FORMER Prime Minister Julia Gillard says she had “mixed feelings” about coming back to Canberra, returning to the nation’s capital to accept an honorary university degree.
Ms Gillard was awarded an honorary doctorate by the University of Canberra on Friday.
The country’s first female Prime Minister said she was delighted to accepted the award, but returning to Canberra “invoked a series of mixed feelings”.
“Some of the greatest highs and some of the hardest lows of my life have been here in this city,” Ms Gillard said in her acceptance speech.
Ms Gillard said early childhood reform was one of her proudest achievements as Prime Minister, along with other educational reforms.
“For all of these reforms, the foundation stones of which were always excellence and equity we moved with a clarity of purpose and understanding about the age in which we live in,” she said.
“An age that is being transformed by what I’ve dubbed the Asian Century; an age in which this nation can prosper as Asia grows and rises and has Asia becomes home to more middle class people than any other region on earth, Europe and North America included.”
The phrase Asian Century arose in the mid to late 1980s, and is attributed to a 1988 meeting with People's Republic of China (PRC) leader Deng Xiaoping and IndianPrime Minister Rajiv Gandhi in which Deng said that ‘[i]n recent years people have been saying that the next century will be the century of Asia and the Pacific, as if that were sure to be the case. I disagree with this view. Prior to this, it made an appearance in a 1985 US Senate Committee on Foreign Relations hearing.It has been subsequently reaffirmed by Asian political leaders, and is now a popularly used term in the media.