Treasurer Wayne Swan gave Australia a glimpse of the upcoming white paper on the Asian Century at an address he made at China's Century Conference on Friday. He said the white paper will focus on improving Australia's productivity and resilience through five policy pillars.
Mr Swan identified the five as education and skills, innovation, infrastructure, tax reform and regulatory reform. The five provide the framework for policy objectives that Australia plans to reach by 2025. He said the policies will be implemented immediately and others will unfold over many years.
He said for Australia to maximise opportunities offered by China, the country has to forge deeper and broader relationships with its Asian neighbours at all level, not just limited to economic and political links but must include social and cultural links.
Due to the impact of China's slowdown on Australia's mining industry, West Australian Premier Colin Barnett stressed its effect is limited only to mining states.
"The more substantive point is that the mining industry and the China relationship can sustain the West Australian economy for decades to come, but not the Australian economy as a whole . . . The mining industry is neither the savior nor the destroyer of the Australian economy," The Australian quoted Mr Barnett.
Mr Swan agreed that commodity prices have reached their peak but the resources boom will continue beyond the boom in prices to be driven by investments in new projects and higher export volumes.
"Gone are the days when our economic relationship with China could be viewed through the prism of rapidly rising coal and iron ore prices . . . Demand from China was never going to sustain rapidly rising commodity prices forever," he pointed out.
The treasurer stressed that to maximise Australia's future prosperity is linked with an Asia-literate private sector ready to diversify into services, tourism exports and resources.
He challenged business to embrace the opportunities offered by China and the Asian Century.
"If I could distil what I've learned in my half-decade as treasurer, it would be that making the most of the Asian Century will depend as much on what the private sector does as what governments do," Mr Swan said.
"We need Asia-focused people as well as Asia-focused policies; this is the way for us to succeed in an Asian Century supercharged by China's rise. Neither our luck nor our location will deliver prosperity into our laps," he added.
To contact the editor, e-mail: