms of their human rights practices.
20 years later, a strong democracy in Japan,
rollicking party politics in Taiwan and South Korea,
democratisation in Indonesia,
contested elections in Malaysia,
wake-up calls to the government of Singapore,
not to mention the Arab Spring,
are powerful signals of the universal human aspiration
to freedom and self-government.
The Australian people have been on the right side of history,
welcoming human rights advocates like the Dalai Lama,
exiled Uighur leader Rebiya Kadeer from China's Northwest,
and Anwar Ibrahim of Malaysia
to visit and make presentations at universities in Melbourne and elsewhere.
Aung San Suu Kyi has thanked Australia for its support
during the decades of her repression by Burma's military government.
Like the United States,
Australia has used its annual human rights dialogues with China
to discuss concerns about China's human rights practices
and press China on prisoners of special concern,
even while offering technical assistance to the Chinese
to develop their legal system and infrastructure.
Pressure and assistance. Balance.
Walking and chewing gum. Not that hard if you think about it.
To lead in the Asian Century, the Australian government and people
must continue to stand up for their values
and for the internationally-accepted human rights norms
that will be a growing focus of demands from people across the region.
In her speech to the UN Fourth World Conference on Women in 1995,
Hilary Clinton made a profound point.
Human rights are women's rights
and women's rights are human rights.
It was no longer acceptable to discuss the two separately.
"Abuses of women had continued," Clinton said,
"because for too long the history of women has been a history of silence."
Australia's voice has rung out clearly for women's rights as human rights.
At the High Level Summit of the Women Leaders' Forum
in Rio De Janeiro this June,
Prime Minister Gillard spotlighted
Australia's responsibility as a G20 member
to contribute to women's equality on a global scale.
The prime minister noted that the Asia-Pacific
was losing up to $47 billion US annually
due to women's limited access to employment,
and another $30 billion because of gender gaps in education.
And she stated that nearly half of Australia's aid expenditure
was to support gender equality and the empowerment of women.
Implicitly, the prime minister made the point
that the exclusion by gender of half the population of many societies
from education and productive employment
is not only a human rights catastrophe
but also a crippling blow to development prospects and the chance for prosperity.
Australia has led in developing a regional approach to human trafficking,
a crime whose victims are 80 percent female,
and which traps hundreds of thousands of Asian women and children annually.
Canberra works closely with the ASEAN countries
and has helped to train more than 7,000 police, judges and prosecutors
to investigate and prosecute the traffickers.
Australia co-chairs and is co-founder of the Bali Process
on people smuggling, trafficking in persons
and related transnational crime.
Australia is pressing to reduce
the vulnerability of individuals and communities to trafficking
through poverty alleviation and increased opportunities for education
and sustainable livelihoods.
Chairman Mao used to quote an old Chinese proverb,
"Women hold up half the sky."
Because globalisation has ratcheted up
many challenges facing women in developing countries
and has actually accelerated the pace of human trafficking,
it's important that Australia not only maintain
but step up its efforts to combat trafficking
and tap the potential of women in the Asia-Pacific to reach for the sky.
There are many challenges posed to Australian leadership
in the Asian Century.
But building Australia's human resources,
dealing forthrightly with China and Indonesia,
and standing up for human and women's rights
are among the most important of the tasks ahead.
Australia clearly has the capacity to do great things
if it can summon the will, the energy, and the imagination to do so.
Thanks for coming. Thanks for listening.
Thank you, Ken, for your insights, and you very modestly say
that you need to have your afterburners on in order to keep up.
I've seen you with your afterburners on and it is something to behold.
We'll now throw open the floor for some questions.
We've got some roving mics.
So, a show of hands.
You have a question?
Thank you, professor. Actually a brilliant analysis.
I speak as one with limited but long-standing experience with China.
I first went there in '77, '79, '81, had my honeymoon there in '86
and opened a business office in Shanghai and it's still there.
But there is a paradox, and the paradox to me is...
And I've just been to China recently
and seen hundreds of thousands of two-storey townhouses sold off,
hundreds of thousands of them, I was down in the Southwest.
And this makes one realise that there is a great prosperity in China
which is in their enlightened self-interest to foster.
And it makes me feel secure about the future
because if a country is flourishing,
and there's quite a lot of talk, as you mention,
about the defence situation, the military,
but if China is increasingly prosperous,
it seems to me that the soft options which you've mentioned,
training, education, exchange,
are much more preferable than the hard options of weapons.
So, to me, there's a paradox there,
and I would like your reflections on the paradox
which with China is prosperity,
this, to me, seems to diminish the military
and emphasise the need for soft relationships,
such as we've done so well with APEC.
Getting Clinton to chair that first APEC in Seattle was brilliant.
So would you like to expand a little bit on that paradox
of social and economic standing and prosperity and comfort
against what the military people might be still seeing as,
"Well, we've got to kerb the Chinese."
Or the Chinese military saying, "Hey, we've got to kerb the Americans."
I'm sorry, that's a bit rambling,
but that is the paradox, I think, in diplomacy as it confronts Australia.
Thanks for that. I'd be delighted to talk about that, John.
Thank you for raising it. There are paradoxes...
..in China and in China's relationship with the outside world
and the Western world in particular.
I remember when I was on the Tiananmen task force in 1989
after the tragedy there.
The thing that's implanted in my mind is those college kids
holding up the goddess of democracy,
which was modelled on the Statue of Liberty,
which was given as a gift to the people of the United States
by the people of France a century and a half earlier.
So there was a resonation, for me, in terms of their idealism.
As China has grown stronger and more prosperous,
there are aspects of Chinese society
that are more sophisticated and more outward-looking,
which is a good thing and we want to encourage those.
There's also some more nationalism at the same time
and a profound sense in China of denial
by Western and foreign countries
of China's rights and China's unity.
So if you put yourself in China's shoes,
you see the world from a different vantage point,
and I think that while China's more sophisticated today
and there are far more Chinese
who have studied in Australia, the US and Britain,
there is also more assertiveness among young Chinese
and I think we have to be prepared to work with the folks who reach out to us
and to soften the assertiveness in any way we can. Thanks for that.
(MAN) Thank you for your talk. I enjoyed it very much.
You talked about the importance of tact and diplomacy with Indonesians
and I was wondering if you might be willing to reflect upon
how tact plays off against domestic politics.
I'm thinking in particular of the whole issue
of refugee and border control policy,
which has probably been one of the most intractable of public policies
in Australia over the last ten years.
My understanding is that the Indonesians and other East Asian countries
are not on the whole impressed by Australian public policy
in relation to refugees and border control.
And I was hoping you might be able to reflect on that
and also how domestic politics, in relation to these issues,
plays off in managing these issues with tact.
Thanks for that, Michael. A very astute question
because it also relates to dilemmas in the United States about immigration.
You could look at US strains and stresses over immigration
in much the same way that Australia has stresses and strains in immigration,
though the problem is really much larger in the US
with anything between 10 and 15 million illegal immigrants.
So there's an actuality there.
It's a nightmare but maybe not quite realised here.
I think that one of the problems that you identified,
that is to say the political football element
in dealing with immigration issues,
is something that is an irritant
and potentially could be a increased irritant for relations with Indonesia.
I felt it was a shame that about six months ago,
the representative for...
or the shadow minister for immigration, Scott Morrison,
and the minister for immigration, Chris Bowen,
were very close, very close to a deal.
But politics got in the way.
I'm not assigning blame to one party, but politics got in the way.
And to overcome that I think will be difficult because so often
high-stress and hot-button emotional issues like immigration...
On the one hand, people who say, "We need an onshore solution
because of the terrible suffering that people endure
and the fear that many of them have to go back home."
And on the other hand, "Well, so many wait in line."
"Should we let people, some of whom may be economic migrants,
skip over the line?"
Not easy arguments to answer on either side
without casting judgement either way.
I think that one way of handling immigration
and relations with Indonesia and other regional countries,
something I suggested about a month ago,
is to, as the headline put it, start talking to the neighbours.
Talk to Indonesia,
seize Indonesia's interest in creating a regional approach
to illegal immigration or asylum seekers,
depending on your political bias how you frame that phrase.
Do some regional thinking about this.
The Indonesians have been calling for a more regional approach.
And at the latest ministerial, under the Bali Process
in I think it was June 2011,
Chris Bowen made the point
that Australia seeks to continue region dialogue
under the Bali Process, which is suggested but not binding.
And it seems to me that if Australia would participate in a Bali dialogue
focusing on the immigration issue
at the next meeting of that dialogue,
it would secure for Australia
a good deal of goodwill from countries in the region,
it would not force Australia to surrender an iota of sovereignty
because it's not a binding process,
and it would give Australia a chance to air its concerns
and to bat the issue around with other regional players.
That's one way, I suppose, of using a softer power
or a slightly more humble approach
without creating any direct negative effect.
I do confess that this a long term kind of proposition
and the immediate problems that we see would have to be resolved, too.
So what I'm looking at I think is necessary but not sufficient.
And how you get around the party politics in elections
and how the issues are framed in a way that invites concern abroad
is not an easy answer for either Australia
or other countries in Europe or the States. Thanks.
Hi. I guess as a bit of a follow-on to that,
the issue about women and women's leadership roles.
It sort of seems to me to be a little bit hypocritical.
There's been a report by the Grattan Institute which actually says
that women's participation in the workforce in Australia
is actually below quite a number of other countries
and for Australia to talk about women
and women's rights and women's leadership seems to me,
in the same way that we potentially lack credibility
around the refugee issue,
that we sort of lack a little bit of credibility
around that, as well. Would you like to comment on that?
Yes, thank you, because it's also an important point
and I totally agree that to have credibility,
Australia needs to walk the walk as well as talk the talk.
Australia needs to address and needs to be seen to be addressing
the issue of women's participation in business, in government,
in science, in the arts.
Coming back to my science problem,
there are not enough young women who are entering the sciences and engineering.
There are not enough women who are on the boards of corporations.
Even though many more women are working now,
that glass ceiling hasn't been shattered yet.
These may be, again, long-term issues,
but Australia has to address them and has to be seen to be addressing them,
otherwise it looks hypocritical.
I totally agree. Thanks.
(MAN) That's it. Up the front.
Ken, you're in a very good position,
having engaged with Australia over a number of years
and in a number of different ways, to comment.
Is there a flavour to Australia's engagement with the rest of the world
in the same way as a lot of countries have a perceived image
of how they engage with the rest of the world,
and do you see that there's a need to change that approach?
Are we moving from a shrimps on the barbie type approach to something...
Do we need to move to something else
in order to, as you say, punch above our weight in our region
and not be regarded as a meddlesome middle power?
Yeah, also an important question,
and I would say that Australia has been perceived as
a particularly imaginative and active player in the international system.
Back in the 50s and 60s,
Australia developed military cooperation
with Malaysia, Singapore and other Southeast Asian countries
during a time of great international and ideological tension.
In the late 80s and 90s, it was key to building trust
in the ASEAN Regional Forum,
that is to say the relationship between what were then five countries,
now ten ASEAN countries,
and the outside powers in the Asia-Pacific, APEC.
I think far from a shrimp on the barbie kind of image,
Australia has a very impressive image, I think,
in Asia and beyond, as well.
I think it needs to keep running quickly to keep up and do things well.
It can't sit on its laurels and say,
"Well, we're well known and we do good work."
It has to figure out new things that it can contribute
and new initiatives that it can take
so that it doesn't appear to be, er, coasting. That's always the risk.
When you've done well, there's always a risk of coasting.
And that's why I worry about cutting the Foreign Service down.
I read one statistic that if they cut 200 from the Foreign Service
this year and next year,
I think there were roughly 2,000
non-visa and non-consular Foreign Service officers.
That's a ten percent cut.
And, you know, we went through that in the Foreign Service.
I'm sure Consul General remembers this back in the 90s
when they said, "Do more with less."
And the State Department suffered a 52 percent cut in real dollars
from the late 80s to the mid-90s.
I can tell you, it didn't make us any more effective.
And we had Colin Powell to thank.
He's the guy who came in and said, "How are we going to get this job done?"
Not only did he want to get the money,
he knew how to get the money from congress.
And we had the war for talent, the Diplomatic Readiness Initiative
and the Foreign Service became far stronger as a result.
Australia needs to keep its eye on the ball.
In the Asian Century, the diplomats are the instruments of soft power.
Give them what they need to project that power.
Ladies and gentlemen, that's all we've got time for in the way of questions
but you'll have an opportunity in a few moments
to have a chat to Professor Chern.
We'll adjourn to the foyer
and you'll have a chance to network with each other
and to pose some of your questions to Ken.
I'll start by presenting Ken with a token of our appreciation.
- Thank you. - Oh, my gosh. Thank you.
That's very kind. I appreciate that.
And our lucky door prize. I'm not looking at the bowl.
Oh, here we go. We'll make it even more independent. There you go.
I think I put my card in there, but I won't take it.
Mr Robert Kirkham.
We won't ask you to come down.
We'll have the prize waiting for you at the end.
That brings the formalities for this evening to an end,
but just before we let you go,
Professor Chern alluded to the importance of education
and one thing that Swinburne Alumni and Development have just launched recently
is our annual appeal, the theme of which is education.
For those of us that work in the tertiary sector,
one of the reasons we do so is that we believe that education is everything.
And a number of the students that we have here
are really clinging onto their opportunity for education
by the skin of their teeth.
So anything that you can spare
or a consideration you'd like to make for those students
would be greatly appreciated.
So for those of you who would like to make a contribution,
we'll have some forms waiting for you outside.
So once again, I thank you so much for coming. If you'd like to...
Could I also just say that if anybody's interested in receiving
information-like blogs from the institute
or news from the institute, invitations,
we have a brochure outside that you're welcome to pick up.
Thanks for that also.
This has been a Swinburne production.