Jump to Content

< back

Federation Week: An Australian Mosaic

Visions for a Nation

Notes for the speech delivered by the Hon Alexander Downer for Visions for a Nation

Alexander DownerAlexander Downer was born in 1951 and was educated at Geelong Grammar School, Radley College Oxford, and the University of Newcastle upon Tyne. Before entering Federal Parliament, Mr Downer held positions as an Economist with the Bank of New South Walkes, as a Diplomat, as a Political Adviser to Malcolm Fraser and to Andrew Peacock and an the Executive Director of the Australian Chamber of Commerce. Mr Downer was elected Federal Member for Mayo in 1984. He served as a Shadow Minister in a number of portfolios before becoming Leader of the Opposition in 1994.

Mr Downer stepped down as Liberal Party Leader in early 1995 and became Shadow Minister for Foreign Affairs. In 1996 he was appointed Minister for Foreign Affairs when the Liberal-National Party Coalition was elected to Government. Mr Downer is married with three daughters and one son. He is the grandson of prominent SA Federationist, Sir John Downer, who was instrumental in drafting Australia’s Constitution.


In the last hundred years Australia has built a strong social and economic base

Proud of our achievements

At an international level this century will be characterised by certain trends

  1. Increased global economic interdependence is inevitable and desirable
    • As people are brought closer together (tourism, communications) communities will become more tolerant and understanding of each other, ie moderate the mutual threat perception.
  2. There will be a substantial change in the nature of the geo-strategic power structure of the world (it has never been static).
    • The Asia Pacific region will become increasingly important
  3. Transboundary issues. Illegal people movements, competition over scarce, non-renewable resources, and the spread of pandemic diseases are three issues that create tensions within nations and between nations.

Each of these three trends will present Australia with a number of difficult challenges.

The world is not doing enough to address these transboundary issues.


Versatility in our bilateral relationships is crucial. We cannot focus on one group although naturally our attention will be directed at our neighbours.

Political parties in Australia that don’t understand these trends will not be able to deliver the results the people want.