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Interview with SBS

13 November 2018

Interviewer: 
Marija Zivic

Subject: Australian innovation and industry collaboration with ASEAN

E&OE

MARIJA ZIVIC:

Thank you so much. Minister, thank you for your time today. The Prime Minister heading to ASEAN today, as we know - one of three summits coming up. Prime Minister Turnbull actually hosted the ASEAN leaders in Sydney back in March. How much of a focus has been about [indistinct] ASEAN friendship been for the government?

KAREN ANDREWS:

Look, the relationship between Australia and the ASEAN countries is extremely important to us. From the industry, science and technology portfolio, we are very keen to make sure that we build strong links with the ASEAN region. I recently visited Singapore myself. I visited Singapore a number of times and I'm very keen to work closely with Singapore, in particular, to develop our relationship in the science and technology area even further.

MARIJA ZIVIC:

So how has our relationship with East Asian nations changed more recently and what does that really mean for Australia to have the relationship change?

KAREN ANDREWS:

Well, it's very important that we have a good ongoing relationship with our nearest neighbours, in particular, and the ASEAN region is clearly part of that. I am very convinced that the relationship is getting stronger all the time and it's very much a relationship where I think we approach it on the basis of equal partners, even though that might be on- in different portfolio areas it may be quite different. For example, with Singapore, we have a very strong relationship in the science area. There's a lot of engagement with Australia and particularly Australian universities. We would want to build on that going forward. With other countries, I'm certainly keen to grow our relationship with science and technology and also in the industry area as well to make sure that we are looking at opportunities to collaborate, in particular, and to make sure that we strengthen our bonds into the future because it's very, very important to Australia.

MARIJA ZIVIC:

How does investing in things like innovation and science in ASEAN nations benefit Australia?

KAREN ANDREWS:

Well, there's probably a couple of parts to that. One is the opportunities that come through direct investment where we can work together on particular key projects, and I'm certainly keen to look at opportunities for that into the future, but there's also the ongoing scientific collaboration. Now, our scientists in Australia are very keen to collaborate globally with their peer group. So, I'm keen to do what I can to facilitate that collaboration - industry to industry, researcher to researcher, university to university.

MARIJA ZIVIC:

Minister, can you sort of- [inaudible] Australia about [indistinct] I know that climate change can be [inaudible].

KAREN ANDREWS:

I probably missed a little bit of that question, I'm sorry, Marie. You sort of broke up a little bit.

MARIJA ZIVIC:

That's alright. I'm just going to ask if you could briefly take us through projects that Australia and ASEAN nations are working on together at the moment. I know there's a couple of star pulls like climate change [indistinct], Hep D cure, things like that. If you could take us through a couple of them.

KAREN ANDREWS:

Well, look, there's certainly some projects that we are already working on, particularly in marine sciences we're doing some work - James Cook University is doing some great work in Singapore. I'm very keen for CSIRO to engage more closely with A*STAR in Singapore to identify areas of mutual interest to us. Now, when I was last in Singapore speaking to the chairman of A*STAR, Mr Lim, we actually spoke very positively about future opportunities and identified where there are areas of interest to us. Now, clearly the environmental sciences are opportunities for us into the future. Energy is an area that I am keen to explore as well because I think Australia has a lot to add in terms of its research, not only in the coal fired power stations, but also in areas such as hydrogen, which is certainly a growing area for us. We're already developing some expertise in there. So, forward looking, they're the sorts of areas that I am very keen to explore with the ASEAN nations.

MARIA ZIVIC:

And any future collaborations that you'd like to see? Any paths that you can see us going down down the track that we haven't touched on yet?

KAREN ANDREWS:

Well, you indicated earlier the climate sciences and I think that that is an opportunity, but I'd like to broaden that so that it's the environmental sciences that we're actually talking about, because I think Australia has some great expertise in those areas and that's going to be important to our ASEAN neighbours. So, I would be very keen to explore the environmental sciences; I think that there's a lot that we can actually do with natural disasters, with predictions where we can work with them to assist them, hopefully, in the identification of things such as the tsunamis - the geological sciences are going to be very important in that space. But I think there are some opportunities for us to work together very broadly in environmental sciences.

MARIJA ZIVIC:

Minister, the world used to look to places like America, countries in Europe for trade and innovation. Has that world order shifted, do you think? What does that mean, given our proximity to Asia?

KAREN ANDREWS:

Look, you're breaking up a little bit, but let me answer it-

MARIJA ZIVIC:

[Interrupts] Do you want me to ask it again?

KAREN ANDREWS:

Yeah, actually that would be good, thank you.

MARIJA ZIVIC:

No, that's fine. Sorry about the bad line. I was saying: the world used to look to America and Europe for trade and innovation. Do you think the world order has shifted?

KAREN ANDREWS:

I think that much of the work in the innovation space that Australia is doing is in fact world-leading and I would like to see Australia take its place - what I believe is its rightful place, particularly in the Asia-Pacific region, to make sure that we work with our nearest neighbours but we demonstrate to them the world-leading technology that we already have. And there's some really great examples - we're doing some terrific work in advanced manufacturing space is an area where we have the opportunity to develop a world-class industry here in Australia, and innovation is going to be at the cutting edge of that.

So, I think that Australia has a very key role going forward globally in innovation. And I know that many people look to other parts of the world, but I don't think we should undervalue or underestimate Australia's innovation capabilities.

MARIJA ZIVIC:

Do you think that world order has slightly shifted in recent times, and what do you think that means, given Australia's proximity to Asia.

KAREN ANDREWS:

Well, I guess in terms of the world order, I think we've got to take into account that in the innovation space, you've certainly got the United States, but you also have many of the European nations - Germany - that's doing great innovative work; and of course you've got Israel that works in the innovation space and they're doing fantastic, world-leading work as well. I think Australia is right up with those countries as well. So I think yes, there probably is a shift - Australia doesn't always look to the United States, nor do we also always look to the European nations or to, for example, Israel. So, I think Australia is becoming particularly self-sufficient in the innovation space, but also looking to step up and lead the world.

MARIJA ZIVIC:

Minister, I'm really happy with that - did you want to add anything?

KAREN ANDREWS:

No, I think that's about it.