Leaders’ Plenary – 2024 ASEAN-Australia Special Summit

Prime Minister

Your Excellencies, my friends, welcome to Melbourne.

I begin by acknowledging the Traditional Owners of the lands on which we meet – the Wurundjeri Woi-wurrung people – and I pay my respects to their Elders, past and present.

I would like to acknowledge my co-chair, Prime Minister Sonexay.

Australia and Laos are longstanding friends with a rich history of partnership – including the memorable visit to Australia by Prime Minister Sonexay’s father, then-Prime Minister Khamtai Siphandone almost 30 years ago.

Prime Minister, I look forward to continuing to support your year as ASEAN Chair, promoting your chosen theme of ‘Enhancing Connectivity and Resilience’.

It’s an honour to host you all here in Melbourne as we mark 50 years of partnership between Australia and ASEAN.

This is an opportunity to celebrate our successes.

And to affirm our shared belief in ASEAN centrality.

The central role ASEAN plays in our region’s prosperity – and its security.

And to articulate our common vision for the next 50 years of our cooperation.

To position ourselves – and our partnership – so we can seize and shape the opportunities transforming the region that all of us call home.

To ensure that ours is ‘A Partnership for the Future’, anchored in enduring friendship and trust.

And to see the ambition of our Comprehensive Strategic Partnership realised in new, deeper and more diversified engagement with ASEAN.

So ASEAN and Australian consumers and businesses can access new products and new markets.

So we can achieve net zero – in a way that guarantees regional energy security, underwrites national economic sovereignty and brings a new wave of clean energy trade and investment.

We must work to turn our natural connections into even greater practical cooperation: on marine sustainability, the blue economy, and the security of our oceans and seas.

And our commitment to the future – in the best traditions of ASEAN – means encouraging and educating the next generation of emerging leaders.

In all this, Australia commits to working with you to make sure the principles of sovereignty, territorial integrity, equality, and independence are upheld.

To ensure our region is secure, resilient, open, inclusive, and prosperous.

The regional architecture, with ASEAN at its centre, is vital in pursuing these goals, and for promoting trust and transparency among our nations.

Australia is fully committed to cooperating with you within the framework of ASEAN and through crucial bodies like the East Asia Summit and APEC.

I hope you leave Australia with a deeper understanding of Australia’s commitment to our region and our optimism for its future.

Our understanding that more than any other part of the world – South East Asia is where Australia’s destiny lies.

This is why we will continue to support your ASEAN Outlook on the Indo-Pacific and ensure the stability and peace of our region.

Today’s Summit has four key themes which will shape the ASEAN-Australia partnership for the future: trade and investment, climate and clean energy transition, maritime cooperation, and emerging leadership.

These four themes are also reflected throughout the Melbourne Declaration which we will be adopting later today.

This is the breadth of our agenda. The shared prosperity we can achieve through closer trade and investment; the shared opportunity we have to act on climate and embrace clean energy, the shared responsibility we have to deepen our maritime cooperation and our shared faith in our emerging leaders.

And the engagement we have had, leading into this Summit, across these four themes – from business, academia, civil society and government – show how much potential there is for even stronger partnership between Australia and ASEAN.

So let me again offer Australia’s warm welcome to all of you, and our unwavering confidence in the next 50 years of the ASEAN-Australia partnership.

I would now like to invite Prime Minister Sonexay to deliver his opening remarks.

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