The Asianisation of Australia: volume 1, section 8

Moves Towards Asianisation:
Australia's "Asian Future",
and the "Labor" Side of Politics

It is all too easy to see a definite bias towards Asia from politicians, government officials, and various people in prominent public positions (especially in the business sector). For their own personal reasons (whether it be for motives of ideology, self-promotion, or for chasing profits) many of these people have insisted on telling us that "Australia is a part of Asia" (contrary to geographical realities), or that our country has an "Asian Future".

While some earlier instances can be traced, widespread talk of Australia being "part of Asia" really began in earnest with the Labor government of Bob Hawke (first elected in 1983). As Professor Richard Robison has noted, "When Labor came to power in Australia in the early 1980s,... a deliberate "look north" policy was adopted, identifying Asian economies as the engine room of world growth and placing Asian markets at the heart of Australia's strategy for internationalising its economy and world view".(73)

There are many example's of the pro-Asia viewpoint of the Labor Party's leaders:

Dr Katharine Betts (of Swinburne University) has noted that [regarding the period following the 1988 immigration debate]:
"Senator Ray had been given the Immigration portfolio on 23 August, replacing Clyde Holding, and a number of commentators, including the new Minister, emphasised that Australia had no choice on the question of Asian immigration (Grattan 1988c). Asian immigration was not to be discussed and an Asian future for Australia was desirable and probably unavoidable. As one journalist put it: "We needed young skilled immigrants and they'd probably be Asian. That doesn't worry me a bit. We live in Asia, and we'd we'd better start getting used to it. And, economically speaking, in the coming decades, Asia will be the best part of the world to live in; (Gittens 1988)".
"...The Financial Review insisted that, like it or not, we were part of Asia. If we did not accept this we would simply become the 'poor white trash of Asia' (Nolan 1988)."(81) In 1994, former Labor prime minister Bob Hawke continued on with his previous pronouncements when he proclaimed that It was in 1983 that Bill Hayden (then the ALP's Foreign Minister) gave a remarkable speech alluding to Australia's future: Even though Hayden's views were widely reported, no politician or government official condemned his comments, leading many to believe that the Labor Government and Liberal-National Opposition generally concurred with his views. Hayden further compounded his statements the following year, when he revealed his "vision" that Australia should have a population of 50 million, predicting an upsurge in migration from "the obvious Asian populations around us... [and the] large Polynesian and Melanesian population in our near region".(86)

Such a call for a population of 50 million had previously been made by a Victorian Liberal Government Minister, Brian Dixon, in 1979. As The Age reported, Dixon urged the Federal Government "to double its net migrant intake to 140,000 a year and to aim for an Australian population of 50 million".(87)

In 1996 Bill Hayden (now as a former Governor-General) said "our fellow Australians of Asian background are proving to be among the best human resource assets we have" and claimed that "Asian migrants were necessary to fill Australia's growing demand for 'intellectual capital' and for Australia to achieve future economic and cultural growth". Hayden went on to confirm his remarks of 1984, by stating that Australia's optimum population level "is around the 50 million mark". But it appears Hayden would like an even larger population here, as he said that his figure of 50 million "may prove too cautious".(88)

In 1997 Malcolm Fraser, ex-Liberal Prime Minister of Australia, wrote an article agreeing with Hayden's 50 million target figure: Phil Ruthven, Executive Chairman of IBIS Information International, believes that Australia's population should be driven up much higher than 50 million. Ruthven's views have been reported in The Age: Alison Broinowski, a former diplomat, described some of the political force behind the "Australia is a part of Asia" rhetoric: "As prime minister from 1983, Bob Hawke referred for the first time to Australia's location in Asia as a positive advantage. But it was not until late 1991, when Prime Minister Paul Keating took over the discourse, that the political language changed to include assertions that Australia was an Asian country, or part of Asia".(91)

However, while it was the Labor governments of Bob Hawke and Paul Keating that were the "prime movers" in forcing an "Asian Future" upon Australia, the Liberal and National parties have also followed the same line. This "integration with Asia" policy is being followed by both sides of the political Establishment, as Professor Peter Drysdale (of the Asia Pacific Economics Group at the Australian National University) has noted:

The Asianisation of Australia:
An Exposť of the "Asian Future" Being Forced Upon Australia (Volume 1)

Australian Nationalism Information Database -