Can I start by adding my acknowledgement of country.

It is my honour to be here today to join Indonesian Minister for National Development Planning, Bambang Brodjonegoro, for the opening of the Australia-Indonesia Science Symposium. 

I would also like to acknowledge the President of the Australian Academy of Science, Professor Andrew Holmes and the President of the Indonesian Academy of Sciences, Professor Sangkot Makzuki. Welcome.

I would also like to recognise the presence of the Australian Early and Mid-Career Researchers Forum and the Indonesian Young Academy of Sciences, many other distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen.

Our ability to harness the power of scientific research to benefit our communities and our economies is dependent on us having a strong research community now and into the future.

So I extend my welcome to everyone in this room, which includes over 100 Australian and Indonesian scientists, as well as government officials and students.

This Symposium comes at an exciting time in the relationship between Australia and Indonesia, when both our countries so keenly recognise the benefit of exploring shared interests.

I am proud that the Australian Government is supporting this timely event through our Knowledge Sector Initiative.

One only needs to look at a map of our region to recognise the significance of the Australia-Indonesia relationship, but beyond our geographic proximity, our two countries have common cultural and political values.

We both have thriving democracies and increasing prosperity thanks to strong economic growth.

Over the next 12 months we will be looking to bolster two-way trade and investment through the finalisation of the Indonesia-Australia Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement.

We have a long, proud history of working together through government and private sector partnerships, including in tertiary education. 

For example through the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research and the Australia-Indonesia Centre, both of which are represented here today.

In fact, there are currently over 250 institutional partnerships between Indonesian and Australian universities, some of which have been established for over 20 years.

One example of Australia and Indonesia's scientific collaboration is the Applied Research and Innovation Systems in Agriculture or ARISA program.

ARISA is part of a long history of Australia's collaboration with Indonesia on rural development and agriculture.

Under the ARISA program, Australia's CSIRO is partnering with the Indonesian Government to find new ways to stimulate collaboration between industry and research institutes to apply new or adapted agricultural technologies, processes and products.

For example, ARISA is assisting farmers on Sumbawa Island to connect with research institutions and make practical improvements, such as accessing the market for frozen meat in Jakarta, and introducing higher quality fodder for livestock.

Another example of the strong collaboration between Australia and Indonesia is the Eliminate Dengue Program run by Australia's Monash University and the Gadjah Mada University in Indonesia and funded by the Tahija Foundation.

Mosquito borne diseases like dengue are a challenge for Australia and Indonesia.

As of October this year there are over 150,000 cases of dengue in Indonesia, while Australia is still tackling annual outbreaks of dengue in Northern Queensland.

The Eliminate Dengue Program uses the Wolbachia bacteria to make mosquitos less prone to viruses such as dengue.

This Program is also an example of the strong collaboration that occurs between Australian and Indonesian scientists.

The Program's 'Catalyst' website allows partners to learn from each others' experiences in the field.

Using this network, partners can share their innovations, ideas and experiences with peers across the world.

I understand that we have presentations from the esteemed
Dr Andrew Ash and Dr Scott O'Neil later today which will provide more detail on these exciting collaborations. 

We are also looking for ways to build on our existing partnerships to strengthen research ties and offer opportunities for the next generation of young scientists to become acquainted with each other's countries.

Australia is committed to building those ties through programs like the New Colombo Plan and Australia Awards, which offer the chance for students to study overseas.

I am pleased to say that Indonesia remains the top choice for Australian students to study under the New Colombo Plan.

And we are proud that Australian universities remain the top choice for Indonesian students who study abroad, with more than 19,000 Indonesians enrolled in Australian universities in 2015.

This Symposium offers a unique opportunity for some of our brightest minds to explore issues and themes that affect both our countries.

For example, the challenges we face in health, agriculture and our marine environments.

In health, the Symposium will examine effective responses to mosquito-borne diseases, HIV/AIDS and other re-emerging and newly-emerging infectious diseases.

The effect of climate on marine environments, namely coral reefs, will also be a focus.

As always to enhance agricultural cooperation and sharing knowledge of new technologies.

The Symposium will also look at the opportunities arising from big data and disruptive technologies, with support from Australia's CSIRO and Pulse Lab Jakarta.

I would encourage you to use these next four days to explore innovative ways to collaborate and tackle these challenges together, which will further deepen our already considerable bilateral ties.

I wish you all the best in your endeavours and I look forward to hearing about your deliberations.

Thank you for your kind attention.

Media enquiries

  • Minister's Office: (02) 6277 7110
  • DFAT Media Liaison: (02) 6261 1555