Bob Carr: Well, ladies and gentlemen, it has been a very great honour for me representing the people of Australia to pay my respects to Aung San SuuKyifor her leadership of democracy and for the cause of civil liberties and freedoms. The Australian people greatly admire your leadership. You are a hero to very many Australians and there is a Burmese community of about 30,000 in Australia. We are delighted that you are now an elected member of parliament.
Ladies and gentlemen, we have had a very useful discussion and Aung San SuuKyi has used the expression "reckless optimism" in a cautionary way about our expectations of development in this country and urged, as she did in Bangkok, a healthy scepticism. She said to me that reform must mean the people are better off and this is a wisdom that we will apply to our dealings with this country. For example, in our aid program we will monitor carefully the transparency of what Australiais doing to see that what we do is crafted to match the expectations of the people. That Australian businesses looking at investment or trade take the advice of Aung San SuuKyi that this country needs investment that benefits the people, responsible investment, ethical investment that adheres to the standard we would expect of companies back on Australian soil. That the country doesn't need a mad rush, but is entitled, as other jurisdictions are, to assess the quality of incoming investment and trade opportunities for itself. We spoke in detail about the country's educational needs — a focus onvocational education, curriculum standards, the quality of education and education that reaches every family in the community with expectations for their sons and daughters.
It's been a very great honour for me to be here and convey to someone who is held in such esteem by so many Australians our support and our encouragement for the future.
Aung San SuuKyi: Mr Bob Carr has covered all the points of our discussions so very well that I don't need to add anything at all. In fact I think I should try to keep him here as a member of the NLD to help with all these pictures and statements I have to make.
I am very pleased today to be able to have this opportunity to discuss matters of mutual interest to our two countries. Australia has been a sanctuary for many people from Burma and Australia is, after all, a part of our region. Not as close a neighbour as Thailand but nevertheless a neighbour, and a good neighbour, and I hope that relations between our two countries will progress and get better in time.
This morning at the press conference I held at the NLD I made the point that genuine friendship depends on equality. The more equal our countries are with regard to the economic, political and social situation, the firmer and stronger and more genuine our friendship will be. So the way in which I would like to build up our relations with the rest of the world is by improving the situationof our people. In that way we will be able to contribute to global progress and we will be able to make sure that the outside world engages with us in a way that is mutually beneficial. Could I mention that you have invited me to…?
Carr: Yes, please do.
Aung San SuuKyi: To visit Australia. This is not something that I will be able to undertake this year but I can say now that I am looking forward very much to the time that I will be able to go to Australia and see what our unusual neighbours are like. Australia and New Zealand are unusual in this region and I would very much like to see what it is like there.
Carr: Our Prime Minister Julia Gillard will be very thrilled that you have accepted our invitation.
Aung San SuuKyi: Well,I was brought up on songs like "Kookaburra sat on the Old Gum Tree" so I feel that I know a lot about Australia already.
Carr: Thank you. It will be a great honour to welcome you there. Thank you.
Aung San SuuKyi: Thankyou.
Journalist: Will you take some questions?
Aung San SuuKyi: The Minister will take some questions.
Journalist: Did you discuss lifting sanctions with Daw Suu?
Carr: Yes we did. Daw Suu, you may want to speak rather than me put words in your mouth.
Aung San SuuKyi: Oh, we discussed the matter of sanctions and I said that I am in favour of suspending sanctions because that makes it quite clear that good behaviour will be rewarded and that if the good behaviour is not maintained the rewards can also be taken away. And also I expressed my opinion that I am not in favour of dependency. So we understand and accept that changes in Burma will have to be brought about by us, the people of Burma. I believe that sanctions have had great effect politically. If they had not had such effect the Government of Burma would not have been so eager to have them removed. So we are very appreciative of the political effectiveness of sanctions. But in the ultimate analysis we depend neither on sanctions nor other external factors for real change in our country. We depend on ourselves.
Journalist: Do you think your comments in Bangkok when you talked about reckless optimism have created some friction with the government as has been reported?
Aung San SuuKyi: It should not. I would not have thought that recklessness was good for anybody. I'm sure that everybody would agree that recklessness is not a good thing. I didn't say I was against optimism. I said that I was against reckless optimism. And if they studied the implications of this expression, I do not think that there would not be any reason for friction.
Journalist: Daw Suu, are you getting the impression that the military is resigned to the changes that are actually happening in Burma? Do you get the sense that there is a possibility of somebody trying to reverse the process?
Aung San SuuKyi: I don't know everybody in the military but I understand that the Minister for Defence said in Singapore a couple of days ago that the military will not always try to keep the 25 per cent of seats that it has in the National Assembly, but when the time is right they will certainly think of reducing their portion in the National Assembly. It is a good beginning, that the Minister of Defence himself should have made the point that this is not a permanent arrangement and that this should not be a permanent arrangement.
Aung San SuuKyi: I think that you'll have to talk about the Bank of Australia, Minister Carr.
Carr: Sorry, are you talking about restrictions on Australian bank dealings or getting an Australian bank service here? I'll be speaking to the four major Australian banks about seeing that they have a presence, at least one presence, in this country.
Journalist: Mr Carr, have you made a decision on sanctions? What's the next step on that?
Carr: No, I think after further consultation, I will probably share with you a view. As you know, our sanctions at this stage are pretty modest restrictions on the financial dealings of 126 members of the government with Australian financial institutions and restrictions on them travelling to Australia.
Journalist: Daw Suu, have you given up hope of any constitutional change during the life of this parliament and look forward to the next elections to bring about change in the underlying…
Aung San SuuKyi: We haven't even begun the next session of parliament. The idea of giving up hope before anything has begun is very strange to me.
Carr: Thank you.
Aung San SuuKyi: Thank you.
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