James Packer Speaks on Australia’s Relationship with Asia at Asia Society Lunch
(with reports from Bernie and Jessica Manthey)
Urges politicians to stop sending xenophobic messages
14 March 2013, Sydney. Crown Limited Chairman and billionaire James Packer warned politicians to refrain from sending xenophobic messages to Asia, a region that will define Australia’s future.
“If I can urge our political leaders across all parties to keep in mind when it comes to the issue of foreign and domestic affairs, the rhetoric we casually throw around is keenly followed throughout the region,” Mr Packer said.
“Some of the recent public debate does not reflect well on any of us. Even worse, it plays on fears and prejudices and is completely unnecessary. We are all better than that. To succeed in China and Asia we must be better than that,” he said.
Mr. Packer gave a speech at an Asia Society luncheon at Hilton Sydney as he also urged government to further invest in Australia’s universities, which he described as important “soft power” assets to build influence in Asia.
“There are few better ways to forge Australia into China and the Asian century than through student exchanges,” he said.
“As a country, we need to dramatically increase the number of Chinese and Asian students studying in Australian universities. The economic benefits are immense and so are the the person-to-person contact.”
Foreign Minister Bob Carr received admiration as he said, “To his credit, I think our Foreign Minister Bob Carr truly understands China and won’t waiver in putting Australia’s interest first,” Mr Packer said. “I urge whoever wins the next federal election to ensure Bob Carr is at the forefront of our diplomatic relations with China,” Mr Packer said.
“As a country, we could not have a better envoy and standard-bearer in the region.”
(Mr Packer ‘s Crown Limited has extensive interests in Asia, especially China and also has projects for the development of a casino in the Philippines in a joint venture with the country’s richest man, Filipino Chinese Henry Sy.)
His Melco Crown, in the venture in the Chinese gambling haven of Macau, has become a lucrative investment as rich Chinese are known to have insatiable appetite for gambling,
Billions are also being earmarked in Australia for the Chinese tourists/gamblers who will be spending their money in the country.
Mr. Packer addressed more than 200 senior businessmen and women and community leaders and outlined the importance of strengthening Australia’s tourism industry and the need to view China as a modern member of the industrialised world.
He was joined by the Honourable Warwick Smith AM (Member of the Order of Australia), Chairman of Asia Society Australia and Global Trustee.
Asia Society reported that “Mr Packer, who has moved his company almost entirely out of media and into the tourism industry, talked about the challenges facing the Australian tourism industry, including the decline in its traditional tourism markets of Europe and the USA, and the strong Australian dollar.”
Mr Packer spoke about the responsibility of governments to work even harder at strengthening Australia’s engagement with China and the rest of Asia, as the success of so many Australian industries rely on it.
Mr Smith said he agreed with Mr Packer, particularly in relation to tourism and China*.
“The rise of China will change the world and Australia has the potential to benefit greatly from Asia’s booming middle class,” Mr Smith said.
He said it is vital that Australia prepares itself for the rise of China’s middleclass. This includes increased infrastructure, as well as promoting mutual understanding and strengthening partnerships.
Mr Smith also is Chairman of the Advisory Board of Australian Capital Equity Group of Companies (ACE) (holders of interests in the Seven Holdings Group, Western Australian News Ltd, Coates Hire Ltd, Westrac Pty Ltd, Caterpillar Industrial services and equipment in Western Australia, New South Wales and North East China) and Chairman of Australia and New Zealand Banking Group (ANZ) in New South Wales and the Australian Capital Territory.
Asia Society Australia has a strong commitment and focus on broadening the interests and understanding between Australia and the Asian business political and cultural leaders.
* Mr Smith completed a tourism report in 2005, ‘National tourism emerging markets strategy: China and India: investing today for tomorrow’, which focussed on the key needs of infrastructure to service Chinese tourism.
(photo credits- Bernikz Media)