Compulsory teaching of foreign languages was always unnecessary because we're blessed to have English as the national tongue - the language of business, diplomacy and tourism in almost every corner of the world. Worse, we've taught these languages with too few trained teachers, and in a ludicrously unco-ordinated way.

A catchy tune people can't get out of their heads will be the hallmark of Tourism Australia's new television commercial, which will be unveiled next week...The "friendly and welcoming'' commercial will also highlight Australian animals and the country's indigenous culture that differentiates it from the rest of the world.

Kevin Rudd and Tony Abbott gave important speeches this week about Australia's engagement with Asia. They were talking to a national forum sponsored by Asialink of Melbourne University, the best single body promoting connections between Australia and Asia.

The traditional northern hemisphere science superpowers - the US, Europe, Japan - still produce most of the world's new knowledge and researchers, and exert a powerful pull of attraction as a result. But, as Sylvia Schwaag-Serger from Vinnova and the University of Lund in Sweden has recently pointed out, the centre of gravity of global science is spreading out, moving east and south.

But would it make sense for Australia to put more effort into engaging East Asian or Asian regionalism rather than focusing so strongly on our long-term Asia-Pacific project? There are good reasons to continue to develop regional institutions, but the distinction between these two types of regionalism matters.

DOT paintings from the indigenous Papunya community are heading to the heart of Beijing. In an exercise in cultural diplomacy, packers at the National Museum of Australia spent yesterday sliding paintings from its successful 2007-08 exhibition into crates marked for the National Art Museum of China.

Foreign Affairs continues to operate with a budget showing a modest 6.75 per cent increase to $2.212 billion for its core functions of reporting the world and representing Australia.

This month, Austrade is due to unveil the new Brand Australia, the culmination of an eight-month process of tendering for and creating a new communications campaign for the nation. The advertising agency selected to create the $4 million a year, four year project is M&C Saatchi....