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ABC News Breakfast -

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(generated from captions) use of chemical weapons again and that's something that we understand. We believe it's a step in the right direction. Straight to Tony Abbott who is at a breakfast in Melbourne. Thanks very much everyone. Thanks to all of you for being here today. This as Julie said is an important initiative which has the potential to change our country for the better. Most Australians at some point in time spend time overseas. Many Australians spend serious time overseas. Unfortunately not nearly enough of us spend serious time in our region. I myself spent two years as a student in the UK. It was a remarkable time in my life. It helped to open my eyes to the wider world. It helped to enrich my understanding of the wider world and of my fellow human beings. My daughter Louise as part of her course at the University of Technology in Sydney months Technology in Sydney spent six then 12 month months studying in France and then 12 month studying in Switzerland. It's terrific that so many Australians at a formative Switzerland. It's terrific so many formative so many Australians at a
formative time in their life overseas to learn and to grow. But more often more of us But more often more of should go to Asia because if our future is in our region, as it must be, we need to be ever more deeply engaged in our region. And that's what this new Colombo plan is all about. It's about ensuring that we are a truly Asia literate country. It's about ensuring that we can take full advantage of the coming Asian Century. It's about enabling us to take advantage of all of the natural and geographical advantages that Australia has. The Colombo plan as most of you would know was a triumph in Australian soft power. Under the Colombo plan, some 40,000 future leaders of Asia came to Australia to study. Many. Significant people in Asia Australian university.
today have studied in an Australian university. Many of them under the Colombo plan. I am confident that the advances that we have seen in our region in recent decades, the increase in democracy, the increase in prosperity, the increase in freedom, owes something to the experiences, the experiences that those leaders had in this country. If I could share with you a story. In Bali
October of last year, I was in Bali for a discussion with some. Senior leaders of Indonesia. There were seven of us in the room. Myself, my Chief of Staff, the former Prime Minister Mr Howard, the Indonesian Foreign Minister, his Chief of Staff, the head of the Indonesian Department of Foreign Affairs and one other Indonesian official. Six of the seven had been to university in Australia. That provide as remarkable communion of thought. A remarkable basis for understanding. Now it's great that so many people from Asia have beaten a path to our door over the last 40 or 50 years. But more of us must reciprocate. It cannot be a one-way street. It must be a two-way street. We have as much to learn from our friends and neighbours in the region as they have to learn from us. Yes English may be the world's second language but we cannot assume the people we need to deal with will be able to speak to us in our language. We need more of us to be able to speak to them in their languages hand that's what this program is all about. I am delighted to have the work that you and Vice-Chancellor Sandra harding with the assistance of Don Markwell and others have done so well. We accept the scheme that you have presented to We want the pilot to be up and running next year. We want the full scheme to be operational from the beginning of 2015. I am pleased to say today that an incoming coalition will commit $100 million of new money over the next five years to bring this to fruition. All of us are in public life to make a in public life to make difference. And I say that difference. And I say that of everyone in everyone in public life. I everyone in public don't think that this is solely true of people on true of people on my own team although obviously I am confident that members of my own team want change for as opposed to own team want change for better as opposed to different kinds of change. But we of change. But we are in this to of change. But to make a difference. We are in this to build a better nation and I can think of nothing that will, over time, make a bigger improvement to our country than a more genuine meeting of minds between ourselves and the people of our region. The best time to ensure that there is a deep understanding of Australians for our friends and neighbours is if young Australians spend more time in those countries, immerse themselves deeply in their peoples, their languages, their cultures, so that the learning can then be utilised to the benefit of our country, our region and the wider world. Ladies and gentlemen, thank you so much. It is an honour to be here with Julie Bishop whose original idea this was. I believe this will be a signature policy of an incoming coalition government and I think that over time this can transform our country. This is change for the better.(Applause) That's an interesting