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Transcripts from the Prime Ministers of Australia

Transcript 9867


Photo of Keating, Paul

Keating, Paul

Period of Service: 20/12/1991 to 11/03/1996

More information about Keating, Paul on The National Archive website.

Release Date: 04/12/1995

Release Type: Speech

Transcript ID: 9867

I9 A
It is a very great pleasure to be here this evening to mark the 25th anniversary
of the Australia Israel Chamber of Commerce.
The Chambers achievements over that quarter century are substantial and Its
potential is even greater. So there are many reasons to celebrate tonight and! I
will cc-me to them shortly.
But I hope you will forgive me if I begin on a more sombre and personal note.
Only it month ago I made my first visit to Israel, for the funeral of Yitzhak
Rabin. They were the saddest of circumstances in which to make such a
joury. The number of leaders who had travelled to Jerusalem from around the world
was testimony to Yitzhak Rabin's remarkable life. He had physical courage, of
coursia and not only as a soldier, but as a politician too. But It was in his
moral courage that his true greatness lay. He was a man whose whole life had
been devoted to the survival and security of Israel. But when it mattered, he
had thie imagination, flexibility and courage to see that that same cause was
now served best by a policy of negotiation with the Palestinians.
The Image of King Hussein of Jordan, President Mubarak of Egypt, Prime
Minister Chemomyrdfin of Russia and President Clinton standing together In
Jerus. Wemn, In the Mount Herzl national cemetery and speaking of their shared
loss was, surely one of the most moving public moments of the late twentieth
century. But, in a way, just as moving for me as that ceremony was what the funeral
revealed about Israel Itself and about Israelis. The quiet, determined faces of
the thousands of young people lining the streets holding up peace signs, the
Informality and simplicity of the funeral and the memorial service solemn but

without high pageantry or panoply all struck a powerful chord with me as an
Australian, because they were a signal of a deep sense of democracy and
equality which Is at the essence of both our countries.
I often think that immigrant societies, wherever they are placed, are closer to
each otlher in tenor and tone than they are to the countries from which their
populations originally sprang. I felt that strongly in Israel.
Yltzhatk Rabins assassin robbed Israel and the world of a life that mattered,
and punctured the dream of Jewish people everywhere ftht Israel, above all
other things, was a place of sanctuary.
But ho did not kill that dream. I came away from my short visit convinced that
the people of Israel would draw strength from the tragedy of Rabin's death.
And that this was a society which would come through the ordeal it now faced
strongier and more able to meet the challenges and they are profound
challenges which lie ahead.
Because the work of peace which Rabin supported has much further to go.
The interim agreement between Israel and the PLO was signed on 28
September but it now has to be implemented.
The negotiations still to come on permanent arrangements for the peace
settlement will be even more difficult. Above all else they will require goodwill
and generosity. And it will be very important, though immensely difficult, to
narrow the differences between Israel and Syria over the next few months.
All of -us hope tat reaction to Yitzhak Rabin's murder will constrain extremism
as these negotiations proceed, but we cannot be confident of that. People on
all sides both the malevolent and the frightened will no doubt continue to try
to derail the process.
My dis3cussions in Jerusalem with Prime Minister Peres left me In no doubt that
he, like Mr Rabin, sees no alternative for Israel or its neighbours to following
the path of peace, however difficult it might appear and however careful the
steps along it must be.
His objective, as he told the Knesset on 22 November, is ato arrive if possible
by the end of th~ s century at a comprehensive peace in the Middle East. To
create a Middle East without violence, without bloodshed, without terrorism,
without war and without the factors which lead to all of these, poverty,
ignorance, backwardness and prejudice%
It Is hardly credible for an Australian Prime Minister, from this distance and from
the security of our continent, to offer detailed advice on these vital issues of
security and peace to those who struggle with them daily and I will not try. I will

only say as I said to Mr Peres that Israel can continue to count on
Australia's goodwill and practical support for the work of peace.
The sort of practical support we can provide is seen in our membership of two
of the working groups set up under the multilateral track of the peace process.
The areas we are working on arms control and regional security, and water
resources are ones where we have some expertise to share. In April this
year, for example, experts from Israel, Jordan, Egypt, the Palestinian Authority,
Morocco and Oman met in Terrigal for a workshop on rainfall enhancement.
This sort of Issue does not generate headlines or high drama, but it offers
avenues for practical cooperation which will be vital if mutual confidence is to
develop within the region.
Australia is, of course, also providing direct support for Palestinian autonomy
through our three-year $ 15 million aid program announced in October 1993.
And Australian defence force personnel continue to play a core role in the Sinai
peacekeeping force and to participate in United Nations peacekeeping
operations elsewhere in the region.
In May 1994, I said in a speech to the Zionist Federation of Australia that
Australia had never wavered and would ne-ver-waver from our commitment to
Israel's right to exist within secure and recognised boundaries. But I added that
beyond those familiar phrases, we would never waver from a deeper conviction
that the international community is a better place, a more decent place, for
the contribution Israel has made and will yet make.
I hope in some small way that Australia can help it make that contribution.
Let me turn now to the reason we are celebrating tonight the 25th anniversary
of the Australia-Israel Chamber of Commerce.
Back In 1970, a sceptical joumalist from the Australian Jewish News asked the
founders of the Chamber whether it was anything more than an Impressive
Well, over the past quarter of a century you have certainly answered that
question decisively. We are here tonight to celebrate your vision and
achievements. As the attendance at this dinner tonight shows, the Chamber has become a
highly respected and influential organisation, with offices throughout Australia,
as well as In Tel Aviv. It has a national membership of over 800 companies,
and a list of Governors that reads like a who's who of corporate Australia.

It has been a catalyst for the development of a very lively business partnership
between Australia and Israel. It has organised successful trade missions,
promoted joint ventures and commercial partnerships in third countries and
initiated academic and Industrial research and development agreements.
Earlier this year it was involved In the dedication of a plaque in Israel
recognising the heroism of the Australian Ught Horsemen who were involved in
the charge at Beersheba Wells in October 1917 as part of the advance that led
to Jerusalem's liberation from occupation. Some of the remaining veterans
were present. I thank the Chamber for Its part In arranging this ceremony.
But I suppose the main measur, of the success of a Chamber of Commerce
has to be what has happened to the commerce. AMd here the figures are
strikirg. In 1970, our bilateral trade was worth $ 8.5 million. In essence -as the
Chambers Executive Director, John Weiss, has pointed out Australia sent
Israel coal and wool and we got back oranges and bathing suits in return.
Now it is worth $ 30 million. Coal and wool are still Important, but Australian
exports of elaborately transformed manufactures have also started to make
inroadls into the Israeli market.
There Is no doubt that some strong synergies exist between the Australian and
Israeli economies.
Each of us has a strong research and technology base on which we want to
build. I will have some more to say about that from Australia's side when I
launch the Government's Innovation statement in Melbourne on Wednesday.
In Information technology and telecommunications, for example, both Australia
and lnral had more than 100 exhibitors at the CeBIT fair In Germany which I
attended in March this year.
Israel's privatisation of its cellular and International communications services
has provided an important Investment opportunty for Australian companies. I
am very pleased that Australian companies are now joining International giants
such as Intel, Motorola, IBM, Mitsui and Microsoft In working with Israeli
industry on building Information technology alliances.
Neither of us Is big enough to take on the giants of these Industries alone, but
we can probably Identify some highly rewarding areas of co-operation.
Cooperation Is expanding in other areas, too. The High Technology Trade
Mission to Israel which the Chamber organised In September was the largest
Australian business delegation ever to visit Israel. A number of joint venture

agreements involving the exchange of technology have already come out Of
that mission.
One o~ f these was an agreement to grow in South Australia a new variety of
olive which, as a result of Israeli technology, produces more oil than any other
olive. This project is expected to generate a substantial olive oil industry in
South Australia which will export from Australia throughout the Asia Pacific.
Another source of potential economic partnership must come from our similar
climate and topography.
Solar energy, desalination and water management systems are critical Issues
for both of us and I am sure there are ways we can work more closely together.
Australia is a world leader in water management technology. The Snowy
Mountains Engineering Corporation, for example, has recently conducted
discussions with Israeli authorities over the Jordan Rift Valley project. And an
Israeli compary has successfully combined Australian waste-water technology
with Israeli engineering skill to provide municipal waste water treatment
througjhout Israel.
As wo each move to build our infrastructure to cope with growing populations
from Immigration, our tranisport, construction and service industries also have
great potential to work together.
The new terminal planned for Ben Gurion International Airport has attracted the
interest of Australian companies, as, I am sure, will the planned Cross-Israel
Highway project. Australian firms are being added to the lists of approved
vendors to the Israeli Electric Corporation.
Another real area of potential growth in trade and investment lies in the way we
can each use the other country as a base for regional operations.
Israel's free trade agreements with the United States and the European Union
are an Incentive for Australian companies. IPEX, for example, has chosen
Israel as its European headquarters for their software business and Is among
the fastest growing computer companies In Israel.
But, for the first time, it is also possible to imagine Israel as a potential base for
trade into the Middle East. We are not at that point yet but the signs are all
pointing in its direction. Over time, I am sure that will happen because It serves
the Interests of both Israel and Its neighbours.
The signature of the Israel-Jordan trade agreement in October this year and
the convening of the Amman Summit, in which Israel participated with Arab
courtries, are promising steps.

In Australia, the first joint tourist promotion program involvng Israel, Egypt,
Jordan and Turkey, is scheduled for early 1996, and Is a very welcome sign of
things to come.
In the other directon, some Israeli companies have already sensed the
potenlial for operating out of Australia Into Asia and the Pacific. I know the
Chamber has been active in spreading that message in Israel.
For example, a leading telecommunications company, Teledata, has set up a
successful mnanufactuing facility In Brisbane which supplies the Australian
dome3tIc market but also exports to Papua New Guinea, the Philippines and
This brings me to a point I want to put firmly on the record.
I am sometimes accused of paying too much attenton to Australia's relations
with Asia at the expense of Australian economic interests elsewhere. This Is
a view you will sometimes hear from my political opponents and from the
stodgier sort of newspaper columnists.
It is not true, of course. But I want to make clear just what I do think becal se
R is vory important to all of us who live in this country and who care about its
fuure. I am convinced of this that unless this country gets our relationship-
Including our economic relationship with Asia right, we will not succeed
elsewhere. This does niot mean that we could not keep other bilateral trade links open. Nor
is it to deny that some of them might prosper.
But, over the long run, this fact seems undeniable to me: the degree of
AustraWlas Integration into the region around us and the experience our
business people gain In matching it with the most dynamic economies in the
world will determine, more than anything else, how relevant we are to other
global markets, and how successful and competitive we are in them.
So my view is simple: our business people should be looking to do business
wherever there Is a profit to be made and a mutual Interest to be served. But
we w~ ll only maximise those opportunities with Israel, for example, or Europe,
when we have shown that we are fully engaged In our own region.
That is why APEC Is important to all Australian business people, even those
whose primary interests lie In other parts of the world.
It is why the outcome of the Osaka leaders' meeting with its agreement on a
plan of action to Implement the commitments we made at Bogor for free trade

in the region by 2010 for industrialised counties and 2020 for developing
countries was such an important development for Australia, but also for others
who want to do business here and In the region.
The O~ saka meeting firmly cemented APEC in place as the key regional body
for co-ordinating the development and growth of the Asia Pacific into the next
century. We e-stimate that the full results of the Bogor commitments will expand the
regional economy by about the size of the present Australian and Korean
economies combined, arnd that Austral~ a's real Income will rise by $ 40 billion
when all the effects have flowed through.
If the Bogor commitments are fully implemented, by 2020 APEC will account
for re than three quarters of global production and three quarters of the
worlds trade.
The effort we have put into setting up APEC and elevating its decision making
to the level of leaders has been directed to these very important alms to
getting Australia a seat at the -world's largest free trade table, and, by keeping
the region's development and growth going, better ensuring Its security as well.
That is good for all Australians and for those who do business here and In the
That Is also why we have been working on the development of links between
the Australa New Zealand Closer Economic Relations agreement and the
ASEAN Free Trade Area.
We recently held the first successful meeting between CER and ASEAN trade
ministers. We agreed to complete a series of practical collaborative projects
which will address Issues of real concern to business people. And these
projects and these developing linkages with Southeast Asia will complement
and neinforce what the Government is working to achieve with APEC.
Anyone who suggests to you that we should be wary about over-emphasising
economic links with the Asia Pacific does not understand, in my view, just what
the causes of global success for Australian traders will be In the decades
ahead. Let me end this speech, not with congratulations-you already have them but
with a challenge.
Because although trade between Australia and Israel has been growing well, it
still falls short of its potential. If it is to reach that potential a sustained effort will
be needed. This will Involve Governments, of course. I know this Is a high
priority of Ambassador Moyal. And his enthusiasm will be matched on our side.

But mainly it will involve the private sectors of our two countries. I can't think of
a more, effective organisation than this one to Identify new areas for trade and
Investment and to put together the people and companies who will be needed
to take the trade relationship between us onto a new level.
I wish the Australia Israel Chamber of Commerce every su cces over the next
twenty-five years.

Transcript 9867