The extent to which the White Paper on Australia in the Asian Century makes a significant contribution to public policy will depend on the breadth and insight of on its analysis and the practicality of the priorities for Australia that it identifies.
In the context of those benchmarks, the White Paper will be operating in well-worked terrain. It can certainly add value in recommending relevant new ways of enhancing Australia’s engagement with Asia but, in doing so, it will be building on the significant achievements of successive Australian Governments over the past two decades.
Where the White Paper can make an important contribution will be in highlighting in a focused and realistic way how Asia’s changing dynamics are likely to shape Australia’s national interests (in their widest sense) over the short and longer term, and in setting out the policy priorities and skills base needed to ensure that those Australian national interests continue to be advanced in practice. The White Paper will maximise its prospects of meeting these challenges if it avoids two potential pitfalls and if it keeps three specific priorities as guiding lights.