Ambassador Mason, Ladies and Gentlemen. I am absolutely delighted to welcome to Canberra my friend and counterpart the Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands, His Excellency Bert Koenders, who is accompanying Their Majesties, the King and Queen of the Netherlands, on a State visit to Australia.
Minister Koenders and I have taken this opportunity to sign a new Declaration of Intent on a Strategic Dialogue which commits us to enhanced cooperation on international security, trade and investment, and human rights and development issues.
This new Declaration of Intent builds on an already close relationship between Australia and the Netherlands, based on shared values, our economic ties and our community connections.
We are both open, strong, free liberal democracies and staunch defenders of the international rules-based order.
Our historic ties are profound – last week marked the 400th anniversary of the landing of Dirk Hartog off the coast of Western Australia, and Dirk Hartog was the second recorded European to land in Australia.
Today, over 300,000 Australians claim Dutch heritage.
The Netherlands is our fourth largest source of foreign direct investment, and we have a healthy two-way trading relationship – over $6 billion – but there is potential for us to do so much more.
Tragically our relationship grew very close over the past two years because of the downing of Malaysian Airlines MH17, when we shared in our grief over the loss of so many citizens from our respective countries.
And together with the other grieving countries, Australia and the Netherlands are united in our resolve to hold those responsible for this tragedy to account.
With the signing of the new Declaration today, I am confident that this already close relationship will deepen further through closer cooperation and collaboration.
A relationship that will endure for it already, we can say, spans 400-odd years.
Thank you Bert.
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