Asia key to nation's future: Swan
AUSTRALIANS will need to work harder and learn more about Asia to ensure the nation can outlast the boom in commodity prices, according to Treasurer Wayne Swan.
In a speech to a conference about Australia-China relations in Sydney on Friday, Mr Swan revealed what he saw as the most important things to keep up with the economic times.
"Gone are the days when a passive Australia could hang its shingle out, then sit back and watch the easy money roll in from China," he said.
Mr Swan said it was now obvious that 2011 marked the peak of the commodity price boom, which has driven Australia's economic growth for the past few years.
He said while Australia was still in the right place at the right time, the nation would have to sprint to keep up with the rapid change in Asia.
Mr Swan said five areas would ensure Australia remained competitive in the global economy - education and skills, innovation, infrastructure improvements, tax and regulatory reform.
While he said the government had much to do, people needed to be more "Asia-focussed", such as learning Mandarin, and trying harder to understand Asian cultures.
He said such cultural change needed to start in schools and universities, and by thinking about what advantages Australians could provide to their children.
"This will give us the most control over Australia's economic performance, over our evolving role and influence in our region," he said.
"It will depend on the willingness, capacity and, above all, the open minds of all Australians."