Australian Office

Representative Gary Cowan’s speech for 2018 Australia Day

“In this together”

Australia-Taiwan Cooperation FOR the Indo-Pacific Age
22 March, 2018

Australia Day at HOP residence


Secretary General Lee, Deputy Foreign Minister Wu, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen. 

I arrived in Taiwan in January, just two months ago. But already I’ve received so much warm Taiwanese hospitality. Thank you for making me and my family feel so welcome.  Tonight it is nice to be able to reciprocate.

And so, good evening. Welcome to the Australian Residence. Welcome to my home.

Australia is home to the oldest continuing civilisation on Earth. Our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples have lived in Australia for over 50 000 years.  And so we usually begin formal occasions in Australia by acknowledging the traditional owners of the land on which we stand. 

Tonight please allow me to express my respect to Taiwan’s first peoples.  And let me acknowledge in a special guest, Sangpuy (桑布伊 or three separate syllables: song – poo – ee) of Taiwan’s Pinuyumayan people. And thank him for his music and his message.

In so many ways Australia and Taiwan are “in this together”. 

For starters we are both working through how to honour and prosper our first peoples, our ancient indigenous cultures.  At the same time we are continuing to build modern, dynamic, outward-looking societies, democracies and economies. This is a challenge we in Australia consider every Australia Day.  And we have much to learn from each other.

Second, of course, we are in this Indo-Pacific region together.  Late last year Australia issued its first Foreign Policy White Paper in 14 years - a ten-year framework for engagement in our neighbourhood.

As the White Paper made clear, the most important part of the world for Australia’s political, security and economic interests is the Indo-Pacific.

And as Australia looks look North into the Indo-Pacific, we recognise that Taiwan is an important partner for Australia.

You are located in the geographic centre of the Indo-Pacific, and you are reaching out too, through your New Southbound Policy. 

We want many of the same things, not least the peace and security in which our region can continue to prosper.

The strong commitment of the nations of this region to a rules-based order to govern our regional relationships. 

And a more open regional trade and investment framework.  

As strong democracies and strong trading economies, we will find many areas of convergence to work on together as we prepare for future challenges and opportunities.

Third, of course, in our bilateral economic relationship, we are also in this together. 

You probably don’t need me to tell you that we are already Taiwan’s biggest supplier of energy.

But what you may not know is that we are also on the same road in confronting the great challenge of our time – what our Prime Minister calls the energy trilemma: 

How do we reduce our carbon emissions by bringing large-scale renewable energy online, at the same time as ensuring stability of our energy grid, and bringing prices down for our businesses and consumers?

We have so much to share here – whether wind power or LNG, whether policy experience, research and development, financing know-how, infrastructure development, and energy supply.

Finally, like Taiwan, we want to give our young people the skills they need in our region.  As you send your young people South to our world-class universities, and on working holiday maker schemes, we send them North on the New Colombo Plan to engage more deeply in this region and this dynamic society.

Ladies and Gentlemen, thank you again for celebrating Australia Day in Spring. Australia and Taiwan in so many ways really are “in it together”. I am certain our cooperation is set to deepen.