Speech by John W.H. Denton to the International House Melbourne University Winter Dinner on 14 August 2008 titled ‘Australia’s Place in the World: A Business Perspective’.
Let’s start where we are: We live and work and communicate and relate in a globalised and globalising world. Globalisation is a process and not an end. It is the process of creating a world economy and a system of world communications that develops and evolves quite independently of any state or other kind of control.
However, globalisation has paradoxically called forth an opposite force asserting local difference in small scale nationalism, religious revivals and other expressions of identity and particularity. In 1945, there were 50 countries at the United Nations in 2008 there are 192. Look for example at the complexity of the rise of micro nationalism and new states and the current situation in the Caucasus – in Georgia, Ossetia, Abkhazia, and Russia: partly historical, linguistical, topographical, political, economic, cultural and all together frightening.
But I want to talk about not where we are in the continuum of history but where we are in location and what that means for the role we might play in the world. And then to talk to you about the human dimension and our role as Australians. To do this I would like to address three related issues.
The first one is a big question for all of us interested in international politics. How a country like Australia can contribute to good relations between the global powers of the 21st century, especially the United States and China – and also India?
The second is: why is trade and economic integration important to us and what role do we play. (And I thought I might introduce you to the glory of trade in history).
And finally, to consider the human dimensions, i.e. the importance of people to people links in building effective relationships between nations and the role that non-government organisations and individual Australians can play in that process.