Malaysia Australia Business Council Commonwealth Speaker Series VIP Luncheon
It is a great pleasure to visit Malaysia for the first time as Governor of the State of Queensland.
And it is a privilege and a pleasure to address you today on a theme which has the Commonwealth at its heart.
That word, ‘commonwealth’, is at least six hundred years old. Over the centuries, it has acquired many meanings. We Australians call our country a Commonwealth. So do the Bahamas and Dominica. That makes at least three commonwealths that are members of the Commonwealth.
The word in question is self-evidently a combination of ‘common’ and ‘wealth’. The two words, together and separately, are appealing. There are many forms of wealth. And the idea of sharing this wealth – of making it ‘common’ – is an attractive proposition.
Of course, the ‘commonwealth’ that brings us together today is the Commonwealth of Nations.
This grouping has a population of well over two billion people, spread across all inhabited continents. It represents a substantial slice of the global economy. It is bound together by history, by the values enshrined in the Commonwealth Charter and by the language I am speaking.
But my intention today is to focus on a related use of the word – the Commonwealth Games, the great celebration every four years of the ties that bind Commonwealth countries together.
This is for the very good reason that we in Queensland have the great honour of hosting the Games in April next year.
The Games will be held on the Gold Coast, a beautiful city of around 600,000 people built along and around 30 kilometres of stunning golden sand beaches and an extensive network of inland waterways. Who could resist?!
This will be Queensland’s second Commonwealth Games. The first was in the capital city, Brisbane, in 1982, fondly remembered for many things including the giant model of a kangaroo that winked at His Royal Highness the Duke of Edinburgh during the opening ceremony.
I remember the great excitement in Brisbane before, during and after the Games – excitement about the wonderful sporting competition, about the influx of visitors from all over the globe, and about showcasing our marvellous State to the world.
Those Malaysians who experienced the 1998 Games in Kuala Lumpur, the very first to be held in Asia, will know exactly what I mean.
April 2018 is only a little more than a year away, and preliminary activities have already begun. A week ago in London I attended the launch by Her Majesty the Queen, as Head of the Commonwealth, of the Queen’s Baton Relay. I was there because, as Governor, I am Her Majesty’s representative in our State.
The Baton will make its way through all Commonwealth countries before arriving in Australia, and will be in Malaysia in October.
The 2018 Games will bring together the young people of the Commonwealth in a spirit of friendly competition. It will also bring together some of the older people of the Commonwealth, including me, in a spirit of friendship.
This great gathering generates its own kind of wealth.
Every friendship formed or renewed among the 6,500 Games athletes and officials will build more goodwill between participating countries, including Australia and Malaysia. And goodwill is a precious commodity!
The same is true of every encounter between Queenslanders and visitors. In that respect, I know you will find us friendly, welcoming and respectful hosts.
There will be a great wealth of sport on offer.
Australia will look to its strengths in a number of sports such as swimming.
Malaysia will be confident of great performances in a sport in which it has had great success – badminton.
We in Australia are great admirers of sporting prowess, including the dazzling athleticism, tactics, guile, and speed required to play badminton at the highest level.
We are very keen to see Malaysia’s athletes in action next year.
In fact, we will see them in action even sooner – at the Badminton World Federation Sudirman Cup, also on the Gold Coast in Queensland, in May this year.
We look forward to providing a fantastic Sudirman Cup, and a fantastic Commonwealth Games, rich in those precious commodities of goodwill and friendship.
But both of these events are also opportunities to encourage another form of the ‘wealth’ in ‘commonwealth’ – the trade and investment links between Queensland and Malaysia, and Australia and Malaysia.
These links create the kind of wealth you can put in the bank, but their impact is much wider. They generate increased economic growth, productivity and employment in both countries. The benefits are mutual. Trade and investment do indeed generate ‘commonwealth’.
There is already a great story to tell.
The most recent figures show the value of two-way Queensland-Malaysia trade at well over two billion dollars Australian annually.
They reveal that nearly 50,000 visitors from Malaysia come to Queensland each year.
Malaysia is an important and welcome investor in Queensland’s natural resources sector – particularly in LNG, and also Queensland’s large and growing tourism sector.
There is significant collaboration, too, in education and training, with 3,000 Malaysian students studying in Queensland, and around 800 Australian students having over the past two years undertaken study and work-based placements in Malaysia through the Australian Government’s New Colombo Plan.
Opportunities such as the most recent iteration of the Association of Emerging Leaders’ Dialogue, the Emerging Leaders Dialogue Asia, hosted here in Malaysia in October last year and attended by a number of Queenslanders (including one from my Office), are strengthening Commonwealth ties in younger generations.
But there is always scope to enhance the breadth and depth of our relationship, in many fields.
Queensland is a successful exporter of clean, green agricultural products and expertise, has a world class health research and technology sector, a successful international education and training industry and, for that matter, a successful sector built around the business of sport and sports services.
Queensland also has a long and successful history in tourism, in mining, mining equipment and services, has a creative ICT sector, and is home to a robust aviation sector, especially in defence and aerospace.
There are serious trade and investment opportunities in all of these areas – and more.
And there is a way for Malaysians to investigate these opportunities and enjoy their sport. Earlier this year, Australia and Malaysia signed a Memorandum of Understanding on Sport Co-operation.
And the Queensland Government and the City of the Gold Coast, supported by the Australian Government, are keen to facilitate business encounters in Queensland around both the Sudirman Cup, and the Commonwealth Games.
Trade and Investment Queensland’s regional representative, John Osborn, is here today. He and his colleagues are keen to speak with and assist executives of Malaysian companies – of any companies based in Malaysia – who have an interest in combining sport and business during their visits to Queensland.
On that positive note, I thank the executive and members of Malaysian Australian Business Council for their warm and generous hospitality today. I am grateful to the Council for this opportunity to share my enthusiasm for the marvellous State of which I have the honour to be Governor.
I look forward to seeing many of you in Queensland for the Sudirman Cup this year and, in April next year, for the joyous celebration that the Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast will certainly be.
And I look forward, with you, to putting even more of that shared ‘wealth’ into the Commonwealth, to the benefit of all its peoples. Thank you.