In less than a year's time, Perth will host the Commonwealth Heads of
Government Meeting (CHOGM).
53 international leaders will be here.
In all, over 4,000 participants will visit for what will be the largest
political summit ever hosted in Australia.
The Commonwealth spans every continent.
The Commonwealth has a combined population of over 2 billion – almost a
third of the world's population.
It represents more than a quarter of the nations of the world.
It has within its number a quarter of the membership of the G20, the
premier body for global economic governance.
The Commonwealth represents one fifth of total global trade.
And among the Commonwealth's membership is the rising global economic
powerhouse of India.
And for Australia, trade with Commonwealth partners represents $89 billion,
or 22 per cent of Australia's global merchandise trade.
The Australian Government's choice of Perth as host of the 2011
Commonwealth Summit is deliberate.
It is not just because we know that Perth will host the event superbly.
It is not just because Western Australia is itself an economic powerhouse.
It is also because half of all Commonwealth countries lie to Australia's
And Perth is Australia's western capital – our national gateway to the
Indian Ocean region.
This brings me to the central purpose of my address today,
- the future political, strategic and economic significance of the
Indian Ocean region;
- Australia's foreign policy directions in this vast and diverse
- and where the CHOGM Summit in 2011 fits within this framework.
As Australia looks west to the Indian Ocean region, we see many of the
challenges and opportunities we face for the future.
Of course, nobody need encourage a Western Australian audience to look
West: you do this intuitively.
You already appreciate the fundamental changes taking place in the Indian
Ocean region. It's a function of your geography, your history, and your
people-to-people links to so many countries of this wide region.
Australia is a middle power with global interests.
We have an interest in the stability of the global strategic and economic
We have a deep national interest in the great global security challenges,
including combating terrorism.
We have an interest in nuclear non-proliferation, arms control and
We have an interest in the great global challenge of climate change.
We have an interest in human rights, in humanitarian assistance and in
These global interests require us to be active in all the regions and
capitals of the world through what I have long called creative middle power
It was through this vehicle that Australia fought, together with
like-minded middle powers, to secure the establishment of, and Australia's
membership of the G20, where Australia has a permanent seat at the table.
Australia is also a middle power with profound regional interests.
We have long looked east across the Pacific to our long standing allies the
We have looked north, to the profound strategic and economic developments
now taking place across East Asia.
Equally now Australia must look west, to the great challenges and
opportunities that now present themselves across the Indian Ocean region.
The Indian Ocean region is vast.
Its countries are home to more than 2.6 billion people, almost 40 per cent
of the world's population.
It comprises some 48 countries.
It represents already some 10% of global GDP and rising.
The Indian Ocean region is also home to what are arguably the world's most
important sea lanes of communication. 70 per cent of the total traffic of
petroleum products passes through the Indian Ocean. 40 per cent of world
trade passes through the Strait of Malacca; 40 per cent of all traded crude
oil passes through the Strait of Hormuz.
The region is highly diverse in its peoples, cultures, religions, political
systems and levels of economic development.
Within the region, there is the extraordinary economic growth in South
Asia, led by the rising great power that is India.
The global influence of the Gulf States, on whom the globe relies for so
much of its energy needs, is set to grow in the years ahead as energy
security increasingly becomes a concern of national security.
And as many nations within the continent of Africa resolve long-standing
security problems, proceed down the path of economic development, and open
their significant energy and resources markets to the world, Africa's
economic significance is growing as well.
Also, as noted above, the Indian Ocean's shipping routes are vital, and
much of the energy and resources Australia exports to meet rising demand in
India and North Asia travels on these sea lanes as well.
It is a region that also grapples with the full range of security
- weapons of mass destruction;
- terrorism in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, and across the Horn of
- piracy across the region;
- as well as fisheries management, food security and the impact of
climate change on low lying states.
The Indian Ocean region therefore is a region undergoing profound
transformation, both in economic and security terms.
Nowhere is this more apparent than in India.
India's economy by GDP may increase to as much as USD 4 trillion by 2020,
and double again to reach USD 8 trillion by 2030, on track to becoming the
world's third largest economy after the United States and China.
And by that time India is likely also to be the world's most populous
Its infrastructure needs will be huge: the Indian Government has planned a
USD 1 trillion infrastructure spend in the course of its next five year
The Gulf States boast a combined GDP close to USD 1 trillion and growing.
This includes some of the world's wealthiest countries and individuals -
Qatar's GDP per capita is among the highest in the world and is projected
to overtake Norway in 2011.
The Gulf region has almost 40 per cent of the world's crude oil reserves
and over 20 per cent of natural gas reserves.
The Gulf's rapid infrastructure development, open trade, liberal capital
flows and labour market make it an important centre for regional economic
It is expanding its global economic footprint, becoming a centre of global
capital and banking and aviation hub, with Dubai airport now the world's
In Western Australia, many of your companies and business people are now
benefiting from the vast economic potential of Africa.
Like many others around the world, WA companies see opportunity where many
others still have an outdated view of a continent totally in the grip of
poverty, conflict and despair.
Some of the key facts are startling.
Africa has nearly a billion people.
It has more than 500 million people of working age.
By 2040, Africa will be home to one in five of the planet's young people,
and will have the world's largest working-age population.
Its combined consumer spending in 2008 was $860 billion.
McKinsey predicts this will grow to $1.4 trillion in 2020.
Africa has more middle class households (defined as those with incomes
above $20,000) than even India.
FDI in Africa has increased from $9 billion in 2000 to $62 billion in 2008
– almost as large as the flow into China when measured relative to GDP.
According to McKinsey, the rate of return on foreign investment in Africa
is higher than in any other developing region.
This is a big story, and it spells opportunity for Australia.
Your private sector gets it.
The rest of the country needs to catch up.
Africa is a more stable, peaceful and prosperous continent than a decade
None of this is to say there aren't difficulties and challenges.
We are not naïve about this.
We recognise the potential and its recent progress without ignoring its
considerable security and development challenges.
Africa has 33 of the world's 49 least developed countries; despite its
recent progress, one half of the continent lives in absolute poverty.
We are also deeply concerned about the situation in the Democratic Republic
of Congo, Somalia and Sudan. We lament a lack of political progress in
Zimbabwe despite some tentative signs of economic recovery.
But my overall point is Africa is a more complex modern reality with a
greater range of opportunities than some of the stereotypes of the past
These countries of the Indian Ocean region are Australia's neighbours, our
markets, and many of them our security partners.
Our interests in the region therefore require an increasingly activist
Australian foreign policy.
Australia's maritime zone is 8.5 million square kilometres and more than a
third of this lies within the Indian Ocean region.
Australia has significant current and prospective energy and resource
projects within this zone.
Protecting these projects, as well as continuing to assert Australia's
sovereignty over our wider maritime zone where future projects will lie, is
fundamental to the nation's long term economic interests.
Beyond the energy and resources sector, the Indian Ocean also represents a
significant fisheries resource. Australia has an abiding interest in
ensuring all fishing nations engage in lawful and sustainable fishing
practices. This is an interest we share with all Indian Ocean coastal
Once again Australia has a deep interest in ensuring that our sovereignty
in relation to these interests is maintained.
Beyond these core national interests, there is also of course the wider
interest we share with other Indian Ocean states in ongoing oceanographic
research into the world's third largest water mass.
Since it came to office, the Government has established a more
comprehensive approach to the countries of the Indian Ocean region.
We are committed to paying to the region the attention it deserves.
This means working on the range of security, development and economic
challenges and opportunities that lie before us.
It means developing stronger bilateral relationships, strengthening our
role in regional bodies, and boosting collaboration in multilateral bodies
deeply engaged in the region, including the United Nations and the
Our closest Indian Ocean neighbour is, of course, Indonesia – a key Indian
Ocean power. Australia's relations with Indonesia have never been better.
We have a strategic partnership, underpinned by our strong, comprehensive
Our leaders meet annually as do foreign and defence and trade ministers.
Our cooperation regionally and globally is close and productive – in the
G20, on climate change and in regional institutions such as the East Asia
Summit and APEC.
We are drawing together economically. The announcement earlier this month
by the Prime Minister and President Yudhoyono of negotiations towards a
Comprehensive Economic Partnership underscores our deep commitment to
Indonesian and Australian prosperity.
Our mission in Afghanistan reflects our wider national interests in
responding to the threat of both global and regional terrorism.
In this context, Pakistan is also of strategic importance to Australia.
It is critical to progress in Afghanistan, where about 1550 Australian
troops are deployed.
My first visit after being sworn in as Foreign Minister was to Pakistan. I
saw first-hand the devastation caused by the floods.
Australia recognises the sacrifices and loss of life made by the Pakistan
Government, military and people as they counter and stare down terrorism.
As a founding member of the Friends of Democratic Pakistan, Australia is
strongly committed for the long-term to support and work with Pakistan as a
partner to strengthen its security, economy and its democracy.
All regional countries – including India – will benefit from a Pakistan
which is more stable and prosperous.
Australia has doubled the number of Australia-based training positions for
Pakistani defence personnel to more than 140 places and doubled our
development assistance to $120 million over the period 2009-11.
The work in Afghanistan and Pakistan comes on top of $180 million Australia
has provided in overseas development assistance to other parts of South
Asia this financial year. This includes assistance to:
- improve primary education, water sanitation and maternal health
outcomes in Bangladesh;
- help establish an Electoral Resource Centre in Nepal to increase
understanding of the electoral process and help entrench democratic
- resettle and rehabilitate communities in northern Sri Lanka after the
With the President of Sri Lanka soon to be inaugurated into his second term
in office, more than a year after the end of the military conflict that
caused suffering to so many for so long, we would continue to urge the Sri
Lanka government to "win the peace".
In Australia's view, achieving that objective – that is, ensuring and
guaranteeing long-term peace and stability in a united Sri Lanka -
involves inclusiveness, and a sustained and determined commitment to
The Australian Government is greatly enhancing engagement with South Asia -
with every country individually, and also as a region.
Merchandise trade with the region was worth $19.7 billion in FY2009-10.
We recognise the central importance of our relationship with India, the
world's largest democracy, a member of the Commonwealth for 63 years, and
Australia's fastest-growing major export market over the last decade.
We were pleased to see President Obama during his visit to India last week
give support for a permanent seat for India at the Security Council, a
policy approach which successive Australian Governments have supported for
The Australian and Indian Governments have been working to reshape the
bilateral relationship in the long-term interests of both nations.
Exactly 12 months ago, Australia and India launched a new Strategic
Partnership, including a Joint Declaration on Security Cooperation.
This partnership will see us greatly expand our cooperation across the full
sweep of our common interests: political, security, trade and investment
links, education and science, tourism, sport and immigration.
Australia has no intention of discovering, then neglecting and
rediscovering India every few years: we are there to stay.
Like Australia's business community, the Government knows the value of a
robust, durable, substantial presence in India to underpin this new
Already, Australia is in the process of more than doubling our diplomatic
and trade resources in India to underpin that strategic partnership. We
- expanding our High Commission in New Delhi;
- upgrading our Consulates in Chennai and Mumbai;
- and opening or expanding Austrade offices in another eight cities
Western Australia is playing an important role here, as evidenced by the
A$20 billion ExxonMobil deal to supply LNG to India's Petronet from WA's
Gorgon project from 2014.
LNG is an important fuel for stationary power. It produces fewer and
cleaner emissions to generate the same amount of power as traditional
Australia should prove an increasingly attractive investment destination
for the growing economies of the region, with India's Oswal Group's
investment in a liquid fertiliser project on WA's Burrup Peninsula a good
Australia's relations with countries in the Gulf are also becoming
stronger. And, given the many interests and concerns we share, there is
much more that we can do together.
Together with the countries of the Gulf we place a high priority on
regional security. Australia has a long record of working with these
countries to promote peace and stability.
We work together to fight terrorism – we have a bilateral counter-terrorism
MOU with the UAE and maintain close contact with other Gulf countries on
the threat of violent Islamist extremism. We share concerns over the
growing threat emanating from extremists in Yemen.
The ADF values its close defence links with a number of Gulf countries. It
has its Middle East headquarters in the UAE.
To improve our institutional links with the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC)
and its member states, we have agreed to hold a regular Australia-GCC
Foreign Ministers' Strategic Dialogue, the first of which I hope to attend
early next year. The Dialogue will provide a forum for exchanges of views
on issues on mutual interest and will be an important platform to further
broaden and deepen our relations.
Australia's economic interests in the Gulf are also significant.
Merchandise trade with GCC countries is worth some $8.6 billion
Australia is committed to negotiating a comprehensive high quality free
trade agreement with the GCC. A free trade agreement will bring mutual
benefit to what is already a strong relationship.
Tens of thousands of Australians live in the Gulf and many thousands of
tertiary students from GCC countries are studying in Australia – including
at the University of Western Australia. These people-to-people links are
continuing to grow.
I've mentioned the challenges and opportunities in Africa.
Australia is committed to working with African countries, the African Union
and the wider international community to assist Africa tackle its
development and security challenges.
We will work with Africa to take advantage of the economic opportunity
afforded by the continent's slow but tangible move towards stability and
As a sign of the strength and commitment of Australia's engagement with the
African Union, Australia has opened a new embassy in Addis Ababa, the
headquarters of the AU and the capital of Ethiopia.
The Government will provide $200 million in Development Assistance to
Africa in 2010-11.
This represents an increase of 23% over the previous year.
We will work in areas where Australia has expertise, to help Africans and
their governments improve agricultural productivity and food security,
increase access to clean water, improve the health of women and children
and build Africa's human resource capacity.
I announced in September that Australia would provide $140 million over 5
years for midwifery training, obstetric care and family planning in eastern
Our development assistance contributes to Africa's stability and emergence
It is also part of a wider story of an emerging continent undergoing a boom
in economic growth and investment.
The minerals and petroleum resources in Western Australia is driving
Australia's economic engagement in Africa.
Current and prospective investment by Australian resources companies is
estimated at USD 20 billion.
Some 200 Australian companies have assets on the ground in Africa, across
In 2010 alone, 30 new companies have started projects in Africa, and over
100 new projects have started.
More than 350 of a total 560 current Australian resources projects
commenced over the last five years.
And Perth is home to 85% of the Australian listed resource companies
working in Africa.
This is story of success and opportunity in our economic engagement.
It is a Western Australian story.
We saw this again at the Africa Down Under Mining Conference, held most
recently in Perth in September this year.
Six African Mining Ministers were among 1,300 delegates discussing
opportunities for private sector investment in Africa.
This story of economic success, however, has also been blighted by personal
A plane crash in the Republic of Congo in June claimed eleven lives,
including all six members of the board of Sundance Resources.
This loss had a major impact on the families involved, on the company and
on the mining community in Perth.
The Government worked with the mining sector and African Government to deal
with the aftermath.
This tragedy was an important reminder of an obvious fact.
Just as our economic engagement grows with Africa, so will the number of
Australians travelling to, and working in, the continent.
The Australian Government is going to be increasingly called upon to
advance these economic interests in Africa, and to provide diplomatic and
consular support to its companies and its citizens.
To maximise the returns to Australia and to pursue our growing national
economic interests, the Australian Government and the private sector need
to work together on these challenges.
I hear one message from the Australian mining industry, and that is that
they want Australia to be more engaged with the affairs of the continent,
not less. And that too is the resolve of the Australian Government.
Additionally, Australia has strengthened its role in Indian Ocean regional
Australia participated for the first time in the South Asian Association
for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) as an observer in April 2010 and launched
a regional food security project.
SAARC provides an important opportunity to engage South Asian governments
annually at the highest levels reinforcing our bilateral engagement.
In August this year, Australia was appointed Vice Chair of the Indian Ocean
Rim Association for Regional Cooperation (IOR-ARC) for 2011 and 2012.
Comprised of 18 Indian Ocean littoral states – from Africa, the Gulf, South
Asia and South East Asia, including many Commonwealth nations – IOR-ARC
aims to strengthen regional engagement and prosperity.
Over the next two years, Australia will work closely with India, as IOR-ARC
Chair, to progress issues of relevance to IOR-ARC members, including
fisheries management, customs training, energy security, and disaster
We will ourselves assume the role of Chair in 2013 and 2014.
Australia's engagement with the countries of this region is now on the
This will take time.
In saying this, I am particlarly mindful of the recent and excellent work
done by the Australian Strategic Policy Institute on both oceans policy in
general and our Indian Ocean policy in particular.
But here in Western Australia where this will be most important, you
already generate 42% (or $83 billion) of Australia's merchandise exports,
with China and Japan especially important.
Not only is Perth the centre of Australia's engagement with the Indian
Ocean region, it is also helping provide intellectual firepower through its
universities, think tanks and other institutions.
The University of Western Australia is helping to grapple with these new
challenges, establishing recently an Oceans Institute that will build
research programs to address science and resource issues in the Indian and
The University of Western Australia also supports the Indian Ocean Research
Group, which has launched a new academic "Journal of the Indian Ocean
Region" which seeks to identify, research and suggest policy issues of
common regional concern.
Curtin University has the South Asia Research Unit.
And Perth's Future Directions International think tank has developed a
strong Indian Ocean research program.
Western Australia is also one of two proposed sites for the Square
Kilometre Array (SKA), a revolutionary international radio telescope
project currently under development.
Australia and New Zealand are jointly bidding to host the SKA – if
successful, a trans-Tasman SKA would involve thousands of antennae spanning
5,000km from the core site in Western Australia to outlying antennae in New
A final site decision is expected in 2012. Ahead of this Australia and New
Zealand with the strong support of the WA Government continue working with
partner countries and institutions to develop the strongest possible case
for hosting a SKA offering maximum global benefit.
It is appropriate that Perth, our gateway to the Indian Ocean and the
growth regions it contains, will now host the 2011 CHOGM.
One year out is a timely point to consider what CHOGM 2011 can deliver for
the Commonwealth, for Australia and for our engagement with this new
dynamic Indian Ocean region.
To secure its future, Australia must look West as well as East.
The profound changes in this region demand that we do so.
This will require a new, dynamic policy agenda from Government to rise to
these new challenges.
And this must be done in partnership with our good friends here in Western
Australia, WA business, WA institutions and the WA government. And that is
precisely what the Australian Government now intends to do.
- Minister's office: (02) 6277 7500
- DFAT Media Liaison: (02) 6261 1555