The Asian Economic Imperative: the challenge for Australia and for Italy

Three quarters of Australia's exports go to Asia, with nearly a third to China alone. Australia's economic embrace of Asia continues apace with the signing of Free Trade Agreements with Japan, Korea and, after the G20 in Brisbane late last year, with China. Earlier this month Trade Minister Andrew Robb led a strong mission of 450 business representatives to India and he is hopeful that an India/Australia FTA can be signed by the end of 2015.

The Renzi government in Italy has also placed business relations with Asia high on its economic priority list, along with major domestic reforms designed to "unblock Italy", reduce red tape and improve the timeliness of its approval and legal processes. Soon after he became Prime Minister Renzi visited China and Vietnam to boost trade and encourage investment in Italy's infrastructure. As we move towards a Free Trade Agreement with the EU, Australia could be an ideal "bridge" to Asia for Italian businesses.

Here are my remarks on the "Asian economic imperative" for both our countries in a lecture at the University of Udine.

Dreamings exhibition comes to Rome

My experience with the "Australia" landscapes exhibition and the brilliant Namatjira play in London late last year demonstrated the extraordinary interest in Europe in Australia's Indigenous arts and culture. The Aboriginal section of the Royal Academy exhibition attracted the most positive comment and attention. People weren't just curious but genuinely fascinated. So I was delighted that, with the support of the Australia Council and the Australian Embassy, that the wonderful "Dreamings" exhibition was staged in Rome in a gallery amidst the beautiful gardens of the Villa Borghese. I was also pleased that many of the works came from the Pitjantjatjara lands of South Australia, where I spent a lot of time almost 25 years ago as Aboriginal Affairs Minister. The exhibition runs until late November and from the reaction on the opening night I am sure it will be a big hit.

Here are my remarks at the opening.