Opening remarks at the ASEAN Summit Plenary Session

March 18, 2018



Your Majesty, Your Excellencies, welcome to the plenary discussions of the ASEAN-Australia Special Summit.

Today, we are meeting on the land of the Gadigal people of the Eora Nation and we acknowledge and pay our respects to their Elders, past and present.

Today is a historic day, as the leaders of ASEAN and Australia come together for the first time in Australia, working together here determining our commitment to the centrality of ASEAN and our commitment – commitment of Australia to ASEAN at the very heart of the stability, prosperity, security of our region.

The meeting comes at a critical time for the region. The pace and scale of change is without any precedent in human history.

Our vision is optimistic and born of ambition, it’s for a neighbourhood that is defined by open markets and the free flow of goods, services, capital and ideas.

Over the past 50 years, ASEAN has used its influence to defuse tension, build peace, encourage economic cooperation and support to maintain the rule of law.

And we are fully committed to backing ASEAN as the strategic convenor of our region. 

A region where adherence to rules delivers lasting peace, where the rights of all states are respected, where open markets facilitate the free flow of trade, capital and ideas. And where the rule of law protects all nations. And to quote your Chairman’s father “if you want to have a region where the big fish do not eat the little fish, and the little the shrimps.” You want a region where everybody regardless of their size is respected in their sovereignty and their ability to determine their own course.

The events of the past week have shown how vibrant and dynamic the ASEAN-Australia strategic partnership is; our business leaders are driving economic growth and creating jobs and opportunities and we’ll hear from them shortly, our security and law enforcement agencies are keeping us safe from terrorism and other threats and working more closely together than ever and of course our students, our communities our educational, cultural and sporting institutions are engaging with and learning from each other to our mutual benefit.

Later, we’ll hear reports from the Business Summit and the Chair of the Counter-Terrorism Conference.

So, our task as leaders is to respond with tangible initiatives for new cooperation on economic, education and security issues.

And later at our retreat, we will discuss some of the region’s most pressing security challenges, including how to respond strongly and effectively to the deadly threat posed by North Korea.

We have a full agenda but also a great opportunity to advance the interests, the many interests we have in common.

So, I now invite our good friend Prime Minister Lee of Singapore to deliver his remarks on behalf of ASEAN.


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