Vice Governor, Mayor Danny, Ibu Fatimah, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen, I am absolutely delighted to have the opportunity today to be in Makassar to open Australia’s first Consulate-General in South Sulawesi. The opening today follows a special event yesterday when I opened Australia’s new Embassy in Jakarta which is the largest Australia Embassy anywhere in the world. The expansion of our diplomatic presence in Indonesia reflects the strength, the depth, and the breadth of our bilateral relationship.
To open the Consulate-General here in Makassar recognises the exciting prospects that this city and this region holds for the Australia-Indonesia relationship. Makassar is the closest major Indonesia city to Australia. It is an important commercial hub, it is a thriving city, indeed Makassar is growing at an exciting pace. Today, Mayor Danny took me through some alleyways - laneways of Makassar - and I was so impressed by the revitalisation.
Makassar is the gateway to Indonesia’s eastern islands and the sea port is being enhanced, the number of international flights is increasing, and this is become a truly commercial hub for this part of Indonesia.
I was also impressed by the fact that GDP is growing here faster than nationally, and that is a testament to investment in this part of Indonesia. Private sector investment is increasing, infrastructure building is increasing, and income levels are rising.
Australian businesses, investors see the potential. Already there are number of very good examples of the economic ties between Makassar and Australia. For example, the Eastern Pearl flour mill which is a joint venture between CBH, one of Australia’s largest grain exporters, and Indofood and under the business of InterFlour they have created and are managing the fourth largest flour mill in the world. That kind of cooperation and collaboration has unlimited potential. So this Consulate-General here is going to be focused on building those economic ties, focusing on the business opportunities between Australia and Indonesia.
I am delighted that our new Consul-General, Richard Mathews, is not only fluent in Bahasa but he actually wrote a book about the economic opportunities in South Sulawesi. So he is somewhat of an expert and I am sure that you’ll find Richard to be a very accessible and creative thinker when it comes to the Australian- South Sulawesi relationship.
Our Ambassador in Jakarta, Paul Grigson will also continue to be a regular visitor here even though he’ll now have Richard to do all the hard work; the Ambassador will continue to visit Makassar. I also want to pay tribute to the Indonesian Embassy and Ambassador Najib based in Canberra because they have made the opportunity much easier for us to realise, so that we could open this Consulate-General within a year of announcing it. It was announced last May, so I am delighted that we will be able to occupy our space in the seventh floor – very lucky number, seven, so we’ve chosen well – and I look forward to this diplomatic presence spurring much more economic activity between Australia and Indonesia so that this relationship will flourish. I believe that the opening of the Consulate-General here today marks the beginning of new chapter, a positive new chapter in Australia-Indonesia relationships that recognises the significance and importance of the regions and none more so than South Sulawesi and this beautiful city of Makassar.
So ladies and gentlemen, I now declare open this Australian Consulate-General in Makassar. Thank you very much.
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