When Canberra ended its "White Australia" policy with the Immigration Act of 1966, legal equality was established among British, European and non-European migrants. The continent Down Under then began a journey whose fruits are increasingly evident both to itself and the region in which it is placed. In 1974, it became Asean's first dialogue partner - ahead of countries like China and India with more apparent geographical and ethnic links to the grouping. More recently, Australian prime ministers have spoken of "more Jakarta, less Geneva". Early last year, its foreign minister travelled to the United States to deliver a resounding plea for Washington to recognise Asean centrality in Asia's affairs.
For its part, Australia has gained from its closer relationship with Asean, and wider Asia. If its economy seems to have a teflon coating that has helped it avoid recession for a quarter-century, much of it is because its mining, dairy, education and service sectors have floated on Asia's rising economic tide. In different spheres, it has been energised by the growing pool of Chinese, Indians, Vietnamese and other Asians who have migrated there over the past three decades.
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