Opening of the Australian Embassy in Rabat, Morocco

  • Speech, E&OE

Marhaba, Azoul, Bonjour, Hello.

Ambassadors, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen.

I'm delighted to be here in Morocco.

And I'm very happy to be part of this ceremony to officially open the new Australian Embassy.

This wonderful building is a symbol of Australia's desire to build a deeper relationship with Morocco.

Over the past day I've had the privilege of meeting Foreign Minister Bourita and senior members of the government.

Those conversations have given me a better understanding of Morocco's unique perspective on the world.

The strong connections Morocco has been able to forge with different regions at the crossroads of the Middle East, Africa and Europe, offer lessons for all of us, including Australia.

Australia, for its part, is also working to reinvigorate its relationships with this part of the world.

My current trip, for example, brings me not just to Morocco.

I will also be visiting Ghana and South Africa.

On all these visits, I will be listening to the unique perspectives each country brings to the table. 

And I'll be conveying a sense of what modern Australia is like.

Like Morocco, Australia has been shaped by its location and history.

Our Indigenous population is the oldest continuous living culture on earth.

And we are proudly multicultural, with people from over 300 different ancestries calling Australia home.

This includes a vibrant Moroccan community, who make a strong contribution to our society.

All in all, almost half a million of the people living in Australia come from the African continent.

And while Australia and Morocco may be geographically distant, we have a number of shared objectives.

These include a desire to tackle - head-on - the big challenges of our time.

Challenges like climate change.

Australians and Moroccans know first-hand the impact that the changing climate is having.

And the recent COP meeting in Egypt highlighted how severely Africa as a whole is being affected.

Both our countries have established ambitious targets for reducing emissions.

Australia wants to work closely with Morocco to ensure that such targets can be turned into meaningful action, at the global level.

On this note, I would like to recognise the participation – for the first time – of a Moroccan youth delegation in the COP meeting.

It was fantastic that this delegation incorporated many powerful female voices.

Another shared challenge is counter terrorism.

I applaud Morocco's leadership on this issue:

  • as the current co-chair of the Global Counter Terrorism Forum
  • and for hosting in Rabat an office of the United Nations Office for Counterterrorism.

As you would be aware, the office is building regional capacity to confront violent extremism.

I was able to visit the office today – and confirm that Australia has contributed 500,000 Australian dollars to help deliver counterterrorism training to law enforcement officials from six countries.

I valued enormously the opportunity to benefit from Morocco's insights and experience on counterterrorism matters during my discussions here. 

Beyond climate and counterterrorism, I think the COVID pandemic has demonstrated very clearly that – ultimately - the fates of all countries are interlinked.

Global cooperation - based on agreed rules - offers the best hope for carving out a future that is prosperous, stable and secure.

Australia is a strong supporter of the international rules-based order and we want to work with Morocco to keep it strong - and relevant to the world we live in.

As for our bilateral relationship, I see many opportunities for Australia and Morocco to work more together.

Three examples are in agriculture, renewable energy and water management.

Some of the companies that I've met here are already working together on those issues – for example JESA, the joint venture between Australian multinational Worley and the Moroccan company OCP.

Our economic ties are solid and have the potential to grow.

I've had some useful discussions about how to develop our trade and investment links since I've been here.

I've also seen some beautiful Australian meats at Gousty, the delicatessen down the road from here.

And I'm impressed by the range of products that Morocco exports to Australia.

These include clothing, construction materials, seafood and perfumes – a diverse mix!

Tourism and education are also ripe for growth, especially with the easing of travel restrictions.

I know that Australians already love visiting this beautiful country.

Likewise, we welcome Moroccans who wish to visit or study in Australia.

We have much to learn from each other.

Of course a perfect example of the good things that can happen when Australians and Moroccans work together is the building we're in now.

It is the first Embassy in the world to be built using advanced prefabrication methods.

It was built in Australia in modules, transported by sea, then stored in Casablanca and then erected and fitted out by local Moroccan artisans.

That's teamwork at its best!

And I understand the building is already attracting interest.

From other foreign governments who are thinking of using the same approach when they build new Embassies.

And from Moroccan architecture students, who are interested in potential lessons for assembling buildings in other parts of Morocco.

Certainly I hope that the Embassy's distinctive façade – and the climate-friendly solar panels on the roof - make it a landmark in Rabat.

And a symbol of the growing friendship between our two countries.

On that note – and with great pride –

I formally declare open Australia's new Embassy in Rabat!

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