All levels of government, business and the Australian community must work together to utilise opportunities to navigate the Asian Century, COAG Reform Council, Chairman, John Brumby has told a CEDA audience in Melbourne.
He said the 25 national objectives set out in the Asian Century White Paper are seen as Australia's roadmap for success with more than half heavily dependent on intergovernmental collaboration.
"We as a nation are relying on the heads of Australian governments to forge a culture of cooperative federalism," he said.
Mr Brumby said Australia must become more competitive by preparing our people and our industries to be Asia literate, to innovate and to offer the best quality goods and services.
We are in the midst of a fierce competition with other nations for the opportunities that will continue to emerge from Asia, he said.
"Over the past three decades, through three waves of reforms, Australia has made good progress in building a stronger, more competitive and outward looking economy," he said.
"The simple unarguable reality is that much of the world around us in our region has been pedalling faster. Our progress has been satisfactory but theirs has been outstanding.
"For the future this means completing the Seamless National Economy reforms and making good progress.
"Achieving the ambitious but extremely worthy goals will require significant and ongoing reform and would amount to a fourth wave of national reform."
Regarding the national objective on education in the Asian Century White Paper, Mr Brumby said goals of the objective include:
He said Australian students are languishing in the rankings with star performers - Hong Kong, Singapore and Chinese Taipei - making staggering improvements.
He said the Year 12 attainment rate is in danger of not meeting COAG's 2015 target.
"The fact that the students who will determine these rankings in 2025 are the cohort that started kindergarten this year means we need a concerted effort and a strong commitment to building on the reforms to date," he said.
On national objective six - regulatory reform, Mr Brumby said the objective is for Australia to become among the most efficiently regulated places in the world, in the top five globally, reducing business costs by billions of dollars a year.
He said in this objective, 15 reforms are overdue or at risk of delay and eight are in danger of not being completed.
Four reforms of particular concern are:
Last year the Productivity Commission assessed that the full implementation of the Seamless National Economy reforms could provide cost reductions to business of around $4 billion per year, and after a period of adjustment, GDP could be increased by around $6 billion per year, he said.
"It is hoped that governments will be motivated to collaborate and see the reforms through to completion. Not only because of the $200 million in reward funding but because national objective number six identifies microeconomic reform as crucial to our success in the Asian Century," he said.
"In my view, even with completion of the Seamless National Economy agenda as well as good progress on the National Compact, Australia is unlikely to achieve the Asian Century goal of being in the top five most efficiently regulated places in the world.
"Additional focus, effort and agreement will be required to achieve the goal."