50th Anniversary of Diplomatic Relations and Vietnam National Day

  • Speech, check against delivery

I acknowledge the Traditional Owners of the land on which we meet, the Ngunnawal and Ngambri people, and pay my respect to Elders, past and present.

I also  acknowledge any Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people here with us today.

And I reaffirm the Albanese Government’s commitment to implementing the Uluru Statement from the Heart – Voice, Treaty and Truth.

Vietnam’s Ambassador to Australia, His Excellency Mr Nguyen Tat Thanh

General the Honourable Sir Peter Cosgrove AK CVO MC (Retd)

Members of the diplomatic corps…

Ladies and gentlemen…

Today we celebrate Vietnam’s 78th National Day, as well as marking half a century of diplomatic relations between Australia and Vietnam – a monumental milestone.

In February 1973, Australia and Vietnam established diplomatic relations.

Australia opened its embassy in Hanoi only a few months later.

Fast forward fifty years to today, where Vietnamese is the fourth most commonly spoken language in Australia1 and our nations are working to elevate our relationship to a Comprehensive Strategic Partnership.

Vietnam has only accorded the status of Comprehensive Strategic Partner to four countries.

It’s a great privilege, and one that we don’t take lightly.

Our relationship is almost unrecognisable from its origins half a century ago, with that small embassy in Hanoi.

In the last few months alone, Prime Minister Anthony Albanese and Foreign Minister Penny Wong have both visited Vietnam.

That’s the Foreign Minister’s second visit to Vietnam during her time in the job.

Governor-General David Hurley, Trade and Tourism Minister Farrell, Assistant Trade Minister Ayres, our Special Envoy for Southeast Asia Nicholas Moore, and a range of other senior officials have also visited Vietnam in the last year.

Looking at the opposite direction, we’ve had the pleasure of hosting visits from the Minister for Information and Communications Nguyen Manh Hung…

Chairman of the National Assembly’s Committee for Science, Technology and Environment H.E. Mr Le Quang Huy…

The delegation for the Vice-Ministerial Security Dialogue led by Senior Lieutenant General Luong Tam Quang…

Senior Lieutenant General Nguyen Tan Cuong, Vietnam People’s Army Chief of the General Staff and Vice-Minister of National Defence…

Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs Nguyen Minh Vu…

The National Assembly delegation…

And the emerging provincial leaders delegation.

The pace of this high-level engagement reflects how advanced our relationship is.

And it reflects the growing political trust between our two countries.

I was particularly excited to meet with the Australian Political Exchange Council’s 24th delegation from Vietnam earlier this year, alongside our Presiding Officers, Trade and Tourism Minister Don Farrell, and other parliamentary representatives.

These exchanges were established as a way for young political leaders from Australia and counterpart countries to gain insights into each others’ political systems and cultures.

They’re also an excellent way to build the personal links and networks between those countries.

And I’ll note that both President Thuong and Prime Minister Albanese count amongst the accomplished alumni of that program.

It’s the relationships we build through programs like that exchange, and through visits and dialogues and other events, which strengthen the foundation of our bilateral relationship.

Australia is proud to have had over 80,000 Vietnamese men and women study in Australia over the past 50 years, including more than 6,500 on Australian government scholarships.

Our development program has provided $3 billion in support of Vietnam and is still growing.

And during her visit to Vietnam, Foreign Minister Wong announced $94.5 million in further support for climate change adaptation in the Mekong region, which will include incentivising companies to shift to low emissions technologies.

And we’re building on our economic engagement.

Australia was a pioneering investor in Vietnam.

We built the first undersea cable and helped to build the first high voltage transmission lines.

The first international university and one of the international law firms in Vietnam were also Australian, as was one of the very first banks.

As Vietnam continues to move up the value chain into high-tech and service industries, we hope again to increase our investment.

And we’ll continue to support expanding and diversifying our trading markets.

Like all countries in our region, we want growth, opportunity and prosperity.

So, in 2021, we launched the Enhanced Economic Engagement Strategy.

In the last financial year, Vietnam leap-frogged Indonesia, South Korea, and the European Union to become Australia’s fourth largest agricultural export market at 5.2 billion Australian dollars.

That’s remarkable, because Australia’s three largest agricultural export markets – China, Japan, and the US – are the world’s three largest economies.

So, Vietnam, with a GDP that’s about 35th in the world, is punching well above its weight.

Looking forward –our Special Envoy for Southeast Asia, Nicholas Moore, visited Vietnam earlier this year.

That was in May, as part of his regional consultations to inform the development of the Southeast Asia Economic Strategy to 2040.

The development of that strategy is a concrete step in our ambitions to deepening our economic ties in Southeast Asia, including with Vietnam.

This is a priority for Australia.

Countries of the region want growth, opportunity and prosperity – we know that the region’s success is our success.

Mr Moore identified opportunities with around forty Australian and Vietnamese businesses and international organisations, across many sectors, including agriculture, digital, energy and resources, education, technology, and health. 

And during her visit to Ho Chi Minh City a few weeks ago, the Foreign Minister met with business leaders with Aussie chef Luke Nguyen at his restaurant, Vietnam House.

That was a day or two after she announced a series of initiatives to enhance our cooperation on Digital Transformation and e-Government Cooperation.

The scope of our engagement is a wonderful reminder of the diverse and deep ways our countries are connected.

Food and culture.

Business and education.

Working together to build climate resilience.

And as we look to the future of our bilateral relationship, we’ll continue to cooperate on the issues that matter to us, and that matter to our region.

That includes continuing to work together with ASEAN, which is so central to our region.

Expanding our defence engagement.

And working together in science, technology and innovation – and Vietnamese Minister for Science and Technology Minister Huynh Thanh Dat will be coming to Canberra and meeting Australian Minister for Industry and Science Ed Husic later this month.

Australia and Vietnam share a vision for the region we live in.

It’s one which is peaceful, stable and prosperous .

And where sovereignty is respected, and each country can decide its own destiny – just as Vietnam did in 1945.

Happy National Day.

1 Cultural diversity: Census | Australian Bureau of Statistics (abs.gov.au)

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