Rupert Murdoch: Australia's global role
Australia must step up and take advantage of its values and multiculturalism if it is to become a global leader, says Rupert Murdoch at the Lowy Institute in Sydney.PT2M20S http://www.canberratimes.com.au/action/externalEmbeddedPlayer?id=d-2wm8z 620 349 October 31, 2013
Australians are a naturally competitive people. Maybe it's because of where Australia sits geographically. They are curious about the world - and the great Australian diaspora proves we have never been shy about taking it on. That is a testament to our competitive streak.
Australia is on the cusp of becoming something rare and valuable in this new world: an egalitarian meritocracy, with more than a touch of libertarianism. In the past few years, we have all seen how advances in communications and travel have eliminated the tyranny of distance. The same might be said for size.
The nations that lead this century will be the ones most successful at attracting and keeping talent.
Think about Singapore, Taiwan and Hong Kong. These are all small places, and hardly blessed with natural resources. Yet not only have they carved out a competitive position in the world because of their free, open and dynamic economies, they have become a source of inspiration for countries around the globe. Australia can and should do better than all of them.
A critical part of strengthening Australia's future is clearly fortifying our relationships with our neighbours and allies abroad. The United States remains our number one alliance. For good reason: Americans share our deepest values, as well as 100 years of history shedding blood with each other in wars for the cause of democracy, both close to home and afar.
But the Prime Minister is assuredly right when he says that Indonesia is probably one of our most important relationships, given its proximity and size. And, we should seek an open and friendly relationship with China, even as we guard against a possible economic contraction there.
But at the end of the day, the values that define Australia depend on more than good government and strong allies. They depend on sound and vigorous institutions - especially private institutions. In the decades since World War II, Australia has gone through many changes. But for all the progress, there is still a strand among some parts of Australian society who seem to value every culture except our own. These people are gravely confused about what real multiculturalism is. Multiculturalism is not relativism, and tolerance is not indifference.
Australia has clear values and strong institutions. One key value is an openness to all comers - provided they are willing to abide by our way of life.
The nations that lead this century will be the ones most successful at attracting and keeping talent. There are countless thousands of intelligent university graduates around the world, and in particular in our Asian neighbours, looking for work, and wanting to start businesses. We need to get the brightest of them here. That is how we will strengthen our human capital.
Australia is on its way to becoming what may be the world's most diverse nation. This is an incredible competitive advantage. A nation as small as ours will increasingly depend on trade. The more people we have with ties to other parts of the world, the greater our advantage when we seek trade relationships with these nations.
What immigrant would leave family and history far behind for a life of indolence? People come here because they seek a better life for themselves and their children, and they believe in opportunity.
We speak of Australia's natural resources, but energy and creativity are the greatest of our natural resources - and those immigrants who understand and share our values will certainly create greater value for all Australians.
Australia must understand that strong investment in our human capital - in the people who have these ideas, whether they be Australians or immigrants - is the most important investment we can make in our nation's future. In the coming century, the commanding heights of the global economy will be held by those who embrace the spirit of innovation - and turn it to their advantage.
Australians no longer have to worry about people producing cheaper moccasins because of cheaper wages - Australians have to worry about someone in Beijing or Bangalore beating us with breakthrough drugs or intelligent robots.
All around us, we face something this region has never had before: a wealthy, educated and globally competitive middle class of more than 2 billion people.
That is not something we need to fear. That is something we need to lead. And we can do it with a society that values people and knowledge.
So let's stop thinking about Australia's place in the world as defined by its alliances, by its trading partners, by its government. Yes, we will fight regulations that hamper growth and economic development. But it is the Australian people who will, collectively, define this nation's destiny. We must be leaders, not followers. We must be egalitarian, not elitist. We must be victors, not victims. It won't be easy. But the Australia that I know and love has never shied from a challenge.
Rupert Murdoch is executive chairman of News Corp. This is an edited version of his Lowy Lecture delivered in Sydney on Thursday night. Read the full text here.