Australia should invest the proceeds of its mining boom in education, according to the shadow minister for communications and broadband Malcolm Turnbull.

Speaking at a dinner at UNSW attended by vice-chancellors and presidents of universities from Asia, Europe and the US, Mr Turnbull pointed to the critical importance of knowledge and innovation and the fatal consequences for societies that neglect them.

"There is a debate in Australia about what to do with the proceeds of our mining boom," Mr Turnbull said. "The reality is that the best way of investing the proceeds of that boom is to invest in the intellect of the nation, and the intellect of our children and grandchildren."

Mr Turnbull was guest speaker at a gala dinner for delegates to the U21 annual conference, hosted by UNSW over four days last week.

In a wide ranging address, he stressed the importance of diversity and described successful societies as those that reached out to the world rather than turning inwards. He called on universities to engage in the business of being public intellectuals and to use technology to connect with the wider community.

Universitas 21 is a network of 23 world leading research-intensive universities in 15 countries.

A more detailed report on Mr Turnbull's speech can be found in the latest issue of Campus Review (subscription required).

Media contact: Judy Brookman, UNSW Director of Communications | 02 9385 3249 | 0421 061 251.