Perth and Shanghai have developed dramatically in recent decades, and former premier Colin Barnett says a strong relationship between WA and China has enabled the state’s success.
The great city of Perth has long been drained by having to focus its attention on the national capital and the eastern seaboard. And yet it sits at the fulcrum of the wider Indian Ocean Rim.
This means we are ideally positioned to not just connect Australia and WA to the Indian Ocean region but, in addition, we serve as an ideal launch point for knitting together our future as a littoral society of the Indian Ocean.
The University of Western Australia is at the forefront of a new Indian Ocean focus, placing this at the heart of its decadal vision, UWA 2030, and also its strategic plan for 2020-25. This is reflected in a number of initiatives to drive that ambition.
To begin with, the UWA Public Policy Institute has been established to examine common and pressing policy challenges that many countries across the Indian Ocean region will have to address.
These are wide-ranging and substantial such as climate change, maritime security, urbanisation, free trade opportunities, energy security, food security, frozen conflicts and grievances, multilateralism, intergovernmental collaboration, and so forth.
The UWA Australia-India Institute and the UWA Australia-Indonesia Centre have postdoctoral researchers examining contemporary India and Indonesia that will provide a better, shared understanding for Australians of these fast-moving economies.
The UWA Africa Research and Engagement Centre is building new academic exchange and collaboration opportunities with the 22 countries of the Indian Ocean Rim Association. And the much-respected Perth USAsia Centre provides a steady source of expert knowledge about much of the region.
In 2020 UWA is also proposing a major thought leadership program for future political, business, non-profit and cultural leaders of the Indian Ocean Rim. The impetus for this is to grow the capabilities of these emerging leaders and to ensure that Perth rapidly becomes a go-to place for knowledge and insights about the Indian Ocean as a whole.
UWA sees its role as facilitating that journey, leading Australia’s partnership with modern states and cities across the region that will be at the forefront of future globalisation. That means seeing Perth in the intellectual, commercial and cultural company of Mumbai, Kolkata, Durban, Singapore, Jakarta and Colombo.