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15th Annual Hawke Lecture - Advance Australia Where?

Forging our future in the Asian region

Delivered by Mr Richard Woolcott AC, former Special Envoy and diplomat for Australia

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Monday 5 November 2012, Adelaide Town Hall

Podcast available HERE - Listen now
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Written transcript available HERE (pdf format)
With Vote of Thanks from The Hon Bob Hawke AC


2012 Annual Hawke LectureAustralia is at an historic turning point.

We 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. Australia needs 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.

The unprecedented transfer of wealth from the West to the East, which will continue into the foreseeable future, emphasises the urgency of an Australian response to this seismic shift in influence. This is driven mainly by the rise of China and India as well as the continuing influence of Japan, South Korea and Russia in addition to the growing potential of Indonesia and Vietnam.

To respond effectively Australia needs a fundamental change in our national psyche focused more on Asia than our established traditional links with the United Kingdom, the United States and Europe. The idea that we do not have to choose between our history and our geography is simplistic and a politically expedient cliché. Our history is our past, some of it noble and some of it shameful. But forging our future in the Asian region will rely on a more effective response to our geography.

Richard Woolcott delivered the 2012 Annual Hawke Lecture after his successful efforts in New York to assist Australia's bid for a place on the UN Security Council.  (Interview on ABC News)

Interview with Peter Goers on 891 ABC Adelaide from Friday 2 November 2012.

2012 Annual Hawke Lecturer: Richard WoolcottRichard Woolcott AC is the Founding Director of the Asia Society AustralAsia Centre and a member of the Australian American Leadership Dialogue since 1992. He is also a member of the International Council of the New York Based Asia Society.

In June 2008 he was appointed the Prime Minister's Special Envoy to develop an Asia Pacific Community concept.

He was Secretary of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade from 1988 to 1992. Prior to that appointment he had served as deputy to the High Commissioner in Malaysia, Commissioner in Singapore, High Commissioner to Ghana, Ambassador to the Philippines, Ambassador to Indonesia and Ambassador and Permanent Representative to the United Nations (1982-1988), where he also represented Australia on the Security Council (1985-1986). He was Chairman of the Australia Indonesia Institute from 1992-1998 and a member of the Advisory Panel for the first Government White Paper on Foreign and Trade Policy, published in 1997. Between 1992 and 2005 he was on the Boards of a number of companies in the private sector.

Mr Woolcott was closely involved with the establishment of the Asia Pacific Regional Economic Cooperation forum (APEC) and in 1989 was appointed as former Prime Minister Hawke's Special Envoy charged with developing the APEC concept. He has also carried out Special Envoy roles for Prime Ministers Holt, Whitlmam, Howard and, most recently, Rudd.

He was made an Officer in the Order of Australia in 1985 and a Companion in the Order in 1993. He was awarded the Bintang Mahaputra Utama by the Government of Indonesia in 2000 for his contribution to bilateral and regional relationships. He was awarded the 2008 Sir Edward "Weary" Dunlop Asia Medal for his contribution to Australia's relationships with Asian countries. In 2008 he was selected as one of the inaugural Fellows of the Australian Institute of International Affairs. In March 2012 he was awarded an honorary Doctor of Law by the University of Melbourne.

Mr Woolcott has contributed articles to leading Australian and overseas newspapers and journals. He is the author of The Hot Seat: Reflections on Diplomacy from Stalin's Death to the Bali Bombings, which was published in 2003 by Harper Collins and Undiplomatic Activities, published by Scribe in 2007.

About the Hawke Centre

The Bob Hawke Prime Ministerial Centre is a dynamic University of South Australia initiative to establish an internationally recognised public learning/visitor and research facility serving young people, national and international scholars and local and global audiences.

Named after Bob Hawke, a third generation South Australian, one of the 20th century's most notable Prime Ministers (1983-1991) and a great conciliator nationally and abroad, the Hawke Centre was established by Memorandum of Understanding in 1997. UniSA has developed the Centre believing that that Bob Hawke's contribution should be properly recognised through a national facility, not as a memorial, but in a way that helps young Australians and furthers his legacy of valuing a cohesive and fair Australia.

A new building designed by architect John Wardle to house the Centre's forum space, Civic Gallery, auditorium and Hawke Library was opened in July 2007.

Broadly, the Hawke Centre aims to challenge Australians to consider ideas and develop solutions for Australia and the world, leading towards more sustainable societies, within a democratic framework. It is supported by a fine group of national patrons, and especially, international patron Nelson Mandela.

The Annual Hawke Lecture is the premier national event on the public calendar of the University of South Australia, delivered under the auspices of the Bob Hawke Prime Ministerial Centre. There are relatively few moments when we have the time to consider the larger issues of life, including the future of our nation and our world and how we can shape it. The University of South Australia offers the Annual Hawke Lecture in this spirit, as an opportunity to listen to the views of someone whose experience of human affairs is notable, and whose concerns about our world are truly worthy of consideration.

2012 Annual Hawke Lecture patrons and senior UniSA representatives
Top row: Sir Eric Neal, His Excellency Rear Admiral Kevin Scarce, Governor of South Australia, The Hon Bob Hawke, Mr Richard Woolcott
Bottom row: Prof Joanne Wright, Ms Elizabeth Ho, Prof Lowitja O'Donoghue, Dr Ian Gould, Prof Pal Ahluwalia


Past lecturers

1998 The Hon Bob Hawke, former Prime Minister of Australia
1999 Sir Zelman Cowen, former Governor General of Australia
2000 Dr Mamphela Ramphele, Managing Director, World Bank
2001 Sir Gustav Nossal, distinguished Australian scientist
2002 Mr Noel Pearson, Aboriginal activist
2003 The Hon Gareth Evans, President of the International Crisis Group
2004 Ms Irene Khan, Secretary General, Amnesty International
2005 Mr Greg Bourne, CEO, WWF-Australia
2006 Mr Greg Combet, Secretary, ACTU
2007 The Hon Justice Michael Kirby AC CMG
2008 Professor Fiona Stanley AC
2009 Professor Ross Garnaut AO
2010 Professor Geoff Gallop AC
2011 The Hon Dame Silvia Cartwright PCNZM, DBE, QSO, DStJ


Ms Elizabeth Ho
The Bob Hawke Prime Ministerial Centre, University of South Australia
Ph: 08 8302 0651 Mobile: 0417 085 585 Email: Elizabeth.ho@unisa.edu.au 

While the views presented by speakers within the Hawke Centre public program are their own and are not necessarily those of either the University of South Australia or The Hawke Centre, they are presented in the interest of open debate and discussion in the community and reflect our themes of: strengthening our democracy - valuing our diversity - and building our future.

The copying and reproduction of any transcripts within the Hawke Centre public program is strictly forbidden without prior arrangements.