Peter Warton Foreign Policy White Paper Submission I am a 55 year

Peter Warton
Foreign Policy White Paper Submission
I am a 55 year old Australian Citizen currently living in Thailand. I
would like to submit my unique perspective for consideration towards
Australia’s future foreign policy.
Australia is geographically part of Asia. 60% of the world’s population
live in Asia. Asia is the centre of current and future, world economic
growth, innovation, production, even leadership. Australia is uniquely
placed to interact with, lead, and be part of the future prosperity of the
As an Australian living in Thailand, I don’t see much in my day to day
life that indicates an Australian presence, interest, investment or
future in this country or the greater region. There are little to no visible
Australian companies, banks, educational institutions etc. There are,
however, businesses, banks, universities from most other countries in
the world. Alternatively, there are many Asian Businesses that
operate all over the world, but do not have a presence in Australia.
A quick walk through an Asian department store, supermarket or
hardware store will find little to no goods or produce from Australia.
Apples from New Zealand, Cheese from Denmark, Solar panels from
China. Nothing from Australia, and we are next door. Asian countries
make there own whitegoods, no whitegoods from Australia as we
don’t manufacture them anymore. Australia could be owning, running
and investing in the factories that now manufacture whitegoods.
There is a perception that Australia is a rich country with poor Asian
neighbours. Living here, I see the opposite. Asian Countries are
becoming more prosperous at an exponential rate.
On a personal level, Australia’s current immigration and broader
foreign policy, towards the Asian region is disappointing and very
limited. I am Married to a Thai National. My wife owns a shop in a
shopping mall, a house in Bangkok, a car etc. She is what you would
consider a well off middle class Thai person. However, my wife
cannot travel freely to Australia. A tourist Visa requires proof of funds,
employment in Thailand and various other checks and balances.
When my wife and I choose to return to Australia, it will take 18
months and $10,000 to get a Visa.
If a Thai person went to Australia and married an Australian, do you
think it would take $10,000 dollars to bring their partner back home?
My wife has friends and family that would love to open a business in
Australia, export goods from Australia, employ Australians etc. The
current immigration laws are blocking potential bilateral investment
and trade.
In summery, Australia is currently in a position to engage with the
local Asian region. To invest, participate, even lead the Asian Region.
In the near future, most of Asia will overtake Australia in all respects.
Asian countries will be our rich neighbours in the region.
In my opinion, a recent event by the Abbott Government showed
Australia, and the world, the current mindset of Australian Foreign
Policy. Tony Abbott chose to bring back Knighthoods and award one
to the Duke of Edinburgh. Although not policy or legislation that act
spoke volumes of were Australia sees itself and who we interact with.
Australia is part of Asia, the most prosperous and rapidly developing
region in the world. Australia need to do everything possible to be a
major player in the Asian Region.
Imagine a borderless Asia similar to Europe, a fast train from Darwin
to Jakarta, Singapore, Bangkok. The Asian Parliament in Brisbane. A
larger population than Europe or America.