Launching the Australia Norway Oceans Dialogue

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JULIE BISHOP: I'm absolutely delighted to be here at theinaugural bilateral Australia-Norway ocean dialogue. I particularly welcomeDeputy Minister Hagen and Ambassador Klovstad, and the representatives from theNorwegian ministry and agencies, and likewise my Australian colleagues, andwelcome to both delegations.

Australiaand Norway are close friends. We have warm and friendly relations, and we havea significant Norwegian diaspora in Australia, and so our people-to-peopleconnections keep us as close friends.

We're alsolikeminded in our view of the world. We share a common belief in the importanceof the international rules based order. We are likeminded on many issuesincluding human rights, good governance, sustainable development and opentrade. Today we can officially add oceans to our long list of areas ofcooperation.

Australia isan island continent. We are surrounded by three oceans and four seas, and DeputyMinister you have just been in the Pacific, so you will know how fragile andimportant the Pacific Ocean is to Australians - it is part of our region, it isour backyard, our neighbourhood.

We areobviously deeply concerned about the legal regime and norms that govern ouroceans. Our oceans are facing major stresses and we see it in climate changeimpact, in the exploitation of our oceans, in the destruction of habitats, andin the pollution that is also impacting on our oceans.

In ourForeign Policy White Paper released last year, we focussed on ourresponsibilities to build sustainable development in the Pacific and of coursemuch of that is based on a sustainable blue economy, but we also talked aboutthe importance of preserving and conserving the oceans, and particularly theareas for which Australia is responsible. You would be aware that we are on theWorld Heritage Committee at present and we take a particular focus on ourpreservation, conservation and maintenance of the Great Barrier Reef, thegreatest coral reef structure in the world.

I note thatNorway has also done a White Paper which focusses on the importance of oceansin your foreign policy development, so again we are likeminded in our approach.We are also countries that base our policies on evidence, evidence-basedpolicies, so therefore scientific research plays a very important role. I knowtoday that we are signing a High Level Arrangement on Antarctic and Southern Oceancooperation. I'm pleased to say that last week our Minister for Innovation,Senator Michaelia Cash announced the establishment of the Australian AntarcticScience Council - revitalising the level of scientific research into theAntarctic and providing funding of $100 million over 10 years to back up thatresearch.

I am pleasedthat we are signing that High Level Arrangement and this will build on thegreat degree of cooperation that exists between us on the issues of oceans. Iknow that our Prime Minister Turnbull is very much looking forward to takinghis place on Prime Minister Solberg's High Level Panel on Building a SustainableOcean Economy.

Welcome, Iam sure our respective delegations have much to discuss, much to agree upon, afew things we may disagree upon, but overall I think this is a wonderfulinitiative, and I thank Norway for taking the leadership role in establishingthis dialogue.

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