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Address on the occasion of a reception with members of the Australian Hong Kong community.

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21 OCTOBER 2005

• Mr Murray Cobban, Consul-General and Mrs Cobban • His Excellency Doctor Alan Thomas, Australian Ambassador, and Doctor Sally Borthwick • The Honourable Justice Andrew Li Kwok Nang, Chief Justice of the Court of Final Appeal and Mrs Li

• Doctor the Honourable York Chow, Secretary for Health, Welfare and Food, and Mrs Chow • Distinguished guests

  Murray, thank you and Alessandra for your warm welcome this evening and for opening your home in honour of our visit to China. Marlena and I are delighted to be here; and what a tremendous pleasure it is that so many members and friends of the Australian community in Hong Kong are here to share this occasion.   I understand that an outdoor wooden replica of one of the world's best known Buddhist prayers has been erected on Lantau Island, and is called "the Wisdom Path". I must say that the last nine days in China have led me along something of a wisdom and knowledge path of my own.   What an impressive set of contrasting experiences it has been. Yet what has emerged is a reinforcement of a fundamental theme; the capacity of Australia and China—both on the mainland and here in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region— to work together in fulfilling our mutual interests.   Ladies and gentlemen. It is in the nature of human beings to leave their mark. It seems to me that of any group of people, the Chinese have an extraordinary capacity to adapt, without losing sight of their origins and rich traditions.   Nothing could be more so than the example of the Chinese experience in Australia.   While reports vary about who were the first Chinese people to arrive in Australia, we know that some of the earliest were a group of one hundred adults and 21 young boys who sailed to New South Wales in 1848 to be engaged as pastoral labour. We can only imagine their thoughts as they toiled under rigorous, demanding circumstances in a difficult landscape.   The later gold rushes saw a mass influx of Chinese workers to the Australian goldfields, to what Aussie poet, Henry Lawson described as that "wondrous treasure which set all the South ablaze."   In 2005, in a world different in so many ways from the 19th century, China and Australia remain linked through geo-political interests, as together we cooperate against challenges to stability, in respect of terrorism, arms proliferation, poverty, pandemics -including diseases such as HIV/AIDS, and trans- national crime such as people smuggling.   On another equally significant level are Australia/China trade relations. And who could have a more

experienced trading partner than we do in the Chinese. The famous Silk Road trading to ancient Persia

and Rome was in place well over two thousand years ago.   And while trade between Australia and China is somewhat more recent, it seems to me that the development of our relationship in the 21st century is akin to the "new golden mountain", a term used by the Chinese to describe Australia in the 19th century.   And Hong Kong is very important in that relationship. It is already Australia's twelfth largest export market for goods valued at $A2.7 billion, and our 6th largest export market for services at around $A1.3 billion, including being our 3rd largest source of foreign students with around 24,000 currently enrolled in Australian institutions.   It seems to me that Australia is becoming much more aware of the contribution which the "diaspora" of its citizens working overseas can make to this outcome. It is especially evident when matched with strong local support - such as that provided here in Hong Kong by the various professional associations, alumni groups and community-based organisations which many of you represent.   It is not just the sheer size of the organized Australian community which makes for this prominence. Nevertheless with more than 55,000 citizens, the largest Australian Chamber of Commerce in the world (outside Australia) with more than 450 Australian companies registered in Hong Kong, a strong and active Alumni Association, and an impressive range of professional-based groupings, your presence makes a significant impact.   There is also the widespread Australian/Hong Kong interaction - in the arts, in education, public services, in sport - all of which is laudable.   My State Visit to the mainland has left me deeply impressed by the pace and scope of China's change and development - and, most importantly, the opportunities which these offer Australia.   My purpose was to further our already strong bilateral relationship, including our economic, social and cultural ties. I am very aware of the important role that Hong Kong has had, and will continue to have, in this dynamic process, with some 20% of all of China's imports and exports passing through here.   I am convinced that there are many new and exciting areas where Australia and China, including the Hong Kong SAR, can benefit from increased interaction.   Apart from new technologies and our expertise in extractive and processing industries, Australian companies also offer the highest quality knowledge and experience in legal and financial services, architectural and town planning services, construction services, tourism and education.   I had most interesting discussions with Premier Wen and NCP Chairman Wu concerning Australia's expertise in new and renewable energies, including clean coal, solar, thermal and fusion. The commercial application of environmental sciences is another obvious area.   My discussions with President Hu Jintao last Monday also reaffirmed at the highest levels the commitment of both countries to advancing the relationship. He also confirmed that working towards an Australia-China Free Trade Agreement remains a high priority for China. I thank those of you here in Hong Kong who have contributed to our preparatory work on the FTA - we look forward to your continuing involvement.   Ladies and gentlemen. The values we learn at the knee, and the lifestyles we grow up with, create a reference system from which we learn, compare, and understand new things; indeed they show the differences between peoples.   Yet if the tide of history has taught us one thing, it is that as humans we are great borrowers. There are considerable advantages in borrowing - in refining knowledge and the lessons learned from others' experiences.


Australia has much to learn from China's vast continuum of time, and I know we have much to offer in return. Indeed, China's senior leadership stressed this point to me. While Australia and China will retain their own traditions, culture, heritage and expertise, clearly our world as a global village requires that both our nations work together to complement each other's economies and skills.   The friendship and warmth of our welcome over the past nine days has been incredible. That has been the consistent theme including during my visits to health, education and energy projects underwritten by Australian capital, knowledge and nous.   For example, in Xianyang in China's west I observed firsthand China Australia cooperation to improve the health of over one million people. The Integrated Rural Health Project, funded by the Australian Government is strengthening the delivery of significant health services.   I was pleased to present medical equipment to their Blood Bank to help detect antibodies as an integral part of HIV diagnosis, and to present awards for a school health promotion which aims to improve knowledge, attitudes and practices amongst school children.   At Fudan University, Shanghai I had the opportunity to meet students and staff taking part in a Master of Education joint project between the University of Sydney and Fudan's education faculty; a magnificent example of Australian education providers tapping into areas of need as China equips itself for further internationalisation and growth.   At Beijing's Tongren Hospital, I saw the contribution being made by the Australian designed and produced cochlear bionic ear to improve the lives of thousands of profoundly deaf people. I am impressed by the long-term commitment of Cochlear to the Chinese market, including its extensive efforts to train Chinese doctors and audiologists.   And at nearby Dapeng I visited the Liquefied Natural Gas Receival Terminal, Australia's biggest ever export contract which will bring LNG from the North West Shelf in the first half of 2006, ahead of time! This is China's first LNG supply contract and I hope there will be scope for Australia to supply more clean LNG to Guangdong and elsewhere in China in the future.   As part of the deal, the Shelf project and Guangdong have agreed on a dedicated shipping service and the formation of an Australia-China natural gas technology partnership fund, which will train plant operators for the receival terminal in China.   Ladies and gentlemen. The Australia China relationship is in very good order. This was the personal perspective stressed by President Hu and all provincial and civic leaders over the last week and a half.   And this theme has been reaffirmed here in Hong Kong by Chief Executive Donald Tseng during my talks with him earlier today.   Our nations have formed reliable partnerships, we have much in common in our approach to business, we are deeply interested in helping communities where needs exist, and we share the common aspiration of our peoples to live in a prosperous, secure and sustainable and harmonious world.   Thus I want to thank you for the significant role you play here within the Australian community in Hong Kong in helping deepen and broaden the important Australia China relationship across the board.   Just as the Hong Kong dentist who advertised, "teeth extracted by the latest Methodists", there may be minor blips on the radar screen from time to time.   However the Australia China relationship will prosper because it is a long term approach that looks beyond the horizon; a relationship built on trust, expertise and mutual interest.   We should not miss the opportunities to broaden and deepen our ties as partners, not just for our

individual and joint benefit, but also to contribute meaningfully to improving the global condition on

issues such as the environment, global warming, HIV/AIDS, renewable energy research, and in the ongoing wars against poverty and global terrorism.   All of you bring your considerable skills and experience to bear on your important work.   Together, we have the capacity and the will to find solutions to old problems and to develop new opportunities - as we've nearly always managed to do.   To Ambassador Alan Thomas, Consul-General Murray Cobban and their staffs here and in mainland China, may I express our great admiration for your work, and our sincere thanks for the superb program you developed for our State Visit. I know your hard work and professional insight will pay dividends for a long time to come.   Ladies and gentlemen. Marlena and I thank you all for joining us this evening and we wish you every happiness and success for the future.   Thank you.