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State Banquet in recognition of 50 years of diplomatic relations between Australia and Vietnam, Hanoi, Vietnam

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  • His Excellency President Vo Van Thuong
  • Her Excellency Madam Phan Thi Thanh Tam
  • Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen.

Good evening.

Linda and I are absolutely delighted to be here in Hanoi during this 50th anniversary year of Australia-Vietnam diplomatic relations.

We are grateful to President Thuong, the Vietnamese Government and the people of Vietnam for the warm and generous welcome we have received as we visit your beautiful country.

This is my second visit to Vietnam — the first was in 2009 when I was Vice Chief of the Australian Defence Force. We were on the brink of becoming Comprehensive Partners.

What an incredible reflection of the strength of our relationship that, as I visit now — 14 years later — our countries are working together towards achieving a Comprehensive Strategic Partnership.

Australia is proud to call Vietnam a friend and close partner and our relationship is going from strength to strength.

We are working together to support our shared vision for an Indo-Pacific region that is stable, prosperous and resilient — and where sovereignty and international law are respected.

We work together on many issues, including economic, political, security, climate cooperation, education and defence. I was very pleased to see our Defence cooperation firsthand today at the Thach That Peacekeeping Training Centre.

The cultural connection that has been forged between Australia and Vietnam is extraordinary.

There are more than 300,000 Australians of Vietnamese heritage and today, after English, Vietnamese is the fourth most commonly spoken language in Australian homes.

The Australian Vietnamese community is characterised by values that we respect and admire like hard work, the pursuit of excellence and devotion to family and community.

And our connections continue to grow. I was pleased to hear of the new flight routes opening up between Australia and Vietnam, in particular with Vietjet preparing to commence its first service to Melbourne on 8 April, followed by direct flights to both Sydney and Brisbane.

More than 80,000 Vietnamese men and women have studied in Australia over the past 50 years with more than 6,500 of those through Australian Government scholarships.

Vietnam has produced remarkable results in the last 50 years and Australia has supported — and, in turn, mutually benefited from — that growth since the early economic opening.

RMIT was the first foreign university, ANZ was one of the first international banks, and Telstra built the first satellite ground stations and laid the first undersea telecommunication cable, helping to link Vietnam with the world.

An Australian firm also helped Vietnam establish the first 500 kilo volt high-voltage transmission line, connecting the power system between North and South and creating the backbone of the modern electricity grid.

Those are some of the historical highlights of Australian investment in Vietnam. But I can see here in the streets and businesses of Hanoi that the future, too, is very bright.

Vietnam has ambitious economic goals, and Australia has the capabilities to help meet these ambitions. Likewise, Australian companies can gain much from Vietnam’s dynamism and creativity. I am sure Australian business representatives here tonight would agree.

It is a mutually beneficial partnership that will only grow stronger because of the drive and connections between our people.

In 2021, we launched the jointly drafted Australia-Vietnam Enhanced Economic Engagement Strategy to enliven our shared commitment to double two-way investment and become top-ten trading partners. I have been pleased to see how this strategy is already showing positive results.

In 2021-22, two-way trade reached a total of $22.1 billion and we became Vietnam’s seventh largest trading partner.

We have achieved much together and there is even more to be done.

We will continue to deepen our collaboration in innovation, equality and inclusion and to learn from each other and work together in the areas of climate change and energy transition.

In uncertain times, where we face many challenges — economic, environmental, and security — Australia and Vietnam will be better placed if we face these together. And that’s what true partnership is.

We have achieved much in 50 years, and we look forward to our future together. Because of our friendship and mutual trust, we are partners that will face challenges together and be stronger because of it. 

The next 50 years of diplomatic relations look bright.