Barnett takes a swipe at Asian Century

WA Premier Colin Barnett has called the Federal Government's Asian Century White Paper "underwhelming", describing it as heavily flawed.

Speaking to delegates at the In the Zone Conference in Perth, Barnett said the report lacked analysis and objectivity, stating much of the report featured recycled press releases, The West Australian reported.

"Productivity was talked about but the elephant in the room was industrial relations, which was totally ignored," he said.

"Structural change in Australia was largely omitted. WA's increasing dominance was not there.

"The report tends to downplay mining – 'here we go again, boom and bust'.

"Much of what is counted as manufacturing is actually moderate transformations of raw materials."

Barnett said while the White Paper did present a good snapshot of Asian growth, highlighting the urbanisation of cities like Shanghai, food security, and environment, he said the focus on the services sector had been overstated.

"We should not lose sight of the fact that services trade is still less than 20 per cent of global trade," he said.

Barnett also pointed to the MRRT and the banning of live cattle exports as "big hiccups", stating they damaged Australia’s reputation on the world stage.

The white paper on the Australia in the Asian Century, commissioned by Prime Minister Julia Gillard, was releases in early November and sets out 24 objectives for the nation to achieve by 2025.

These include, to rank Australia in the top 5 countries for ease of doing business, be in the world’s top 10 for productivity, and to invest more trade and investment resources in Asia.

The paper says the wealth of Australia as a whole will be boosted in the next decade through increased engagement with Asia.


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