Describing Asia as the global powerhouse for technological innovation, Lord said if these potential partners are going to invest and engage in the country in the longer-term there also had to be better trust between Australia and the region.
The Huawei chairman made his comments when delivering the Charles Todd Oration (CTO) to the Telecommunications Association (TELSOC) in Sydney.
On potential Asian investment in Australia, Lord said, “It hardly needs to be said that what we are seeing [in Australia] at the moment from an Asian perspective is exactly the opposite to the kind of business environment that we need to see.”
And Lord said that Australians also needed to start changing the way they saw Asia.
“The fact is that Asia is no longer simply about mass producing cheap consumer goods, it is now moving to a different plane and is producing cutting-edge technology across a range of fields. As a country it is critically important that we understand that,” he said.
The Huawei chief also said Australia “had to get it right” when dealing with the technological revolution taking place in its backyard.
“Australia is a country of between 25 million and 30 million people located at the bottom of the world – it needs to have access to and to use all of the leading innovation and technology being produced globally,” he said.
“It needs to embrace solutions that address security, the economy and strategic relationships rather than solely the security perspective which is presently being mischievously overplayed and which is unbalancing the debate on our national interests in the future.”
Lord said that Australia also needed to make sure that it produced sufficient numbers of high quality STEM graduates to make sure Australia could add value in the technology innovation chain with Asia.
He also noted that The World Economic Forum reports stated that in 2016 China and India combined produced a “staggering” 7 million STEM graduates – and by contrast the US and Japan produced a mere 800,000.
“Asian companies producing cutting edge technologies will not invest here and will not be attracted here unless we are supplying young Australians to the labour market that actually bring high-level expertise,” he said.
“As a country we are incredibly fortunate to find ourselves in this position where our own region will become the technology powerhouse that drives much of the innovation that we will see over the next century. It’s a once in a generation opportunity and one that as a country we cannot afford to squander.”