Asia Ready Public Service

Events - 6 Mar 2013

In the wake of the white paper ‘Australia in the Asian Century’ and calls by John Brumby, former Victorian Premier, for Australia’s public service to become Asia engaged and ready, this seminar explored what skills are needed, who needs them, and what are the opportunities that will come from enhancing our engagement with economies in Asia.

This session explored the on-ground experience of former Australian Ambassador Mr John McCarthy followed by the role of the public sector in supporting business and cultural initiatives and what it needs to do to better engage with Asia. 

Questions discussed included:

  • What role is available for the public service?
  • What can we learn from our neighbours?
  • What can we offer them?
  • How can the public service enable stronger economic engagement?
  • Does WA have a more sophisticated relationship with Asia than other states? Why?


Nicky Cusworth
Deputy Director General, Strategic Policy
Department of State Development



Working in Asia

John McCarthy AO
Former Australian Ambassador to Vietnam, Mexico, United States of America, Thailand, Japan, Indonesia and former High Commissioner to India

BIO: John McCarthy has served as Australia's Ambassador to Vietnam (1981–83), Ambassador to Mexico (1985–87), Ambassador to Thailand (1992–94), Ambassador to the United States from 1995 to 1997, Ambassador to Indonesia (1997-2001) Ambassador to Japan (27 July 2001-2004), and High Commissioner to India (approx. 2004-2009). He has also served in Damascus, Baghdad and Vientiane.

From 1994-95, McCarthy was Deputy Secretary in the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade in Canberra. In October 2010 he became National President of the Australian Institute of International Affairs and has a number of interests in the private sector.

How the Public Sector Can Enhance Economic Engagement with Asia

Duncan Calder
President Australia China
Business Council W.A.

BIO: Duncan Calder was the Founding National Chairman of KPMG Australia’s China Practice some ten years ago, working closely with the former Premier of Western Australia, The Hon Richard Court AC, who was a special advisor to KPMG.  Duncan is also the National Senior Vice President and President of WA for the Australia China Business Council, the leading independent industry body promoting trade and investment between Australia and China.  Duncan has worked on many Sino-Australian cross border deals for both Australian clients and Chinese clients and is a prominent spokesperson in the media on China.

Contributing To Skills Development in Asia: Opportunities and Challenges for the Public Sector

Neil Fernandes
Managing Director
Central Institute of Technology

BIO: Neil Fernandes has been the Managing Director at Central Institute of Technology since July 2005 (acting from 2005 to April 2007).
Prior to his appointment at Central, Neil was the Deputy Director-General (Training) in the Department of Education and Training for 18 months and was the inaugural General Manager of WestOne between July 1999 and August 2003.
Neil has worked in the vocational education and training (VET) system in Western Australia for the last 20 years and was instrumental in the development of VET legislation and the governance framework for TAFE colleges.  He strongly supports the VET training system and has a keen interest in the history of training in the VET sector in Western Australia and in particular, the contribution Central Institute of Technology has made.


Download Duncan Calder's presentation



MC Nicky Cusworth kicks off the seminar John McCarthy AO presents on 'Working in Asia'
Duncan Calder - President, Australia China Business Coucil
Neil Fernandes - Managing Director, Central Institute of Technology