Joanna Briggs Foundation's premier business luncheon

  • Speech, check against delivery

Thank you Jane. A lovely introductionand what a delight it is to be home in Adelaide at the Adelaide Oval. In fact,I have a very fond memory of the 1972 grand final won by my team North Adelaideand then the following week there was a champion of championships game betweenCarlton and North Adelaide right here and my dad took me along and boy, wehated the Vics! You know, I felt like that last weekend, it all came back tome!

I am delighted to be here to support theJoanna Briggs Foundation that supports the amazing work done by the Joanna BriggsInstitute. I thank the sponsors and everyone for attending to be part of theirremarkable international work to support those less fortunate in developingcountries.

I've just returned from the United NationsGeneral Assembly Leaders Week in New York. This is an annual event that bringstogether the Presidents and Royals and Prime Ministers and Foreign Ministers ofall 193 nations that make up the UN, and it is always a fascinating time forthe extensive debate on the contemporary global issues of the day.

This year I was really struck by thenumber of female leaders who were there. In fact, there are now 31 femaleforeign ministers amongst the 193 nations – we all actually got together for agirls dinner – and it was fascinating to hear the perspectives of femaleforeign ministers. There wasn't much testosterone in that room and it is a verydifferent sort of debate.

This particular UN General AssemblyLeaders Week had a unique quality about it because it was the first LeadersWeek that was presided over by the US President Donald Trump. People attendedjust to see how President Trump would respond to being at the United Nations –which I think during his Presidential campaign he said he'd like to abolish.Well, there's a far cry between what people tweet and what people do,thankfully, and the President made a rather controversial speech followed up byrather controversial tweets about North Korea. I was struck by how the mediafocussed so much on President Trump's tweets about North Korea, and not on thefact that under Kim Jong-un the North Korean regime has conducted almost 90 illegalballistic missile tests; they've conducted six nuclear weapons tests: four ofthem by Kim Jong-un, two by his father. The most recent was a thermonucleardevice – a hydrogen bomb – of 100 kilotons which is seven times the bomb thatwas dropped on Hiroshima. Yet the focus was on the President's tweets and Ithought this is a weird world in which we live when Kim Jong-un with thatrecord of violations of the UN Security Council resolutions, of continuingrhetoric and threats against our region, can put out a press release saying ofthe US President, "How can I deal with this mad man?" - Kim Jong-un speaking ofDonald Trump. Irony is in very short supply on the North Korean border.

In my time at the UN I found as I alwaysfind, trekking around the world that Australia is held in very high regard. Weare seen and we have a reputation for being an open liberal democracy committedto freedoms and the rule of law and democratic institutions. We are an openexport-oriented market economy – the 13th largest economy in theworld – and we're a staunch defender of the international rules based order,the laws and the norms and the rules that have been in place since the SecondWorld War and that guide the way nations behave and towards each other.

We set a world record that is notedaround the world – we are entering our 27th consecutive year ofeconomic growth – that has not been matched by any other country, and we'vebeen through the Asian Financial Crisis, the dot com boom and bust and the GlobalFinancial Crisis and the vagaries of the international commodities market, andour economy has kept on growing.

We're obviously considered a reliableand trusted trading partner. We are a global energy resources power being amassive exporter – in fact the largest exporter of iron ore and coal and leadand aluminium and a significant exporter of diamonds and copper and zinc anduranium. These commodities have been the driving force behind the growth ofeconomies in our region. We're also a significant agriculture producer and ourhigh quality goods are much sought after around the world, and our servicessector, whether it's in tourism or education or finance or aged care and healthcare, very much in demand.

In fact, I think our services sectorwill be driving our economic growth in years to come. We're highly regarded asquality researchers in science and health and we're considered to be a mostinnovative country, and that's why people from all over the world want to cometo Australia. They bring their skills, they make their contribution in thiswonderful country. Indeed, half of the Australian population were either bornoverseas or have one parent born overseas – as a number of our politicians arediscovering.

Australia is also considered to be asuperpower – we're a lifestyle superpower – it doesn't get much better thanthis, and The Economist magazine has repeatedly called Melbourne the mostliveable capital city on the planet but Adelaide, Perth and Sydney also makethe cut.

We can't take our good fortune for granted,we cannot be complacent, and we know as a government that we have to continueto make sure we are open to the world, that we continue to find new markets orenhance existing markets for our goods and services. You don't get rich sellingto yourself. We have to continue to attract skilled people in every sphere ofour economy so that they can drive productivity and enhance economic growth andwe have to retain public confidence in a steady flow of foreign capital todrive economic growth and provide job opportunities for this country. That'swhy we're so focussed on ensuring Australia continues to be internationallycompetitive.

When President Trump announces that he'spursuing a corporate tax rate of 20 cents in the dollar our Senate – SenatorBirmingham – our Senate must have a long hard look at ensuring that we canbring the corporate tax rate in Australia to a much more competitive level. Iwant to pay tribute to Simon Birmingham and the work that he does in advocatingour policies through a very difficult Australian Senate and I'm not surewhether it's going to be more or less difficult with the exit of one SenatorXenophon – who knows, we'll find out.

We also know that we need a reliable andaffordable energy policy. It is utterly ludicrous that a state like SouthAustralia can have blackouts, and I acknowledge my dear friend, the Leader ofthe Liberal Party Steven Marshall, who I know will agree with me. We have tohave affordable and reliable energy commensurate with the first world nationthat we are. We also need a regulatory environment that is conducive to small,medium enterprises as well as large business because small business, mediumenterprises are without doubt the drivers of the Australian economy.

So there's much for us to do, much forus to be grateful for, but the reforms must continue.

For the purposes of today's event,because we're talking about international development and support fordeveloping countries, I wanted to mention two initiatives of which I am drivingand which are relevant to this discussion, and they are both within my foreignaffairs portfolio.

When I became Foreign Minister back inSeptember of 2013, I was struck by the size of our aid budget and thetrajectory of which it was headed under the previous government and yet thelack of success that we were having in making a dramatic difference to thelives of the recipient countries.

As a nation we have invested billionsand billions of dollars in developing countries and yet I found that some inour region were going backwards on every relevant social and economic indicator– how could that be? So the answer was clear - you don't throw more money atthe problem – rethink what you are doing.

So I established what we call the innovationXchange.It's an ideas hub within the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade – althoughI actually situated it over the road from the Department of Foreign Affairs andTrade so it would be seen as a different mindset – and I brought together someof the most creative, innovative thinkers and problem solvers that we hadwithin the Department, handpicked some out of the public service and out of theprivate sector. We got people in from Google, from the World Bank, from USAidand this ideas incubator is then given some of the most intractable developmentproblems we face. I've given them permission to be challenging the traditionalway we do things, given them permission to be able to take risks and to failand to acknowledge that they've failed and so start again, don't throw moremoney after a failed problem.

We now have given them 80 projects,particularly focussed on our region and we have 30 partnerships with othergovernments, with private-sector organisations, with philanthropicorganisations and universities and the like and we are solving and coming upwith answers to some of the most difficult development problems. We choose thebest solution, we trial it, we pilot it, we test it. If it works we scale it upand roll it out throughout our aid program, and this is changing the way peopleare thinking and it's having outcomes.

One of the first partnerships we enteredinto was with Bloomberg Philanthropies – Michael Bloomberg the former Mayor ofNew York has become a great friend of ours – and his philanthropic foundationhas partnered with our innovationXchange for a program called Data for Health. Didyou know that 65 per cent of deaths around the world have no recorded cause, orno death certificate? So how do countries develop public health policies ifthey don't have basic data like the cause of death? The waste of time andenergy and money in developing health policies when you don't have relevantdata. So we have now focussed on six countries. We've trained 4,500 publichealth professionals and using mobile technologies provided by Bloomberg we'regetting them to carry out health census surveys to gather this vital informationso that we can have informed judgments made about health policies.

Another example of one of our challenges– we know that technological disruption is going to impact the way we live, theway we work, communicate, travel, everything – but we also know that throughautomation, artificial intelligence, robotics, the jobs of today are not goingto be the jobs of the future. In fact, it's already estimated that half of thejobs that exist today will be replaced by smart machine and robots and thelike. It's also estimated that about 60 per cent of school children across the worldwill be working in jobs and industries that don't current exist – they haven'teven been thought of.

So one of our challenges was how are wegoing to skill young people in the Pacific – because this is under my aidprogram but it applies equally to young people in Australia – how are we goingto give them the skills for the jobs of the future? The Massachusetts Instituteof Technology (MIT) in the US has what they call a Solve-a-thon, very much likewhat we do. They come up with intractable ideas and they throw out thechallenge around the world, get all the best ideas from around the world.

So we joined the MIT Solve-a-thon withAtlassian – an Australian tech company – and we were part of this globalchallenge to come up with the ideas for youth and skills and jobs of thefuture. The response was phenomenal! I announced the winners of the challengewhen I was in New York. Queen Rania of Jordan is the patron of Solve-a-thon forMIT and we announced a number of winners and one that really stood out was acompany called WeRobotics. They will be setting up a hub in the Pacific toteach young students in the Pacific about robotics and the associatedtechnologies like the use of drones. This is the kind of thing we are now doingwith our aid program.

Another one – we are now getting verygood at these global challenges – the Water Innovation Engine. I also announcedthis at the UN. We know that one of the biggest challenges in developingcountries can be the use of water – either scarce resources or how to managewater. We've thought of a global challenge in partnership with the GlobalInnovation Fund and Great Challenges Canada to come up with ideas for urban sanitation,ideas for how farmers can better use water data to manage scarce resources. Iknow the responses that we'll get from around the world will be sensational.

We're doing this in health areas as welland I'm sure the Joanna Briggs Institute will be interested to hear – or maybeeven partner with us on some of the work that we're doing.

A second initiative that is alsorelevant in terms of Australia's long term engagement is the New Colombo Plan.Now many of you will remember the original New Colombo Plan set up in 1951 toprovide students from our region with an opportunity to study at an Australianuniversity and gain qualification and go back home and build their nations –these emerging nations after the ravages of World War II. And the amazing thingof course, is that so many of those students who studied in Australia are nowleaders in their communities, their businesses, in politics, in our region. Wehave a group of ambassadors who have such a positive view of Australia who arein decision making positions in our region – it's absolutely invaluable.

When I became Foreign Minister I decidedwe needed to do that but in reverse so I came up with the cunning name the NewColombo Plan and we are supporting undergraduates from our universities – fromevery Australian university – to spend time living and undertaking studies in auniversity in a country in our region. 38 countries in our region from Mongoliain the west all the way through to the Marshall Islands in the east and everywherein between are partnering with us to provide places for Australianundergraduates to study at their universities. Our universities have partneredwith universities in host countries to ensure that the time our students spendin a foreign country is recognised towards their degree here.

What makes this program unique is thatthey are giving work experience, internships and practicums to Australianundergraduates. We've been running this – we did a pilot program in 2014 inIndonesia, Singapore, Hong Kong and Japan – and then we rolled it out in 2015across the Indian Ocean Asia Pacific. We have law undergraduates who arestudying at a university in Tokyo and undertaking an internship in a Tokyo lawfirm. We have medical students who are undertaking students at the NationalUniversity of Singapore and doing an internship in a hospital or a medicalclinic. We have young Australians studying international affairs and politicsin a Jakarta university and doing an internship in the Indonesian Ministry of ForeignAffairs. We had a young undergraduate who worked in Vanuatu and got aninternship in their Department of Foreign Affairs and ended up drafting one oftheir most important pieces of legislation.

I am meeting these young undergraduatesfrom across Australia who are having this extraordinary experience, arebecoming more Asia-literate, having a greater understanding of our place in theworld, who come back home with new perspectives and new insights and new ideasand hopefully new skills including second languages.

And yet most importantly they aredeveloping networks and contacts and relationships that will last a lifetime.This is undoubtedly for Australia's benefit and is seen as one of the bestexamples of Australia's engagement in our region. When you have President Xi Jinping and Prime Minister Abe and Prime MinisterLee and President Widodotalkingabout the New Colombo Plan as an example of Australia wanting to learn moreabout our region, investing in our young people so that we can have deeperconnections in the region – then you know we're doing something right.

I hope it becomes a rite of passage foryoung Australians because these young people are our future. They will be ourleaders, our researchers, our professionals, our community leaders, the headsof our NGOs, our politicians – who knows, a future Prime Minister will a NewColombo Plan scholar having an understanding of our region that can only comefrom living and studying and working.

Ladies and gentlemen, I am delighted tohave this opportunity to address you. I've enjoyed being back in Adelaide withmy friends Simon and Steven. And I know that there are other Parliamentarianshere today and I appreciate the fact you are here to support the remarkablework of the Joanna Briggs Institute.

Media enquiries