(Sydney, September 18th 2019): Huawei Australia Chairman John Lord AM has delivered the prestigious 2019 Charles Todd Oration (CTO) to Telecommunications Association [TELSOC] members with a clear message: Australia cannot turn its back on Asia’s fast growing technological innovation.
Speaking in Sydney Mr. Lord said that Australia had to get it right when dealing with the technological revolution taking place in its backyard.
“Australia is a country of between 25 million and 30 million people located at the bottom of the world – it needs to have access to and to use all of the leading innovation and technology being produced globally,” Mr Lord said.
“It needs to embrace solutions that address security, the economy and strategic relationships rather than solely the security perspective which is presently being mischievously overplayed and which is unbalancing the debate on our national interests in the future.”
Mr Lord noted that simple demographics demonstrated that Asia was fast becoming the global powerhouse for technological innovation, noting that by 2030 two-thirds of the global middle class would be in Asia – up from less than a third in 2009.
“The younger age profile of many of the countries and their growing GDPs will see more and more innovation and technological advancements coming out of Asia,” he said.
“The Huawei story of today will be a common story across Asia, not just in China, but in the many other countries who will grow and develop in coming years.”
However, Mr Lord warned that there were several key areas Australia must focus on if it was to make the most of the opportunities before it.
Firstly, Mr Lord said that Australia’s potential technology partners in Asia wanted regulatory certainty from Australia if they are going to invest and engage in the country in the longer-term – along with better trust between Australia and the region.
“It hardly needs to be said that what we are seeing [in Australia] at the moment from an Asian perspective is exactly the opposite to the kind of business environment that we need to see,” he said.
“The number one thing we need to see established between Australia and the new emerging companies from Asia is trust. It is critically important.”
In addition, Mr Lord said that Australians also needed to start changing the way they saw Asia.
“The fact is that Asia is no longer simply about mass producing cheap consumer goods, it is now moving to a different plane and is producing cutting-edge technology across a range of fields. As a country it is critically important that we understand that,” he said.
In closing, Mr Lord said that Australia also needed to make sure that it produced sufficient numbers of high quality STEM graduates to make sure Australia could add value in the technology innovation chain with Asia.
Mr Lord noted that The World Economic Forum reports that in 2016 China and India combined produced a staggering 7 million STEM graduates – by contrast the US and Japan produced a mere 800,000.
“Asian companies producing cutting edge technologies will not invest here and will not be attracted here unless we are supplying young Australians to the labour market that actually bring high-level expertise,” he said.
“As a country we are incredibly fortunate to find ourselves in this position where our own region will become the technology powerhouse that drives much of the innovation that we will see over the next century. It’s a once in a generation opportunity and one that as a country we cannot afford to squander.”