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Joint Press Conference

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Prime Minister Gillard: Thank you very much. Is everybody set up? Good. I am delighted to welcome Prime Minister Najib to Australia. He has been here on a number of occasions but this is his first visit as Prime Minister, and he is a very welcome friend. The Prime Minister with me is a friend of Australia, a leader in our region. We have discussed today the depth of the relationship and partnership between our two countries, and it is a partnership with a very impressive history. We have fought shoulder to shoulder, together, during the Second World War and in the emergency fighting against communism. We have studied together, and we have talked today about how 300,000 Malaysians have been educated in this country; that is a longstanding part of our relationship. And we have prospered together. We are countries with a dynamic economic partnership, and we will be seeking to build on that for the future.
Today we have discussed the economic ties between our two countries and we have determined that we want to accelerate the free trade agreement that our two countries have been discussing. The Prime Minister made a request of me to accelerate those discussions, and I have agreed that that is a good idea. So we have determined today that we will conclude this free trade agreement between our two nations within the coming year, and we want to see it concluded and signed before the anniversary of this visit next year.
We have also talked today about cooperation in areas as diverse as education and as important to the Australian community as sport. We have had the opportunity to talk about our sports mad country. We have signed today two memoranda of understanding—one a memorandum of understanding on further cooperation in education, one a memorandum of understanding on further cooperation in sport. We have also talked about our approaches to regional issues and the work we do together in regional forums, particularly the East Asia Summit, which was the first occasion that I had the opportunity to meet with the Prime Minister. We have reaffirmed our shared commitment to the Trans-Pacific Partnership. I have also congratulated the Prime Minister on his impressive leadership on combating people smuggling and countering terrorism and transnational crime in our region. It is clear that these regional challenges require regional solutions, and we are continuing to work together on them. The strength of our cooperation extends to work we do in Afghanistan. I am particularly proud of the joint program we have to train in Malaysia master teachers who then go to train teachers in Afghanistan. That is very impressive work.
Today Prime Minister Najib and I took stock of our nations' shared history and we committed to define our relationship as a relationship for the 21st century. Our shared achievements in the past will be built on by shared achievements in the future, because we live in the region where the future is going to happen—the Asia-Pacific region.
Prime Minister, I am very honoured by your visit and I welcome you to make some remarks.
Prime Minister Najib: Thank you very much, Prime Minister Gillard. First of all, I would like to say how delighted I am to be here once again in Australia in a slightly different capacity, but I do know Australia pretty well over the years. I have been here many times, but, as you put it, this is my first visit as Prime Minister and this is to reciprocate your visit to Malaysia.
We had a very productive, very useful discussion. I can only second whatever the Prime Minister has said, and certainly those are the areas of agreement that we have arrived at today. I started by expressing our sincere heartfelt condolences with respect to the very, very damaging floods in Queensland. But we are so impressed with the indomitable spirit of the Australian people, that you have recovered well. You have a great sense of volunteerism and you have been very, very positive, including helping Malaysian students. I would like to say how grateful we are to you, Prime Minister, and to your government, and we certainly look forward to a much deeper relationship—a relationship that has been predicated on a very strong foundation over many, many years, starting of course with your soldiers fighting for our freedom. And we are very grateful for your stalwart and sterling support for us in the defence of Malaya and then subsequently Malaysia, and that defence relationship is still very strong today. The FPD agreement is important because that leads to peace and stability in our region.
We recognise there is a great deal of importance with respect to human trafficking and people smuggling—boat people—which is a big issue in Australia. It is an issue that we can identify with, because many years ago we had similar problems with respect to the Vietnamese boat people and we had to handle it; and, therefore, I pledge our support and to be as cooperative as possible. We will take this up in Bali in due course, in the near future, and we will try to find cooperative solutions and be as useful as possible. And we will do our part to make sure that Malaysia is never a transit point for these people. This is where cooperation in terms of exchange of timely intelligence will be very useful for us to make the appropriate interdiction.
In the area of fighting global terrorism, we continue to cooperate and, as you know, it is fortunate that we are free from al-Qaeda activities in Malaysia and also the threat of Jemaah Islamiah is very much under control in Malaysia. Our efforts in southern Philippines: for example, I briefed the Prime Minister to make sure that the southern Philippines will be a region of peace and stability and will not fester the growth of unwanted terrorist activities in that part of the world.
With respect to economic cooperation, our total trade is in the region of $10 billion, which is a good level but we believe that we can push it to even greater heights; and, therefore, I was very, very keen that the negotiations with respect to the Malaysia-Australia Free Trade Agreement, MAFTA, will be concluded as soon as possible. And we both agree that it would be useful to set a certain time line for our negotiations to conclude, and we both agree that within a year we should sign the Malaysia-Australia Free Trade Agreement. And that comes on the back of the Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations which will continue. And hopefully by the time APEC takes place in November there will be some interim agreement, and eventually we will become partners within the Asia-Pacific region. I would also like to mention that the education links have always been strong. When I was education minister, I gave approval to the setting up of three universities from Australia—namely, Monash, Curtin and Swinburne. All these three universities have campuses in Malaysia. They are very happy, very pleased, with their presence in Malaysia and they are doing very well. And we hope that in the light that there are so many Malaysian students studying here, over the years—more than 200,000 have studied here; and there is a very, very strong alumni even in our Malaysian cabinet—we would like to see more Australian students studying in Malaysia. There is some understanding that we should encourage, for example, one semester during the course for Australian students to study in Malaysia. The numbers are quite small. We are gratified that the number of Australians visiting Malaysia in terms of tourists, the numbers are burgeoning. We had an 8.9 per cent increase from 2009 to 2010 and about 580,000 Australians now visit Malaysia per year. We are increasing the linkages between our two countries, and the latest will be a direct flight from Perth to Kota Kinabalu. We expect the numbers should be more on the upswing in the future.
We also talked about Australia's competency in the field of carbon reduction. Malaysia hopes to learn from Australia how we can reduce our carbon footprint in Malaysia. Also in the area of public sector reform we noted your accomplishment in this particular field, and we will be very keen to learn more about what Australia has done to improve the efficiency of the public sector.
So, all in all, I am very pleased with the discussions we had. I think it is very clear that Australia is a close friend of Malaysia, a long-time partner, and we hope to take the relationship to be even stronger as we move forward. Thank you.
Prime Minister Gillard: Thank you very much. We will take some questions now in turn from the media. You may want to start with the media representatives from Malaysia.
Journalist: Prime Minister Gillard: is Australia seeking to increase investments in Malaysia and, if so, in what areas would they be?
Prime Minister Gillard: We have had some direct discussions today about Australian investment in Malaysia. Australian businesses want to increase our trade and they want to increase our exchange and investment two-way. We want to see Australian investment in Malaysia, and we welcome investment by Malaysia in this country. So we have talked through that today—talked through some very specific companies that have interests in new investments in Malaysia, including Rio Tinto seeking to invest in aluminium. We have one of our banks also seeking to invest. So that has been raised today as an example of our growing economic partnership.
Journalist: Welcome to Canberra, Prime Minister. My question is about border protection. Firstly, I would like to know what your impressions or thoughts or views are on Prime Minister Gillard's idea for a regional processing centre in East Timor; and, secondly, Australian authorities believe Malaysia is a transit point for many asylum seekers that reach Australia, especially Kuala Lumpur International Airport. If you could detail what further cooperation you are offering.
Prime Minister Najib: First of all, we have amended the human trafficking act in Malaysia, people smuggling, and we have increased the penalties. The penalties now are very severe. Secondly, we have also stepped up our interdiction, and there have been many instances of people having been interdicted in Malaysia before they move on to Australia. I think that kind of cooperation will continue. With respect to the processing centre, this is a regional initiative and we believe this will be discussed in Bali. We need a bit of time to study the Australian proposal but we will be as positive as we can.
Journalist: Are you positive at the moment? What is your disposition towards it at the moment?
Prime Minister Najib: We have to take a regional outlook first, and we will be as cooperative as possible.
Journalist: I have a question for Prime Minister Gillard. The Prime Minister mentioned that there is a big disparity between the number of Malaysian students here in Australia and the number of Australian students in Malaysia. Are there any plans for you to increase the number of students going to further their studies in Malaysia?
Prime Minister Gillard: We had the opportunity during our discussions in the cabinet room to discuss this matter with our relevant minister, Chris Evans, who is the minister for tertiary education. We noted that there are some study patterns now where students in Australia who are doing qualifications at Australian universities can spend a semester in Malaysia. We both agreed that that is a very good development and we would like to see more of that. So the minister for tertiary education, Chris Evans, arising from our discussions, will now be raising that issue with Australian universities to see what we can do to have more Australian students visit Malaysia and study part of their courses in Malaysia. That would be a good way of facilitating exchange.
Journalist: Prime Minister Gillard, if I could ask you a domestic question. On the Greens proposal on territories' powers, is it your understanding that that will in any way allow the territories to move their own laws on gay marriage, or will the federal Marriage Act still have primacy and effectively prevent that? Also, in your factional delegation yesterday you received, what pressure are you under now to exert yourself as the leader of the government to assure people that Bob Brown is not running the country?
Prime Minister Gillard: Thank you for that question with so few assumptions made in its formulation. If you just excuse me for one moment dealing with a domestic matter. If I can deal with this in some detail and describe exactly the government's position: the caucus meeting on Tuesday considered an amending proposition about the ability of territories to make their own legislation. The Labor Party supported similar legislation in 2006. So there was a discussion at caucus and we have supported similar legislation in the past. Subsequent to the caucus meeting, a number of caucus members raised a concern with me about the breadth of that legislation. There were some amendments to the bill that came in quite late, as I understand it, during the course of Monday. Some caucus members raised concern with me about the breadth of the legislation. Can I say there is nothing unusual about that process. I see caucus members frequently. They are members of my team and I see them very frequently to discuss issues, and an issue was raised with me yesterday.
The government determined to support the reference of that bill to a committee. The committee will now look into it, and we may well learn some things from the committee's deliberations. I would also note that members of the opposition have been favourably disposed to this kind of legislation in the past. Unsurprisingly, they are people who represent territories, and I would point in that regard to Senator Nigel Scullion, for example, who is on the record, in defence of the territory he represents in the Senate, supporting propositions like this one.
I do want to just deal with some media reports today. I understand that there have been media reports that, during the discussion about this legislation yesterday, someone raised with me concerns about the influence of the Greens on the government. That report is completely untrue. No caucus member has ever raised such concern with me. So we will have the Senate inquiry and we will see what emerges from the Senate inquiry. Thank you very much.


A live performance followed—
The national anthem of Malaysia was then performed—
The national anthem of Australia was then performed—
Master of Ceremonies: Ladies and gentlemen, please be seated. Ladies and gentlemen, I introduce Mrs Jannette Phillips, a Ngunnawal elder who will deliver a welcome to country.
Mrs Phillips: Good afternoon, everyone. I am honoured to say hello to our beautiful Prime Minister, Ms Julia Gillard, and her partner and the most honourable Prime Minister of Malaysia and his dear wife. I welcome you to our lands and I hope that you feel the spirit of this amazing country of ours. While you are here, keep safe and I hope that those you have left behind remain safe.


Master of ceremonies: Ladies and gentlemen, could I have your attention please. Thank you. Thank you, ladies and gentlemen. The Hon. Julia Gillard, Prime Minister of Australia.
Prime Minister Gillard: Thank you very much. Your Excellency Prime Minister Najib, thank you for joining us here today. You do us a very great honour. And, to your wonderful wife, thank you for your hospitality and friendship when I visited your country. Can I acknowledge the Leader of the Opposition, honourable ministers,
members of parliament from Malaysia and from Australia, senior officials, diplomats and friends.
Prime Minister, can I say to you: welcome to Australia and welcome to our parliament. Your visit here is a milestone in the long friendship between our two countries and it is full of significance for us. Yours is the third visit by a Malaysian Prime Minister in 30 years and it follows in the steps of one Malaysia’s greatest sons, the man who more than any other set your nation on the path of modernisation—your late father, who, through great suffering, served the Malaysian people until his final days and whose role and legacy you inherit. It was Prime Minister Gough Whitlam who was proud to welcome your father to Canberra in 1975, and, as Gough’s friend and successor, I very proudly welcome you and I thank you for making this journey to be with us.
This is a journey of understanding, dialogue and cooperation. Your Excellency’s visit comes soon after my own visit to Malaysia last year, and I want to thank you for your concern that you were not able to meet me at that time and for taking the time to talk to me on the telephone, though you were unwell during those days. In choosing Malaysia as the first regional country to make a bilateral visit as Prime Minister, I wanted to signal to you and to your nation just how much we value the relationship with Malaysia. I wanted to reaffirm also Australia’s deep and principled commitment to regional engagement and to all we can achieve together as partners and friends.
Our ties are longstanding and they are strong. We value our defence history, when we stood together against the successive threats of fascism and communism. We value our education links, going back to the Colombo Plan, and we are very pleased that we have seen 300,000 Malaysians educated here, forming a strong alumni and an important contribution to your nation’s development. It is a truly staggering figure—300,000. We are working together in new and important areas such as public sector reform, superannuation and regulatory reform, and we will be very pleased to keep deepening this partnership. And, of course, we share a deepening economic relationship too, with two-way trade now valued at A$14 billion—and, as we have discussed this morning, there is considerable scope for that to go further. But, most importantly, your visit is about the future, because the region we share is the one where the destiny of the 21st century will be written.
Prime Minister, you are a leader in our region and you are a friend. You are an exemplar in the fight against extremism and upholding the true values of Islam, and I salute your leadership of the Global Movement of Moderates. And, like us, you share an abiding commitment to the benefits of free trade, which is why we will work so closely with you on the Trans-Pacific Partnership and why I have been pleased to agree today to your suggestion that we set an end date for the signature of the free trade agreement between our two countries.
Prime Minister, your visit further strengthens our already strong education relationship. We have both served as reformist education ministers for our nations, and I know we both share a passionate commitment to the role a great education system can play in opening up opportunity for every child and in forming the human capital that will be the source of our future growth and wealth.

Given our shared commitment, I know you join me in taking great pride in the fact that 23,000 Malaysians are currently enrolled in Australian education institutions. These are young men and young women who will play such an important part in realising your dream for the future of your country. And, as we discussed today, we look forward to increasing the number of Australian students who travel to Malaysia and study there.
We are very proud that Australia is an education destination of choice for your country. We look forward to making Malaysia a destination of choice for Australian students. Today we furthered our economic and education cooperation, given the importance of human capital to our economies, through a new memorandum of understanding, and we will be sharing our technical expertise in the development of vocational education in Malaysia. I know that work builds on what you started as education minister. It is therefore very appropriate that Australia’s largest university is tomorrow awarding you an honorary doctorate.
Monash University was named after John Monash. He was not only one of Australia’s finest military leaders but also a man who valued education very, very deeply. He himself had three university degrees, showing his passion for education, and he saw education as a key to our nation's future and to the quality of leadership. The Australian community finds abiding inspiration in his example, and I am sure you will too.
Of course, Prime Minister, the benefits of education extend far beyond our own shores. Our education cooperation is also benefiting third countries, like Afghanistan, where the Malaysia-Australia Education Project is skilling Afghan master teachers so that they can go and train others. We think very proudly of the children who will benefit. In some cases, their families have not known peace since these children’s grandparents were children themselves. And now, after decades of conflict and poverty, these children will have the chance of a new life.
Mr Prime Minister, our nations defence ties are very longstanding, and I know you have had the opportunity to discuss that with Minister Stephen Smith today. Our ties stretch back to before Malaysia’s independence in 1957. Our personnel have experienced the hardships of Somalia, East Timor and Afghanistan. And we have done so not for any material gain but to assist the cause of security and the cause of freedom. This year we celebrate the 40th year of the Five Power Defence Arrangements, a set of agreements that underline our shared strategic interests and affirm that Asia will never, we hope, know war again.
The Australian Defence Force continues to utilise and has personnel based at the Royal Malaysian Air Force base at Butterworth, and we have mentioned that in our discussions today. The Malaysia-Australia joint peacekeeping initiative is building regional peacekeeping capacity in support of mutual regional security objectives. And we have jointly trained PNG and East Timor forces, with a third workshop being considered this year.
Likewise in law enforcement, I acknowledge your leadership in combating transnational crime, including people-smuggling and human trafficking in our region. I warmly welcome Malaysia’s action to criminalise people-smuggling, and I recognise your strong leadership in disrupting criminal syndicates in the region, including the outstanding contribution of Malaysia’s law enforcement community. We are very, very grateful for it. Of course, we know that more needs to be done to address the issue of irregular people movements, and we look forward to doing that work together.
Your Excellency, these developments all lead us back to the same point: that our region can best succeed through dialogue and cooperation. Malaysia has always been at the forefront of dialogue. As a founding member of ASEAN and APEC, a founding member of the World Trade Organisation, a founding member of the Cairns Group and as the host for the inaugural East Asia Summit in 2005, Malaysia has a proud record of its role in regional leadership, and I look forward to continuing to work closely with you to ensure the success of the East Asia Summit, with the US and China shortly to join.

It is an Australian priority to work with you on developing a substantial political and security agenda for the East Asia Summit in order to strengthen its future role in the region. We are also seeking, in partnership with you, to set an ambitious agenda for APEC at this year’s summit.
These are only some of the things we plan to do in the future. Prime Minister, your visit marks a new chapter of comprehensive partnership—a partnership based on warm and cordial relations between ourselves, between our ministers and between our civil service, law enforcement and military authorities. And it is not just that governments are making a significant contribution to the relationship—although we are. It is our people who are making this relationship our greatest strength.
Through the Australia-Malaysia Institute, Asialink, Malaysia’s Institute of Strategic and International Studies and other institutions, our scholars and our diplomats, our artists and our writers, and our civil society organisations engage in open and thoughtful dialogue. Our schools are twinning together. Our young people can now travel and explore each other’s cultures on working holiday visas. And direct flights between our two countries—including the many direct flights to Perth that we have discussed today as we have sat around the cabinet table, urged on my Stephen Smith and Chris Evans—are bringing our people closer and closer together.
Prime Minister, just 10 days ago a courageous and brilliant athlete mastered a very serious injury to win bronze at the world cycling championships in Manchester. The name of this man, of course, is Azizulhasni Awang. This man carried your nation’s flag in Beijing, yet he trains with an Australian coach in my home city of Melbourne. It is a metaphor for everything we seek and everything we hope for. It characterises the relationship our predecessors have built, the relationship we will build even further because, having come so far and achieved so much, there is no limit on what we can do together in the future—a future we will share and a future we will shape, a future that has come closer because of your visit to us this week.
Thank you very much for doing us the honour of being here.
Applause was given—
Prime Minister Gillard: I now invite the Leader of the Opposition to make some remarks.
Mr Abbott: Prime Minister Gillard, distinguished guests and, most of all, Prime Minister Najib: I am pleased and honoured to support the remarks of our Prime Minister in welcoming you, your wife and your delegation to Australia and to celebrate the links between our two countries. There are the military links forged in 1941 and 1942, continued through the emergency and the confrontation and currently institutionalised in the Five Power Defence Arrangements. I particularly congratulate you for the medical teams that you have in Afghanistan—one of only a handful of Muslim countries to participate in Afghanistan in that way. There are also the trade links that have made Malaysia close to our 10th largest trading partner and that we hope to institutionalise through a free trade agreement. Finally, there are the people-to-people links, immeasurably strengthened by the 300,000 Malaysians who have studied here in Australia from the time of the Colombo Plan in the early 1950s.
Here in Australia, prime ministers and opposition leaders can have a complex relationship. But, as a sign of the importance that my party places on the relationship between Australia and Malaysia, today I released our Prime Minister from her normal duty of voting in the parliament so that she could be with you.

You can say what you like about the state of the party-political contest in Australia; when it comes to the relationship with Malaysia we stand united in our determination never, ever to be recalcitrant.
Applause was given—
Master of Ceremonies: Ladies and gentlemen, the Honourable Dato' Sri Mohammed Najib Abdul Razak, Prime Minister of Malaysia.
Applause was given—
Prime Minister Najib: Salaam alaikum and a very good afternoon, Prime Minister Julia Gillard; Honourable Speaker of the House, Mr Jenkins; Honourable Senator John Hogg; Honourable Tony Abbott, Leader of the Opposition; ministers, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen.
I have been hosting many visits of foreign leaders and one of the hallmarks of being a successful host is if you can get everything right, including the weather. It seems to me, Prime Minister, that you have got everything right today and I certainly feel not only that the arrangements are wonderful but, above all, a sense of warmth, of friendship, of wanting to work together—a sense that although we are quite far apart in distance we have inextricable links between our two countries. So I would like to thank you, Prime Minister, for inviting me on the back of your visit to Malaysia, for which I regret very much not being able to appear in person, but I was down with chicken pox of all things, and you would not have wanted to meet me when I was down with chicken pox; my advice is: do not get chicken pox if you are above 50! But my wife was kind enough to deputise for me during lunch and I hope you found the visit useful as much as we did.
Looking forward, I cannot but fully underline and support, Prime Minister, all the things you have said, because I truly believe that there is enormous potential in our bilateral relationship, which is strong. It has been predicated on defence and I would like to state once again how much we appreciate Australian soldiers fighting gallantly for our freedom during the Second World War against the communists and standing by us. You are right, Prime Minister, that the Five Power Defence Arrangements is key to ensuring peace and stability for our part of the world. The defence relationship during difficult times—political times—has always been strong and continues to be strong, and I, being a former Defence Minister, will support that relationship to be even stronger.
As we move forward the other important link, of course, is education. You rightly said that this is key. I think especially for countries like Malaysia, we have reached a certain stage of development but we have rather ambitious plans for the future. We think we can become a developed nation—a high-income nation—by 2020. We are very focused towards it.

I can rattle off for you the numbers: six per cent growth per annum in the next 10 years, US$444 billion investment, 3.3 million jobs, 131 entry point projects. These are the things we need to do to transform Malaysia. In fact, we have used the word not 'change' but 'transform'. 'Transformation' is now the buzz word. And we believe we can do it with the support of our friends. Like Australia, we need a benign external environment. We need foreign investment, we need talent, we need people-to-people relationships, we need education. We need all these things so that Malaysia can transform itself; at the same time it is also mutually beneficial.
Three-hundred thousand Malaysians have studied in Australia over the years. You have a huge constituency in Malaysia: 300,000 people have great affinity for Australia. A number of cabinet ministers went to school, went to university here, including our Minister of International Trade and Industry, whose experience included first class honours at Melbourne University, plus one night at a cemetery in Melbourne! That is the nature of the relationship, and it continues to be strong. I have to say that I was instrumental in granting the three licences for the Australian universities to have campuses in Malaysia—Monash, Curtin and Swinburne—when I was education minister.
Moving forward trade and investment is important for us. That is why I am delighted and I look forward to signing this in a year's time. Hopefully we can have a free trade agreement with Australia and we can unleash the full potential both ways. A lot of Malaysians do invest in Australia as well. A lot of people have homes in Australia and invest in real estate, in properties. Likewise we want to encourage more Australians to invest in Malaysia.
Prime Minister, I also believe that the other links are important. We encourage Australian tourists to visit Malaysia. There has been a sharp increase—about an 8.9 per cent increase in terms of tourists visiting Malaysia. We can promise you hot, balmy weather, a little bit of rain now and then, but above all a bit of everything in Malaysia. I hope with more links, now Perth to Kota Kinabalu—our foreign minister is very pleased to have that link, obviously—we certainly will be able to bring more and more Australians to visit Malaysia and vice versa.
Sports are very important. We know how strong Australians are in the field of sports—Australians are crazy about sports. The lifestyle is a very important support to ensure success in sports. We have signed an MOU with Australia, but I can give you an undertaking that we will never beat Australia, except for badminton, perhaps!
I would also be quite remiss if I did not take this opportunity to express our profound appreciation to the government of Australia in assisting our students during the floods in Queensland. We deeply appreciate that. I would also like to express our deepest sympathies and condolences to the government and people of Australia who have undergone immense hardship during the massive floods and violent cyclones. But what impressed us most was the indomitable spirit of the Australian people and the calm resolve to come together and support each other in bracing the storm.

Around 70,000 volunteers from all over Australia joined armed forces and rescue teams to help the victims. I congratulate the government as well as the Australian people for their sterling spirit and for overcoming that hardship.
Prime Minister, when I took office I came up with not a slogan but more a philosophy of one Malaysia. It strikes me that if you extrapolate this we are really living in one world; on one planet. There are so many things that we need to do together. You mentioned people smuggling and terrorism and irregularities in people visiting and so forth. Those things can only be solved on regional and global levels. I appreciate the importance of those issues to the Australian people. We will do our level best to support you in whatever way that we can. We certainly do not want Malaysia to be a transit point for those people indulging in people smuggling. As you know, we have increased the punishment for that. The penalties are more severe. We have improved our interdiction and our enforcement agencies are working very closely together to arrest this as a source of the problem for Australia as it is also a problem for Malaysia.
We continue to work together. You mentioned Afghanistan. Yes, in Afghanistan we have our medical team. We are grateful for your support. Our contribution towards global peace and security is underscored by our presence in Afghanistan, our role in the southern Philippines, our support for the peaceful usage of the Straits of Malacca and other regional initiatives. In particular, the ASEAN summit is a very important process through which we continue to support peace. The inclusion of Australia, New Zealand and now the United States shows that those in the region can work together through several mechanism to achieve our shared vision of peace and prosperity.
I would also like to think Mr Abbott, the honourable head of the opposition, for your remarks and your support for what Prime Minister Gillard said. Certainly we will delete the word 'recalcitrant' from our dictionary! None of us are recalcitrant; every one of us is very positive and optimistic. This relationship can only get stronger and stronger as we move forward. I give you my commitment. I would like this relationship to be a very strong one and one that can shape our region. Together we will work towards a better future. Thank you once again, Prime Minister.