Chris Freeland, national managing partner, Baker & McKenzie Australia

Australia's diversity challenge

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  • Australians have to learn that you can't live in a neighbourhood and just do business with the neighbours and not want to interact with them socially or understand their cultural perpsective. I meet too many Australians who come on a holiday to Asia or travel here for business but don't live here who show a pitiful amount of understanding of different Asian cultures or their political situations. Imagine a Belgian who knew nothing of the neighbouring countries, their politics or cultures (other than Luxembourg maybe) and you have a geographic equivalent of the absurdity of the average level of Australian disinterest in and ignorance about Asia. Many Asians are now rich enough not to be very impressed by Australia and their countries economically and militarily significant enough not to be interested in listening to Australian sermonising on many topics any more. Australia's economic future and security are dependent on properly understanding and getting on with our neighbours. If not, the future may well be very rough and Australia will have no close neighbours willing to help.

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  • You are appearing to be heading for the correct analytical destination but you nerd to catch up yourself on the realities at all levels.
    The start must be focussed back on "Australia". Let us name the Continent after the original attributes.
    How about that?
    And then you can narratively cross the waters and work out how you begin to understand mainland Asia and the seventy or eighty thousand islands before making your way into the markets.
    The ignorance that you are apparently blaming as a recent “Australian” problem is not recent and is not a trivial matter at all.
    Ignorance is the foundation on which the “new” country, its “democracy”, its culture and its corruptly founded “institutions” “stand” and operate.
    They have got to go and be reversed.
    Do you begin to see just how far “Australians” have to travel before they can actually say that theirs is a “just and fair system”?

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  • @Anonymous 12-Dec-2012 2:09am you are amazing. Australians should imitate Belgian cultural sensitivity, HA! Australians might not be that up to speed on various Asian cultures but at least we wouldn't slit the throat of our literal next-door-neighbours like a lot of Europeans did during the second world war.

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  • Australians can and will engage with whoever they like. Theirs is an open society. No amount of white papers and soul-searching by politicians will change that. Australian culture is still very similar to that of the British and the Americans: it's multi-cultural, but with a strong Anglo-Saxon / Christian foundation. Amazing news for you: that's not a bad thing and has helped its incredible success as a nation.

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