4 July 2018
“Australia in a Changing Geostrategic Environment”
Speech by the Australian High Commissioner to Malaysia
On 27 June 2018, the Australian High Commission in Kuala Lumpur, in partnership with the Institute for Strategic and International Studies (ISIS) Malaysia, hosted a keynote speech by the Australian High Commissioner to Malaysia, H.E. Andrew Goledzinowski, on the topic of “Australia in a Changing Geostrategic Environment”. In attendance at the event was a cross-section of leaders from across Malaysian society, including government and politics, business, the diplomatic corps, education, and civil society.
Framed around Australia’s Foreign Policy White Paper (released in November 2017), the High Commissioner’s speech emphasised that no foreign policy goal is more important to Australia than maintaining a peaceful and prosperous Indo-Pacific region. The High Commissioner stated that: “For Australia, [the Indo-Pacific concept] reflects the economic and strategic reality that the most important part of the world, for us, is embraced by these two great oceans.”
He also observed that:
“Malaysia …is an interesting example of how these two [Indian and Pacific Ocean] areas conjoin, because throughout history, trade, people and ideas have flowed to and through Malaysia in a way they maybe haven’t anywhere else…There’s no audience in the world where an Australian diplomat can better explain why the Indo-Pacific makes sense than to this audience right here.”
In addition, the High Commissioner emphasised Australia’s commitment to ASEAN centrality:
“Diplomatically, strategically, geographically, ASEAN convenes the most important forums and the most important meetings that happen in our region – for example, the East Asia Summit. ASEAN centrality is as important to Australia’s conception of our interests as it is in Malaysia’s.”
The High Commissioner also spoke of the value of the rules-based order, and how Malaysia and Australia – and ASEAN – have a profound shared interest in maintaining that order, despite the challenges it is facing at present. “We have an interest in living in a region which is not governed by strength, but by respect for international law, norms and open markets.”, he said.
The High Commissioner also highlighted how Australia is a long-standing, natural and trusted partner of Malaysia:
“Australia is very excited about Malaysia Baru. We are unashamed in saying that we would like to be Malaysia’s partner of choice as it moves forward on this exciting new track. That’s domestically, but internationally also.”
To read a transcript of the High Commissioner’s full speech as delivered, please go to http://malaysia.highcommission.gov.au/klpr/fpwp_speech.html
Background on Australia’s 2017 Foreign Policy White Paper
The White Paper, the first comprehensive review of Australia’s international engagement in fourteen years, delivers a framework to advance Australia’s prosperity and security in an increasingly uncertain and contested world. In a time of rapid political, economic and technological change, the Indo-Pacific region, with South-East Asia at its heart, has become increasingly important. The White Paper shows that Australia will work hard with Malaysia, and other partners and friends, to realise a secure, open and prosperous Indo-Pacific.
To access the full White Paper text and accompanying material telling the story of “Foreign Policy in Action”, please go to: https://www.fpwhitepaper.gov.au/