by Dr. R. Dante G. Juanta, OAM, JP
Philippine Ambassador Belen F. Anota asked me to attend the Lecture and Reception on her behalf. And I did.
Seats inside the hall on the first floor of the Adelaide Town Hall were being filled up to capacity upon arrival. Some150 guests came and listened to the lecture given by a well-known senior Australian diplomat and long standing expert on Australian-Asian relations.
Mr. Richard Arthur Woolcott AC delivered the 15th Annual Hawke Lecture, titled “Advance Australia Where? Forging our future in the Asian region”. The occasion was held on Monday 5 November 2012, at 6:00 P.M., in the Adelaide Town Hall, 128 King William Street, Adelaide.
Mr. Woolcott served as Australian Ambassador to the Philippines from 18 May 1978 to 28 November 1982. In 1989, he was appointed Special Envoy by former Prime Minister Hawke and was tasked with developing the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) concept. He has also carried out Special Envoy roles for Prime Ministers Harold Holt, Gough Whitlam, John Howard and Kevin Rudd. Very recently, Mr. Willcott’s successful efforts in New York helped Australia to secure a place on the UN Security Council.
Australia is at an historic turning point today, Mr. Woolcott said at the start of his Lecture. He pointed to some fundamental realities. Among them was, first, that Australians “now live in a more interconnected post cold war world. The Asia Pacific region is where the world’s major power relationships most closely intersect.” Australians, he said, “need to acknowledge that Australia is permanently located in the South East Asian and South West Pacific region. Our adjustment to this reality will determine the success or otherwise of our future as a Nation.”
Second, that “there is a seismic shift in influence in the Asian Pacific region. That influence is driven mainly by the rise of China and India and that there is the continuing influence of Japan, South Korea and Russia, and the growing potential of Indonesia and Vietnam.”
For these reasons, Mr. Woolcott calls on Australia to make a fundamental change in its national psyche and should shift focus more on Asia than on its established traditional links with the United Kingdom, the United States and Europe. To forge Australia’s future in the Asian region, he said, will rely on a more effective response to the country’s geography.
Interestingly, U.S. Secretary of State, Mrs. Hillary Clinton during her visit in Australia, echoed similar sentiments as she spoke at the launch of the Australia-United States Ministerial (AUSMIN) talks on foreign policy and defense held in Perth, 13 November 2012.
Secretary Clinton sees the city of Perth “sitting on a very strategic part of our planet, Australia’s gateway to the vibrant trade and energy routes that connect the Indian Ocean to the Pacific, the oil, the natural gas, the iron ore produced here that flow through those trade routes to the entire world. ….These waters are at the heart of the global economy and a key focus of America’s expanding engagement in the region, what we sometimes call our pivot to Asia.”
And, Mrs. Clinton further said, “the Asia Pacific or the Indo Pacific region is going to be critical to our future as well as yours.”
About the Hawke Centre
The Bob Hawke Prime Ministerial Centre, better known as The Hawke Centre, is an initiative of the University of South Australia. It is named after Bob Hawke, a notable Prime Minister of Australia, 1983-1991. The Centre is devoted to generating ideas and solutions for cohesive, sustainable societies. It engages itself with local and international communities through public learning activities including lectures, seminars, alliances and research undertakings.
Mr. Nelson Mandela, eminent world leader and international patron of the Hawke Centre, has the following commendation of the Bob Hawke Prime Ministerial Centre, saying -
“I commend the Bob Hawke Prime Ministerial Centre for its efforts in strengthening democracy, valuing cultural diversity and building the future through its public program, research institute and library. Such values are necessary if we are to create sustainable societies and a peaceful world.”
Some international thinkers and community leaders that delivered previous Annual Hawke Lectures include:
2011 The Hon. Dame Silvia Cartwright, former Governor General of New Zealand and now Trial Judge, United Nations Assistance to the Khmer Rouge Trials, Courts of Cambodia. Title: “International criminal trials. A promise fulfilled?”
2009 Distinguished Professor Ross Garnaut, Australian National University. Title: “Climate change: The public interest and private interests in Australian policy”
2007 The Hon. Justice Michael Kibry, High Colurt of Australia.. Title: “Consensus and Dissent in Australia”
2004 Ms. Irene Khan, Secretary General of Amnesty International. Title: “Security for Whom” Redesigning Security, Reinforcing Human Rights”
1998 The Hon. Bob Hawke, former Prime Minister of Australia. Title: “A Confident Australia”
For further information about the Hawke Centre, please contact –
Ms. Elizabeth Ho, OAM
The Bob Hawke Prime Ministerial Centre, University of South Australia
©rdgjuanta Nov 2012