Our highest endeavour must be to develop free human beings able to impart purpose and direction to their own lives. The need for imagination, a sense of truth, and a feeling of responsibility - these three forces are the very nerve of education - Rudolf Steiner.
As keynote speaker at the 2013 Asia Education Foundation’s National Conference, Corrs Partner and CEO John W. H. Denton today spoke to more than 450 primary and secondary school educators on the value of increasing students’ understanding of Australia’s growing relationship with Asia.
Click 'text version' to read John's speaker notes.
It’s a privilege to speak to you. To quote Rudolf Steiner:
“Our highest endeavour must be to develop free human beings able to impart purpose and direction to their own lives. The need for imagination, a sense of truth, and a feeling of responsibility - these three forces are the very nerve of education.”
You have a heavy responsibility.
I’ve been invited to speak about the Asian Century, and what this concept means for us all as Australians — with a particular reference to younger Australians.
The Asian Century is upon us, and we Australians must move away from our European roots into a future based strongly in the Asian region.
Given my role on the Advisory panel of the team that prepared the Australia in the Asian Century White Paper, this is something I’ve thought a lot about.
What does it mean to be in the Asian Century?
It means that we, as Australians, are in the right place at the right time. As the saying goes — economic gravity has now shifted towards us.
So even under the slowest economic growth scenario modelled in the Asian Century White Paper, Asia will be the world’s fastest growing region by 2025. It will, in 2025, have 3 of the largest 5 economies in the world.
For we Australians, we already have a head start on any competitors nations at making the most of this shift in economic gravity. Today, 4 of our 5 biggest trading partners are in Asia. As these major trading partners become yet more important in the world economy, we will be well placed to directly benefit.
Moreover, as Asia grows, a strong and aspirational middle class will also continue to develop. Asia is already the most populous region in the world. In the future, it will also be home to the majority of the world’s middle class.
To put some numbers to this.
Asia is currently expected to have around 3 trillion people who are middle class by 2030. That will be 10 times as many middle class people than every other region in the world except for Europe. And Asia will still have 5 times as many middle class people as Europe.
This Asian middle class will increase their aspirations along with their wealth. They’ll want a diverse range of goods and services. They will want better quality health, aged care and education services. They will want more household goods, high-quality food products… the list is endless.
And the potential value of these wants is enormous. The Boston Consulting Group estimates that just China and India's middle class alone are a '$10 trillion dollar prize'.
And that’s not the half of it.
For Australia — by 2030, Indonesia, our closest Asian neighbour, is likely to have the 4th largest level of middle-class spending globally after India, China and the United States.
Obviously, all I’ve given you so far are a list of the rosy economic prospects for many of the Asian nations.
But the first point I’d like to make, and one that is often overlooked I think, is that the Asian Century White Paper is not just based on economics. It’s based on a vision of what economic growth and change can bring for all Australians.
For our lives
Our sense of hope
For our children – the next generations
We worked assiduously to make this not a paper solely about economics, or only about investment, or only about defence, or any other some such. While the opportunities of the Asian Century are easiest to quantify through the measures of economic growth — this doesn’t mean that opportunities are solely ‘economic’.
There are a lot of business opportunities that come out of the Asian Century White Paper, and there are some high aspirations for Australian business — many of which will be started by the students of today — your pupils
Making the most of these opportunities.
But in the longer run, Australia getting more out of the Asian Century is not just about us reaping greater cash flows as a result of some favourable geographic circumstance.
In fact, as the paper makes clear, there are many other things we need to address:
Above all, we need to understand that we are operating in a fundamentally different strategic environment we were once used to.
The very nature of interacting in this century is changing. Today, success comes from partnerships and connectivity. It comes from making the most of complementary interests and working collaboratively with partners in Asia, not just competing against them.
So one of the things we focused on is how to develop more sophisticated relationships between we in Australia and our friends in Asia.
Thinking through what this means for young people in Australia, the most obvious takeaway is that young people will have different opportunities and career paths from many of us.
Part of this is just the general changing nature of work.
But another and very interesting part is the importance of ‘Asia-literacy’ to the future careers of young Australians.
Asia literacy is a complicated matter.
An ability to speak the language; a knowledge of the history, customs and culture; a lengthy period of time in the country on the ground; and an ability to get something done in the country through knowing ‘the right people to call’ are all good examples of ‘literacy’.
And for young Australians, it is likely at some point that there can be a myriad combinations of these types of ‘literacy’ occurring in their everyday lives.
Part of this for us is very difficult; we will need, as a society, to endow our children with the capabilities to be ‘literate’ in these many ways.
In the same way that we were driven to develop systems to better teach people to read and write in the early days of mass education.
But another part of this is much easier — and that is the ability to build trust and relationships in Asia. Trust and relationships come from engagement, and from spending time together. And knowing and respecting our differences.
So building greater knowledge – of each other, of different environments, of different ways of working, of different ways of thinking, of different national ambitions – will always make us better at working in cross-cultural environments.
And, returning to my point about Australia’s advantages, we already have greater knowledge than we think in many ways. We already have a lot of shared relationships through trade and investment - obviously. But also we have many assets - almost a third of Australians are overseas born for example, and around 10 per cent of Australians are of Asian origin.
This proportion will only increase — and as it does, the numbers of Asian people coming to Australia will naturally increase as well. Already many Asian business people, diplomats, military leaders and policymakers and educators are and were educated in Australia. And we see constant and visible impacts of Asian immigration on our society, our culture, our food and even our entertainment.
We’ve seen the birth of JPop and KPop and AusPop – will we ever see AJKPop?
The continuation of this process will mean that young Australians will see as business as usual a high degree of contact with Asia. This will bring a level of familiarity, which can be used to build trust and opens doors. It is this familiarity and comfort that I think young Australians will take on, naturally, in the future.
Obviously, there’s much more we could be doing to make things easier for young Australians, and for developing their capabilities.
For example, we have made some investments in building Asian literacy over the years, but these investments are no longer adequate to the task: for example, our ranks of linguists, Asia focused historians and area specialists have dwindled in some important areas.
And even if we bolster our ranks in one specific area, we must not forget that Asia remains one region but many countries — we need capabilities that can work across different environments, cultures, financial systems and legislative bodies.
So we need programs not just for any one single area, but frameworks that make collaboration and interaction across many cultures easier and better
This was something we reviewed most seriously in the process of writing the Asian Century white paper. Our stance was that we need to first develop the capabilities before we can begin to outline how we will use the capabilities — we don’t know exactly what the future will hold, so let’s be as ambitious as we can now in order to protect ourselves for the future.
So the White Paper set out some very difficult metrics to achieve. It said that by 2015 (just two years!) we should have one of the world’s top 5 school systems in reading, mathematics and science; and 10 of the world’s top 100 universities.
On ‘reading’, we rank 9th among the OECD’s 29 partner economies. Neither the United States nor any of the major European economies sit above us. But Shanghai (the Chinese member of the group), Korea, Hong Kong, Singapore and Japan all do.
In mathematics, we sit equal 15th with Germany and Estonia, and way behind the top 5, which are all East Asian.
In science we are 10th, again with big gaps to the top 5, amongst which Finland alone is not East Asian (all data from OECD 2012).
For the universities, it becomes harder yet. There are two global ranking systems for universities — the Times Higher Education Supplement rankings and the Shanghai Jiaotong University rankings. Both are dominated by American and British universities. But six Australian Universities make it into the Times top 100; five into the Shanghai Jiaotong.
While these targets may seem unrealistic, they show the type of ambition we are searching for. They show the importance that we must place on education as the lynchpin of activities for the Asian Century.
And this could be seen in our activities in building an ambitious plan into the White Paper itself.
Should we successfully be able to implement the capabilities roadmap of the White Paper, every Australian student will have the chance to engage comprehensively with Asian languages, history, culture and studies.
They’ll have the chance to pair with Asian schools.
And when they leave school, they’ll have university courses and commercial opportunities that will allow them to continue engaging with Asia.
It’s essential that I outline the assumption that underlies this capabilities argument. The assumption is that we, as a country, will succeed in the Asian Century through the quality of our people. And that this is, and will remain a critical challenge for how we navigate the challenges of positioning Australia. We need to have the capability to act before we act purposefully.
I raise the need for greater capacity to deal with Asia not to diminish the many advantages that Australia has. We already have a highly skilled, hard-working and creative population. We have many world leading research institutions in education, health, environmental management, science and design. But we do not have enough.
And the scale and the pace of change in Asia will mean that we may never have enough. It is simply not enough to change our practices to make them more ‘Asia-focused’.
More of the same but with a twist is not the answer.
As I’ve noted already, this means that we must rethink how we work with Asia, as partners.
Asia will become an increasingly significant source of new ideas, technologies and leading-edge science for Australia.
We do have some advantages in making the most of these ideas. Our population And our large diaspora can help to build social, business, and, cultural networks that help us work together with Asia.
These networks are vital. They bring with them many, often-unanticipated benefits. Today's students, tourists, and facebook friends are tomorrow's investors, business partners, professors and political leaders.
Being intertwined in Asia requires us to be intertwined through people.
Doing this means we also need to shift our mindsets. We need to look afresh at the opportunities that are happening before us, in our own very region.
As an example, let us go back to the international high school education achievement goals. As others, most notably Ross Garnaut, he argued, the fact that we are even having this debate is an example of the impact of our being located in the Asian region.
If we were merely comparing ourselves with the Anglosphere, we might feel comfortable about the standards of our schools. But our role models are now our neighbours — so we don’t.
This is the world that our young people are entering — and it isn’t always a comfortable, or easy, world.
Take our universities. At the moment, we have almost the same number of Asian and Australian universities in the major international university ranking lists.
But this will not stay this way for long. Asian universities have the most competitive entry processes in the world.
In Peking University, they have 20 slots for each major in each cohort. Around 500, 000 people apply for these 20 slots.
Granted, Peking University is on the international ranking lists — but Fudan, Nankai, Nanjing (Nan-Da), and other universities with similarly competitive entry processes are not. There is very little chance that these universities will not improve significantly in the near future; the talent base is far too great for them not to.
And I’ve only spoken of the Chinese universities — a similar dynamic applies for Indian universities, of which only the Institutes of Technology are really receiving much international notice, ignoring institutions like the University of Delhi.
What does this mean for Australia? It means that we will have our own war for talent — the war for undergraduate and postgraduate talent from overseas. For our young people, the quality of their education will depend on how well their university attracts top students from Asia, and how well their university provides them with opportunities to engage with the best Asian students.
What this shows all of us is that we need to position ourselves to make the most of future developments now. Now is the time to build the relationships that will make us more effective there in 20 or 30 years time — and that will make life for our young people easier in 20 or 30 years time.
How can we build these relationships if we don’t know what things will look like in 20-30 years?
I think that we go back to the fundamental economic principles of ‘fair exchange’.
If we can figure out what we can create with, and give to, Asia as well as what it can give us, then that is what we should base our initial relationship building efforts on.
But while networking and relationship creation is good, the longer-term challenges are more about how we actually become a part of the region.
This needs to happen through long-term partnerships shaped through time, through doing things together with our government, business and educational partners in Asia and through committing to each other’s prosperity in a way that transcends the transactional.
We’ll need to make the most of our population. As I said earlier, familiarity can help to build social, business, and, cultural networks. And there are an enormous amount of unanticipated benefits that can flow from more contact and ‘connectivity’.
While schools are the most natural beneficiaries of this process, a wide range of groups — from businesses, to community groups, to even sports teams — can enjoy stronger informal relationships through the region. This is a very powerful strategic platform for us.
For young people, the benefits from these partnerships can spread across lifetimes. They generate good will!
This isn’t just of benefit to young people, either. Education remains a highly promising future commercial market for Australia.
While much of Northeast Asia — our biggest trading partner — has already experienced its demographic dividend and is rapidly ageing, the working-age populations of India, Malaysia, the Philippines and Indonesia, as well as the rest of South Asia, have yet to peak.
So these countries will most likely grow quickly, and urbanise quickly. And these young, urban Indians, Malaysians and Filipinos (amongst others!) will want to be educated.
Many of these students will want to come to Australia. In 2009 there were around 2.5 million international higher education students worldwide. The OECD currently projects that the number will reach 7 million international higher education students by 2020. And this demand for higher education will continue past 2020 as more people seek higher pay and upward mobility in emerging Asia.
Many more of these students will want to be educated in their home country. So the OECD estimates that by 2020 China and India combined will graduate the most students of any country worldwide, and that Indonesia will be the world’s fastest growing market for higher education services. We can help provide human resource and systems to support this increasing demand.
Our expertise in different pedagogies and in online and distance education technologies will be in high demand — should we get the mix right.
But thus far, I’ve only spoken about one small element of the opportunities of the Asian Century (albeit the one I imagine you are all most interested in!). So what does the Asian Century hold for young people across other areas of our economy?
Firstly, it’s important to note that right now, contrary to what our media often reports, we're doing well from the Asian Century.
We have one of the strongest economies in the world. Unemployment is low. Inflation is contained. The terms of trade are high. While commodity prices appear to have passed their record peak, considerable minerals and energy investment is still to come and large-scale production and exports are yet to flow.
Our public finances are among the strongest in the world. Government debt is low. Our financial institutions are sound and we have the highest possible sovereign credit rating. And we have a multicultural, highly skilled and creative population that has demonstrated capabilities in innovation and complex problem solving.
We also have a strong commitment to keeping regional trade booming. We've been a big winner from trade. The Centre for International Economics suggested that trade liberalisation since 1988 may have added 2.5 per cent to Australia’s GDP in the long run, representing an increase in real income of around $3,000 to $4,000 a year for the average family. More than one in five Australian jobs today are trade-related.
Finally, we're committed to encouraging far greater investment from Asia. And I think far more investment will come —investment from Asia in general is much lower than it should be given the relative size of the economies.
We need to be clear: we must welcome economic investment. Economic investment is good for us. It creates jobs. It boosts our tax base. And it lets us engage and interact with Asia.
This doesn’t mean that the future will necessarily be all rosy for our young people — but there is a pretty good news story to tell.
Given that, I’d like to use the second part of my speech today to analyse how I see the region progressing, and attempting to evaluate some of the future opportunities for young people throughout the region.
One of the challenges of the Asian Century is that innovations and new methods will develop with ‘Asian characteristics’; and the challenge for us as a nation is to try and anticipate this development.
A great example is that the concept of ‘frugal innovation’.
We sometimes forget the rapid economic growth and strong human capital advantages in Asia are leading to many nations becoming knowledge creators as well as knowledge users.
The most notable example is India, whose large and youthful population and growing expenditure on research and development have lifted its publications of scientific papers from 2.1 per cent of the world total in 2000 to 3.5 per cent in 2010.
In doing so, India has also seen a wide array of successes that have come through thinking through the problems faced by its society. An example is TATA’s Swach, a $25 water filter that exploits the properties of nanoparticles of silver and runs without electricity or moving parts. This is frugal innovation in action.
And there is a wide array of examples of Indian ‘frugal innovation’ in health care. From best hospital practice to the development of cheap products to address the vast shortage of cardiovascular care in developing countries — products that are also being adopted for use in healthcare in Sydney — new innovations that address local needs are constantly appearing.
So what sorts of opportunities can our young people expect from different parts of the Asian Century?
I’ll start with the development success stories, the advanced economies in Northeast Asia of Japan, South Korea and Taiwan.
These economies depend heavily on international markets for energy and resources, and Australia is their primary supplier. All of these markets are mature economies, and are highly likely to grow slower than other Asian economies. All three also have significantly ageing populations, and this demography will greatly change the structure of their economies and society.
These countries are large and highly sophisticated markets. They focus on high value-add goods and services that use advanced technology. They have highly educated and skilled workforces and are — and will continue to be — major sources of investment globally.
All of these countries will remain vital partners for Australia. They will continue to depend heavily on us for their energy and raw material security. They’re also likely to be heavy consumers of tourism, education and high-end food exports.
They’ll also be major investors, not just in Australia, but throughout Asia. This investment will mean that the very successful, highly integrated regional supply chains dominated by firms from these countries will continue to develop.
For our young people wanting to create opportunities in these countries, the biggest rewards will be for those innovative enough to figure out how to make Australian firms a greater part of these supply and value chains.
There will also be some new opportunities for entrepreneurs and small business owners to reap the benefits of our pre-established links with these North Asian countries, as their major firms undertake rapid expansion into markets in Asia. A lot of this will be web enabled, and internet driven.
China remains the major success story of the Asian Century. It’s averaged close to 10% GDP growth for the past three decades, growing to become the second-largest economy in the world. And even though it’s growth levels will fall in the next few decades, it’s unlikely that growth will be below 7% per annum for the next decade at least.
With this GDP growth will also come a rise in household consumption as China’s middle and high-income households grow. In less than a decade’s time, McKinsey estimates that China will have around 91 million households with incomes over $35,000 per annum, up from around 24 million high-income households in 2010.
This will lead to more demand for high-end consumer goods. As China’s household income and discretionary spending rises, they are more likely to afford products that are made or designed in Australia. So younger Australians wishing to become designers, marketers, branding experts and other design-related jobs are likely to find their work becoming increasingly China-focused.
Obviously, China’s growth will also mean that China will become a much larger final destination for services and food. So smaller family businesses that are hoping to pass their skills down to the younger generation are expected to find China an attractive destination.
It goes without saying that these are just two of the many areas in which Australia can compete strongly — China will present a major opportunity for Australia for many decades to come.
This won’t be easy for young Australians. China can be a difficult market to deal with and language remains a considerable barrier for young people to deal with. But a thorough grounding in ‘China-literacy’ will be of great use — even if it only allows an excellent conversation piece with people from other countries trying to deal with China!
India is expected to be the third-largest economy in the world by 2025, behind China and the United States. Its economy is projected to grow at 6.75 per cent a year on average from now until 2025. And India’s young population means that — should it reap its ‘demographic dividend — economic growth will remain high for a long time to come.
For India — and the rest of South Asia, who face similar conditions — making the most of this ‘demographic dividend’ will be a major challenge.
And it’s a major challenge young Australians will be able to help with. India’s growing middle and upper classes will want more tourism, education, food and other consumption goods — the challenge for us is how we supply it.
Young Australians will have some major advantages dealing with India; the ability to use English being the first of these. Our time zone is also of great advantage in supplying these services, and young Australians who are technologically advanced are likely to start seeing more opportunities to live in areas previously seen as ‘too far’ from here!
Indeed Western Australia is likely to be a prime beneficiary of this shift.
Also, as I’ve mentioned before, education — as Australia’s current largest service export to India — looks a particularly safe bet.
Services and consumption goods aside, we know that India is a less attractive market for Australia’s current export mix. This is because India has sought to remain largely self-sufficient in mineral production, making it less open to trade and investment in the mining sector than its Northeast Asian counterparts such as China.
So if we want to succeed in the Indian market in areas other than services or consumption we’ll need to encourage Indian industry to open up and seek foreign investment, technology and know-how.
For young people, this will make cultural and personal engagement with India even more important. We won’t be able to piggyback on strong relationships formed through resources or other trade — the India relationship will need to be created.
It is also interesting to note that for young people India will become an increasingly important Asian ‘hub’. India’s proximity to dynamic Bangladesh, rapidly opening-up Myanmar and even the permanent potential partner, Pakistan will make it a vital country to have strong links if we want to succeed with India’s regional partners.
Moving closer to home, it’s predicted that Indonesia will be the 10th-largest economy in the world by 2025. And Indonesia’s large population and rapid recent economic growth mean that its economy is highly likely to surpass ours in the next few years.
But trade and economic links between Australia and Indonesia are lower than they should be particularly given Indonesia’s proximity to Australia. It’s potential for economic growth and its size.
This is another major opportunity for Australia. By 2030, Indonesia will have the 4th largest middle-class spending globally after India, China and the United States (Kharas & Gertz, 2010). This future market must be attractive for our goods and services.
Indonesia really is a virtual ‘no-brainer’ for Australian young people to focus on. The language is learnable, there is a wide uptake of English, and it is a nation of great dynamism and potential.
Obviously, my potted summary has ignored much of the region, including such prospects as Vietnam, Malaysia and Singapore.
But given the need to act now, and although each of these individual countries will undoubtedly be essential to Australian business, it’s important that we try and make sure that we have strong regional settings that facilitate regional growth. We need to keep our focus on broader agreements of trade and investment in Asia in order to have the conditions in place to enable the region to grow so our young people will enjoy the many opportunities I have spoken of.
So at the moment I am spending much of my time concentrating on meetings such as the East Asian Summit and APEC that are critical to shaping our future opportunities — it’s at these meetings that we shape the rules of the game under which Australian business will play both now, and in the future.
While 3-day long trade meetings may seem as far removed from an ‘opportunity’ for young people as you can get, it is vital that we have broad support for principles such as free trade and investment across the whole community.
That’s because succeeding in our goals for the Asian Century will require a national effort. I’ve talked a lot of about capabilities, and about changes in overseas markets that might lead to opportunities.
But all this will need Australian society to use our own capabilities to seek out more opportunities and better relationships throughout Asia.
This is why the White Paper sets out the ambitious goal of making Australia ‘fully part of the region across all levels of society, business, government and the community’.
Being fully part of the region doesn’t just mean attending regional meetings, as useful as they may be. Being fully part of the region means that Australia draws on assets in — and allow more input from — all corners of our society, all of whom can (and hopefully will!) engage more with Asia.
I think there is broad national consensus emerging on this.
In the long-run, the Asian Century White Paper will only be considered a success if it is thought of as being relevant to all areas of Australian society — community groups, schools, sports clubs, churches… — rather than a document relevant only to the elite.
And it will only be a success if the policy paths it has given so much thought to are brought to careful implementation. My role now is on the implementation committee. One of the many initiatives under consideration is an Asian Century Pubic Forum to ensure the continued input of Australian people, organisations and communities in this issue.
The Forum would give ownership of Asian Century aspirations and directions beyond Government, ensuring continuity and guiding longer-term thinking on how the whole community – business, universities, schools, other institutions, NGOs, and ordinary Australians – can shape the implementation of the White Paper.
The annual forum’s purpose, in short, would be to bring together Australia’s leading figures in business, academia and the wider community including you to continue the national discussion on Asia and to help shape Australia’s response towards the objectives laid out in the White Paper. It would help increase public participation and ownership, clarify goals, report on progress and encourage thought leadership. It is an important mechanism. One that I hope you can support.
Finally, to move to the end of my remarks, it is important to note that while I have spoken only of opportunities — and of the challenges of making the most of those opportunities — so far, there is one major challenge that will confront young Australians.
And that is our shifting relationship with our natural environment.
While the economic growth of Asian nations will have enormous benefits for almost every member of their societies it will also lead to far greater consumption of natural resources.
It is in the region’s interests to work to address climate change and it is in Australia’s interest to be seen as helping the region take steps to do so.
Projected sea-level rise, more intense tropical storms and higher wind speeds will inundate low-lying port cities and threaten coastal areas. Unless abated.
These environmental shifts will also exacerbate flooding and increase the salinity of rivers and bays across the region, greatly damaging many Asian societies’ traditional ways of life and relationships with their built environment.
And the rapid and sometimes poorly planned economic growth throughout Asia has led to somewhat chaotic developments of urbanization and urban planning, which has the potential to worsen the impact of environmental disasters should they occur.
Even under a conservative scenario of sea-level rise, by the end of the century the number of people affected by flooding in low-lying parts of the region, such as parts of Bangladesh, China, India and Vietnam, could increase from 13 million to 94 million.
And the CSIRO estimates that in South Asia alone, the average costs of adapting to a 2°C temperature rise could be up to $15 billion every year between 2010 and 2050.
Asia is critical to a global climate change solution. Asian nations are already major contributors to global emissions, and this is likely to worsen as their economies continue to grow.
The region currently accounts for around 40 per cent of global emissions—up from 31 per cent in 2001. China, which recently overtook the United States as the world’s largest emitter, is responsible for more than 60 per cent of the region’s total emissions.
These problems aren’t just confined to climate change problems. If improvements in water efficiency remain at recent levels—a modest 1 per cent a year between 1990 and 2008—demand in India and China could exceed supply by 50 per cent and 25 per cent respectively by 2030.
In developing Asia, aggregate water shortfalls could reach 40 per cent. This water scarcity could have grave implications for the region’s food and energy production, its ecological needs and the health and livelihoods of its population.
And land desertification could worsen under a warmer planet. Deserts are currently expanding in India, China and Pakistan. In China alone, just over one-quarter of the country’s landmass is desertified and an average of almost 2,500 square kilometres of land being lost to advancing deserts each year.
Climate change, as it takes effect in the annual variability of rainfall, will make things worse. While there is uncertainty about the extent and rates of melting of the Hindu Kush glaciers, climate change could reduce downstream water availability, affecting 1.3 billion people who indirectly benefit from the water in eight countries.
These are the problems we will, in many ways, endow to our younger generation. As we become more fully a part of the region, it is likely that these problems become increasingly urgent to younger Australians, as they hit, literally, closer to home.
It isn’t all doom and gloom of course. Many enterprising younger Australians are already embracing these challenges, charting themselves careers in sustainable development, clean energy and environmental engineering.
Services firms, youth climate change organisations and other groups are springing up regularly.
With problems come opportunities to solve problems.
And that is the point I’d like to end on today — the ability to solve problems, the ‘can-do’ mentality of Australians. It is an ethos that many overseas comment on, and it is an ethos that I think has been transmitted to our younger Australians by you and by their families and is an example. In this, the Asian Century, I hope very much that this ethos remains — as it will guide younger Australians well as we slowly become a more integrated part of our region.
And that’s where we return to Rudolf Steiner and the responsibility of you, as educators to provide the youth of Australia with the capabilities for the Asian Century. It is a responsibility that crosses cultures, open minds and provides opportunity to not only understand, but take a leadership role in not just one country, one society and one way of thinking, but a whole region with a strong and integrated future.
It is a heavy responsibility – but we are up to it.
Thank you for your time.
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