Labor's FutureAsia Plan


A Shorten Government will deliver a FutureAsia plan which continues and builds on Labor’s tradition of regional engagement. Our approach will grow our Asia relevant capabilities, including through better trade, investment, education and cultural links.

Our economic future and our place amongst the G20 nations in decades to come will increasingly rely on our engagement with Asia.

There are few more important things for our economic future than significantly improving our trade, investment, diplomatic, education and cultural links with Asia, home to the fastest growing middle class on earth, and right on Australia’s doorstep.

For Australian business to realise the greatest economic benefit from growth in our region, we must urgently improve our Asian languages and literacy.

We need a step change in our thinking – a fundamental whole of government effort to deepen and broaden our engagement with Asia.

Engagement with Asia requires more than words. It requires a commitment to working across government and with business, the education sector, industry and across the community to deepen our ties, to improve our Asia capability and to enable more opportunities for Australians.

We need to ensure Australians are prepared for the jobs and economic opportunities of the Asian century, which is why lifting Australia’s Asia relevant capabilities is an economic imperative.


Labor will establish FutureAsia - a new whole of government plan to underpin our efforts to deepen and broaden our engagement through:

  • A new Asia Capable Schools program that will train up to 5,000 principals and senior teachers to drive sustained whole of school change by supporting them to make the necessary updates to their curriculum and teacher capability.
  • Providing up to 100 scholarships a year for Australians who are Asian language native speakers and for top performers in priority Asian languages in Year 12, to go on to study a teaching qualification.
  • Improving Asian languages curriculum materials from preschool to year 12.
  • Establishing an Advisory Council on Asia Capabilities headed by experts from academia, business, and not-for-profits to drive research and generate new ideas to boost teaching and learning about Asia across all levels of Australia’s education system.
  • Establishing an Asian Diaspora program that better harnesses the people-to-people and business links of our existing Asian diaspora population.
  • Establishing the Australian-ASEAN Studies Centre.
  • Working with key trading partners to establish reciprocal internship programs to allow recent Australian graduates to help build the Asian business capability of young Australian professionals.
  • Improving economic and trade links through regular meetings of Asia-Pacific Finance Ministers in advance of the G20 Finance Ministers meeting, while also establishing a 2+2 of Australia’s and Indonesia’s Finance and Trade Ministers.
  • Implementing the recommendations of Peter Varghese’s ‘An Indian Economic Strategy to 2035,’ and commissioning a similar report to boost trade and investment with Indonesia.
  • Conducting annual trade missions to China, Indonesia and India.
  • Strengthening Australia’s engagement in the Indo-Pacific region, including by establishing four new diplomatic posts and establishing a new category of geo-economic counsellor across our diplomatic network.
  • Working with the Australian Institute of Company Directors to boost the Asian capability of Australian boards.

We will pay for it by making multinationals pay their fair share and closing tax loopholes used by the top end of town.

Read more about Labor’s FutureAsia Plan here.