Maritime Clean Energy and Engineering Breakfast

16 April 2024



I'm just so delighted to be here with you all. I want to thank Alastair and the team at the High Commission for hosting us. I was just saying to colleagues that it is a great thing to have you all on the Business Exchange delegation. And such a high powered group from Singapore, the Singapore Australian business community here, particularly those of you who are engaged in business that really matters for the future of the region.


So, I'm deeply reluctant to interrupt what is looks like a very useful set of conversations with a long, turgid diatribe from me about the about the Southeast Asia Economic Strategy. But here goes.


I do want to acknowledge Jeanette Lim, to the director for Southeast Asia and Oceania, at the Ministry of Trade and Industry, for joining us today. Of course, there's a number of crosscurrents here that make this trip for me and for the Australian Government very special.


The first is the relationship between Australia and Singapore. It is so important, important to Australia and I believe important to Singapore, the depth of the historical relationship, the shared experiences, the shared perspectives about the kind of region that we want to live in. And the kind of region that we want to shape not just in the interests of Australia and Singapore, but in the interests of all the participants in the ASEAN region.


Of course, it's an opportunity to affirm the government's commitment to upgrading our trade and investment and business relationships in the region. The report that Nicolas Moore prepared on behalf of the Government travelled here and to most of the ASEAN countries engaged, I think, 700 different submissions, discussions, organizations, to shape the Southeast Asia economic strategy for the government. It is the first of these Business Exchange delegations in which there'll be a regular drumbeat over the course of the rest of this year, to affirm our commitment, not just in 2024, but in every year in the lead up to 2040.


The strategy is, in my view, a recognition that Australia's economic relationship with the region, despite all the progress that has been made, all of the efforts of governments in the region - sincere efforts, preferential trade agreements, development arrangements, trade facilitation, investment in infrastructure, that the relationship is still... And that, then if we are serious about shaping the kind of region that we want to shape in all of our interests, that the economic relationships are fundamental to making that really, really work.


The economic relationships are not just a matter of dollars and cents, spreadsheets and profitability and commerciality. Although, of course, without all of those….I know I’m talking to a room full of business people… without all of those it can't be made to work. The economic relationships really are about the things that we do together to make things, to provide services, to exchange goods and services in the region to lift living standards to improve environmental performance, to lower emissions, to make energy cheaper, and to assist in the development process. That is fundamental to the great task of shaping a region that's safe and prosperous for all of us.


Singapore is Australia's fifth largest trading partner. So much of the world and the region's trade comes through this part of the world. It's important that we pay attention to that. The Singapore Australia Green Economy Agreement is a really significant milestone that reflects, I think, the commitment of the two governments, the curiosity of the two governments too, in trying to find a framework that means that we can explore all of the technologies, all of the challenges that go with this transition, and provides a framework for many of you, to interact. It provides a framework for businesses to engage in the opportunities that are that are there.


I just say in terms of the energy questions, there are two great transitions really. The focus is always on the transition to a low emissions economy. And if this part of the world does not, you know, the fastest growing region in the world in human history, as the Prime Minister keeps saying, does not effectively go through the next era transition, it's hard to see how the world makes that transition.


But there's another transition going on as well in this in this route in the world, and that is, many of the participants in ASEAN moving from low income or moderate income economies to moderate income or high income economies. And that transition is just as vital, just as vital, and completely overlaps with the emissions challenge. And for many of you, the role that the businesses that you lead, can play in that really does mean, as I said at the outset, it's not just the dollars and cents, there is a real social purpose here, a real economic purpose here that each of us can be as purposeful and directed and focused upon. and then we can take some real pride as government and business works together to achieve these important objectives.


Of course, it's Singapore maritime week. And I really been struck by how everybody's responding, really enthusiastically, to Singapore convening this maritime week, and the opportunities that are flowing for business. The conversations, the discussions, the meetings that are happening around that are really going further than anybody expected. I’m delighted to see that.


Just to say in terms of maritime emissions… it's just one of the areas I think…somewhere in my notes, which I stopped paying attention to a few minutes ago...if maritime emissions were a country, I think they’d rank seventh largest in the world.

It's such an enormous opportunity for us. If Australia or Singapore can reckon with this challenge, with all the different technologies that we are exploring together, then, absolutely, that will be an enormous contribution to reducing the world's transport emissions. But if we do it together, the opportunities for us in terms of technology development, industry capability, in terms of employment and investment, that Australia and Singapore can be at the heart of…that will be a terrific thing for both of our companies.


The last thing I really wanted to say before, accepting that my role here is to stand between you and breakfast, is that I’m absolutely delighted that you’ve all made time to come here.


I met with the Southeast Asian Business Exchange delegation last night that Australia has seen that there is a terrific, high powered group of people with deep expertise in the sectors that all of you are interested in. I’m delighted that they had made the time for this first of our business missions under this program in the region. I really urge you to seek them out this morning here in the in the high commission. Make sure you get to know them - a terrific group of people. I'm looking forward to spending the next the next couple of days with them.


We are, as a government, determined to follow this part of our strategy through. We have announced a series of initiatives and are well and truly on the way to making sure that we have the deal teams that we've set out to establish in Jakarta and Singapore and Ho Chi Minh city. That we build on the success of the Singapore landing pad in terms of the technology and digital economy opportunities. That we make the Southeast Asian business exchange program work. But we know that we do that in partnership with you. This is a government that absolutely understands that we are only going to make progress if it's the Australian Government, if it's the business community, if it's our research and development institutions or civil society working together on this stuff, on these great projects.


I'm very, very grateful for you all for coming. I look forward to meeting a few of you over the course of the morning and wish you the very best for the week. Thank you.