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The Coalition's policy for a new Colombo plan



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JOINT PRESS RELEASE

THE HON. TONY ABBOTT MHR, LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION THE HON. JULIE BISHOP MHR, SHADOW MINISTER FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS

THE COALITION’S POLICY FOR A NEW COLOMBO PLAN

The Coalition will establish a New Colombo Plan that will foster closer ties between Australia and the region and develop stronger people-to-people links.

The story of the original Colombo Plan is remarkable. Some 40,000 future leaders came to this country from the 1950s to the mid-1980s and many of the changes that we have seen in our region over the decades have been influenced by those who - returning from this country - helped to lead others.

But we must learn from each other if this part of the world is to be the beacon of prosperity that we would like it to be.

The New Colombo Plan will be different and better than the original, adding an outward-bound component to the original one-way street. This time it will include the young leaders of Australia going to our region because we must advance together. The New Colombo Plan will send our best and brightest young people to study in the Asia-Pacific region. Once operative it will provide financial support for up to 300 young Australians studying in the region every year.

Scholarships will be awarded to applicants under 22 years of age who are enrolled in an Australian university undertaking an undergraduate degree. Applicants will undertake one or two semesters of study toward their degree at an accredited university within the Asia-Pacific region.

The programme will start by 2015 and with a pilot programme in place in 2014 which we hope will include Indonesia, Singapore, Japan and Hong Kong. There will be scope for students to undertake internships with businesses or NGOs in host countries.

Over time, this will be a true two-way New Colombo Plan which takes Australian university students to Asian universities to learn more about our region and brings the best and brightest talent from the region to Australia.

The Coalition has established a Steering Group chaired by the prominent business leader Mr Kevin McCann AM, with Professor Sandra Harding, Vice-Chancellor of James Cook University and Chair of Universities Australia, as Deputy Chair. The Steering Group has worked to develop proposals for the implementation of the New Colombo Plan.

For decades students from our region have come to Australia. A Coalition government will continue to encourage the huge interest in study in Australia by students from the Asia-Pacific region - whether privately or through the support of government or tertiary institutions. The Coalition will commit $100 million over five years to implement the New Colombo Plan.

The New Colombo Plan is part of Our Real Solutions Plan to build a stronger Australia - and a better future for all Australians.

30 August 2013