Language skills in a society = ability to reach global markets (apparently!). In Australia, about a quarter of people speak a second language AT HOME, but schools have been folding down whatever Bahasa and Japanese courses they had, and the second language acquisition among Anglo-Saxon population is dismal. Compare to this:
"Twenty-seven students from EU secondary schools received a prize and a diploma for having produced the best translation in their country. The prizes will be presented by the European Commissioner for Multilingualism, Leonard Orban with the aim to promote and to give visibility to the profession of translator.
The victorious students won a two-day trip to Brussels for themselves and an accompanying adult. In addition to the award ceremony hosted by Commissioner Orban, the winners will be going on a tour of Brussels and visiting the Directorate-General for Translation of the European Commission. There they will meet professional translators, and see the tools and working methods that translators use in their day-to-day work.
2 247 selected pupils from 593 schools in the EU took part in the second edition of the contest, held on 27 November 2008 at the same time in all Member States. The participants had two hours to translate a text on the subject of multilingualism from any of the 23 official languages of the EU into any other official language.
The translations submitted to the Commission covered all official languages and 147 language combinations."
Ok, our PM speaks Mandarin. And that's it. Even the US President has beaten us to this, as he speaks more than two languages.
Wake up, mates!