2017 Australia Day Reception Speech
Representative, Australian Office, Taipei
5 January 2017
Minister David Lee, Minister of Foreign Affairs;
Your Excellency Vincent Siew, former Vice President;
Your Excellency Lien Chan, former Vice President;
Secretary-General of the National Security Council Joseph Wu;
Secretary-General of the Legislative Yuan Lin Chih‑Chia;
Minister without Portfolio John Deng;
People First Party Chairman James Soong
Your Excellencies, Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen,
Dear friends, 大家好 (hello everybody)!
Come join me on a journey of discovery! A discovery of people, places and possibilities.
For journeys of discovery are very much at the heart of the connections between Australia and Taiwan.
Each year, over 20,000 young Taiwan people embark on their own journey of discovery to Australia as working holiday makers. 160,000 Taiwanese in total have taken an Australian working holiday since the start of the bilateral program in 2004.
The over 13,000 enrolments by Taiwan students in Australia each year make Australia the second most popular study abroad destination for Taiwan students. Nearly a quarter (23.4%) of Taiwanese students who pursue their degrees abroad do so in Australia. Our MOU on Vocational Education and Training brings a further valuable dimension to our education relations.
On top of this there were over 113,000 visits by Taiwan people to Australia in 2015/16, an increase of 30 per cent over the previous year. In a nice complementarity, Australia and Taiwan are each the 13th largest tourism source of the other.
And with the recent signing of further liberalised air service arrangements between Australia and Taiwan, the sky literally is the limit! The amended arrangements provide for unrestricted capacity for flights between Australia and Taiwan, as well as open code share and intermodal services. There are already 20 weekly direct flights and these new arrangements provide scope for further expansion.
Today's Australia Day reception celebrates these journeys of discovery. Australia Day is actually on 26 January, but we are holding it a little early this year as many of you will be busy celebrating the Chinese New Year holidays on that date.
Today's event is made even more special through the generosity of our sponsors; my sincere thanks go to ANZ Bank, China Steel, Chinese Petroleum Corporation, Clinico, Formosa Plastic, I-Mei Foods, Macquarie Group, Taipower, Telstra and TECO Electric. I would like to extend my appreciation for their contribution both to this reception and to the Australia-Taiwan partnership.
Over the past three years I have been on my own Journey of Discovery in Taiwan. I am pleased to report that I have travelled the length and breadth of the beautiful island of Taiwan, with my invitation last August to join the Amis Harvest Festival in Hualien a particular highlight.
I have also in recent months visited each of Penghu, Kinmen and Matsu, marking my own personal journey to each of the constituent parts of the Separate Customs Territory of Taiwan, Penghu, Kinmen and Matsu, as Taiwan is known in the World Trade Organization. Australia and Taiwan are close partners in both the WTO and APEC. Taiwan is also an important bilateral partner for Australia on trade, our 9th largest merchandise export market and 15th largest source of merchandise imports in 2015-16.
The New Colombo Plan is also bringing young Australians to Taiwan. Since Taiwan became a part of the Australian Government's New Colombo Plan in 2015, over 300 outstanding Australian students have travelled to Taiwan to study and undertake internships. This year, we are excited to welcome 118 Australian students to Taiwan.
There are further promising opportunities for cooperation under both Australia’s National Innovation and Science Agenda and Taiwan’s New Southbound Policy.
A particular feature in relations between Australia and Taiwan continues to be our Indigenous cultural exchange. Last August, I had the privilege to witness President Tsai Ing-wen make her landmark apology to Taiwan's Indigenous peoples, paralleling the Australian Government's own apology in 2008.
Later in the year B2M, an Indigenous R&B band from Australia's Tiwi Islands, made their own journey around Taiwan, introducing Taiwan people to their music and culture and learning about Taiwan's in return. B2M kindly gave their permission for us to play their music today - on condition that “people have to dance”! So if you have the urge to dance to either our wonderful live band The Steve Smith Jazz Trio or the B2M recording, please don't hold back! We need some photos to send to B2M.
In these ways, I am proud to report that our friendship continues to grow and prosper. As the Chinese saying goes, 一步一腳印, we should work steadily and take one step at a time in order to make solid progress. With the support of everyone here, I am certain we will continue on that journey to strengthen ties between our people, to pursue opportunities for prosperity, and to reaffirm the strong and enduring friendship between Australia and Taiwan.
As you enjoy the high-quality Australian beef, lamb, wine and beer on offer today, I invite you to view the special video we will screen throughout the event. This video highlights some of our activities at the Australian Office over recent years as we continue along the journey of friendship between the peoples of Australia and Taiwan.
We also invite you to take photos, or ask our photographer to help take a photo of you, with our backdrop outside the room.
And if you’d like to taste more Australian-style cuisine, please visit the Café at Far Eastern from 6-15 January, where Australian Guest Chef Cameron McLeod from Shangri-La Hotel, The Marina, Cairns will be presenting some of his favourite dishes.
In a neat parallel to a returning boomerang, I hope you will enjoy our hospitality and take back a lot of joyful memories with you today. I am honoured to be with you to celebrate Australia Day and our journey of discovery. May 2017 be a year we can look back on with pride and satisfaction.
Thank you very much.