Strategic commitment to Asia welcomed

Labor’s pledge to boost Asian languages and literacy as part of its FutureAsia policy is a welcome strategic commitment to building and strengthening Australia’s ties with Asia, Business Council chief executive Jennifer Westacott said today.

“Over the past two decades Australia’s economic growth has been built in large part on trade and investment with Asia, just as it will be into the future.

“The emerging middle classes of Asia are an opportunity for Australia but only if we act to keep Australia competitive, and enhancing Asian language literacy must be a part of that.

“Governments of both persuasions have worked to build strong international frameworks for co-operation and communication in the Asian region.

“Today’s announcement by Tanya Plibersek and Chris Bowen to make it a national priority to improve Asian languages and literacy is an important strategic step that continues in that tradition.

“As last years’ foreign policy white paper outlined, Australia needs co-ordinated, long-term approach to boosting our engagement with the region. It is crucial that all political leaders remain committed to this project."